Politics

Kadyrov or National Movement – Whom Pro-government and Pro-Kremlin Actors See Behind Journalist Murder Plot?

19 June, 2020

The June 15 reports on an alleged plot to murder Georgian TV host Giorgi Gabunia and the arrest of a suspect have triggered various interpretations. Pro-government and antiliberal groups said that the murder had been masterminded by the opposition. Nika Gvaramia, director of Mtavari Arkhi TV, noted that the murder was ordered by Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov, who threatened Gabunia after the latter insulted Russian President Vladimir Putin last year using swear words. In their statements, Georgian officials did not refer to Russia’s or Kadyrov’s alleged role in the murder plot. The Georgian Foreign Ministry said that it should be clarified who was interested in murdering the journalist. Noteworthy that Chechen leader, Ramzan Kadyrov again threatened Gabunia following these statements. 

Reports on the alleged plot to murder the Georgian journalist circulated on social media as part of a coordinated campaign. 

 

Narratives spread regarding Giorgi Gabunia’s case 

Pro-government, antiliberal groups and pro-Kremlin actors responded to the issue of alleged murder plot ordered by Kadyrov with identical messages. In particular, the following narratives were spread: 

  • Saakashvili planned to kill Gabunia in order to stir destabilization in the country
  • Nika Gvaramia was aware of an alleged murder plot
  • Gvaramia and the National Movement had a preplanned scenario
  • The State Security Service averted a provocation plotted by Gabunia and the National Movement
  • The government proved that it is not pro-Russian

Saakashvili planned to kill Gabunia in order to stir destabilization in the country

On June 18, Russian-language website obozrevatel.com released secretly recorded phone conversation allegedly between Georgia’s ex-President Mikheil Saakashvili and ex-Chief Prosecutor Zurab Adeishvili. A day later, on June 19, the same phone conversation was spread by Georgian pro-government media outlets. According to the subtitles added to the video, Saakashvili and Gvaramia were aware of the murder plot, but covered up its organizers. It is worth noting that the video does not show the date when the alleged phone conversation was recorded. Moreover, its authenticity has yet to be proved.

Facebook pages

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აThe audio recording was spread by the pages with antiliberal and pro-government editorial policies. A total of 27 such pages spread the video. These pages frequently publish reports containing pro-government or anti-Western/pro-Russian narratives.

Facebook groups

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The video was spread in various Facebook groups in an organized manner. Most of these groups are pro-government and antiliberal. The audio recording was spread in about 56 such groups. Some of these groups cover sport or education issues. Mainly, one and the same users were spreading information in the groups. Some of them are hiding their identities.

Facebook user Mariam Gegechkori, who shared the audio recording in various groups, is hiding her identity. URL of her account involves the name “giorgi kobaxidze.”

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Shortly before the audio recording was released, pro-government, antiliberal and pro-Kremlin actors were spreading the following messages regarding alleged murder plot against Gabunia:

Message

Who voiced it

Where it spread

     

 

 

 

Saakashvili planned to kill Gabunia in order to stir destabilization in the country

Bondo Mdzinarashvili, Obieqtivi TV host

______________________

Arno Khidirbegishvili, editor of Sakinform

_____________________

Zaal Anjaparidze, political analyst

_____________________

Jaba Khubua, journalist of Asaval-Dasavali

For.ge, Tvalsazrisi.ge and Marshalpress. Facebook pages: თავისუფლება (Freedom), Tbilisi News and Yellow Facts.
_________________________

Sakinform, Sputnik-Georgia

_________________________

Marshalpress, progressnews.ge, Tvalsazrisi.ge, Reportiori.ge

_________________________

Geotimes,Tvalsazrisi.ge

 

 

 

 

 

 

Nika Gvaramia was aware of alleged murder plot

Bondo Mdzinarashvili, Obieqtivi TV host

____________________

Lasha Natsvlishvili, Georgian Dream’s public relations advisor

___________________

Goga Khindrava, film director

__________________

Tamar Kiknadze, political analyst

__________________

Davit Akhrakhadze, veteran

__________________

Zaal Anjaparidze, political analyst

Marshalpress, Tvalsazrisi.ge, Reportiori Ge Facebook pages: BS info andქართული აზრი (Georgian Idea).

____________________

ალია, Marshalpress, reportiori.ge, Geotimes.com.ge, infopostalioni.com, progressnews.ge, , hotnews.ge, newsreport.ge, Facebook pages: გაზეთი ვერსია and newspaper “ქართული სიტყვა

_____________________

For.ge Facebook pages: თავისუფლება, Tbilisi News and Yellow Facts

____________________

Marshalpress, reportiori.ge, Facebook pages: BS info and ქართული აზრი.

