Since the 2022 Russian full-scale invasion of Ukraine, Georgian authorities, who have maintained ties with Moscow, have faced the country’s biggest street protests in a decade and deteriorating relations with Western partners. Georgia officially still seeks to join the EU but has a poor record on the domestic reforms required. Meanwhile, although the situation is overall comparatively stable, occasional incidents continue in and along the lines of separation with Abkhazia and South Ossetia. Many of these incidents involve Russian troops, which maintain a presence in these two breakaway regions that Moscow recognised as independent in the wake of its war against Georgia in 2008. Crisis Group closely monitors developments in the Georgian conflict zones and provides recommendations for sustaining diplomacy, keeping the existing negotiation format functioning, shaping long-term policies to support reconciliation and increasing stability. 

CrisisWatch Georgia

Unchanged Situation

Breakaway regions voted in Russia’s presidential election, political camps stepped up preparations for October parliamentary polls, and new legislation sought to clamp down on LGBTQ+ rights.

Tbilisi condemned Russia for holding presidential elections in breakaway regions. Voters in breakaway regions South Ossetia and Abkhazia 15-17 March cast their ballots in Russian presidential election, voting overwhelmingly in support of incumbent Vladimir Putin. Foreign Ministry and EU 18 March condemned “illegal” polls in “occupied regions”. NATO Sec Gen Jens Stoltenberg 18 March visited capital Tbilisi, where he criticised Russia’s conduct of elections in breakaways and discussed ways to enhance partnership with “one of NATO’s closest partners”; PM Kobakhidze same day reiterated Georgia’s dedication to NATO integration. Meanwhile, speaker of South Ossetia’s de facto parliament 17 March said de facto authorities and Russia were “discussing” possibility of South Ossetia’s integration into Russian Federation.

New parties emerged ahead of October parliamentary elections. Ruling and opposition forces stepped up election preparations. Notably, former members and close allies of ruling Georgian Dream party 18 March held founding congress of new political party, People’s Power, whose main goal is to “finally prosecute” opposition United National Movement (UNM) party for alleged crimes committed during UNM rule 2004-2012; many view movement’s transformation into a political party as attempt to bolster Georgian Dream in election. Meanwhile, divided opposition also ramped up electoral preparations, with former chairman of UNM and founder of opposition Mtavari TV 11 March announcing new Akhali party.

Ruling party sought to crackdown on LGBTQ+ rights. Georgian Dream’s parliamentary leader Mamuka Mdinaradze 25 March unveiled draft legislation that would prohibit people from changing gender, outlaw same-sex couples from adopting children, and ban education and public gatherings it says “popularise” same-sex relationships. Mdinaradze said legislation designed to protect “family values and minors”. Human rights institution Council of Europe 28 March condemned “homophobic” bill amid fears move could endanger Georgia’s path toward EU membership.

Continue reading

Latest Updates

Subscribe to Crisis Group’s Email Updates

Receive the best source of conflict analysis right in your inbox.