A prominent Georgian neo-Nazi group, Georgian National Unity, has reemerged online months after their self-described 'commander', Giga Chelidze was released from prison.
Chelidze served three-and-a-half years in prison for the illegal purchase, storage, and carrying of firearms. He was arrested in September 2018, following public outcry over videos his group published online of National Unity members being trained to shoot in a forest.
[Read more on OC Media: Neo-Nazi leader arrested on gun charges in Georgia]
Largely banned from Facebook and bereft of their leader after 2018, Georgian National Unity resorted to YouTube and Telegram to recruit members and issue anti-semitic and racist statements. In recent months, the National Unity leader has been able to do that twice a week through YouTube show Fascist Talks.
In his show, Chelidze has called Marxism and liberalism ‘viruses of the international Jewry’, whom he accused of starting the war in Ukraine.
Chelidze has also alleged that ‘globalist’ and ‘Masonic’ powers seek to populate Georgia with ‘foreign scum [...] so that Georgian women marry them, and black bastards run around here and the Georgian nation goes extinct’.
The National Unity leader is known to engage in debates with listeners of YouTube Q&A sessions about how ‘race mixing is wrong’.
‘Yes, I am a racist. I love my race’, he claimed.
Despite several commitments by YoutTube to tackle hateful speech including ‘Nazi ideology’, this neo-Nazi group appears to have faced no problems so far.
Google, YouTube’s parent company, has yet to respond to OC Media’s request for comment on Georgian National Unity’s activities on their platform.
Openly neo-Nazi from the start
Georgian National Unity rose to prominence in 2018 when their members openly displayed firearms in their videos. Chelidze claimed soon after that their members had weapons, including hunting rifles, Winchester rifles, pistols, and semi-automatic weapons.
At that time, investigative agencies claimed they only found stun guns in their possession.
In May 2018, National Unity announced the creation of the ‘Popular Guard’ or ‘blackshirt detachments’ to be deployed against anti-government protests led by liberal groups in Tbilisi, and marked Family Purity Day with Nazi salutes in central Tbilisi.
Family Purity Day is a holiday created by the Georgian Orthodox Church in 2014. It coincides with the International Day Against Homophobia on 17 May.
Chelidze was briefly detained in October 2017 outside the Georgian Football Federation’s offices as members of his associates, and other far-right groups, protested against Georgian footballer Guram Kashia.
Kashia became a target of extreme right-wing groups after he wore a rainbow armband at a football game as a show of support for queer rights.
Chelidze, a former self-professed supporter of the ruling Georgian Dream Party, registered the Nationalist Socialist Movement — Georgian National Unity as a non-profit organisation in 2016.
Initially, the group was mostly involved in translating fascist literature into Georgian. Their first public campaign was an online petition demanding a ban on George Soros’s Open Society Georgia Foundation — a part of the Open Society Foundations, which offers support to civil society groups.
However, unlike other extreme right groups in Georgia, Georgian National Unity have always openly positioned themselves as ‘fascist’ and used neo-Nazi symbols and gestures.
The far-right group explicitly banned its members from smoking, alcohol abuse, homosexuality, and ‘race mixing’.
In April 2017, they welcomed Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban in Tbilisi and lauded him for his fight against Soros and liberalism.