On May 11, 2024, tens of thousands of demonstrators took to the streets of Tbilisi, Georgia’s capital, in what became one of the largest protests in the country’s recent history. This mass mobilization was a powerful display of public discontent against the ruling Georgian Dream party and its increasingly pro-Russian stance, led by the influential Bidzina Ivanishvili. Nestled in the Caucasus Mountains, Georgia finds itself at a crossroads, grappling with a political battle that pits its pro-European aspirations against a governmental drift towards Moscow’s sphere of influence.

Historical Context and the Foreign Agent Law

In March 2023, after two nights of intense protests, Georgia’s ruling party, the Georgian Dream, announced its withdrawal of a proposed “foreign agent” law. This regulation, which had sparked widespread outrage, would have mandated that media outlets and NGOs receiving more than 20% of their funding from abroad register as foreign agents. The proposed law bore a striking resemblance to one enacted by Russia in 2012, raising suspicions about its origins and intentions.

A year later, the issue resurfaced, igniting further protests. This time, the Georgian Dream, under Ivanishvili’s influence, showed no signs of backing down. Ivanishvili defended the law, claiming it was necessary to protect Georgia from foreign influence and Western propaganda, particularly concerning LGBTQ+ rights. Critics, however, saw it as a means to stigmatize and undermine independent media and civil society, particularly in the run-up to the October elections.

The Roots of the Struggle

To understand the current political climate, one must look back to 2008, when Georgia faced a brief but devastating war with Russia. The conflict resulted in Georgia losing control over the regions of South Ossetia and Abkhazia, which came under Moscow’s de facto control. This war was part of Putin’s broader strategy to reassert Russian dominance over former Soviet territories.

At the NATO summit in Bucharest in 2008, debates over offering Georgia and Ukraine a roadmap to NATO membership were met with resistance from key European nations. The lack of a unified Western response emboldened Russia, which anticipated and correctly calculated that the West would not intervene militarily. This geopolitical miscalculation by the West had long-term consequences for Georgia.

Bidzina Ivanishvili’s Rise to Power

In the wake of the 2008 war and the perceived betrayal by the West, Georgia saw a significant shift in its political landscape. The once-popular United National Movement, led by then-President Mikheil Saakashvili, lost favor, paving the way for Ivanishvili’s Georgian Dream party to win the 2012 elections. Ivanishvili, a billionaire with deep ties to Russia, promised stability and normalization of relations with Moscow while ostensibly keeping Georgia’s path to the West open.

However, Ivanishvili’s tenure has been marked by increasing concerns about his authoritarian tendencies and pro-Russian leanings. His background as a businessman who thrived in the chaotic, gangster-ridden Moscow of the 1990s has fueled suspicions about his true allegiances. His financial clout and political maneuvers have allowed him to maintain significant influence over Georgia’s political and economic landscape.

Economic and Political Dynamics

Georgia’s economic performance under the Georgian Dream has been mixed. While the country experienced significant growth before the 2008 war, the subsequent years have seen more modest economic progress. Despite this, recent years have seen an uptick in economic activity, partly due to Georgia’s role as a conduit for Western-sanctioned goods to Russia and as a destination for Russians fleeing Putin’s regime.

The pro-Russian tilt of the Georgian government has become increasingly apparent. The Georgian Dream has expanded its control over government agencies, law enforcement, and the judiciary, while cracking down on civil society and independent media. The arrest of former President Saakashvili, widely viewed as politically motivated, further highlights the authoritarian drift.

The 2023 Protests and Western Reactions

The resurgence of the foreign agent law in 2023 sparked significant domestic and international backlash. Western governments, including the United States and the European Union, condemned the law, warning that it could jeopardize Georgia’s aspirations for closer ties with the West. In response to the protests and Western pressure, the Georgian Dream shelved the bill, but the move did little to alleviate concerns about the country’s democratic trajectory.

In an unexpected turn, the EU granted Georgia candidate status in December 2023, a move seen as a strategic effort to counter Russian influence in the region. While the ruling party used this development to bolster its legitimacy, it continued to pursue policies that align more closely with Moscow’s interests.

The Youth and Civil Society

Despite the government’s authoritarian tendencies, Georgia’s vibrant civil society, particularly its younger generation, remains committed to democratic ideals and closer integration with the West. The recent protests saw large numbers of young Georgians taking to the streets, waving Georgian, EU, and Ukrainian flags, and demanding a halt to the government’s pro-Russian policies.

The Georgian Dream’s efforts to pass the foreign agent law were met with fierce resistance, with protests being violently suppressed by security forces. The use of water cannons, rubber bullets, and tear gas against demonstrators highlighted the government’s determination to quash dissent.

The Role of Ivanishvili

Questions about Ivanishvili’s true intentions and possible ties to the Kremlin persist. Some view him as a Kremlin agent, while others believe he is primarily driven by personal gain and the consolidation of power. His wealth, equivalent to nearly a quarter of Georgia’s GDP, gives him considerable influence over the country’s political landscape.

Ivanishvili’s policies have led to a significant increase in Georgian-Russian trade, and his government has facilitated the transfer of funds from tax havens to Georgia. Critics argue that these actions benefit a narrow elite at the expense of broader democratic and economic development.

The October Elections and Beyond

The upcoming October elections will be a critical test for Georgia’s democratic future. The opposition, although fragmented, is attempting to unite under a common cause: a fair and proportional electoral system that prevents the concentration of power in the hands of a few. However, the Georgian Dream’s control over the political apparatus poses a significant challenge.

