By Armen Grigoryan
Growing Chinese influence observed by Freedom House
The recent Freedom House Nations in Transit 2020 report pays particular attention to the growing Chinese influence in a number of countries in Central and Eastern Europe, and in Central Asia. The report notes: ‘While China’s international engagement is often less directly confrontational than Russia’s, it nevertheless has an insidious effect on the development and functioning of democratic institutions … influence campaign is focused around two major goals — expanding the country’s influence abroad, and promoting a positive image of China globally. … It tailors its approach to each individual country, taking advantage of institutional weaknesses, and surreptitiously embedding itself into corrupt political and economic structures. The aggregate impact of these measures is the further degradation of good governance, transparency, and the rule of law’.
Continue reading Disinformation and other tools of antidemocratic influence: an Armenian outlook in the EU and Eastern Partnership context
Max Fras explains why Ukraine and Georgia need to nurture homegrown talent rather than import politicians
Continue reading ‘Leaders for rent’ is no answer
This week, Ben speaks to Charles Clift from the Global Health Programme about the WHO’s communication challenges around the coronavirus. They explore how pandemics are defined, and the implications of when the announcement was made. Then Agnes meets Max Fras to find out how former Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili has gained political office in Ukraine.
Continue reading Undercurrents: Defining Pandemics, and Mikheil Saakashvili’s Ukrainian Comeback
By Max Fras
While Georgia’s lockdown enjoys support at home and abroad, the public health crisis has had a negative impact on the country’s political pluralism and opposition. As every Caucasus democratisation conference speaker is likely to remind you, democracy is what happens between the elections as much as what happens during them.
Continue reading In Georgia, the opposition may become the next COVID casualty
By Tornike Zurabashvili
As Georgian Orthodox Church defies government-imposed restrictions ahead of the Easter festivities, the country braces for further virus fallout.
Continue reading In Georgia, State Bows to Church amid Coronavirus Crisis
AIISA partner expert
Eurasia Democratic Security Network fellow
Disinformation, fake news, and conspiracy theories have been a part of the Armenian political discourse for a long time, also long before the Internet was there. A part of the younger generation of Armenians may be less aware about some realities, so the narrative about the early era of independence, or, more generally, about the 1990s being “years of darkness and cold” still finds its way sometimes. Middle-aged people may easily remember the propaganda campaign against the top state officials of that time, who were accused of shutting down the Armenian nuclear power plant (which, in fact, had been shut down by a decree of the Soviet government in 1989) and “guzzling fuel oil” (i.e. misappropriating it), thereby causing a shortage of electricity. The top propaganda topic, however, was “selling Karabakh”: that is how propaganda labeled suggestions about solving the conflict on the basis of compromise.
Continue reading The origins and use of some propaganda techniques and conspiracy theories
By Alexander Scrivener
When the biggest health crisis in a century hits, where would you prefer to be: the Netherlands or Georgia?
Until very recently, almost no one would name the South Caucasus country as their choice. Even the most patriotic Kartveli would admit that having the money, facilities and expertise of a very high income west-European nation would put the Dutch in a much better position to prevent and mitigate the spread of a pandemic. Indeed, the Netherlands came 3rd in the latest Global Health Security Index which measures preparedness for disease outbreak. In that index, Georgia comes a creditable but not earth-shattering 42nd.
Continue reading Why is Georgia succeeding with the coronavirus where many Western countries are failing?
Tornike Zurabashvili is a former editor of Civil.ge and a fellow at the Eurasia Democratic Security Network (EDSN).
The past few months have been eventful in Abkhazia, a region of about 200,000 inhabitants located on the north-western edge of Georgia, and controlled – militarily, politically and economically – by the Russian Federation.
Continue reading Crisis in Abkhazia: What You Need to Know
By the Eurasia Democratic Security Network
March 17, 2020
Vano Merabishvili was surprisingly energetic when he emerged from prison in February. The 51-year-old had been behind bars since 2013, put away for abuses of power allegedly committed between 2004 and 2012. Georgia’s former minister of interior and prime minister, he looked pale and had dark circles around his eyes. Nonetheless, he radiated defiance, declaring the intention to “keep fighting in order to remove this regime [the ruling Georgian Dream government] this year.”
Continue reading The Ghost of National Movements Past
By Armen Grigoryan
On 6 February, an extraordinary session of the National Assembly of Armenia approved a referendum on amending the Article 213 of the Constitution. The decision was approved by 88 votes, including the ruling My Step coalition and the only independent MP, Arman Babajanyan. The Bright Armenia faction’s 15 present members voted against, while the 25-member Prosperous Armenia faction did not vote. The latter’s abstention also made it impossible to appeal the decision at the Constitutional Court, as petitions to overrule the parliament’s decision require signatures of one-fifth of 132 MPs. The referendum is scheduled to take place on 5 April; the required participation number is about 26 percent less than the number of votes received by My Step at the snap parliamentary elections in December 2018, and a simple majority of votes in favour would suffice to adopt the proposed amendment.
Continue reading Should revolution reach the Constitutional Court? Armenians will decide on April 5…