Georgia's former president Mikheil Saakashvili appears via video link from the hospital during a hearing in Tbilisi city court, Georgia, on Dec. 22. (Zurab Kurtsikidze/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock)

As the world remains rightly focused on Vladimir Putin’s barbaric war in Ukraine, the Russian leader continues to advance his destabilizing, antidemocratic agenda in other places in the world. Among them is the small but strategically vital nation of Georgia, wedged between Russia and Turkey on the coast of the Black Sea.

Right now, Georgia’s former president Mikheil Saakashvili is languishing in detention there — by some accounts inching closer to death. The Biden administration and its allies can’t let that happen. It’s time for a global campaign to free Saakashvili now — precisely because of his past services to the cause of democracy in his homeland.…  Seguir leyendo »

Thousands of Russians fled into neighboring Georgia after President Vladimir Putin announced partial mobilization in September. CNN

“Tbilisi is filled with Russian refugees”, read the 18-year-old woman’s diary entry. Soon after it was posted on social media in Georgia, it went viral, summing up the popular mood.

What’s striking about these words is that they were written in 1920, by a writer whose diary is a record of an era of uncertainty and hope. The 1917 Bolshevik Revolution had finally given tiny Georgia a chance at independence from the Russian empire. It also turned it into a refuge for thousands of Russians.

“They are running from the Bolsheviks and they are all coming here”, wrote Maro Makashvili as the newly-born liberal Georgian democracy opened its doors to thousands of Russians fleeing the revolution and the civil war it triggered.…  Seguir leyendo »

Mapa antiguo de Europa Central


¿Qué representan la guerra en Ucrania y los conflictos recientes en el espacio post soviético?


La reanudación de las hostilidades en Nagorno-Karabaj entre Armenia y Azerbaiyán y en la frontera de Kirguistán y Tayikistán, así como las tensiones continuas en los conflictos congelados de Transnistria (en Moldavia) y Osetia del Sur y Abjasia (en Georgia), han puesto de nuevo el foco sobre el espacio post soviético, planteando la cuestión de si la guerra en Ucrania es la causa de las hostilidades recientes y si podría tener un efecto dominó y crear más inestabilidad en la región.

La guerra en Ucrania no es la causa de las hostilidades, porque estas datan de mucho antes de aquella.…  Seguir leyendo »

En menos de siete días tres Estados europeos han presentado su solicitud de adhesión a la Unión Europea. Entre el lunes 28 de febrero y el viernes 4 de marzo, Bruselas recibió sendas peticiones por parte de Ucrania, de Georgia y de Moldavia. Tres exrepúblicas soviéticas que, según la concepción geopolítica putiniana, habrían puesto en peligro la seguridad de Rusia con su acercamiento paulatino a Bruselas y, lo que es aún peor, a la órbita de la OTAN.

Desde Kiev los motivos para solicitar su adhesión al club de los 27 son más que evidentes: la invasión rusa y el consiguiente conflicto bélico.…  Seguir leyendo »

Huge rally in support of Ukraine in front of the parliament in Tbilisi, Georgia. Photo by Daro Sulakauri/Getty Images.

Moscow’s disinformation tactics aimed to sow chaos, confusion, and panic both before and during the invasion of Ukraine – trying to paint a picture of Ukraine as the aggressor, conceal the civilian cost of the conflict, and even the dates of military operations.

Back in early January, US intelligence warned the Kremlin was planning a ‘false-flag operation’ as a precursor to the invasion, and Ukraine also suffered cyberattacks against government websites and banks, some of which have been attributed to the GRU – Russia’s military intelligence agency.

Ukraine is not alone in this, as Georgia has also been attempting to cope with a long-term information warfare storm from the Kremlin.…  Seguir leyendo »

A watchtower near Nora's home. Barbed wires indicate the line of separation between Georgian-controlled territory and South Ossetia. September 2021, CRISIS GROUP/ Jorge Gutierrez Lucena

Since the Russian attack on Ukraine began on 24 February, popular support for the besieged country has been everywhere to be seen in the Georgian capital, Tbilisi. Ukrainian flags hang on balconies and windows in distant suburbs, as well as by the doors of cafés and shops on downtown avenues. Every evening, the city centre becomes a sea of yellow and blue as thousands gather to show solidarity with Ukraine.

For many Georgians, the war recalls the Russian invasion of their own country in 2008. Following that five-day conflict, Russia recognised two Georgian breakaway regions – Abkhazia and South Ossetia – and stationed its troops there.…  Seguir leyendo »

Georgian police officers escort former president Mikheil Saakashvili after he was arrested in Rustavi, Georgia, on Oct. 1. (AP)

Ever since Georgia gained its independence from the Soviet Union in 1991, the country has aspired to full membership in European and transatlantic institutions. Saturday’s local elections come at a critical moment: Democratic institutions are under serious stress. And if that weren’t enough, now another crisis looms. On Friday, the authorities announced that they had arrested ex-president Mikheil Saakashvili.

