As the devastating war in Ukraine grinds on without a clear end in sight, tensions are rapidly rising in another nation that borders Russia: Georgia. In May 2024, hundreds of thousands of Georgian citizens took to the streets in their nation’s capital, Tbilisi, to protest against their government’s passing of a new and highly controversial law. This law, the “Transparency of Foreign Influence Bill,” has sparked widespread concern and debate, both domestically and internationally.

The Controversial Foreign Influence Bill

The Georgian Dream Party, which governs Georgia, refers to the new law as the “Transparency of Foreign Influence Bill.” This legislation mandates that all NGOs and media companies operating in Georgia, which receive more than 20% of their funding from abroad, must register as pursuing the interests of a foreign power in a public registry. The Georgian Dream Party argues that this bill is necessary to provide transparency about where NGOs and media companies in Georgia are receiving their funding.

However, critics and opponents of the bill argue that it closely mirrors a similar law passed by Vladimir Putin’s government in Russia back in 2012. That law has enabled the Russian government to suppress, crack down on, and shut down opposition media outlets and NGOs. Opponents fear that the Georgian Dream Party might replicate this pattern to suppress opposition in Georgia, and have labeled it as the “Russian Law.”

Geopolitical Implications

The bill’s passing carries significant geopolitical ramifications. It is likely to hinder Georgia’s aspirations to join the European Union and NATO. Both the EU and NATO have repeatedly stressed that the passing of this bill will make Georgia incompatible with their values, jeopardizing Georgia’s membership prospects.

For decades, most Georgians have aspired to join both the EU and NATO, with current polling showing that almost 80% of the Georgian population desires EU membership and roughly 87% see the ongoing war in Ukraine as a shared cause. Georgia has been invaded by Russia twice in the past three decades, resulting in 20% of its internationally recognized territory falling under Russian military occupation.

Historical Context

In December 2023, Georgia was finally offered its long-awaited and much-coveted candidacy status by the European Union. If fully approved as a member state, Georgia would become the fifth EU member state to share a direct border with Russia, after Poland, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, and Finland. This would establish a disconnected chunk of the European Union across the Black Sea, wedged between Russia and Turkey.

However, only four months after receiving EU candidacy status, the Georgian Dream Party reintroduced their controversial foreign influence law. This move sparked fierce protests, met with a significantly more heavy-handed government response than before, involving water cannons, tear gas, and rubber bullets.

The Russian Influence

There is growing concern that the Georgian government is drifting back into Russia’s orbit. This concern is exacerbated by other actions of the Georgian government, such as the arrest and imprisonment of the former pro-Western Georgian president and Ukrainian citizen Mikheil Saakashvili since 2021, the refusal to participate in any sanctions on Russia since the invasion of Ukraine, the resumption of direct air travel with Russia since 2023, and a dramatic increase in trade volume with Russia. Georgian exports to Russia rose by nearly 7% in 2022, and imports from Russia skyrocketed by 79%.

Regional Tensions

These actions have led to frequent criticism from the Ukrainian government, accusing the Georgian government of assisting Russia in evading sanctions. Tensions have escalated to the point where Kyiv recalled their ambassador to Tbilisi in June 2022, and after Georgia resumed direct flights with Russia in 2023, Kyiv expelled the Georgian ambassador and announced sanctions on Georgian Airways.

In September 2023, the speaker of the Georgian Parliament asserted that Ukraine was plotting a coup in Georgia to overthrow the Georgian Dream Party and push the country into the war with Russia. Since then, the Georgian government has repeatedly accused the United States and Ukraine of attempting to push Georgia into joining the war against Russia.

Strategic Importance of Georgia

Georgia’s geographic location makes it a significant player in global geopolitics. It is often considered a transcontinental country, existing at the crossroads between Eastern Europe and Western Asia. Georgia’s territory includes most of the Greater Caucasus Mountain range, historically a valuable geographic frontier separating the vast Eurasian steppe in southern Russia from the great empires that emerged in Western Asia.

Russia has maintained a policy of controlling at least the Greater Caucasus Mountains to control all the access points from Western Asia into Southern Russia, which is flat and easily traversable land. There are four viable overland transportation routes through the Greater Caucasus Mountains today: two narrow coastal approaches to the west and east of the mountains between the Black Sea and the Caspian Sea, the Georgian Military Road, and the Roki Tunnel. Control over these routes is crucial for Russia to block any hostile land army from advancing into the exposed steppe of Southern Russia.

Historical Annexation and Conflict

Georgia was steadily annexed by Russia in the early 19th century and remained within the Russian Empire until the country collapsed during the First World War in 1917. Georgia briefly emerged as an independent republic before being reabsorbed by the Red Army in 1921 and incorporated into the Soviet Union. Within the Soviet Union, Georgia was an ethnically and linguistically diverse place, with significant minorities of Azerbaijanis, Armenians, Russians, Greeks, and two important lesser-known groups: the Ossetians and the Abkhazians.

After the Soviet Union began collapsing in 1989, nationalism surged among Georgians, Ossetians, and Abkhazians. The majority of Ossetians and Abkhazians wished to remain within the Soviet Union to stay close to their kin in Russia, while the Georgians generally desired outright independence. Moscow began strategically supporting the South Ossetian and Abkhazian nationalist and separatist movements to leverage against the greater Georgian independence movement.

