Analysis of the News: “Former American intelligence officer: CIA wants a coup in Georgia, and dreams of carrying out the same in Moscow”

May 2024.

As part of the program Regional Initiative for combating disinformation “Western Balkans Combatting disinformation Center: Exposing malicious influences through fact-checking and Analytical Journalism“, we present you a new analysis of fake news and disinformation narratives.

Former American intelligence officer: CIA wants a coup in Georgia, and dreams of carrying out the same in Moscow

In recent weeks, mass protests have been taking place in Georgia over a bill on foreign agents, proposed by the ruling Georgian Dream party. It all started on March 7 this year, when the Parliament of Georgia adopted the draft law on foreign agents in the first reading. After that, mass demonstrations were launched in the capital Tbilisi.

Although the authorities withdrew the proposal of the controversial law after the demonstrations, on April 3 the Georgian Dream party presented the proposal again for consideration and then it was adopted in the Assembly on May 1 in the second reading, with the fact that this time instead of the term “agent of foreign influence” it is used the term “organization that implements the interests of a foreign power”, while the content and essence of the law itself remained unchanged, as stated by the Sputnik portal.

This law mandates that all non-governmental organizations and independent media that receive more than 20 per cent of funds from foreign donors must be labelled precisely as the organizations mentioned above that carry out the interests of a foreign power. Along with the supervision of the work of independent bodies by the Ministry of Justice, these organizations would be obliged by the new law to disclose some confidential information which discredits their position as independent organizations and media.

We could see this in the example of Russia, which in the last decade has used its Law on Foreign Agents to limit any kind of criticism of domestic politics and the freedom of critical thinking in general. Also, a very similar law is before the assembly of the Republic of Srpska, and the introduction of such a law in Serbia is openly advocated by the former director of the BIA and the deputy prime minister of the Republic of Serbia, Aleksandar Vulin.

It can be concluded that this is the strategy of the ruling Georgian party before the October parliamentary elections, which wants to abolish all forms of control and criticism, to stay in power as long as possible. To that end, they also organized a counter meeting which they called a people’s meeting, where traditional values ​​were promoted under the slogan “Fatherland, language, faith”. This situation reminds a lot of the situation in Serbia however, the situation in Georgia is somewhat better, given that the Georgian president, Salome Zurabishvili, does not belong to any political party. In addition, she advocates a pro-European position and freedoms and has stated that she will not sign the law in question, even if the Parliament passes it.

The President of the European Council, Charles Michel, believes that the law “will move Georgia away from the EU instead of bringing it closer to it.” There is a clearly expressed concern of Brussels and Washington that by adopting this law, Georgia would deviate from the European path, which, according to public opinion surveys, is supported by over 80 per cent of citizens. Anna Dolidze, from the opposition For the people party, says the law is a Russian “loyalty test” for the Georgian Dream party, whose task is to “adopt this law and remain soft authoritarian…by indirectly silencing critics,” reports the BBC. Many media reporting on protests in Georgia characterize these events as the adoption of “Putin’s Law“.

Analyst Scott Ritter estimates that the unrest in Georgia will continue and become more intense. Ritter goes even further and declares that the American “Central Intelligence Agency wants to carry out a coup d’état in Georgia, and dreams of carrying out the same scenario in Moscow”. Other analysts disagree with Ritter, and “Sopo Gelava, a counter-disinformation specialist at the Atlantic Council’s Digital Forensics Research Lab, says Facebook pages close to the Kremlin are spreading claims that the West is behind the protests and pushing the narrative that the US is plotting a coup in Georgia before the October parliamentary elections”, as reported by the BBC.

The topic of pro-European protests is always prone to different interpretations but the narrative of an organized coup by the West has now become a pattern in the pro-Russian media. Although it is clear that in a country where four-fifths of the population supports European integration and values, there is no need for a special organization of protests against the Law, which aims to limit and constrain civil society and therefore the rule of law and freedom as one of the supreme values ​​of the EU. Citizens already have enough motivation to take to the streets and fight for their rights, considering that due to the corrupt state system, they are prevented from doing so institutionally.

Further development: May 14, 2024

Despite weeks of protests, the Parliament of Georgia adopted the “Law on Foreign Agents” in the third reading. A day before the adoption of the law, a physical confrontation took place in the Georgian parliament “when members of the parliamentary majority physically attacked opposition MP Levan Kobiashvili after he said that the government was selling Georgia to Russia.”

Although President Salome Zurabishvili has said she will veto the law, the leading political party Georgian Dream seems determined to do everything to get the law into effect. The main event for Georgia is the presidential and parliamentary elections, which will be held in October, and which will certainly more closely define Georgia’s foreign policy direction and the real will of the citizens.

Author: Nataša Stanojević