Disinfo: Protests in Georgia caused serious damage to the country’s economics

Summary

Georgia fully depends not on its number one strategic partner – the United States, not on its “historical family” – Europe, but on “occupier” Russia. Only one threat from Moscow about banning Georgian imports has caused unprecedented depreciation of GEL (Georgian Lari) and resulted in record-high fuel prices. These developments are also causing damage to one of the few profitable branches of Georgia’s economy – tourism.

Disproof

These statements are untrue. This is a recurring pro-Kremlin narrative as if without Russian market Georgian economy will collapse.

Contribution of Russian tourists to Georgia’s economy is 1.8%, while arrivals from Russia by plane represent 0.5%. Despite the decrease of Russian tourists after Russia banned direct flights to Georgia, as a whole, during the first two weeks of July 2019, the number of tourists in Georgia increased by 3.2% y/y.

As per Georgian currency, the protests did not cause its devaluation. The protests started on June 20. A month before Gavrilov’s visit, the national currency had already faced certain problems. In late May, Lari exchange rate was fluctuating within 2.78-2.79 against USD, reaching 2.8 already on May 31.

Finally, the growth of fuel prices in Georgia is driven by increased prices of oil products on international markets and not the ongoing protests. In his comments to online edition BPN, Vano Mtvarelashvili, chairman of the Union of Oil-Products Importers, cites increased prices of oil products on international markets and Lari depreciation as the reasons behind the growth of fuel prices in Georgia. CNBC analyst claims that oil prices are rising faster this year than expected, explaining that OPEC supply cuts and U.S. sanctions on Iran and Venezuela are leaving the market with less cushion to absorb oil supply disruptions.

More details in the article by Myth Detector. More information about recent protests in Georgia here.

publication/media

  • Reported in: Issue 160
  • DATE OF PUBLICATION: 22/07/2019
  • Language/target audience: Russian
  • Country: Georgia
  • Keywords: Sergei Gavrilov, Protest, Economic difficulties
  • Outlet: Sputnik Georgia
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Washington is entirely responsible for the termination of the INF treaty

The United States launched a whole propaganda campaign to accuse Russia of violating the INF Treaty. Washington, itself, ignored the claims of the Russian side about violations of the INF treaty for many years. The American side has specifically undermined the viability of the treaty.

Disproof

Recurring pro-Kremlin disinformation narrative claiming that the US is entirely responsible for the demise of the INF treaty.

Russia bears primary responsibility for the end of the INF Treaty, because it has produced, tested and deployed the 9M729 missile, which violates the agreement. In July 2014, the then-US President Obama officially accused Russia of testing a missile in violation of the INF Treaty, which prohibits the US or Russia from possessing, producing or test-flying ground-launched ballistic and cruise missiles with a range of between 500 and 5500 kilometres.

Russia is dedicated to protecting media freedoms

Russia is categorically against groundless arrests of journalists. The authorities work with press freedom advocates to investigate and curb any such behaviour. The government is quick to respond to journalists’ rights violations.

Disproof

Contrary to these claims, independent journalists in Russia are subjected to frequent threats, attacks and prosecution under dubious charges, the most recent case being that of Ivan Golunov, a journalist arrested in June 2019 under false drug charges. Violence against journalists in Russia continues to happen with impunity: the database of the Committee to Protect Journalists lists 38 murders of journalists in Russia from 1992 to 2017, out of which 33 with complete impunity3 with partial impunity and only 2 cases were fully prosecuted and tried. 

Reporters without Borders’ Press Freedom Index for 2019 ranks Russia 149th out of 180 countries, while IREX Media Sustainability Index for 2019 notes a decline of the country’s already low score, due to, among other things, “sustained governmental pressure on and erosion of the media sector, violence against journalists, and the normalization of propaganda.”

Crimea is now recognised as an integral part of Russia

Five years after the Crimea decided to reunite with the Russian Federation in a referendum, the whole world starts to accept the fact that the region is an indisputable part of Russia and it cannot be otherwise.

Disproof

Recurring pro-Kremlin disinformation narrative about the annexation of Crimea, claiming that Crimean citizens chose to rejoin Russia through a legal democratic referendum.

No international body has recognised the so-called referendum, announced on 27 February 2014, and held on 16 March 2014.  Thirteen members of the United Nations Security Council voted in favour of a resolution declaring the referendum invalid. On the 27th of February 2014, when it was announced, the UN General Assembly adopted a resolution which stated that the referendum in Crimea was not valid and could not serve as a basis for any change in the status of the peninsula.  On December 18 2018, the UN General Assembly confirmed its non-recognition of illegal annexation of Crimea.