The Coordinated Network of Utsnobi (Giorgi Gachechiladze) in the Service of Anti-Western Propaganda
Parallel to the war waged by Russia in Ukraine, anti-Western and, in some cases, openly pro-Russian messages have intensified in Georgia. According to the popular narrative, the West is pushing Georgia into war against Russia. Similar rhetoric and indirect hints are being made from representatives of the ruling party. Along with the West, accusations about the desire to open a so-called "second front" in the country are directed towards the opposition, especially to the United National Movement.
Actors connected to the government known as experts, current or former members of the ruling team and others are involved in the planned information campaign to fuel the society with the fear of being dragged into the war and portray the negative role of the West. Along with the rhetoric of the ruling party and the active campaign in the traditional pro-government media outlets, anti-Western messages were also amplified in social networks. Among them, the network of pages related to the movement founded by Giorgi (Gia) Gachechiladze (Utsnobi) on Facebook became visible, which through the infrastructure created on Facebook (pages and inauthentic accounts) is trying to promote the anti-Western messages. In addition, the mentioned network goes beyond the scope of Facebook and is also present on YouTube, Telegram, Tiktok and Instagram platforms, which indicates the nature of its information campaign and makes obvious the interest to increase the influence on society.
Pages related to Gia Gachechiladze's social movement on Facebook
“Ai Ia” („აი ია") is a public movement, the establishment of which was announced by Gia Gachechiladze on April 9, 2021, and the goal of the movement was to change the political conditions of the country. One of the founders of the movement is a former member of the Tbilisi Sakrebulo and prior to that a member of the Georgian Dream, Vato Shakarishvili, who said that the movement would have the function of civil control. In their statements, Shakarishvili and Gachechiladze often attack the media critical of the government and are distinguished by their anti-Western rhetoric. Almost two months after the beginning of Russia's attack on Ukraine, Gachechiladze announced a new public initiative, “We won’t let you mess it up” (“არ აგარევინებთ"),the goal of which is to avoid involving Georgia into the war, which, according to him, internal and external forces, including the opposition, are trying to do.
According to the observation of ISFED, an openly anti-Western, pro-government network on Facebook is connected to the “Ai Ia”(„აი ია“) movement, which includes 7 pages: Ai Ia (აი ია), We won’t let you mess it up (არ აგარევინებთ • ar agarevinebt) Ai i ucnobi (აი უცნობი), Vato Shakarishvili, Fun Politic and Mishing (მიშინგი). Most of the posts from the pages are shared in a coordinated manner by fake accounts in groups. Some of the posts published against the opposition are also shared in the form of advertisements.
According to Facebook's monitoring tool CrowdTangle, the pages “Ai Ia” , “We won’t let you mess it up” ( „არ აგარევინებთ • ar agarevinebt"), “Vato Shakarishvili" and „აი უცნობი • i ucnobi" are sharing videos from each other's pages by using the platforms crossposting function, indicating that they are interconnected and may even have common admins.
Coordinated activity of inauthentic accounts in Facebook groups
ISFED discovered fake accounts operating on Facebook, which share posts published on the studied pages in a coordinated manner in groups. As a result of monitoring, it was determined that the mentioned inauthentic accounts started sharing posts in groups immediately after their publication, which indicates the coordinated action of their administrators. It is also noteworthy that each fake account shared posts from multiple pages in the groups.
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1st slide: In the name of progress and liberalism, fascism has taken place in Georgia.
In addition, in order to increase the interaction and develop discourse, the mentioned inauthentic accounts also left comments on the posts. In addition to fake accounts, Gia Abashidze, a propagandist affiliated with the ruling party, was involved in the sharing of posts by the studied pages in groups.
(Photo – Ghia Abashidze sharing Utsnobis song Kidobani in multiple Facebook groups)
The network of pages related to Utsnobi is characterized by openly anti-Western rhetoric. Anti-Western statements of Vato Shakarishvili and supporters of the ruling party (Goga Khaindrava, Amiran Salukvadze, Zaza Shatirishvili, etc.) are mainly published on the pages. “We won’t let you mess it up”(„არ აგარევინებთ“ ) and the related network became one of the platforms for the parliament members who left the Georgian Dream in June of this year and who are now openly expressing anti-Western, mostly anti-American sentiments. In addition, excerpts from the Utsnobi’s show are actively published on the pages. The main message spread on the pages is that the USA and the West want to start hostilities in Georgia and open the so-called second front. The pages openly attack the United States Embassy in Georgia and the Ambassador, Kelly C. Degnan. The West is presented as a power whose goal is to manage Georgia's actions and gain control over the country.
