Upcoming Event: How can Georgian democracy be saved?

A discussion of the possible outcomes of Georgian Dream’s foreign agent law targeting civil society and how the country can move forward.

Thursday, May 16th, 2024

5pm GMT / 9am EDT / 2pm UK / 3pm CET / 4pm Kyiv

On April 29, Bidzina Ivanishvili, the billionaire founder of Georgia’s ruling party, took to the podium in front of a crowd of bussed-in supporters. In his speech, he declared war on Georgian civil society, casting recipients of Western grant money as traitors, part of a “global war party” conspiracy bent on overthrowing his government. He overturned over 3 decades of Georgian foreign policy by naming the West as the main security threat. He doubled down on the decision to institute a Russian-style “foreign agents law” widely seen to be a means to crack down on inconvenient civil society scrutiny.

In the weeks that followed, Georgia has used tactics reminiscent of Putin’s Russia – dealing out beatings, harassment, and arbitrary arrests not only to opposition leaders, but civil society figures and their families. In response, mass rallies and opposition from Georgian society has manifested in weeks of protests,, with numbers on the street possibly reaching up to 300,000 (around 10% of the population of Georgia). The country is now deadlocked with neither the protest movement nor the government seemingly willing to back down, despite some signals from mid-level officials that the law could potentially be amended.

As the deadlock between government and society continues, what do potential exits from the crisis look like? Join us to explore questions like:

  • What are the paths to an outcome that preserves democracy, Georgia’s EU aspirations and independence?
  • Are recent invitations from senior Georgian officials for Western partners to “recommend amendments” to the foreign agents bill a sign of impending government climbdown, or merely a temporary feint to confuse and neutralise a regime-threatening protest movement?
  • Can Georgian Dream still win the October election and what happens if the elections do not meet international standards?
  • What are the risks for Georgia if the deadlock continues?

Join us Thursday, May 16th at 5pm Georgian time (9am Eastern US, 2pm UK, 3pm CET, 4pm Kyiv) with our guests:

Lincoln Mitchell, School of International and Public Affairs, Columbia University

Marika Mikiashvili, Party Activist, Droa!

Alex Scrivener, Executive Director, Democratic Security Institute

Medea Turashvili, Independent analyst, DSI Eurasia Democratic Security Network fellow 2021

Moderated by Laura Linderman, Senior Fellow, Eurasia Center, Atlantic Council