2023 LiA Project: Blog Post IV

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Lika Gegenava

Leadership in Action Project: Blog Post IV

Tbilisi, Georgia: May – June 2023

For my second project with Open Society Georgia Foundation, I wrote a case study of the events of March 6–10th. I compiled an extensive timeline of events, from the first mentions of the need of the law to monitor foreign influence in civil society and media, to the most recent discourse around it after the law was recalled. My report was divided into four sections: (I) introduction; (II) Strategy and Goals of the Government; (III) Mobilizing the Civil Society; and (IV) Effects. 

In the introduction I outlined the political context and the central problem with the current political climate in Georgia. Building off of my research project, I described the gradual transition of the Georgian Dream Party from a western-leaning democratic power to an authoritarian one. I also described the timeline of the introduction of the law: from the first mentions of the problem of accountability and transparency in the Georgian Civil society, to the culmination of protest and recalling the law. In the next section, I described the governmental incentives and their goals in implementing such law – to limit the accountability mechanism for their rule and consolidate their power. In the third section, I described the fight against implementing the law and the work OSGF and numerous other civil society organizations put in to ensure the law did not pass. To do this I conducted a number of interviews, both with members of OSGF and members of critical organizations that played a role in the campaign against the law. In the final section, I spoke of the effects of introducing such a law and of the effective and successful campaign that the Georgian civil society led against it. In this section, I outlined the harm this governmental initiative had done, even if it was unsuccessful. Mainly, such initiative further put under question Georgia’s path to EU integration and further alienated the country’s Western partners. On the other hand, a very successful precedent was created for the Georgian civil society on how to effectively combat harmful governmental initiatives that threaten democratic institutions and independence in Georgia. 

Working on this project allowed me to see the “behind the scenes” work that is done when a public protests against a certain governmental initiative. I learned of the effective strategies to maintain independence and fight to protect it in the face of rising authoritarian governments. It also made me more hopeful for the future of Georgia, as it became evident to me that fighting for a democratic future for my country is worth it. This success story will be one of many more to come.

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