(Photo 1 - Vato Shakarishvili on the statement of Ben Hodges: „They want us to bring our country to the altar of their interests with our own hands!“).
(Photo 2 – Zaza Shatirishvili: “All the actions of the Swiss bank are directly related to the interest of making Georgia a second front, and these actions are completely coordinated from America”)
In addition to the West, Ukraine is also the target of discrediting pages. There are reports that Ukraine has a monetary interest in the war. Also, like the West, high ranking officials of Ukraine are accused of wanting to open a second front in Georgia.
The mentioned pages act in favor of the ruling team and engage in discrediting the opposition. Their main target is the United National Movement and the former president, Mikheil Saakashvili.
(Photo 2 - The families of the victims of Saakashvili's regime requested a meeting with the European Parliament)
The West, Ukraine, and the opposition are presented as interconnected forces that want to involve Georgia in the war and cause chaos. Along with discrediting the opposition, the media critical of the government are accused of deceiving the public and fabricating facts, as evidence of which is provided by secret records made public by Utsnobi.
(Photo 1 - Vato Shakarishvili: "The opposition obsessed with colonialism is disgusting. We would kill our mother, we would kill our father, we would sell our country if you (America) give us a job!")
(Photo 2 – Vato Shakriashvili: “With the publicized record, the factory of lies of Natsmedians burst like a furuncle!)
Data from Meta's ads library also indicate the link between pages related to Utsnobi and Vato Shakarishvili. Davit Davitashvili is listed as the advertiser on the pages “We won’t let you mess it up“, “Ai Ia” and “Vato Shakarishvili”, although he cannot be identified by contact information, therefore, the origin of the spent money is unclear. The advertised posts are mainly Vato Shakarishvili's announcements and broadcasts. It is worth noting that until the middle of July, advertisements were published on the “Ai Ia” page under the name of Tuna, which also does not allow the identification of the sponsor. Placing the same ads once again indicates that the pages are linked and managed by the same admin/group. During the last two months, a total of 42 advertisements were published on the pages. Each of them potentially reaches over 1 million Facebook users.
(Photo 2 - Vato Shakarishvili: "The opposition obsessed with colonialism is disgusting. We would kill our mother, we would kill our father, we would sell our country if you (America) give us a job!") (Photo 4 – Zaza Shatirishvili: “All the actions of the Swiss bank are directly related to the interest of making Georgia a second front, and these actions are completely coordinated from America”)
Activity on other social media platforms
In parallel with the ongoing information campaign on Facebook, the @aragarevinebt (We won’t let you to mess it up) channel is active on Tiktok, which has 949 subscribers. The content published on the channel is identical to the posts published on the Facebook pages of the same name, but adjusted to the specifics of the platform. The duration of published satirical videos is generally between 15 seconds and 3 minutes.
Agarevinebt” (We won’t let you to mess it up) has recently been actively using the Telegram channel of the same name. Via Facebook, the page invites people to join the Telegram channel. The channel was created on May 5, 2022 and currently has 561 subscribers. Posts published on the Telegram channel match the content published on Facebook.
(Photo 2 -Zelensky instructed the head of the government to discuss and prepare a report about the legalization of same-sex marriage)
Their YouTube channel has been active since May 8, 2022, with only 20 subscribers. The channel actively publishes short videos - so-called shorts. Like other platforms, the content here is also defamatory.
The „Ai Ia” (“აი ია“) movement also uses an Instagram account under the name @aisazogadoeba. The last post on the account was published on June 22, 2021. The account contains discrediting posts of the opposition and media critical of government.
 Crossposting feature allows a Facebook user to post the same video or live stream to their own and/or any other page simultaneously. To use this feature, the pages must be coordinated, in particular, they must have been added to each other from the admin settings.
Social Media Monitoring Program of the International Society for Fair Elections and Democracy is made possible by the support from the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands. The sole responsibility for the content of this article lies with the International Society for Fair Elections and Democracy (ISFED) and the views expressed herein do not necessarily reflect the donor’s position.