The messenger logo

Georgian Dream's 'Investigative Commission' on August 2008 War: A Propaganda Tool for an Anti-Western Agenda?

By Malkhaz Matsaberidze
Wednesday, March 8, 2023
The satellite party of the Georgian Dream, which is called European Socialists, came out with the initiative of starting the investigation of the war in August 2008 and started collecting the signatures of MPs to create an "Investigative Commission". This initiative was already supported by another parliamentary division of the Georgian Dream called People's Power, and the leaders of the Georgian Dream also saw many "unanswered questions" regarding the August war. Independent experts and the real opposition see in this "initiative" Putin's order, which should be followed by another wave of a big anti-Western campaign.

This version was persistently repeated, but no one inside the country was convinced, then the focus was shifted to international courts, although the Hague Court, after several years of work, in December 2022 determined that neither the Georgian government nor the Georgian military had committed any crime, and the responsibility rests with the local separatists and the Russian military. At that time, it was noted in Georgia that the Prosecutor of the Hague Court ended the pro-Russian rhetoric in Georgia by completing this investigation. The Kremlin, of course, would still remain in its position, but the leaders of the Georgian Dream could no longer say that Georgia started the war.

But they were deceived. The Georgian Dream again brought the topic of the August war into the political agenda, and this has no 'local' significance at all. Many from the real opposition assume that the topic of the August war was brought up at the behest of Moscow.

Fridon Injia does not demand an investigation in the prosecutor's office and the creation of a parliamentary commission from a 'neutral' position but directly asserts that Mikheil Saakashvili started preparing for war in 2007, and 'starting a war' in 2008 is Saakashvili's 'main crime', which was 'hushed up'. He also added that Saakashvili was acting according to the instructions of the West, agreed to all the steps with the Americans, and could not have planned and implemented 'these actions' without them. That is, the local investigation, according to the vision of Injia and others, should reveal the 'crime of the West' at the start of the 2008 war.

If we evaluate the existing reality, the Georgian Dream has been openly opposing the West for a long time. The investigation of the August War should probably bring a new powerful stream to the anti-Western campaign - it was the West that incited Saakashvili and started the war against the 'unanimous, Orthodox country'. It is clear that Moscow will gladly pick up on this - In Georgia, many people doubt the legitimacy of the Hague Court's decision, and the West's involvement in Ukraine has only fueled the tension. It's puzzling why the West is advocating for Saakashvili's release. Is it because they fear he will reveal their role in instigating the war? It's possible that Injia's 'initiative' is part of a larger propaganda effort, which both the Georgian Dream and the Kremlin will exploit for their anti-Western agenda.

Injia needs the signatures of 50 MPs to create a parliamentary investigative commission, and gathering these signatures is unlikely to be difficult. So next to the law of "foreign agents" another anti-Western structure will be created. The August 2008 war was also remembered in the West. At a conference organized by The Brookings Institution, former US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice noted that in 2008, the Russian Foreign Minister tried to make a secret agreement with her to get rid of Saakashvili.

She refused to do so, and the Russians then failed to achieve their goal. As for the non-imposition of sanctions at that time, there was a financial crisis in the world at that time and many countries were not about imposing sanctions. Former Republican Party representatives Khatuna Samnidze and Davit Berdzenishvili were also recalled, who in 2012-2016, together with some pro-Western forces, joined Bidzina Ivanishvili's coalition and created a Western image of this union. According to them, in 2014, Bidzina Ivanishvili apologized to Putin for harsh criticism of Russia by Levan Berdzenishvili and Tina Khidasheli. Recalling the story of 9 years ago was followed by severe criticism from the Dream leaders and the statement of the Republicans was declared a lie.

Davit Berdzenishvili evaluated the already 10-year rule of the Georgian Dream step by step. According to him, Bidzina's government was 'problematic' from the beginning, but it became unequivocally bad and dangerous before the establishment of its one-man rule. The years 2016-2020 were a delay-stoppage of the country's western movement. The hijacking of the elections in 2020-2021 created a state crisis, from February 24, 2022, the Georgian Dream sided with Russia and threatened to take away the Western choice from Georgia.

Overcoming polarization in Georgia, according to some Western friends, should be based on the implementation of 12 recommendations of the European Union. However, it turned out that the Western orientation was just words for some, and polarization is happening around this very issue. On one side there are those who want integration with the West, and on the other side, there are those who try to distance themselves from the West. Which force will win - this is the main issue of Georgian politics.