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The contemporary nationalist discourses of Georgia that concentrate on a secular, Westernized Georgia are mostly propelled by anti-Russian sentiments led by liberal elites. The August 2008 war deepened the process of constructing an enemy image and deploying it as a powerful political and ideological tool. The Saakashvili regime organized powerful anti-Russian propaganda by deploying the rhetorical tool of equating today’s Russia with the Soviet Union.  The construction of the enemy image also involved presenting Russia as a historic enemy of “European civilization,” which also conflicts with Georgia as a historic part of the same “civilization.”  In the post-2008 era, the Russian factor became a major criterion for discrediting rivals in all fields. Persecution and marginalization of the regime’s opponents by using this method of labeling the ideological opposition as spies of the Kremlin, and political forces accuse each other of being pro-Russian. Expression of support for normalization of relations with Russia is also considered the “language of a traitor.” The language of normalization is strictly stigmatized by the dominant class (those who influence formation of political and public opinion) and by the mainstream media who interprets this as an encouragement to “collaborate with the enemy.”

Although elimination of hate speech towards any nationality of ethnic group is an important part of the liberal rhetoric in Georgia, hate speech against Russia and Russians is not included in the list of liberal heresies.

 

*The feature photo of this publication is taken by Katie Sartania.

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