Authoritarian Influence Podcast Episodes

Lessons Learned from Georgian Civil Society’s Response to a Repressive “Foreign Agents” Law: A Conversation with Tinatin Khidasheli

Around the world, threats to freedom of expression and association are growing. One crucial example is found in Georgia, a struggling democracy with a population of just under four million people. Last year, the Georgian parliament withdrew proposed legislation targeting so-called “foreign agents” that was strikingly similar to such stifling legislation in Russia. At the time, the draft law stimulated widespread demonstrations in Georgia, temporarily pausing the law’s advance. However, on April 3, 2024, the Georgian ruling party reintroduced the widely unpopular law, renewing the struggle and generating fresh mass protests within Georgia and widespread condemnation internationally. 

On March 29, 2024, Tinatin Khidasheli, chairperson of the Tbilisi-based NGO Civic Initiative for Democratic and Euro-Atlantic Choice (Civic IDEA), joined Christopher Walker, vice president for studies and analysis at the National Endowment for Democracy, to discuss laws and narratives that ostensibly combat “foreign influence” but, in practice, have the effect of restricting fundamental freedoms and civic space. They unpack how Georgian society mobilized in 2023 to resist the adoption of the restrictive law and what lessons this holds for those who want to push back against weaponized narratives and restrictive foreign influence laws elsewhere.  

For further insights on related issues, check out the International Forum’s companion blog, “Power 3.0 Understanding Modern Authoritarian Influence.” You can find additional resources on the NED website and join the conversation with us on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter. 

The views expressed in this podcast represent the opinions and analysis of the participants and do not necessarily reflect those of the National Endowment for Democracy or its staff. Photo Credit: [k_samurkas/Shutterstock]