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Source: Screenshot / https://de.sputniknews.com
Russian News Agency: calculated disinformation on protests in Georgia
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. The Armenian news website Tert, for example, used this photo (in original size) in a report about the anti-terrorist operation on 23. November 2017 (external link). Sputnik itself also used a photo of the same group of policemen – from a different angle – in an article dated 24. November 2017 (external link).

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.
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