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Is the Kremlin behind Georgia’s foreign agents law?


Georgia has been captured by a tiny elite – and, one way or another, by Russia.

Eduard Shevardnadze – Soviet foreign minister and the second president of independent Georgia – is spinning in his grave. Deposed in the country’s Rose Revolution in 2003 for his government’s corruption and bygone-era politicians, he was nonetheless a proud Georgian who would not have mortgaged his country’s destiny, as the current leadership is doing. 

Once the poster child for progress towards Euro-Atlantic integration and democracy, Georgia is a reminder that a country’s ‘progress’ is neither linear nor inevitable. 

Atrophy and capture are just as possible. It is the South Caucasus state’s appropriation – by a small section of the Georgian elite and effectively by Russia – that is of the most concern today.

Georgia remains a country easy to admire. Along with its many charms, 79 per cent of its population – and a similar number of its politicians – are firmly pro-European (and by extension these days, ‘anti-Russian’).

But over the past eight years, the country has become increasingly autocratic. The latest manifestation is the ‘foreign agents’ law, apparently copy-and-pasted from Russia. What the Georgian government is trying to force through is so contrary to the wishes of the vast majority, it is has effectively become a coup d’état against the people.

Twenty-one years on from the last, Georgia is veering towards another popular revolution. Yet this one, if it occurs, is less likely to pass off peacefully. The government has already shown a predisposition toward violence and Russia may get involved  – as it did in January 2022 to prevent revolution in Kazakhstan.

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