Georgia’s beacon of democracy sliding to authoritarianism?


Often considered a beacon of democracy in the post-Soviet space, Georgia faces a major turn toward authoritarianism, note Kornely Kakachia and Bidzina Lebanidze, director and senior analyst, respectively, at the Georgian Institute of Politics.

Located on the Black Sea, this country recently witnessed another political upheaval triggered by the attempt of the ruling Georgian Dream (GD) party to introduce a Russian-style legislation on foreign agents, they write for Carnegie Europe:

Massive street protests led by young protesters from Generation Z coupled with international criticism forced GD to withdraw the bill. For the moment, a major political crisis has been avoided. But Georgians worry that the country is reneging on commitments to foster closer ties with Europe and is fostering closer ties with Russia.

The good news for Georgia is that the protests signal that a new generation is not just engaged but passionate about their own future and freedom, says Owen Matthews, the author of Overreach: The Inside Story of Putin’s War Against Ukraine. The challenge, though, both for Georgian Dream and whoever eventually replaces them in power remains unchanged, he writes for The Spectator: how to juggle the country’s deep economic dependency on Russia with the Western-leaning political aspirations of its younger voters. And more profoundly, how to manage growing closer to NATO without provoking an invasion by its massively more powerful northern neighbour a second time.

To journalist Matvey Ganapolsky, the events illustrated a key difference between Russia and Georgia, The Bulwark’s Cathy Young writes: “In Russia, civil society has been successfully crushed. In Georgia, it didn’t work,” he told YouTube host Alexandr Plushev. “It’s a living, dynamic civil society that can whack any authority upside the head.”

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