Georgian Aviation Day marked at Alekseevka Military Airfield

Published in military
Thursday, 21 September 2017 11:21

The 25th Jubilee of the Georgian Aviation was marked at the military airfield of Alekseevka Combined Air Squadron. Minister of Defence Levan Izoria, Chief of the General Staff of the GAF Major General Vladimer Chachibaia, Aviation and Air Defence Commander LTC Sergo Ninua, Ministry of Defence representatives and high ranking officers attended the 25th anniversary .

Before beginning the celebrations, Minister laid wreath on the memorial of hero warriors fallen in fights for the territorial integrity of Georgia. A solemn ceremony was opened by the Georgian State Anthem. To honour the memory of the fallen soldiers, the invited guests held a minute of silence.

Defence Minister addressed the military personnel and congratulated them on the 25th anniversary of the formation of Georgian aviation. Minister Levan Izoria focused on the implemented defence reforms and informed the audience about the future plans of modernizing military equipment in cooperation with Georgia`s strategic partners and purchasing unmanned aerial vehicles. 

The MoD leadership awarded the military servicemen with service medals and presents. Minister Levan Izoria granted four military servicemen a 7,62X54 mm sniper rifle and Major General Vladimer Chachibaia awarded two military servicemen with service guns. LTC Sergo Ninua bestowed medal “Devoted to Motherland” on five military for 20 or more years of outstanding military service and II rank medal “For Impeccable Service in Defence System”- on one military serviceman. 

After the event, the military equipment was displayed at the military airfield.

The formation of the Georgian military aviation dates back in August 20 1918, when the first Georgian Military Aviation Unit was formed under the decision of Georgian Parliament. In February of 1921, Georgian military pilots fought vigorously against the Soviet occupation and carried out several successful attacks against the adversary near Tbilisi.

After Georgia regained independence in 1992, Military-Air Force and Air-Defence Division was established which was made into the Main Division in 1993. In spring of 2010, Military Air Force became subordinated to Land Forces. Today, Aviation and Air Defence Command is in the subordination of the General Staff of the GAF.

In the last period of time, the qualification and combat preparation level of engineer-technical personnel and pilots has significantly improved through numerous exercises and trainings on the basis of multi-annual cooperation with NATO and Partner countries. With the help of the allied countries, Georgian military education system was streamlined as result, National Defence Academy and Giorgi Antsukhelidze  NCO Training Centre are preparing aviation officers and sergeants.

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    Disinformation = mistrust, chaos, panic

    In 2017, the European Union launched the EUvsDisinfo.eu online portal to counter disinformation from Russia. It is published in three languages - English, Russian and German. The site has a disinformation database, which so far contains nearly 8,000 examples of disinformation starting from 2015.

    Half of the disinformation messages were directed against six countries – all former Soviet republics – Azerbaijan (31), Armenia (80), Moldova (132), Belarus (252), Georgia (345), and Ukraine (3,193), which Russia wanted to keep in its sphere of influence.

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    “Ukraine faced the highest level of disinformation during the annexation of Crimea by Russia and the invasion of Donbass. These were hybrid propaganda tools in the media and social networks,” says Kristina Zelenyuk, political commentator for the Ukrainian portal Segodnya.

    According to the Armenian media expert Samvel Martirosyan, the disinformation market is vast. It employs professionals who are constantly looking for new tools and methods of manipulating people.

    “Now you can sow panic in a few hours using social media. Information spreads so fast that it’s almost impossible for people to identify disinformation,” says Samvel.

    In March 2020, the European External Action Service published a special report, “COVID-19 Disinformation” with a special chapter dedicated to “pro-Kremlin disinformation”.

    In February-March 2020 alone, the EUvsDisinfo database registered over 110 examples of coronavirus disinformation distributed by pro-Russian media. These examples were in line with the Kremlin’s traditional strategy of sowing mistrust and chaos, aggravating crisis situations and public concern. Moreover, misinformation directed at the Russian audience described the virus as a form of foreign aggression. It claimed that coronavirus originated from secret American or Western laboratories. Disinformation for domestic audiences focused on conspiracy theories about “global elites” which deliberately use the virus as a tool to achieve their goals.

    Many fake and manipulative news based on shocking conspiracy theories gradually change the perception of information. At first, people simply don’t react to disinformation, then they react to it but don’t believe it, and then, due to the frequency and volume of such materials, they start to believe fake or misleading narratives. This is the goal that organisations and countries that manipulate information are trying to achieve.

