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

Parliament enacted contentious ‘foreign agents’ legislation, prompting West to impose punitive measures; South Ossetia held parliamentary elections.

Parliament enacted “Foreign Agents” bill and other controversial legislation. Parliament speaker Shalva Papuashvili 3 June signed into law ‘foreign agents’ bill, which compels NGOs and independent media receiving over 20% of their funding from abroad to register as entities “representing the interests of a foreign power”; law comes into full force in August. Many of Georgia’s most prominent NGOs continued to vow defiance, dubbing measure the “Russian law” for its resemblance to Moscow’s own bill used to stifle dissent. Meanwhile, ruling Georgian Dream party moved ahead with other controversial legislation. Notably, Papuashvili 4 June ratified “offshore law” easing movement of offshore assets to Georgia and raising fears country could become hub for illicit funds benefiting Georgian Dream’s billionaire founder, Bidzina Ivanishvili, and his allies; parliament 27 June adopted bill limiting rights of LGBTQI+ community in first reading.

West imposed punitive measures on ruling party. In response to foreign agents law, U.S. State Department 6 June announced visa restrictions on dozens of ruling party members and their families, hinted that more sanctions would follow unless Georgia’s leaders “reconsider their actions”. EU High Representative Joseph Borrell 24 June announced EU will “downgrade our political contacts” with Georgia and reconsider financial assistance, all while reiterating threat to country’s EU path. 

South Ossetia held legislative elections, among most competitive yet. Thousands of voters in breakaway region South Ossetia 9 June headed to polls to elect legislature. Nykhas party, led by current de facto president Alan Gagloyev, secured majority with 10 out of 34 seats; opposition United Ossetia party, led by Anatoliy Bibilov, came second with seven seats. Polls among most competitive since Russia recognised region’s independence in 2008, with high participation from various political parties, raising hopes for more vibrant political scene going forward. Georgia, U.S., EU and other Western countries dismissed election as illegitimate. 

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