Sunday September 10th did not start well for Mikheil Saakashvili. The former Georgian President, former governor of Odesa and now former Ukrainian citizen and persona non grata in his adoptive home chose Sunday for his great return to Ukrainian soil. Already in the early morning hours, however, it appeared that nothing was going as planned and few actually believed that Saakashvili would make it across the border.
September 12, 2017 - Agnieszka Pikulicka-Wilczewska and Kaja Puto
Vladimir Mayakovksy may be known as a leading poet during the events of 1917, with his name surfacing frequently as tributes pour in commemorating the revolution’s centenary. However, scholars who direct a museum dedicated to the writer in his birthplace in Georgia, are arguing that his talent transcends the political and that the time has come to “read the unread poet”.
August 16, 2017 - Elizabeth Short
Georgian security officers might have been complicit in the abduction of Afgan Muktarli, an exiled Azerbaijani journalist, which took place on May 29th in Tbilisi. Later on, Mukhtarli was found in a Baku detention facility. Local opposition and non-governmental organisations argue that the country is retreating from its democratic path and that the ruling Georgian Dream is supporting the regime in Baku.
July 25, 2017 - Archil Sikharulidze
For the six countries of the Eastern Partnership, or EaP, the sudden collapse of the Soviet Union meant that independence was as much an urgent crisis as it was an overnight opportunity. Burdened by the seven decades of Soviet rule, the challenges of independence proved daunting as each of these states was unprepared for statehood and under-equipped for democratic governance. Although the starting point of independent statehood was roughly equivalent, their shared Soviet legacy was quickly replaced by a diverging trajectory with a pronounced variance in their political, economic and security reforms. Of these six states, four were constrained by a conflict from the very start, as Armenia and Azerbaijan were consumed by Nagorno-Karabakh, Georgia was collapsing under the weight of a civil war and separatism, while Moldova was confronting the Transnistrian conflict. For the other two states, despite the absence of outright conflict in the early period of statehood, both Belarus and Ukraine were constrained by corrupt and authoritarian regimes.
July 4, 2017 - Richard Giragosian
According to a report by the Interior Ministry of Georgia, on the evening of March 11th, police officers detained two local residents for disobedience and violating traffic lights. Later, the police arrested three more people for ignoring the policemen’s orders. According to witnesses, however, the conflict began when the police gave a local resident a disproportionally high parking ticket.
April 24, 2017 - Beka Kiria
Georgia is among those few former Soviet countries that fought for independence. The euphoric sense of freedom in the wake of the dissolution of the Soviet Union, however, started to slip away soon as the disturbing reality of the Soviet legacy took over before Georgians’ eyes. Living for nearly 70 years under the Russian yoke had completely incapacitated their ability to self-govern. Inexperienced in how to build up state institutions from scratch in a way which would safeguard the inclusivity and diversity of their traditionally heterogeneous society, Georgians became embroiled in a string of ethnic and civil wars throughout the 1990s. The initial attempt to embrace freedom of expression, market economy and other western values, so alien to the Soviet system, backfired as Georgia slowly descended into poverty and chaos.
March 16, 2017 - Shalva Dzidziguri
In 2013, the 27-year old Beka Tsikarishvili was arrested for possession of 65 grams of marijuana. He could have faced between seven and 14 years of prison. It was during his trial that the Georgian Constitutional Tribunal announced in 2015 for the first time that sentencing people to imprisonment for possessing no more than 70 grams of marijuana is against the constitution. In the ruling, it was additionally highlighted that the decision does not mean depenalisation of cannabis and does not refer to situations where the purpose of possession no matter the amount, was to sell the drug.
February 23, 2017 - Milena Chodoła
On October 8th 2016, Georgia will hold its eighth parliamentary election since declaring independence in 1991. This parliamentary election is critical to maintaining a "routinisation" of democratic practices in a country that just a few decades ago was under authoritarian rule. Unlike many of the other countries in the region, Georgia has managed to achieve democratic stability in recent years, despite the continued occupation of South Ossetia and Abkhazia by Russia. The October 2016 election is of specific importance for Georgian politics not because there is a potential for revolution and regime collapse or regime change, as was the case in 2003 with the Rose Revolution, but precisely because of the opposite. The upcoming election will be the most competitive in Georgia to date, will likely see three or more political parties pass the five percent threshold and will possibly require a coalition government be formed. These facts are important because while elections have become routine in Georgia, many questions still surround the key democratic actors – political parties – and their ability either to lend legitimacy or to delegitimise the electoral process. The behaviour of political parties in the parliamentary election next month will be closely scrutinised. Whether parties will revert to old tactics of intimidation, violence, personal attacks, and an overall disregard for the rule of law in their fight for power is of a particular concern. Furthermore, the participation of female candidates will again be important for assessing levels of representation in Georgian politics.
September 26, 2016 - Melanie Mierzejewski-Voznyak
Considering the harsh realities of international politics, the Warsaw Summit has constituted a success of Georgia’s foreign policy. Georgia, as it has been widely expected, has not been invited to join the Membership Action Plan. Although, each post-Bucharest NATO Summit, like the messenger boy in Godot, reminds us that NATO membership ‘will not come this evening but surely tomorrow’. Despite this, Georgia should realise that steadily waiting for Godot is the only way to ensure that Godot arrives.
July 21, 2016 - Irakli Sirbiladze