The ongoing struggle in Georgia is not just a local issue but part of a broader geopolitical contest between Western democratic ideals and Russian autocratic influence. The country’s geographic isolation and economic dependence on Russia complicate its path to European integration.


Georgia’s struggle for democracy is a microcosm of the larger clash between Western and Russian spheres of influence. The determination of Georgia’s youth and civil society to pursue a European future stands in stark contrast to the government’s authoritarian tendencies and pro-Russian policies. The international community, particularly Europe and the United States, has a crucial role to play in supporting Georgia’s democratic aspirations.

The October elections will be a pivotal moment in this ongoing struggle. As Georgia stands at a crossroads, the decisions made by its leaders and the reactions of the international community will shape the country’s future. The spirit of the Georgian people, driven by a desire for freedom and democratic values, remains a beacon of hope in this challenging geopolitical landscape.


Q1: What sparked the recent protests in Georgia?
The recent protests were sparked by the Georgian Dream party’s attempt to pass a controversial “foreign agent” law, which would have required media outlets and NGOs receiving significant foreign funding to register as foreign agents. This move was widely seen as an effort to stifle independent media and civil society.

Q2: Why is the foreign agent law controversial?
The foreign agent law is controversial because it mirrors a similar law enacted in Russia in 2012, which has been used to suppress dissent and label independent organizations as foreign agents. Critics argue that the law in Georgia would undermine democracy and freedom of expression.

Q3: What is Bidzina Ivanishvili’s role in Georgian politics?
Bidzina Ivanishvili, a billionaire with deep ties to Russia, is the founder of the Georgian Dream party and remains a powerful figure in Georgian politics. His influence extends beyond his official roles, and he is seen as the de facto leader of the country.

Q4: How has Georgia’s economy performed under the Georgian Dream?
Georgia’s economic performance under the Georgian Dream has been mixed. While the country experienced significant growth before the 2008 war, subsequent years saw more modest progress. Recently, the economy has benefited from its role as a conduit for Western-sanctioned goods to Russia and as a destination for Russians fleeing Putin’s regime.

Q5: What are the implications of the EU granting Georgia candidate status?
The EU granting Georgia candidate status is a significant step towards closer integration with Europe. However, it also places pressure on the Georgian government to implement democratic reforms and align more closely with European values, which contrasts with the current pro-Russian policies of the Georgian Dream.

Q6: What is the significance of the upcoming October elections?
The October elections are critical for Georgia’s democratic future. They will determine whether the country continues on its current authoritarian path under the Georgian Dream or moves towards a more democratic and pro-European direction. The outcome will have significant implications for Georgia’s political landscape and its international relations.

Q7: How does the Georgian struggle relate to the broader geopolitical context?
The Georgian struggle is part of a larger geopolitical contest between Western democratic ideals and Russian autocratic influence. Georgia’s efforts to integrate with Europe are complicated by its geographic isolation, economic dependence on Russia, and the internal political dynamics shaped by pro-Russian elements within its government.

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By Ryan Hite

Ryan Hite is an American author, content creator, podcaster, and media personality. He was born on February 3, 1993, in Colorado and spent his childhood in Conifer, Colorado. He moved to Littleton in 2000 and spent the remainder of his schooling years in the city. Upon graduation from Chatfield Senior High School in 2011, he attended the University of Colorado at Boulder. He graduated from the university in 2015 after studying Urban Planning, Business Administration, and Religious Studies. He spent more time in Colorado in the insurance, real estate, and healthcare industries. In 2019, he moved to Las Vegas, NV, where he continued to work in healthcare, insurance, and took his foray into media full time in 2021. His first exposure to the media industry came as a result of the experiences he had in his mid to late teens and early twenties. In 2013, he was compelled to collect a set of stories from his personal experiences and various other writings that he has had. His first book, a 365,000-word epic, Through Minds Eyes, was published in collaboration with Balboa Press. That initial book launched a media explosion. He learned all that he could about creating websites, marketing his published works, and would even contemplate the publication of other works as well. This book also inspired him to create his philosophy, his life work, that still influences the values that he holds in his life. Upon graduating college, he had many books published, blogs and other informative websites uploaded, and would embark on his continued exploration of the world of marketing, sales, and becoming an influencer. Of course, that did not come without challenges that would come his way. His trial-and-error approach of marketing himself and making himself known guided him through his years as a real estate agent, an insurance agent, and would eventually create a marketing plan from scratch with a healthcare startup. The pandemic did not initially create too many challenges to the status quo. Working from home did not affect the quality of his life. However, a series of circumstances such as continued website problems, social media shutdowns, and unemployment, caused him to pause everything between late 2020 and mid-2021. It was another period of loss of momentum and purpose for his life as he tried to navigate the world, as many people may have felt at that time. He attempted to find purpose in insurance again, resulting in failure. There was one thing that sparked his curiosity and would propel him to rediscover the thing that was gone from his life for so long. In 2021, he started his journey by taking on a full-time job in the digital media industry, an industry that he is still a part of today. It was at this point that he would also shut down the rest of the media that he had going at the time. In 2023, he announced that he would be embarking on what has become known as PROJECT30. This initiative will result in the reformation of websites, the reinvigoration of social media accounts, the creation of a Youtube channel and associated podcast, the creation of music, and the continued rediscovery of his creative potential. Unlike past projects, the purpose of this would not expound on the musings of a philosophy, the dissemination of useless news and articles, or the numerous attempts to be someone that he was not. This project is going to be about his authentic self. There are many ways to follow him as he embarks on this journey. Most of all, he wants everyone to be entertained, informed, and, in some ways, maybe a little inspired about the flourishing of the creativity that lies within the mind and soul of Ryan.

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