GEO

Anatomy of Georgian Neo-Nazism

18 May, 2018

This report by Transparency International Georgia aims to identify the Neo-Nazi groups and associated persons that have recently expressed aggression and exerted violent behavior towards liberal groups. It is difficult to identify them and come up with an exhaustive list since most of these persons belong to informal and unstructured groups.

While it is true that it’s not possible to identify the direct funding source of the Neo-Nazi organizations, individual leaders have a direct connection to the Russian government and local political organizations.

  1. What is the Georgian March?

Georgian March is an informal union that unites several Neo-Nazi organizations. The organization began its activities under the name “Georgian March” in the summer of 2017 when they protested the case of child abuse by an Iranian citizen. The protests called for the deportation of illegal immigrants from the country. However, the persons and organizations that are members of the union have been known for years for their homophobic and racist statements. They have also been involved in a number of violent rallies.

  • The Georgian March held a rally to protest the soccer player Guram Kachia’s wearing of an arm band to support LGBT rights in a nationwide effort to support LGBT equality. At the rally, the protesters burned the LGBT flag and called for Kashia to be expelled from the Georgian team.  

  • The members of the “Georgian March” stormed the football match between Georgian and Belarus in Kutaisi, burned the LGBT flag and made offensive comments about Kachia.

  • The members of the Georgian March threw live chickens at Rustavi 2, in an expression of discontent towards Eka Kvesitadze’s show “Different Accents”.

  • The members of the “Georgian March” held a rally to protest what they perceived as an insult to religion made by Giorgi Gabunia’s in his statements on Rustavi 2. Journalist Giorgi Gabunia and the TV’s lawyer were in a car when they were surrounded by the protestors. The mob verbally insulted Gabunia. During the incident, Rustavi 2’s journalist Davit Eradze was injured.

  • On July 16, 2017, a representative of the Georgian March made sexual rape comments in address of Tatia Dolidze, former Georgian Youth Delegate to the United Nations. The aggressive comments were made after Tatia Dolidze had criticized the Georgian March.

  • The members of the “Georgian March” held a counter-rally against the rally “No to Russian Fascism” organized by European Georgia. The members of the counter-rally physically assaulted the participants of the rally and threw eggs, bottles and brooms at them. Several people were injured during the incident.

  • The members of the “Georgian March” held two rallies in front of the offices of the Open Society Foundation Georgia. In both cases, the Georgian March called for the closing of the Foundation. At the first rally, they burned a dummy of George Soros. At the second rally, they threw torches at the police. Afterwards, they congregated towards the election headquarters of Kakha Kaladze and protested the sale of land to foreigners.

  • In 2018, the members of the “Georgian March” announced to conudct the citizen patrols. The purpose of the patrol was to create an alternative citizen unit from the Ministry of Interior Affairs, which would identify breaches of law by foreigners in predefined locations.

Notably, members of the political parties such as “Georgian Dream”, Gia Jorjoliani and Davit Chichinadze, and members of the “Alliance of Patriots”, Ada Marshanaia and Emzar Kvitsiani, became bail guarantors for the activists of the “Georgian March” who were arrested in connection to the incident at the Rustavi 2 on March 2018. The former MP of “Georgian Dream” and currently the mayor of Tianeti, Tamaz Mechiauri, also was the bail guarantor.

Mostly homophobic, xenophobic and racist statements are heard at the rallies of the “Georgian March”. They are distinguished largely by their aggressive and violent behavior.

Sandro Bregadze and Gia Korkotashvili are the prominent faces of the “Georgian March”. There have been announced on several occasions information about the disbandment of the “Georgian March”, but Bregadze and Korkotashvili still show up together at the rallies.
 

2. Organizations and individuals connected to the “Georgian March”

  • “Agreement of National Powers”

On Rustaveli Avenue on May 11-13 of this year, there were rallies held by the youth who protested the abuse of power by the law enforcement and Special Forces in their raid on Nightclubs. The members of the counter-rally, which was held in parallel to the youth protests, threatened the rally participants with physical violence. At a meeting with organizers of the youth rally, the Minister of Internal Affairs stated they wouldn’t be able to contain the counter-rally without resorting to the dispersal of the rally by force. Due to his, the MIA asked the rally participants to call off the rally. Following this, the peaceful protestors were secretly transported to a safe location from the rally venue, in an attempt to bypass the Neo-Nazi demonstrators.

