Protests in Georgia and Tbilisi’s Complicated Relationships with Russia and the West

In early March, Georgians took to the street in Tbilisi to protest a bill that would have classified organisations and media groups receiving more than 20 per cent of their funding from abroad as foreign agents. Although the ruling Georgian Dream party eventually dropped the bill, many Georgians remain frustrated at the government for what they see as a deliberate effort to turn the country’s back to the EU in favour of Russia. This particularly rankles those who see echoes of the five-day war Russia fought against Georgia in 2008 in Russia’s continuing full-scale war in Ukraine.

This week on War & Peace, Olga Oliker and Elissa Jobson are joined by Tbilisi-based journalist Joshua Kucera and Crisis Group’s Senior Analyst for the South Caucasus Olesya Vartanyan to talk about what's behind the protests and what might lie ahead for the political future of the country. They delve into the root causes for the protests, how they unfolded and Georgian Dream’s politics and policies. They also examine how the war in Ukraine has and has not affected Georgia’s relations with its breakaway regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. Finally, they discuss Georgia’s prospects for EU candidacy and why Brussels might be well advised not to turn its back on the country.

For more in-depth analysis of the topics discussed in this episode, check out our Georgia country page.

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