Georgia: Protests, “Foreign Agents” and Imperialism

We hereby publish an unofficial translation of an article published by Tjen Folket Media, Norway:

In mid-June, Georgia was marked by protests against the parliament’s new law which requires NGOs to register as “foreign agents” if more than 20 percent of their income comes from abroad.

There were sometimes fierce battles outside parliament when the law was considered and then passed with a large majority. The crux of the matter is Georgia’s relationship with foreign imperialism – on the one hand Russian imperialism, on the other US imperialism and European great powers.

Tens of thousands of protesters in the capital Tbilisi have demanded that the bill be withdrawn. These have been protesting for a month, and NRK writes that the demonstrations may be the largest in the country since the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991. It was the governing party Georgian Dream that proposed the new law against “foreign influence” in April. Russia passed a similar law in 2012.

NRK writes: “In the Georgian version, it is stated that non-governmental organizations and media that receive more than 20 percent of their budget from foreign sources must register as ‘foreign agents’.” In one of the cases about the so-called “agent law”, NRK has interviewed Mariam Tokhadze, who heads the think tank Center for Strategy and Development (CSD). With 16 employees, they work to promote “integration towards the West”, and they get all their support from abroad, including NOK 14.8 million from Norway since 2020.

Factions in Georgia’s Grand Bourgeoisie

Georgia is a prey for the imperialists. Last December, the country gained candidate status in the EU, a new step on the road to membership. At the same time, Russian imperialism still exerts a great influence on its former colony. The governing party Georgian Dream was founded by the oligarch Bidzina Ivanishvili in 2012, who is said to have earned more than NOK 50 billion from business activities in Russia and is thus directly linked to Russian imperialism.

Ivanishvili has stated that “a ‘Western, global war party’ is trying to take control of the country.” He has said the new law will help prevent “non-governmental organizations” (NGOs) from being used by foreign intelligence agencies to bring their lackeys to power.

Now European powers are putting their trust in Georgia’s president, Salome Zurabishvili, who has promised to veto the law. Zurabishvili was born in France in 1952, in a family that came to the country in 1921 after Georgia became part of the Soviet Union. She studied at elite universities in France and the United States, and began working in the French foreign service in 1974.

Zurabishvili then worked in several embassies and in the French UN delegation, before becoming France’s ambassador to Georgia in 2003. After the “Rose Revolution” in 2003, she soon obtained Georgian citizenship, and was for a short period foreign minister before joining the Way of Georgia party and trying to be elected to parliament. She stood as a presidential candidate in 2018 with the support of the Georgian Dream party and renounced her French citizenship in order to stand for election. She won the election and her opponent Grigol Vashadze claimed afterwards that the election was rigged. Both candidates were in any case supporters of Georgian membership in the EU and NATO.

The EU has stated that the new law in Georgia will be an obstacle to EU membership, and the situation is now very tense. US Foreign Minister Antony Blinken has stated that “those responsible” for the law will be subject to visa restrictions – meaning that they will have problems entering the US.

The Georgian bourgeoisie, as in other oppressed nations, splits into two factions: a comprador faction and a bureaucrat faction. These partly flow into each other – both factions belong to the same class: the bureaucrat and comprador big bourgeoisie – but they also fight a fierce battle for government power. The comprador faction derives its wealth mainly from its economic cooperation with foreign imperialism, while the power of the bureaucrat faction rests on the state apparatus and state enterprises. This rivalry is the basis for the political conflicts in these countries – among them Ukraine and Georgia.

The imperialists exert influence abroad and forbid it at home

The US has had more or less the same law as Georgia and with almost the same name since 1938 (!) – The Foreign Agents Registration Act (§§611-621; FARA). This law requires individuals and organizations with ties to foreign powers to register with the United States Department of Justice. This law gained new relevance when it was used against the Trump administration. The EU, for its part, has banned Russian media such as Russia Today and Sputnik.

In 2021, the Solberg government began work to ban foreign influence in Norway, and in January (2024) Minister of Justice Emilie Enger Mehl (Sp) presented proposals for laws to give the Police Security Service the opportunity to intervene against “foreign influence” . She declares that the Norwegian authorities are particularly concerned about influence from Russia and China.

Furthermore, the Norwegian Party Act states that parties cannot receive support from “foreign donors, i.e. private individuals who are not Norwegian citizens” or “legal entities registered abroad.” In other words, according to the law, Norwegian parties cannot receive a single kroner either from foreign individuals or organisations.

In other words, it is pure hypocrisy when Western politicians rage against the new law in Georgia. They use the same means as the Georgian authorities – only the enemy image is reversed.

Incidentally, the CIA has for a long time used so-called NGOs as an extension of US imperialism and its intelligence activities and propaganda campaigns. Organizations such as the National Endowment for Democracy, founded in 1983, and Freedom House, which have been active in Ukraine, have repeatedly been exposed as CIA fronts.

Georgia – a prey for the imperialists

Russian imperialism today occupies 20 percent of Georgia – the two regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia – after the war between Russia and Georgia in 2008. Russia formally considers these two areas as independent states, which only four other countries do.

In 2003, large protests in Georgia led to a change of government in the so-called “Rose Revolution”. This joins the series of “colour revolutions” in Serbia (2000), Ukraine (2004), Kyrgyzstan (2005) and Armenia (2018), and attempts at similar “regime changes” in a number of other countries. It is beyond any doubt that Western intelligence, particularly the CIA, operated actively within the protests and the changes of government in their wake. Although the masses raised just demands, the movements were largely exploited to challenge the dominance of Russian imperialism.

The president of Georgia is an example of how directly the great powers act towards the oppressed nations that were formerly subject to the social-imperialist Soviet Union. Ukraine’s government in 2014, after the protests dubbed “Euromaidan” that year, had three foreign ministers (from the United States, Lithuania and Georgia).

Western activities in these countries are in line with US imperialism’s strategy of encircling Russian imperialism. The strategy is not only about pushing Russia out of social imperialism’s former “sphere of interest” in Eastern Europe, the Caucasus and Central Asia, but also about depriving Russia of its position as a nuclear superpower, by building out a “missile shield” in many of Russia’s neighboring countries. The missile shield could make it virtually impossible for Russia to reach the United States with nuclear weapons.

On the other hand, Russia is fighting almost desperately to break these attempts at encirclement, and to consolidate its influence in the nearby areas. This is the background not only for the war in Ukraine, but also the fighting in Georgia – both today and in the past. Russian imperialism has gone on a series of tactical offensives within the defensive it has been on since 1991. Even Russian activity in Africa must be seen in this context, where Russian-backed military juntas have taken over power in, among others, Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger .

The Georgian Dream party again leans more towards Russian imperialism, and Western great powers, mainly US imperialism, help their lackeys in the domestic struggle. The context is the long-running struggle for the Caucasus, and in a broader sense the rivalry in Eastern Europe, the Middle East and Central Asia.

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