In parallel to the youth protests, the so-called “Agreement of National Powers” was made among the representatives and supporters of various Neo-Nazi movements.
 

                                               

“Post on Facebook account of Georgian March”

“We Sandro Bregadze, Guram Kartvelishvili, Dimitri Lortkipanidze, Gia Korkotashvili, Levan Chachua, Zviad Tomaradze, Guram Palavandishvili, Nikoloz Mjavanadze, Koka Morgoshia, Beso Danelia, Levan Chkaidze  are announcing an end to the homosexuality and drug dealing! We are gathering on Monday at 18:00 near the Music Hall and heading towards the Parliament!!! All fellow patriots are requested to join us!!!”

Shortly thereafter, they held a press conference and publicly announced the agreement.

According to the statement by former MP, Dimitri Lortkipanidze, they were inspired by the present situation, which is “a result of drug propaganda, sodomites and joint activities of reactionary forces that caused a paralysis of the center of the capital city”. They organized a rally for May 14, as well as a counter-rally for May 17, which is the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia. However, the counter-rally was cancelled after the LGBT rally was called off.

There are traces of Russian meddling behind the so-called “Agreement of National Powers”. Dimitri Lortkipanidze, one of the leaders of the movement, made a statement two months ago that he is leaving the Democratic Movement Party and switching to the civil sector. According to data obtained from the Public Registry,several days before the statement, Lortkipanidze was appointed as the director of Y.M. Primakov Georgian-Russian Public Centre. This information was confirmed on the Russian-language version of the Centre’s official website. The Centre was established on August 21, 2013 by the International Relations Institute and “Gorchakov Public Diplomacy Support Fund”. The Gorchakov Fund was established in 2010 by the order of then-President of the Russian Federation, Dmitry Medvedev.

The Gorchakov Fund is one of the instruments used by Russia to exercise its soft power. According to its statute, the purpose of the Fund is to support scientific, cultural and educational programs in international relations, to support of mass communications and informational technologies, and to bolster favorable public opinion about Russia abroad.

The Primakov Center finances free Russian language courses in Georgia, as well as sport, cultural and other type of events. However, Dimitri Lortkipanidze decision to leave politics and his new leadership role at the “Georgian March” coincides suspiciously with his appointment as the Director of the Primakov Center. This strengthens the grounds to believe that the increase of Neo-Nazi activities is within the interests of Russia.

One of the members of the Georgian-Russian Public Center, Natalia Tseretli, donated a total of GEL 1228 to the “Free Georgia Party” in 2013. The leader of “Free Georgia” is Kakha Kukava. In 2017, the “Democratic Movement” (Nino Burjanadze) and Free Georgia (Kakha Kukava) nominated Dimitri Lortkipanidze for the position of the chairperson of the Sakrebulo.

Dimitri Lortkipanidze replaced Uruzmag Karkusov as the Director of the Primakov Fund. Karkusov served as Prime-Minister in the alternative administration of South Ossetia. Uruzmag Karkusov also worked for three years as Deputy Minister of Economy and Sustainable Development. He was dismissed in 2010. Karkusov stated that his dismissal was politically motivated. His spouse, Nana Keinishvili, was a Member of the Parliament in 2012-2016 from the “Georgian Dream” party list. In 2016, Nana Keinishvili and Uruzmag Karkusov participated in the elections under the “Ours-National Party”.

According to data from the Public Registry, Bejan Khurtsidze is also connected to the Primakov Fund. He is deceased, however he is still indicated as the Director of the International Relations Institute which was founded by the Primakov Fund. Khurtsidze was an MP during several convocations of the Parliament, representing various parties. During 1992-1995, he was the Majoritarian MP in Vani. During 1992-2004, he was an MP from the Prosperous Georgia bloc party-list. Afterwards, Khurtsidze was the Majoritarian MP (2004-2008) in Vani from the Burjanadze-Democrats. During 2008-2012, he was the Majoritarian MP in Vani from the United National Movement. In 2012, the United National Movement expelled Khurtsidze from their party. As the Director for the International Relations Institute, he was actively involved in activities organized by the Gorchakov Fund.

