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

Georgia descended further into crisis over ‘foreign influence’ legislation as protests expanded and opponents faced violence and intimidation; foreign partners condemned law.

Legislature approved ‘foreign influence’ bill. Parliament 14 May approved controversial law on ‘Transparency of Foreign Influence’, which requires NGOs and media outlets that receive over one fifth of their funding from abroad to register as organisations representing foreign interests. President Zourabichvili 18 May vetoed law, which parliament 28 May voted to override, paving way for speaker to sign bill into law.

Unrest in streets deepened as activists faced violence. Mass protests, led primarily by young people, continued in capital Tbilisi and spread to other cities amid fears legislation will lead to crackdown on media freedom and civil liberties – vital issues ahead of Oct parliamentary election. Police responded harshly to demonstrators, while activists, opposition politicians and journalists faced beatings and intimidation from unidentified assailants, including physical assaults and threatening phone calls; activists claimed authorities orchestrated actions. 

Efforts to reverse legislation extended beyond streets. On domestic front, President Zourabichvili 26 May proposed roadmap out of crisis, dubbed “Georgian Charter”, inviting fractious opposition parties to unite under one bloc to take on Georgian Dream in Oct elections; if successful at polls, provisional govt made up of opposition representatives would be established, tasked with enacting pro-EU reforms and scheduling early elections in 2025. Group of NGOs 30 May announced intention to contest legislation at Constitutional Court. On international front, U.S. Sec-State Antony Blinken 23 May announced visa restrictions on number of govt officials, while EU High Representative Josep Borrell 28 May warned law “will negatively impact Georgia’s EU path”.

Kobakhidze met Turkish leader in Ankara. PM Kobakhidze 16 May met with Türkiye’s President Erdoğan in Turkish capital Ankara, during which pair signed Memorandum of Understanding on energy cooperation.

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