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

Deteriorated Situation

Ruling party Georgian Dream reintroduced “Foreign Agents” law, triggering protests and harsh police response; EU warned of implications for accession process.

Ruling party reintroduced “Foreign Agents” law, prompting major backlash. Georgian Dream 3 April revived draft “foreign agents” law, having withdrawn bill in March 2023 after massive street protests and international opposition; law would require media and NGOs to register as organisations serving “interests of a foreign power” if they receive over 20% of their funding from abroad, which critics have warned mimics repressive Russian legislation. Parliament committee hearing on legislation 15 April led to brawl among MPs, while thousands took to streets in protest, prompting tough police response; rights group Amnesty International 17 April criticised “excessive force”. Thousands 28 April staged “March for Europe”. Ruling party next day passed law in second reading, organised pro-govt counter-rally; in speech to protesters, Georgian Dream founder and billionaire Bidzina Ivanshvili expressed support for draft law and accused Western “global party of war” of meddling in Georgia through opposition and NGOs. Protests 30 April led to harsh crackdown as police used tear gas, while reportedly beating and arresting scores. Meanwhile, EU and U.S. 17, 18 April respectively urged ruling party to retract law, with EU warning it could “compromise Georgia’s EU path”; European Parliament 25 April threatened revision of visa-free scheme and sanctions against Ivanshvili.

Political tensions continued to rise amid forthcoming elections. Georgian Dream 4 April voted to abolish gender quota for political parties in Oct parliamentary elections; opposition party Girchi proposed initiative in exchange for backing ruling party’s nominee for chairperson of Central Election Committee. President Zourabichvili 18 April vetoed amendments on gender quotas. Meanwhile, authorities 8 April revoked registration of pro-Kremlin Conservative Movement amid corruption allegations; party same day said move was politically motivated.

Latest round of Geneva International Discussions took place. 60th round of Geneva International Discussions – multilateral forum to address security and humanitarian consequences of 2008 Russo-Georgian War – 4-5 April took place without new announcements. Participants scheduled next round for June.

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