One more member from Burjanadze’s party, Beso Danelia, is also the face with the Neo-Nazi movement.

Zviad Tomaradze is known to the public as an author of several controversial draft laws. According to the documents presented to the Parliament, Tomaradze demanded punishment for insulting religious feelings, as well as the prohibition of the activities of non-governmental organizations. One of the draft laws even related to the prohibition of abortion. Along with Sandro Bregadze, Tomaradze was a member of the initiative group that addressed the central election commission to register the following referendum question: “Do you agree for a Constitutional amendment to be made, which would state that marriage is a union between a male and a female for the purposes of creating a family?”.

Zviad Tomaradze himself is the head of several non-governmental organizations. These include: “National Religious Institute”, “Georgia’s Demographic Society 21” and “Nation and State”. The members of the ruling body of the “Georgian Demographic State 21” (formerly known as “Demographic Development Fund”) are the model Tamar (Tako) Chkeidze and Anzor Totadze. The chairperson of the board was Tamar Chiburadnize-Lomtadze, who is the chairperson of the board of “Georgian Demographic Revival Fund”. This fund, in turn, is under the patronage of businessman Levan Vasadze. Other members of the board are the same Tamar (Tako) Chkeidze and Anzor Totadze. According to media reports, the supporters of the Demographic Revival Fund are Shio Mujiri (Patriach’s co-regent), businessmen Lasha Papashvili, Mamuka Khazaradze, Badri Japaridze, Zaza Nishniadze, member of the ruling party “Georgian Dream” Dimitri Khundadze, former chairman of the Healthcare and Social Issues Committee and one of the founders of Palitra Media, Goga Tevdorashvili. Bidzina Ivanishvili, the former Prime-Minister, provided support to the Fund.

Guram Kartvelishvili was the author and host of the “Continue Georgian History” project that was broadcast on the Public Broadcaster. Kartvelishvili stood out with his homophobic remarks, which is evident in a video that he had uploaded.

Guram Palavandishvili was the host of the “With Palavandishvili” show on TV Palitra News. His narratives frequently included homophobic and xenophobic undertones. Non-governmental organizations addressed self-regulation body of the Palitra News with a complaint.  The guests of the show stood out with their homophobic statements, all of them represented the same position. The “Me and Society” was shown as “immorality propaganda”. The Georgian National Communications Commission ruled that there was a violation of the independence principle, use of hate speech and discrimination.

Dimitri Lortkipanidze, Zviad Tomaradze and Levan Vasadze were frequently invited as a guests to Palavandishvili’s show. As for another member of the newly created union, Levan Chkaidze, he is the co-head with Palavandishvili of the non-governmental organization “Society for the Protection of Children’s Rights”

Nikoloz Mjavanadze is an active supporter of the “Georgian March”. The monitoring of the “Media Development Fund” has found that he had also made homophobic statements.

The information on the members of the newly-established union (Gia Korkotashvili, Levan Chachua, Koka Morgoshia and Sandro Bregadze) are provided below:

  • Movement “Nationals”

Sandro Bregadze is the founder of the Movement “Nationals”. Until February of 2016, Bregadze was the Deputy Minister of Diaspora Affairs. Prior to that, he was the Deputy Minister of Internally Displaced Persons from the Occupied Territories, Accommodation and Refugees of Georgia. In his capacity as the Deputy Minister, Bregadze was known for his homophobic statements. Until 2004, Bregadze was a member of Aslan Abashidze’s party “Democratic Revival Union” and was an MP from its electoral bloc.

Bregadze was sentenced to 6 years of probation in 2011 for act of hooliganism with a firearm.

Kakhaber Migineishvili is another founder of the Movement “Nationals”. He was the member of the initiative group that addressed the central election commission with a referendum question on defining the status of marriage. The central election commission did not register the question.