____________________

Marshalpress, reportiori.ge, Facebook pages: ქართული აზრი

____________________

regnum.ru

 

 

 

Gvaramia and the National Movement had a preplanned scenario

Bondo Mdzinarashvili, Obieqtivi TV host

____________________

Vladimer Bozhadze, head of Civil Society and Democracy Development Center

____________________

Gigi Maglakelidze, member of Alliance of Patriots

tvalsazrisi.ge, Facebook page იმედი +, Facebook group: კახი კალაძე თბილისის მერი (Kakha Kaladze Tbilisi Mayor)

____________________

Marshalpress, reportiori.ge, For.ge, Ongo.ge, kvira.ge, qartuliazri.reportiori.ge Facebook pages: Tbilisi Newsთავისუფლება, Yellow Facts

____________________

Obieqtivi TV

 

 

The State Security Service averted a provocation plotted by Gabunia and the National Movement

Goga Khaindrava, film director

 

____________________

Lado Sadgobelashvili, former member of Georgian March

____________________

Zaal Anjaparidze, political analyst

hotnews.ge, For.ge Facebook pages: ქართული სიტყვა” “ვერსია”, Yellow Factsთავისუფლება, Tbilisi News 

_______________________

Alia
 

_______________________

Media Holding კვირა, Pia.ge

By preventing the crime, the government proved that it is not pro-Russian

Jaba Khubua, journalist of Asaval-Dasavali

tvalsazrisi.ge, reportiori.ge Facebook pages: ქართული აზრი

Scheme of spreading messages

Message 1 - Saakashvili planned to kill Gabunia in order to stir destabilization in the country

Shortly after Nika Gvaramia stated about alleged murder plot, Bondo Mdzinarashvili, host of Obieqtivi TV posted on his Facebook page that Mikheil Saakashvili planned “to sacrifice” Giorgi Gabunia to stir destabilization in the country. In another post, Bondo Mdzinarashvili noted that if the Ukrainians disclosed the person who ordered the murder, the National Movement would have to say “Alas, poor me!”

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Bondo Mdzinarashvili:

“What would Gvaramia say if Saakashvili killed Gabunia to stir destabilization? - That he knew, but did not say about it?!.. Saakashvili and his sect were sacrificing a prominent TV host to stir destabilization!.. After the State Security Service prevented this dirty and bloody provocation, maniacs got agitated fearing disclosure of their identities! Everything will be disclosed quite soon!”

The above statement was spread by Georgian online editions For.ge, Tvalsazrisi.ge and მარშალპრესი. Later it was shared on Facebook pages: თავისუფლება(Freedom), Tbilisi News and Yellow Facts. It is worth noting that the same pages have also shared other posts by Bondo Mdzinarashvili.

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Arno Khidirbegishvili, editor of pro-Russian news agency Sakinform, also made an identical statement. In the article published by Sakinform, Khidirbegishvili noted that not Kadyrov, but apparently Saakashvili is behind the murder plot. Khidirbegishvili draws parallels with the murder of journalist Giorgi Sanaia, claiming that Gabunia’s murder was masterminded by Saakashvili from Ukraine. The same comments were also published in the article by Sputnik Georgia.

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Echoing Mdzinarashvili and Khidirbegishvili, pro-government political analyst, Zaal Anjaparidze also claimed that Saakashvili was behind the plot, adding that “the phone conversation between Saakashvili and Gvaramia, where Saakashvili speaks of killing a woman with a child to trigger mass protests” proves it. The statement was spread მარშალპრესი, progressnews.ge, Tvalsazrisi.ge and Reportiori.ge.

Speaking on the matter, journalist Jaba Khubua said that the National Movement is disappointed because Georgian security forces prevented the murder plot. The journalist’s comments were spread by online editions Geotimes and Tvalsazrisi.ge.

Lasha Natsvlishvili, Georgian Dream’s public relations advisor, also described the murder plot as being orchestrated from Ukraine.

Message 2 - Nika Gvaramia concealed information about alleged murder plot from Gabunia

This message was actively spread by both pro-Russian and pro-government pages and actors. 

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Following Gvaramia’s news briefing, Bondo Mdzinarashvili spread the message and accused Gvaramia of concealing the information. According to Gvaramia, the government was aware of the murder plot and strengthened Gabunia’s protection. Mdzinarashvili’s post was shared by online editions Marshalpress, Tvalsazrisi.ge, Reportiori Ge and Facebook pages BS info and ქართული აზრი.