Saakashvili excites intense emotions among his compatriots. He came to power in the Rose Revolution of 2003, which swept away a corrupt and stagnant predecessor regime. He and a group of dedicated reformers proceeded to accelerate the modernization of the country, making it the envy of advocates for change around the world.…  Seguir leyendo »

Georgia's leader of the United National Movement, Nika Melia, shouts from a window of his party's headquarters as the police raid the building in Tbilisi, Georgia, on Feb. 23. (Vano Shlamov/AFP/Getty Images)

One hundred years ago today, in February 1921, the Red Army marched into Tbilisi, the capital of the Republic of Georgia. On that day, Georgia found itself under Soviet occupation and lost its freedom and place in the West. On Tuesday, Georgia once again stumbled on its Western path, as police forces stormed the main opposition party’s headquarters and arrested its leader, Nika Melia.

The United States and its European allies have been warning the current Georgian government to stick by the rules of democratic fair play. Now any such sense of restraint on the part of the authorities has fallen away.…  Seguir leyendo »

Ahead of the International Criminal Court, the European Court of Human Rights condemned Russia on 21 January for its responsibility for serious human rights violations committed against the Georgian civilian population in 2008. © Vano Shlamov / AFP

Let’s starts with the conclusions. On 21 January 2021, The European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) established Russia’s “effective control” over the Georgian occupied regions and found Russia responsible for five major categories of violations: “killing of civilians, torching and looting of houses in Georgian villages and expulsion of Georgian civilian population”; “denial of Georgian nationals to return to their homes in Tskhinvali Region/South Ossetia and Abkhazia”; “unlawful and inhuman detention and treatment of Georgian civilians”; “torture of Georgian prisoners of war”; “failure to carry out an adequate and effective investigation into the killings committed during the active phase of hostilities and in the period of occupation.”…  Seguir leyendo »

Azerbaijan professional cyclists resume training after being left without access to their usual training facilities due to the coronavirus outbreak. Photo by Aziz Karimov/Getty Images.

Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia already operate within a fractured region, with large migrant populations abroad, and assume varying degrees of responsibility for the region’s separatist entities - Abkhazia, South Ossetia and Nagorny Karabakh - whose long-term isolation makes them highly vulnerable to the pandemic.

All three South Caucasus states reported their first cases early - between February 26 and March 1 - and started responding shortly after. And the form and success of their response has been defined by the work each had put into developing their political, healthcare and economic institutions over the long term, and has put their ability to protect their citizens into stark relief.…  Seguir leyendo »

Protesters demanding the government's resignation and early parliamentary polls rally in front of Parliament in Tbilisi, Georgia, on Tuesday. (Vano Shlamov/AFP via Getty Images)

The main thoroughfare of Tbilisi, known as Rustaveli Avenue, has borne witness to many a political reversal, from civil war to revolution. Since this summer, the tree-lined boulevard has once again seen throngs of protesters rise up against eccentric billionaire Bidzina Ivanishvili, who has ruled the country, both formally as prime minister and informally as the ultimate decision-maker behind his Georgian Dream party, since 2012. The protests are entering a critical phrase this week, and their success or failure could determine the democratic trajectory and geopolitical future of Georgia.

Since his ascent to power, Ivanishvili — an oligarch-turned-politician — has attempted to warm relations with Russia, which occupies 20 percent of Georgia’s territory.…  Seguir leyendo »

Nearly 11 years ago, on 14 August 2008, the Office of the Prosecutor (OTP) of the International Criminal Court (ICC) announced the preliminary examination of the situation in Georgia. The matter referred to the international armed conflict in Georgia’s breakaway region, South Ossetia, in what some commentators have named the first European war of the 21st century.

The region had been under the control of pro-Russian separatists since the early 1990s. Ongoing tensions and periodic armed clashes between the Georgian army and separatist forces escalated during July to early August 2008 with a series of explosions targeting, among others, both Georgian and separatist military and political leaders in South Ossetia.…  Seguir leyendo »

Thirty years ago today, the dying Soviet empire lashed out at the people of Georgia. April 9, 1989, launched our country on its path to independence, freedom and democracy.