Zurab Enukidze is the third founder of the Movement “Nationals” and he has donated to the Party “Georgian Idea”. The party was established in 2014 and participated in the parliamentary elections in 2016. The first person on his party-list was Levan Chachua, the second – Sandro Bregadze, who also stood for elections for the Majoritarian MP in Saburtalo. The Central Election Commission was addressed with a complaint due to Bregadze’s homophobic posters. Levan Chachua was arrested along with the members of the Orthodox Parents Union in 2010 for storming the TV Company Kavkasia and sentenced to 4 years in prison. In 2012, he was released from prison with the status of a political prisoner.

The “Georgian Idea” actively participated in the organization of the Georgian March in July, 2017 and contributed to popularization of the “Georgian March” through the use of its Facebook page.

Giorgi Gabedava is the co-founder of the “Levan Chachua Fund” in 2013, member of the board and deputy chairperson. According to the statute, the purpose of the Fund was to support “Georgian Idea’s” candidate, Levan Chachua, in his bid for Presidency.

“ 1.7 Purpose of the group’s activities

1. Supporting the Presidential candidacy of Levan Chachua”

Gabedava was arrested several times for resisting police. The most recent case was for petty hooliganism during the counter-rally held after the raids on “Basiani” club and “Galeri” bar. Along with his associated, he was also present near the club on June 18, 2016 and left when the police showed up.

Giorgi Gabedava was one of the active organizers of the violent demonstrations on May 17, 2013. Gabedava is the leader of the “National Front”, the members of which, like Gega Khvedelidze, are known for their homophobic and racist statements. Khvedelidze is also a member of the “Georgian Idea”.

Giorgi Gabedava is the godchild and producer of Soso Pavliashvili, a Georgian singer who resides in Russia. Gabedava was beaten and injured in Moscow in February.

Giorgi Gabedava is also associated with organization “National Alliance of Georgian Youth”. The purposes of the Alliance are:


 

“1.9. Purpose of the group’s activity:

1. Establishing national ideology in youth

2. Engaging the youth in sport and cultural events

3. Raising the level of education of the youth

4. Protecting the Orthodox Church of Georgia

5. Media Monitoring

6. Protection of Human Rights

7. Fight against pharmaceutical drug addiction

8. Fight for the territorial integrity of Georgia

9. Monitoring of the penitentiary system of Georgia

10. Support of socially vulnerable persons

11. Raising of youth participation in election processes and engagement in public activities

12. Informing the public of serious problems in the country and finding solutions

13. Informing the youth about the importance of elections

14. Developing the culture of participation of youth in elections

Giorgi Gabedava also founded the organization “Civil Activities Club”. The statute of the Club reads that its purpose is the protection of ethnic, religious and sexual minorities:

 

 

“ Article 2 Purpose and Tasks of the Activities

1. Protection of Human Rights

2. Monitoring of the Central Election Rights

3. Social activity

4. Social research

5. Monitoring and oversight of state bodies

7. Opening and functioning of theatres, theatre-studios, art schools, institutions and academias

8. Support of the families of the participants and deceased soldiers who died in the fight for restoring the territorial integrity of Georgia

9. Supporting the families that are victims of earthquakes and natural disasters”

Melor Vachnadze, along with Gabedava, is one of the founders and chairperson of the board of the “Civil Activities Club”. He was sentenced to prison for fraud in 2009 and released as a political prisoner in 2013. He was subsequently arrested several times for resisting police. In July 2017, Vachნadze made a statement and distanced himself from the “Georgian March” prior to the rally. Nevertheless, he was active at the counter-rallies against the youth demonstrations. He was arrested at the counter-rally.

Mikheil Meskhi is one of the founders of the organization. He was one of three supporters of the “Georgian Dream” who were arrested for voter bribery in 2012. In 2010, he participated in a rally near the Ilia University where he demanded the burning of Irakli Deisadze’s book and the closure of the printing house where the book was produced. In 2017, he was on “Georgian Dream’s” proportional list for the Tbilisi Sakrebulo elections. He was not elected.

Rati Maisuradze is one of the founders of the Levan Chachua Fund and Civil Activities Club. He was arrested, along with Levan Chachua and Giorgi Gabedava, in 2010 for storming  TV Company Kavkasia. He was subsequently freed as a political prisoner. At that time, he was the founder of National Orthodox Movement and one of the directors, along with Malkhaz Gulashvili and Nana Devdariani.