    “Disinformation is a terrible threat. It concerns not only those who are poorly educated or not well versed in politics. In fact, everybody is under attack,” says Alexander Starikevich, editor-in-chief of the Belarusian ‘Solidarity’ internet portal.

    Critical thought ambassadors against fake news

    The news agenda in our digital world changes so fast that people simply do not have time for deep analysis of events. That’s why fakes and manipulation are often perceived as real news. Different media, organisations dedicated to exposing fakes, as well as volunteers, are all working on deconstructing fake narratives.

    “But this work should not be limited to a small group of people. The whole of society should benefit from it. We must educate it,” says Samvel Martirosyan.

    Young people are effective helpers in the fight against disinformation. This is the opinion of Anina Tepnadze, director of the Georgian online media platform On.ge.

    In her view, young people know more about disinformation and they are more sceptical. Therefore, they can teach their parents and neighbours how to consume information properly.

    “But to engage young people, they should receive a clear message that it is really important, that this is not only ‘their problem’, but an issue for everyone. Then young people can be good ambassadors of truth,” says Tepnadze.

    In the view of Alexander Starikevich, to prevent people from believing disinformation, we need to start teaching critical thinking from nursery-school age.

    He points out that it is difficult to work with people who have already formed their worldview. “Their reaction is frequently ‘Why are you lecturing me? I understand everything myself.’ But there will always be a part of the audience that is open to explaining, and you need to work with them,” says Starikevich.

    There are, however, more radical methods of fighting disinformation – for example, using legislation. Saadat Mammadova, head of the news department of the Azerbaijani CBC television channel, believes that it is necessary to adopt international legislation or a charter to solve the problem of fake news.

    “Fake News is turning into a national security issue, a tool that can destabilise the world, and it's time to consider it in the security context,” stresses Mammadova.

    Bloggers against disinformation

    The growing popularity of social networks has led to the emergence of bloggers as competitors to the traditional media. These bloggers gather large audiences. Bloggers can be good helpers in countering disinformation.

    Samvel Martirosyan believes that “people often trust bloggers more than traditional sources of information. Given this degree of trust, opinion leaders can jointly stop waves of disinformation and rumours.”

    The popular vlogger from Moldova, Dorin Galben, believes that social networks have become a “nest” of fake news that needs to be unmasked. “Our role [as bloggers] is to reach out to as many people as possible, inform them about the phenomenon of fake news and the impact that ‘fake news’ can have on the future of the country and its citizens,” he adds.

    Azerbaijani blogger Seymur Kazimov also speaks about the responsibility of opinion leaders. He believes bloggers should deconstruct fakes and disinformation, and counter them publicly.

    “Bloggers need to publicly highlight examples of fake publications of friends or acquaintances, or people they follow. Specific examples always work better than theory,” says Anton Motolko, who is a blogger and civic activist from Belarus. “The first and most important thing is not to become a source of fake distribution ourselves. There is a golden rule here: if you suspect it is a fake, don’t publish it,” he adds.

    Georgian TV presenter and blogger Zura Balanchivadze advises to look carefully at the headlines. This frequently helps determine if a particular piece is a lie. “Fake news often has sensationalist headlines or features strong exaggeration. Also, analyse those sites where you see dubious information – ask what type of content these resources usually publish,” adds the blogger.

    “Blatant lies are easy to spot. But half-truths or manipulation of facts are harder to discern. Consult with experts in different fields. Learn to distinguish facts from subjective opinions. Do not take everything at face value. Always doubt, think and ask questions,” advises Roman Vintoniv, TV presenter and vlogger from Ukraine.

     

    How to spot fake news

    We asked journalists and bloggers from Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Belarus, Moldova, and Ukraine to share advice on how not to become a victim of disinformation. From their answers we have compiled a list of rules that will help us not to fall victim to manipulation.

     

    ü  Always check several sources of information. These can be the media, social networks, or experts. But several sources are a must.

     

    ü  You should not rely on information from little-known websites. Look for the same information on trusted, serious and professional news websites.

     

    ü  Fake news often comes either from newly-created social media accounts which are thin on content, or from accounts that are imitating well-known news media but on closer inspection are fake.

     

    ü  If you are unsure of the information, do not spread it. This will help you avoid becoming a polluter of information flow.

     

    ü  Trust yourself, tune in to your common sense. It’s difficult to manipulate a thinking person.

     

    Author: Viktor Kischak

     

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