The identical message was spread by political analyst Tamar Kiknadze and veteran Davit Akhrakhadze. In their opinion, Gvaramia did not warn either an alleged victim, or the State Security Service about an anticipated threat. Noteworthy that Tamar Kiknadze’s post was also shared by Marshalpress, reportiori.ge, Facebook pages BS info and ქართული აზრი.

Tamar Kiknadze:

“Gvaramia claims that he was aware of the murder plot against Gabunia. If he was aware, why did not he speak out against it? He said that Georgian security forces have covert ties with the Russians and that it would have no sense.”

Pro-government actors Goga Khaindrava and Lasha Natsvlishvili expressed opinions that were identical to those voiced by pro-Russian actors. Lasha Natsvlishvili said that Nika Gvaramia deliberately covered up the plan from Gabunia, because he was pursuing his own goals. Goga Khaindrava echoed Natsvlishvili’s position. A lot of online editions and Facebook pages spread the remarks, among them Alia, Marshalpress, reportiori.ge, Geotimes.com.ge, infopostalioni.com, progressnews.ge, newspaper “Kartuli Sitkva”, hotnews.ge, newsreport.ge, newspaper ვერსია, For.ge, Freedom, Tbilisi News and Yellow Facts

Goga Khaindrava:

“Just imagine, Nika Gvaramia knew that Giorgi Gabunia was facing a fatal threat and did not tell him about it.”

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The identical accusation voiced by political analyst Zaal Anjaparidze was also published on the website of Russian media outlet regnum.ru. Zaal Anjaparidze notes that Gvaramia suspiciously concealed the information about the murder plot from Gabunia and the security forces.

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Message 3 - Gvaramia and the National Movement had a preplanned scenario

Bondo Mdzinarashvili also made the identical statement. In his opinion, like the June developments were preplanned, in this particular case, Gvaramia was also following a preplanned scenario to stir destabilization in the country. The post was shared by online edition tvalsazrisi.ge; moreover, Facebook user Keti Vadachkoria shared it in a Facebook group Kakha Kaladze Tbilisi Mayor, from which the post was shared by Imedi+.

Vladimer Bozhadze, head of Civil Society and Democracy Development Center, also thanks the security forces for averting destabilization. He does not name a person who plotted destabilization, but his statement involves a question regarding what made Nika Gvaramia and Ukraine conceal the information. Marshalpress spread the full text of his Facebook post.

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Meanwhile, Gigi Maglakelidze, member of Alliance of Patriots party, linked the story related to Gabunia’s murder plot to the opposition’s revolutionary scenario. In his opinion, such developments also take place in other countries ahead of elections.

Message 4 - The State Security Service averted a provocation plotted by Gabunia and the National Movement

On June 17, Lado Sadgobelashvili, founder of the Center for Development of Priority Directions and former member of Georgian March, analyzed in his Facebook post who was interested in Gabunia’s murder and named “Gvaramia-Gabunia (Natsi) plan” as one of the versions. In Sadgobelashvili’s opinion, by this step Gvaramia and Gabunia tried to increase their ratings and at the same time, their goal was to portray themselves as martyrs ahead of elections. Lado Sadgobelashvili’s post was shared by Georgian tabloid Alia.

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In Goga Khaindrava’s opinion, a threat is also coming from Gvaramia-Gabunia actions, as they insulted “the dangerous creature” that has occupied 20% of Georgia. He also noted that Gvaramia and Gabunia do not understand that their actions have now put the entire country in danger. Khaindrava’s statement was spread by hotnews.ge, For.ge and mainly by those Facebook pages, which also spread the previous messages: Kartuli SitkvaVersia, Yellow FactsFreedom, Tbilisi News.

The identical post was also spread by political analyst Zaal Anjaparidze. His post was shared by media holding Kvira and Pia.ge. In Anjaparidze’s opinion, Gabunia’s murder would have triggered turmoil among pro-National Movement media outlets and its “cluster.” He also noted that professionalism of security forces is measured just by preventing a crime rather than reacting to it.

Message 5 – By preventing the crime, the government proved that it is not pro-Russian

Pro-government actors seized upon the arrest of Vasambeg Bokov, an ethnic-Ingush citizen of Russia, who was allegedly sent to murder Gabunia, to prove that the Georgian government is not pro-Russian. On June 16, Jaba Khubua, journalist of Asaval-Dasavali, published a Facebook post, claiming that if the Georgian government had been pro-Russian, it would not have prevented the crime. His post was published by tvalsazrisi.ge.

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Prepared by Irakli Iagorashvili
Regional Network of Media Literacy Lab