Loading Events

« All Events

  • This event has passed.

Democracy in the Crosshairs: Unpacking Georgia’s Foreign Influence Debate

May 17 @ 12:00 pm 1:30 pm

Please join the Fletcher Russia and Eurasia Program for a roundtable on the controversy surrounding the proposed “foreign agents” legislation in Georgia. The conversation will focus on the roots of the current crisis, the implications of the bill for Georgian democracy, and the role of foreign influence in Georgian domestic politics.

The participants will include Maia Otarashvili, Director of the Eurasia Program at the Foreign Policy Research Institute; Almut Rochowanski, civil society activist working in the former Soviet Union; Maxim Krupskiy, former visiting scholar, attorney, and human rights defender; Victor Kipiani, Chairman of the Georgian think tank GeocaseEto Buziashvili, Research Associate for the Caucasus at the Atlantic Council’s Digital Forensic Research Lab (DFRLab); and Anatol Lieven, Director of the Eurasia Program at the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft. The conversation will be held under the Chatham House Rule.


  • What has precipitated the proposed “foreign agents” law in Georgia and the growing protests against it? What role does foreign influence play today in Georgian domestic politics?
  • What are the bill’s specific provisions, and how do they compare with similar laws in other countries? What democratic principles are at stake, and how might the law affect Georgian civil society and media?
  • How does the law fit within the broader context of Georgia’s foreign policy and its aspirations toward EU membership? What can Georgian policymakers do to address the concerns of both domestic constituents and international partners regarding the law?
  • What are the potential future scenarios for Georgia if the bill is passed? How might it affect Georgia’s internal stability and its international relations?

We encourage you to read in advance the following articles by the participants on the generational divide and pro-EU public sentiment in Georgia, the role of Western-funded NGOs in Georgian domestic politics, the implications of the proposed legislation for Georgian media and civil societythe Russia factor in the bill’s formulation, and the role of the West amid growing protests against the bill.

Please make sure to register via myFletcher or contact us to attend the event on Zoom. If you would like to submit discussion questions for the speakers in advance, please do not hesitate to reach out to us.

Eto Buziashvili is a Research Associate for the Caucasus at the Atlantic Council’s Digital Forensic Research Lab (DFRLab). Eto researches influence operations and social media manipulation, with a focus on Russia, Ukraine, Eastern Europe, and the South Caucasus. Prior to the DFRLab, Eto advised the National Security Council of Georgia and was involved in developing strategic documents. Before joining the NSC, Eto worked as a senior analyst at the country’s Ministry of Interior, where she covered security issues related to Russia and the occupied regions of Georgia. In her role as a senior analyst, she was one of the negotiators at the Incident Prevention and Response Mechanism (IPRM), through which Russian officials and separatist leaders from the occupied regions of Georgia addressed the consequences of the 2008 Russian-Georgian War. Eto graduated from the Geneva Centre for Security Policy (GCSP) and the University of Geneva with an M.A. in International and European Security.
Victor Kipiani is the Chair of the Georgian think tank Geocase. His interests include international relations, security, governance, and global order implications for Georgia and its neighborhood and macroeconomy. He regularly covers these topics both in English and Georgian language media outlets. He is also a frequent commentator on recent political developments in Georgia as well as on various global geopolitical trends and events. Besides analytical work, Kipiani is a senior partner and a co-founder of MKD law firm based in Tbilisi, Georgia. Also, he is a member of the Georgian Bar Association, a member of the International Advisory Board for the Association of International Politics and Security Studies, a board member of the Independent Directors’ Association, and an advisory council member at the Service for Accounting, Reporting and Auditing Supervision Service.
Maxim Krupskiy is a human rights defender, attorney-at-law, and Ph.D. with more than twelve years of law practice in Russia defending refugees, civil activists persecuted by the Russian authorities, and NGOs labeled as “foreign agents.” He is currently conducting comprehensive comparative research on “foreign agents” legislation in Russia and other countries and studying various legal non-democratic mechanisms used to suppress civil society through the weaponization of transparency. Since the adoption of “foreign agents” laws in Russia, he has represented many well-known nonprofit human rights organizations in court, in cases challenging their inclusion in the “foreign agents” register and in cases of bringing them to administrative responsibility for violating “foreign agents” legislation. Over the past six years, as an independent expert, he has prepared more than forty independent anti-corruption expert opinions in the field of migration, administrative, environmental, criminal, criminal procedural legislation, and legislation on nonprofit organizations. He is a former visiting scholar at The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University, a former non-resident fellow at George Washington University, and a research scholar at the Kennan Institute of the Woodrow Wilson International Center.
Anatol Lieven is the Director of the Eurasia Program at the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft in Washington, D.C. He was a professor at Georgetown University in Qatar from 2014 to 2021. He holds a B.A. and Ph.D. from Cambridge University in England. His latest book is Climate Change and the Nation-State (2021). From 1986 to 1998, Lieven worked as a British journalist in South Asia, Afghanistan, the former Soviet Union, and Eastern Europe, and he wrote several books on these regions, including Pakistan: A Hard Country (2011) and Ukraine and Russia: A Fraternal Rivalry (1999). His book The Baltic Revolutions: Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and the Path to Independence (1994) won the Orwell Prize for political writing and the Oxford University Press Governor’s Award. America Right or Wrong: An Anatomy of American Nationalism (2012) delineated the main dividing lines in U.S. politics and political culture concerning national identity and foreign policy. He writes frequently for the media, and his articles have appeared in The Financial Times, The New York Times, Foreign Affairs, Foreign Policy, TIME, and Newsweek.
Maia Otarashvili is the Director of the Eurasia Program at the Foreign Policy Research Institute (FPRI). She is co-editor of FPRI’s 2017 volume Does Democracy Matter? The United States and Global Democracy Support. Her research interests include geopolitics and security of the Black Sea-Caucasus region, Russian foreign policy, and the post-Soviet “frozen” conflicts of Abkhazia, South Ossetia, and Transnistria. Maia holds an MA in War Studies from King’s College, London, and an M.A. in Globalization, Development, and Transition from the University of Westminster in London, with an emphasis on post-authoritarian transitions.
Almut Rochowanski has worked with civil society organizations and activists in the former Soviet Union (Georgia, Russia, Ukraine, Moldova, Kyrgyzstan, etc.) since the early 2000s, focusing on (post-)conflict regions, ethnic and religious minorities, women’s rights, and human rights, defender security and peacebuilding. A cross-cutting issue of her work has been funding for civil society: resource mobilization from a wide range of international donors, analysis of the impact on civil society of exclusively foreign funding, and the development of domestic resource mobilization practices for foreign-funded NGOs. She has served as a grant-maker, an advisor to U.S. and European grant-making foundations, a grant reviewer at a UN Trust Fund, and most of all, as a grant writer. A list of her writings on these issues can be found on her Substack page. Almut has studied law and international affairs at the University of Vienna, Université Catholique de Louvain, and Columbia University.

Fletcher Russia and Eurasia Program

View Organizer Website

Leave a Reply