The Wars in Abkhazia and South Ossetia

Fighting erupted between the South Ossetians and the Georgian government in 1990. After Georgia declared independence from the Soviet Union in early 1991, the conflict in Abkhazia and South Ossetia transformed into separatist rebellions, supported by the Russian government. By 1993, Russian support proved decisive, with separatist forces securing control over the majority of Abkhazia and South Ossetia.

During the war in Abkhazia, the Abkhaz side perpetrated a mass ethnic cleansing campaign against the region’s Georgian population. Over 200,000 ethnic Georgians were forcefully expelled, and more than 5,000 were massacred. This severely altered Abkhazia’s demographics, reducing the Georgian population from 45.7% in 1989 to fewer than 18% by 2011, while the Abkhaz population increased from 18% to about 51%.

Post-Soviet Alignment and the Rose Revolution

Initially, Georgia aligned itself closer to Russia by joining the Moscow-led defense alliance known as the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) in 1993 but withdrew only half a decade later. After Vladimir Putin came to power as Russia’s president in 2000, Russia began pursuing a more aggressive policy towards the separatist regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia.

Anger towards Georgia’s conciliatory foreign policy towards Russia, combined with political corruption and poverty, culminated in the Rose Revolution of 2003. This revolution overthrew the previous corrupt government and brought the pro-Western Mikheil Saakashvili to power. Saakashvili vowed to reassert Georgian control over Abkhazia and South Ossetia and align Georgia with NATO and the EU.

Georgia’s Contributions to Western Military Efforts

To align Georgia more with the West, Saakashvili sent large numbers of Georgian soldiers to support the US war efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan. By 2008, Georgia had 2,300 soldiers deployed in Iraq, the third highest number in the coalition, and became the largest non-NATO troop contributor in Afghanistan. These contributions were crafted to sway American and Western support for Georgia’s admission to NATO and the EU.

The Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan Oil Pipeline

The collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 opened up the Caspian Sea Basin’s massive oil and gas fields to the Western world. Western energy companies sought to construct pipelines from the Caspian region to Europe without routing through Iran or Russia. This led to the creation of the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan oil pipeline, completed in 2005, enabling Azerbaijan to export oil through Georgia and Turkey to Europe.

The 2008 War and Its Aftermath

In 2008, fighting broke out between South Ossetian separatist forces and the Georgian army. Russia launched a full-scale invasion of Georgia, claiming to protect South Ossetians from a genocide. Russia’s victory resulted in the occupation of 20% of Georgia’s territory, including Abkhazia and South Ossetia, and the severing of diplomatic relations between Georgia and Russia.

The Georgian Dream Party and Its Influence

Mikheil Saakashvili lost the 2012 presidential election to Bidzina Ivanishvili, a reclusive billionaire and founder of the Georgian Dream Party. Ivanishvili’s campaign focused on balancing Georgia’s relationship with Russia and the West. Since then, the Georgian Dream Party has maintained power, arguing that stable relations with Russia are necessary for Georgia’s eventual acceptance into NATO and the EU.

Strategic Developments and the Southern Gas Corridor

Georgia’s geopolitical significance has grown, particularly with the development of the Southern Gas Corridor. This pipeline connects Azerbaijan’s gas fields to Europe, running through Georgia. Azerbaijan pledged to double its gas exports to Europe by 2027, enhancing Georgia’s strategic importance to the West.

The Anaclia Deep Water Port

The development of a deep water port at Anaclia is a critical project for Georgia, enhancing its export capabilities and integrating it into the Middle Corridor trade route connecting China with Europe. However, Russia might prefer the port to remain undeveloped to block the route’s viability and force Europe to rely on other routes.


Q: What is the Transparency of Foreign Influence Bill in Georgia?
A: The Transparency of Foreign Influence Bill requires NGOs and media companies in Georgia receiving more than 20% of their funding from abroad to register as pursuing the interests of a foreign power. Critics argue it mirrors a Russian law used to suppress opposition.

Q: Why are Georgians protesting against the bill?
A: Georgians are protesting because they fear the bill will suppress opposition and media freedom, hindering Georgia’s aspirations to join the EU and NATO.

Q: How has Russia influenced the situation in Georgia?
A: Russia has supported separatist movements in Abkhazia and South Ossetia, occupied 20% of Georgia’s territory, and increased trade with Georgia, while the Georgian government has avoided participating in sanctions against Russia.

Q: What is the significance of the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan oil pipeline?
A: The pipeline allows Azerbaijan to export oil through Georgia to Europe, reducing European dependence on Russian and Middle Eastern oil.

Q: What is the Southern Gas Corridor?
A: The Southern Gas Corridor is a series of pipelines connecting Azerbaijan’s gas fields to Europe, running through Georgia, enhancing its strategic importance to the West.

Q: What could happen if the situation in Georgia escalates?
A: If the situation escalates, it could lead to a major geopolitical crisis involving Russia, the West, and other regional powers, potentially drawing in military interventions and reshaping the region’s dynamics.


The future of Georgia is deeply uncertain. The passing of the foreign influence law jeopardizes its alignment with the West, while Russia continues to exert influence. The situation in Georgia could evolve into a major geopolitical crisis, potentially drawing in major powers and reshaping the region’s dynamics.

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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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