 

  • Georgia’s National Unity

The Head of the National Unity, which considers itself a fascist organization, has a connection with the “Georgian Idea”. The organization was founded in 2016. According to the statute, the purpose of the “National Unity” is “to carry out peaceful and united policy, according to which Georgian mental worldview is prioritized. Moreover, the traditions, mental, religious and political worldviews of ethnic minorities who are citizens of Georgia will be respected, as long as they do not insult the Georgian worldview”. According to the Public Registry, they have a Chairman and Royal Chancellor.

An online petition initiated by “National Unity” can be found on www.manifest.ge, in which they call for the prohibition of George Soros’ Open Society Foundation Georgia. They also sent a threatening letter to Rustavi 2 journalist Giorgi Gabunia following the religious remarks made by him.

Xenophobic, homophobic, aggressive and fascist statements can be found on the Facebook page of the “Georgian National Unity”. Investigation has begun on one of their videos, where guns are visible. However, the investigation was closed as it was established that the guns were pneumatic. However, the leader of the organization, Giorgi Chelidze, said in an interview: “Most of the members of the organization have weapons: hunting rifles, Winchesters, pistols, semi-automatic weapons, and we follow the rules for their use and transport”.

One of the leaders of the National Unity, Tornike Kiviladze (Royal Chancellor) was fifth on the election list of the “Georgian Idea” in 2016 and candidate for Majoritarian in the #14 district (Chugureti). In a commentary made to Rustavi 2 on May 15, Kiviladze said that he left the organization and that he sees a threat in the activities that the organization pursues. The representatives of the organization are Irakli Bekauri and Giorgi Chelidze (Chairman). According to Chelidze, he worked at the Ministry of Finances, but that he founded the organization after he had left the Ministry. Giorgi Chelidze openly states that he follows the fascist ideology: “We live with our roots. We push for fascism and national-socialism, we are followers of this ideology”. Chelidze, along with his supporters, stands out with his aggressive and violent behavior against the demonstrators of the rally that gathered in front of the Parliament to protest the raids on the night club Basiani. The members of the National Unity have stated that they will create squads, start patrolling the streets and deal with any violation of the law. “They demand blood? We will give them a sea of blood” – they threatened at the rally. The Ministry of Internal Affairs opened an investigation into the threatening statements made by the representatives of the organization.

Giorgi Chelidze has also founded the organization “Eternal Georgia”. According to the statute, the organization is for people who consider “this beautiful, allotted to the Virgin Mary country as valuable”. Chelidze was arrested, along with Lado Sadgobelashvili, at a rally held near the Georgian Football Federation in 2017. The Georgian march was protesting Guram Kashia wearing an armband to support LGBT rights.

  • “Civil Solidarity” Movement

Gia (Giorgi) Korkotashvili is the founder of the “Civil Solidarity” movement. The organization is registered on the house address of Korkotashvili. The members of the board are:

  • Mamuka Areshidze – Political scientist, who was “Georgian Dream’s” candidate for Majoritarian seat in Gardabani. In 2016, he was “Patriot Alliance’s” candidate for the Majoritarian seat in Tetritskharo in 2016;

  • Irakli Kakabadze -  Writer, activist

  • Davit Begiashvili – Businessman, founder of “Albatros Group”;

  • Nana Tkhelidze -  Former prosecutor, freed from prison as a political prisoner

The chairperson of the board of the movement was businessman Besarion Khardziani, who was murdered in 2015.

The purpose of the movement is restoring justice and the monitoring and exposing the fulfillment of the promises made by Bidzina Ivanishvili’s team. Due to this, the organization’s members are largely businessmen and political prisoners who suffered damages during the United National Movement’s rule.

Socio-political Movement “Georgian Mission”

Gia Korkotashvili is the founder of the socio-political movement “Georgian Mission”. According to their Facebook page, the organization offers legal support to citizens, as well as foreigners. According to a statement released in 2015 by one of the board members of the organization, Giorgi Zarnadze: The “Georgian Mission” expresses genuine respect to citizens of all ethnic background and calls upon everyone to work together towards an united and strong state”.

Demur Giorkhelidze, Mamuka Areshidze as well as Zaza Shatirishvili, who is  today the board members of the Public Broadcaster, showed up and gave a speech at the organization’s rally in 2016.

