Responding to Russian Disinformation: the Case of Georgia – Overview of Non-State Actors’ Activities

Responding to Russian Disinformation: the Case of Georgia – Overview of Non-State Actors’ Activities

During May-August 2019, EWMI ACCESS commissioned a study into the activities of Georgian non-state actors in regard to responding to and countering Russian, anti-Western, and anti-liberal disinformation and propaganda. The study, conducted by the UN Association of Georgia,  used desk research, in-depth interviews and focus-group discussions, as well as a small-scale internet survey, to draw a comprehensive picture of the current state of affairs.

The study looks into a group of 20-25 non-state actors (including watchdogs, media, and think tanks) that has been working for the past three to five years on countering disinformation and propaganda using a variety of methods. This group has diversified and fine-tuned its approaches and methodology over time. The report evaluates the capacity and approaches of this core group, their relations with and perception of the Georgian Government, and produces a number of recommendations for Georgian CSOs, the donor community, and the Government of Georgia.

According to the study’s findings, the overall approach to disinformation in Georgia has, to date, been mostly reactive and defensive; however there is a notable trend towards proactivity. Lack of trust and cooperation between the government and civil society is diminishing the effect of efforts carried out by these parties. Therefore, there is a clear need for a more coordinated approach between state and non-state actors. There is also a need for a more comprehensive study of public perceptions and permeability to disinformation and key factors affecting these perceptions. Nationwide, positive and future-oriented pro-Western narratives should also be developed and disseminated and more targeted campaigns should be carried out.

The findings of the study were presented to CSOs and donor organizations on October 22. The study report will soon be published on the EWMI ACCESS website.

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