Kyiv Security Forum

"Protests in Georgia are not only about the draft law but about the country's existence and its statehood" – Georgian experts

09 March, 20:08

Exclusively for KSF Georgian experts shared their views on the evolving situation in Georgia

Shota Gvineria is the senior fellow at the Economic Policy Research Center.


How do you assess the situation? What's important to understand?


Considering the open pro-Russian stance of Georgian authorities that became apparent after the Russian invasion of Ukraine, there is no doubt that the regime is using the initiation of the Russian-style law on foreign agents for dual purposes. First, to derail Georgia finally from the Western orientation and drag the country back into the Russian orbit. Second, create a practical tool for silencing critical voices and opponents of Georgia’s pro-Russian policies. Both objectives directly contribute to the overarching objective of the regime – maintaining a monopoly over all sources of power in Georgia. 

The ruling regime in Georgia has retreated tactically but has not taken appropriate measures to withdraw initiated law formally. They will use this tactical pause to try and mitigate anger in Georgia’s overly pro-Wester pro-democratic society. They have done this before.  

Therefore, to secure suspension of the draft law, friends and partners of Georgia must announce a package of sanctions imposing travel restrictions and freezing of assets that will automatically apply to all MPs who will vote for this anti-democratic, anti-constitutional law.  

Massive protests in recent days have shown that the regime will have to pay the price for going against the will of over 80% of Georgians and para 78 of the Georgian constitution (obliging all constitutional bodies to take all measures for the full-fledged integration of the country in the EU and NATO), and for failing to support Ukraine in its fight for freedom and historical justice.   

Glory to the Georgian people and Slava Ukraini! 

Dr. Kornely Kakachia is the Director at Georgian Institute of Politics (GIP) and Professor of Political Science.



How do you assess the situation? What's important to understand?


As the result of the public pressure, the Georgian Dream has retreated on the so-called “foreign agent law” (similar to the existing legal framework in Russia) and at this stage has tactically backed. However, if one reads their statement carefully, it becomes clear that they are not going to strategically retreat or reconsider. It seems that the Georgian Dream has nothing to offer to the electorate except the consolidating authoritarianism for the upcoming 2024 parliamentary elections, which will be decisive considering the geopolitical shifts in the region.

Therefore, the fight against illiberalism and informal governance must continue. While this retreat from the ruling party is a small victory, the war against authoritarianism in Georgia is not won yet. Georgian people need to remain vigilant and on the lookout until all the legal procedures related to the withdrawal of this bill are finished. Especially considering previous bitter experiences, when the Georgian Dream failed to fulfill promises made personally by Bidzina Ivanishvili (switch to fully proportional system in 2019 for instance). Thus, the trust in the ruling party fulfilling remains low. And in this process of fighting for liberal democracy both external and internal pressure and support are vital, in order for Georgia to return back to the rails of democracy. The more authoritarian Georgia becomes, the more it will drift away from Brussels and get closer to Moscow, unless there is domestic and international pressure. This is going to be a long-term battle that will require willpower and not repeating past mistakes.


Prof. Tengiz Pkhaladze is the Associate professor at the Georgian Institute of Public Affairs.


How do you assess the situation? What's important to understand?


Proposed legislation on foreign agents is nothing but an attempt to impose state control over civil society and independent media. 

Georgian Dream’s rhetoric about transparency is just manipulation as all the activities of NGO are well regulated by Georgian legislation. Laws on non-commercial organizations and the Law on Grants fully ensure transparency and accountability of NGOs. Furthermore, all Western donors pay special attention to accountability and transparency. 

The draft laws (the both proposals) on foreign agents have two main objectives: 

1.      Establish state control on civil society and independent media – the practice well known from Russian realty 

2.      Keep Georgia away from EU candidacy 

While Putin fails in Ukraine he tries to somehow recompense that with achievements in other neighboring counties. Georgia is a much easier target. It is a weaker, smaller, less defended country where Russia has its military infrastructure (on the occupied territories of Abkhazia and Tskhinval region) and Russian state crafted network (business, politicians, civil organizations etc.). 

Russia has been exhaling its 5th column there and despite notes of warnings and urges of strategic partners (EU, NATO, Council of Europe, USA and European Countries) Georgian Dream adopted the draft with 1st hearing.  

Therefore, protests in Georgia are not only about the draft law but about the country's existence and its statehood as Georgia has no other way but EU and NATO.

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