Connections to Political Party “Patriot’s Alliance”

Konstantine Morgoshia is a member of the Patriot’s Alliance, who stood for elections as a candidate for Majoritarian in Mskheta in 2016. His family members donated GEL 96000 to the Patriot’s Alliance. The State Audit Office of Georgia opened an investigation and fined Morgoshia with GEL 180000 for making illegal donations. Morgoshia, along with other members of the Georgian March, participated in talks with the South Ossetians related to the handing over of the corpse of Archil Tatunashvili. According to Morgoshia’s Facebook page, he crossed into the territory controlled by the South Ossetian side. Morgoshia was actively involved in the threats directed towards Tatia Dolidze.

According to the business registry, Morgoshia has shares in ltd. “Kem Constructions”, is registered as a Director in ltd. “Grande Group Georgia” and ltd. “Investment Group Constantine”, and is a chairperson in non-commercial legal entity “Kavkasioni”.

Lado Sadgobelashvili stood for elections in 2016 as the Patriot’s Alliance-United Opposition bloc’s candidate for Majoritarian seat in Mtasminda. According to the public registry, Sadgobelashvili is the chairperson and authorized representative of the “Fatherland, Language, Faith”. The organization was founded in 2011 and the co-chairperson is Levan Kochloshvili, who was elected to the Telavi Municipality Sakrebulo through the Georgian Dream’s list. Kochloshvili is currently the chairperson of one of the committees. Sadgobelashvili was arrested several times for administrative offenses. He is currently on pre-trial detention and is facing from 2 to 5 years in prison for the assault on Rustavi 2 journalists.

Sadgobelashvili was an independent candidate in the local self-government elections in 2014 for the Majoritarian seat in the Digomi District.

Emzar Kvitsiani joined the Georgian March’s rally in May 14 against the club Bassiani and café Gallery. Emzar Kvitsiani is a Member of Parliament from the Patriot Alliance’s party. He was the representative of the President until 2006. He was later wanted for being involved in uprising and organising terrorist acts. In 2014, Kvitsiani returned to Georgia from Russia. The District Court of Zugdidi sentenced him to 12 years of prison. In 2015, the Kutaisi Appeals Court freed him without any substantial hearing. Emzar Kvitsiani has admitted to collaborating with the Russian special forces and making statements by their orders.

  • Other organizations and individuals

The Georgian March was supported on social network by Georgian Power, the founder and leader of which is Nikoloz Burnadze. The organization is connected to a raid on the vegetarian café in Tbilisi. However, the organization denies this accusation. Moreover, in 2016, they held a nationalist rally near Turkish restaurants on Agmashenebeli Venue, during which a number of their members were arrested.

A radical nationalist movement “Resistance – For the Future” is one of the active supporters of the Georgian March. Their once active Facebook page is no longer searchable.

Ramaz Gagnidze is an activist for the Georgian March. In 2014, he stood for elections as a candidate from the Nino Burjanadze – United Opposition for the Majoritarian seat in the Digomi District. Gagnidze, along with other members of the Georgian March, arrived to Khashuri to support the independent candidate Ramaz Nozadze.

Mikheil Amisulashvili is one of the members of the movement. He is one of the authors of insulting and threatening comments made in address of Tatia Dolidze. The Ministry of Internal Affairs has opened an investigation into the case, however the results have not been presented to the public. Amisulashvili was arrested on March 20, 2018 over the incident at Rustavi 2. The Prosecution is accusing him of premeditated act of group hooliganism. He has been previously convicted twice for beating.

Actor Aleko Tetrashvili is a supporter of the “Georgian march”. He signed the petition which called for the prohibition of the United National Movement, its associated bodies and anti-national non-governmental organizations financed by abroad. Tetrashvili showed up on the rally held on Agmashenebeli Avenue in 2017.

Colonel Tristan Tsitelashvili, who was convicted of state treason in the aftermath of the August War and who was freed during the “Georgian Dream” government, also participated in the Georgian March.

Journalist from the Public Broadcaster, Lika Alelishvili, notified the police that one of the members of the Georgian March rally, David Nemsadze, was interfering in her work as a journalist. Alelishvili asked the police to prohibit Nemsadze from approaching her.