I was a teenager attending Public School No. 1, on the central avenue in my hometown of Tbilisi. The school stood just a short distance from the spot from where, on that fateful spring day, Soviet troops assaulted my countrymen in an attempt to crush our thirst for freedom. Thousands of people — some of them on hunger strikes — gathered spontaneously to demand independence from Russian rule. Moscow dispatched Soviet troops under the command of Russian general Igor Rodionov to stop it.…  Seguir leyendo »

Days before the hotly contested Ukrainian presidential election on March 31, incumbent Petro Poroshenko’s party faces credible allegations of voter bribery. It’s not hard to guess what will happen next. The oligarchic clique will steal the election, and in response, international observers will accuse local authorities of vote-rigging. But instead of addressing the symptoms of democratic backsliding, it’s time to treat the root cause: informal power.

Moldova offers a textbook example. Oil and banking tycoon Vladimir Plahotniuc bankrolls the country’s second-largest political force and has forged alliances with other parties to consolidate power. Although Plahotniuc exerts total control over parliament, law enforcement and the courts, he has no interest in running for office.…  Seguir leyendo »

Georgia’s Presidential Campaign Damages Its Democratic Credentials

Georgia’s election on 28 November of former French diplomat and Georgian foreign minister Salome Zurabishvili as the region’s first elected female head of state since independence might appear to be a substantial achievement for a country that has been positively cited in its moves towards a more democratic culture.

But the election was marred by physical violence, vote-buying, misuse of state resources and a substantial imbalance in donations between the parties. And the presidency itself is, after constitutional changes, largely ceremonial. The assumption that Georgia continues to move along a trajectory of democratic governance is far from the reality.

Although mostly free, with voters having a genuine choice between a record number of first round participants, the elections were not fair.…  Seguir leyendo »

The stakes in the second round of Georgia’s presidential elections, scheduled for Wednesday, could not be higher — for Georgia and the West. Either Georgia will demonstrate that it has passed the point of being a transitional, post-Soviet democracy and earned its place in the European family, or its image as a modernizing democracy will suffer a major blow, pulling Georgia back into a post-Soviet limbo.

Most important is that this election be peaceful, free and fair, and that both sides must accept the outcome, regardless of who wins. In the first round of the election on Oct. 28, emotions ran high, political debate often turned into ugly personal attacks, and the threat of violence and popular unrest came close to becoming a reality.…  Seguir leyendo »

A street scene in Sukhum/i. Photo: Getty Images.

In April, the Georgian government made a new attempt to formulate a policy towards the disputed territories of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, publishing a peace initiative intended to help improve economic and educational opportunities for their residents. It has been welcomed by several European capitals for its commitment to peaceful means of conflict resolution and its pragmatic approach, but has attracted little interest and much scorn from its supposed main target audiences in Abkhazia and South Ossetia.

The economic component of the initiative is related to new trade links between Abkhazia and South Ossetia with Georgia, as well as with the wider European Market through the existing Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Agreement between the EU and Georgia.…  Seguir leyendo »

The Vogtle Unit 3 containment vessel in June 2017. Credit via Georgia Power

Georgia is on the cusp of a very important decision about nuclear energy. We shouldn’t miss what’s at stake.

The Georgia Public Service Commission will probably rule this week on whether work should continue on two nuclear reactors under construction near Augusta, the only commercial nuclear project underway in the United States. The commission has been enthusiastic about nuclear power for years, but since it authorized Georgia Power in 2009 to break ground for two new reactors at the Alvin W. Vogtle generating station, the financial calculus has changed. Mainly, the price of natural gas, an important competing fuel for electricity generation, has dropped sharply, and taken the wholesale price of electricity down with it.…  Seguir leyendo »

US Vice President Mike Pence meets Georgian Prime Minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili in July. Photo: Getty Images.


Anahit Shirinyan

As the world tries to decipher what Trump presidency means for the global world order and security in Europe, the same questions are asked in Armenia. The US continues not to have a clear-cut policy towards the South Caucasus, and Trump’s tenure is unlikely to change this. Instead, Washington’s relations with Yerevan, Tbilisi and Baku are likely to remain an undertone to the larger dynamics of US relations with Russia, Turkey and Iran, as well as developments in the Middle East. In this context, some potential pitfalls might affect the overall geopolitical environment in which Armenia operates with implications for Armenian foreign policy.…  Seguir leyendo »

Opponents of the death penalty in Georgia protested an execution scheduled in March. Ben Gray/Atlanta Journal-Constitution, via Associated Press

Tomorrow, the State of Georgia intends to execute William Sallie, who was convicted of killing a man in 1990. It would be Georgia’s ninth execution this year, a modern state record and nearly twice the previous high-water mark of five executions, set first in 1987 and again in 2015.

I served as a justice on the Supreme Court of Georgia for over 15 years. During that time I participated in dozens of death-penalty cases and affirmed many of them. That experience, though, exposed me to some of the significant flaws in the system — not just the injustice of the death penalty itself, but specific problems with the way capital cases are handled.…  Seguir leyendo »