An example of the work of the
Russian propaganda machine for the targeted distribution of false
information has been supplied by the German branch of the Russian
news agency Sputnik News. A report from this agency on a protest in
Georgia verifiably contains false content.
With a gloomy cover picture and
the headline “Georgia: Special Forces and Hundreds of Policemen
Mobilized to the Parliament Building” (see cover picture /
screenshot), Sputnik gives the impression that the Georgian state
is determined to make use of force against a group of peaceful
demonstrators and undermine their right to freedom of expression.
In addition, Sputnik mentions an “increasingly tense” atmosphere
and alleged police violence against the demonstrators.
Looking at the cover picture, however, an observer of the latest
developments and events in Georgia is immediately aware: These
masked and heavily armed special forces are not in action against
the demonstrators. In fact, this photo was taken last November,
during the deployment of Georgian
security forces engaging a terrorist cell in Tbilisi.
Armenian news website Tert, for example, used this photo (in
original size) in a report about the
anti-terrorist operation on 23. November 2017
Sputnik itself also used a photo of the same group of policemen –
from a different angle – in an article
dated 24. November 2017
So much for the cover picture. In terms of facts, Sputnik sticks
closer to actual events, but skillfully uses omissions and
exaggerations to depict the situation as concerning as possible.
The old and former parliament building suddenly becomes “the
parliament” and approximately one hundred policemen turn into
“hundreds”. Furthermore, it was not mentioned that the police
removed a group of protesters who has become increasingly smaller
in recent days from the central traffic artery of the capital, once
there was no longer the need to grant the protesters this space,
according to Ombudsman Nino Lomjaria. In the previous days, the
police had allowed the occupation of the area by the demonstrators.
It also went unnoticed that members of the opposition party “United
National Movement” around their leader, Nika Melia, were first
placed in temporary custody, carried out of the square in front of
the parliament, and then released – Previously, they had repeatedly
flouted police orders and behaved in an unlawful manner.