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Georgian far-right group ‘gifted’ new political party after being de-registered

Several thousand people blocked the highway behind the Georgian Dream offices, after police blocked the area in front of it. Photo: Mariam Nikuradze/OC Media.

The Georgian far-right group Alt Info has announced they have been given control of a previously unaffiliated far-right political party, a week after the authorities de-registered their own political wing.

Several thousand supporters of Alt Info gathered outside the ruling Georgian Dream party’s offices on Saturday, less than a week after their own political party, the Conservative Movement, was de-registered by Georgian authorities on a technicality. 

Georgian Dream’s offices were heavily protected by the police, including officers in military fatigues from the Interior Ministry’s Strategic Facilities Protection Department. Photo: Mariam Nikuradze/OC Media.

Addressing his supporters, Alt Info co-founder Zurab Makharadze announced that the leader of another far-right group, Georgian Idea, had ‘gifted them’ their party so that Alt Info could take part in the October parliamentary elections.

Makharadze thanked Georgian Idea’s chair, Levan Chachua, while stating the party had previous experience participating in elections. During the 2020 parliamentary elections, Georgian Idea received 8,263 votes nationally, 0.42% of the total.

[Read on OC Media: Were the far-right the biggest losers in Georgia’s election?

Makharadze threatened that if more obstacles were placed for them to participate in the elections, the group would start a campaign of civil disobedience, including blocking roads, railways, and more. 

Photo: Mariam Nikuradze/OC Media.

Georgian Idea was founded in 2014 by ultra-conservative activist Levan Chachua. Chachua was sentenced to four and a half years in prison for storming and interrupting a live broadcast on TV channel Kavkasia in 2010. In 2012, soon after Georgian Dream came to power, he was recognised as a political prisoner and released from prison. 

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A fall out between Alt Info and Georgian Dream?

Saturday’s protest is part of an apparent rift between the Georgian Government and Alt Info. The ruling party has previously taken little to no steps to distance themselves from the group, or to prevent or punish their violent attacks on journalists, liberal activists, and queer people.

The protest also comes as the ruling party and pro-government media continue a dramatic shift to the right, repeating many of the same conservative and homophobic talking points espoused by Alt Info.

The front of the Georgian Dream offices was fully cordoned off by police officers. Photo: Mariam Nikuradze/OC Media.

‘Us and them [Georgian Dream] we don’t align any longer’, Zurab Makharadze told the crowd, ‘us and you [Georgian Dream] — we will meet only on opposing sides of the barricades from now on.’ 

‘We have our own path now as people and we have nothing in common with you any longer’, he continued. 

Zurab Makharadze. Photo: Mariam Nikuradze/OC Media.
During the demonstration, protesters burned flags and t-shirts bearing Georgian Dream’s logo. Photo: Mariam Nikuradze/OC Media.

Unlike in previous demonstrations by Alt Info, police officers were assigned to provide personal protection for journalists.

The move came in stark contrast to the police response to the group’s 5 July 2021 mass attacks on the media, during which over 50 journalists were injured, one of whom died six days later. During the day-long violence, police took almost no action to prevent the attacks. The leaders of Alt Info, who publicly organised and directed the violence, did not face charges.