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CrisisWatch Georgia

Unchanged Situation

De facto South Ossetian leader dismissed cabinet while de facto authorities in Abkhazia faced new spike in COVID-19 cases after reopening border crossing with Russia. Following public calls for his resignation, de facto South Ossetian leader Anatoly Bibilov 28 Aug urgently dismissed cabinet of ministers. Hundreds of people 28 and 31 Aug protested in front of main governmental building after news emerged of death in custody of local 28-year-old man detained 27 Aug for alleged involvement in 17 Aug shooting on car of de facto interior minister; photos circulated on social media of body with multiple bruises, strengthening torture accusations of inmates; local medics said man died due to heart problems. Amid increasingly severe financial deficits in de facto entity Abkhazia, crossing with Russia reopened 1 Aug following July talks between de facto and Russian authorities; reopening of border with Russia, which closed in March to contain spread of COVID-19, led to most serious spike in coronavirus cases since start of pandemic, rising from 81 in July to 224 confirmed cases as of 20 Aug. De facto leadership kept southern crossing with Georgia closed, except for regular launch of temporary “humanitarian corridors” for ethnic Abkhaz and Georgians with Abkhaz documents. Several UN Security Council members – Belgium, Estonia, France, Germany, U.S., and UK – along with Norway and Ireland, 6 Aug made first-ever joint statement in support of Georgia on occasion of 12th anniversary of Aug 2008 war with Russia, criticising presence of Russian military in Abkhazia and South Ossetia.

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Reports & Briefings

In The News

13 Jun 2018
The Georgian government has been in crisis for quite a long time. Mr. Ivanishvili’s comeback and popular protests are just symptoms of this process. The New York Times

Olesya Vartanyan

Senior Analyst, South Caucasus
12 Mar 2018
Over the last three years, we have been seeing a serious decline in the situation in the districts [of South Ossetia] mainly populated by ethnic Georgians. Al Jazeera

Olesya Vartanyan

Senior Analyst, South Caucasus
5 Feb 2018
There was a social media campaign two years ago [in Abkhazia] encouraging people to boycott the funerals of anyone who died after seeking medical care in Tbilisi. EurasiaNet

Olesya Vartanyan

Senior Analyst, South Caucasus

Latest Updates

Abkhazia and South Ossetia: Time to Talk Trade

Informal trade is increasing between Georgia and the breakaway territories of South Ossetia and Abkhazia, and between Abkhazia and countries outside the region. Trade alone cannot transform the parties’ core political differences. But talks among them on mutually beneficial commerce could open lines of communication long cemented shut.

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Ukraine Flare-Up Lays Bare Fears in Europe’s East

Renewed fighting in eastern Ukraine is quickly turning into a litmus test of Russia’s intentions in backing Ukrainian separatist rebels, and the real willingness of the West, in particular the United States, to support Kyiv. Fears over Washington’s wavering may also cause positions to harden in the protracted conflicts in Europe’s East, most immediately in Georgia. 

Isolation of Post-Soviet Conflict Regions Narrows the Road to Peace

Unresolved conflicts and breakaway territories divide five out of six of the European Union’s Eastern Partnership countries, most of them directly backed by the Russian Federation. But a policy of isolating the people living in these conflict regions narrows the road to peace.

Georgia: Making Cohabitation Work

Whether the smooth transfer of power Georgia achieved after October’s bitter election sets a standard for democracy in its region depends on whether the new government can strengthen the independence and accountability of state institutions in what remains a fragile, even potentially explosive political climate.