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In Georgia, the opposition may become the next COVID casualty

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.

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In Georgia, State Bows to Church amid Coronavirus Crisis

By Tornike Zurabashvili

As Georgian Orthodox Church defies government-imposed restrictions ahead of the Easter festivities, the country braces for further virus fallout.  

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The origins and use of some propaganda techniques and conspiracy theories


Armen Grigoryan
AIISA partner expert
Eurasia Democratic Security Network fellow

INTRODUCTION

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.

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Why is Georgia succeeding with the coronavirus where many Western countries are failing?

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.

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Crisis in Abkhazia: What You Need to Know

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.

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The Ghost of National Movements Past

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.”

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Should revolution reach the Constitutional Court? Armenians will decide on April 5…

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.

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A Year in Review: Armenian Government Hampered by Path Dependence

By Armen Grigoryan

In 2019, Armenia’s economic situation markedly improved, registering GDP growth of 6.5 percent, a stable financial system, upgraded credit ratings, higher budget revenues and reduced public debt (Emerging Europe, December 30, 2019). According to a poll conducted in September and October by the International Republican Institute (IRI), 28 percent of citizens noted a significant improvement in their households’ financial situation, compared to 17 percent in 2018, although the majority of respondents saw no change for the better. Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan’s government remains popular, with 70 percent of the population feeling optimistic about the country’s future and expressing satisfaction with the government’s anti-corruption campaign. But on the other hand, the proportion of respondents emphasizing socio-economic issues and the need for job creation has increased significantly in comparison with previous polls from October 2018 and May 2019; and 82 percent of respondents consider judicial reform a priority (Iri.org, December 9, 2019).

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Armenia’s Post-Revolutionary Government Seeks to Speed up Reform

By Armen Grigoryan

A year after winning a two-thirds majority at the snap parliamentary elections, Armenia’s Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan has acknowledged flaws in the government’s previous approach to the reform process, admitting that some essential reforms have practically been stalled. Pashinyan continually enjoys a considerably high level of public support, and needs to take decisive steps towards more drastic reforms, possibly by mobilizing support from different groups that welcomed the “Velvet Revolution” and the wider expert community.

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State Capture by Means of Constitution: Armenian and Hungarian Cases

By Armen Grigoryan

Introduction

In 2012, when President Serzh Sargsyan suspended diplomatic relations with Hungary after the extradition of Ramil Safarov to Azerbaijan, most Armenians’ perception that Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orbán himself played an important, if not decisive role in the unfortunate decision to extradite the notorious axe-murderer, was quite accurate. It is a bit ironic that Orbán’s certain actions have become a reference point for some Armenian political actors connected to the former ruling Republican Party of Armenia (RPA).