Strategic Analysis Caucasus Brief

Review of April 2024

Tomáš Baranec



Azerbaijan and Armenia reached agreement on demarcation process

On April 19, Yerevan agreed to return four villages in the Gazakh district to Azerbaijan, thus beginning the demarcation process between the two countries. The demarcation of the border between Azerbaijan and Armenia will be based on the principles set out in the Almaty Declaration 1991. This understanding was reaffirmed at the aforementioned meeting on April 19.

Baku and Yerevan agreed at this meeting that the territory adjacent to four villages in Armenia’s Tavush regionwould be returned to Azerbaija’s Gazakh district in order to bring them into compliance with the legally justified interrepublican border that existed within the Soviet Union at the moment of its dissolution. These affected villages on the Armenian side are Baghanis, whose part Baghanis Ayrum, which was uninhabited for decades, will be ceded to Azerbaijan. Then, pastures adjacent to the Armenian village Kirants and part of the Yerevan – Tbilisi highway will be ceded as well, and the borderline will be moved closer to the mentioned highway along the Armenian village Voskepar, thus ceding to Azerbaijan pastures and abandoned houses to the east of the highway. The last affected Armenian village is Berkaber, where the border will be moved closer to the Joghaz water reservoir and expand the Azerbaijani village Qizilhacili territory by approximately 2 km2 of pastures and mixed forest. Yerevan has controlled given territories since the early 1990s.

The delimitation on those sections of the border is to be completed by the middle of May, the parties agreed. The demarcation of these border sections will be formalised through geodetic measurements on the ground and documented in a descriptive protocol, with a plan for approval and signature by May 15, 2024. In addition, the Parties agreed to finalise by July 1, 2024, the draft regulations on the joint activities of the State Commission on the Demarcation of the State Border between Azerbaijan and Armenia and the Commission on the Issues of the Demarcation of the State Border and Border Security between Armenia and Azerbaijan. Once approved, the delimitation process will be extended to all remaining border sections, including enclaves and exclaves.

Azerbaijani Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson Aykhan Hajizada wrote on the social media platform X that the demarcation is a “long-awaited historic event”. In Armenia, the state news agency quoted Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan’s office as saying: “In this process, the Republic of Armenia receives a reduction in risks associated with border delimitation and security.” It also stressed that the handover involved “two and a half villages” in practice because Azerbaijan already partly controlled the settlements involved, but it added that the demarcation of the border was a “significant event.”

Although the settlements in question are deserted, they are strategically important due to their close proximity to Armenia’s second main highway north towards the border with Georgia. Much of Armenia’s trade travels on this road, and the gas pipeline through which it receives gas from Russia passes through this territory, too.

In the context of border delimitation, Pashinyan stressed that Yerevan will also make a de iure claim to its exclave of Artsvashen, which has been under Azerbaijani control since the early 1990s. “In Armenia, there is a very allergic attitude to the topic of enclaves/exclaves, but I want to remind you that we cannot abandon the topic of enclaves/exclaves because the sovereign territory of Armenia of 29 thousand 743 square kilometres also includes Artsvashen, which is an exclave from our point of view, an enclave from the point of view of Azerbaijan. We have agreed that we will address this issue,” Pashinyan said.

According to the Prime Minister, first, we are going to de jure justify the fact that Artsvashen is a part of Armenia. “I am not questioning it, but I am saying that in the working process, the delimitation commissions should put the documents on the table. When we justify it de jure, delimitation of the border of Artsvashen should take place, because it is surrounded by a border, and let’s move forward and see what solutions are available,” the Prime Minister informed.

  • Al Jazeera, “Armenia and Azerbaijan agree on ‘historic’ return of villages”,

  • Caucasus Watch, “Border progress: Azerbaijan and Armenia Reach Agreement on Demarcation Process”,

  • First Channel News, “We are preparing to justify de jure fact that Artsvashen is part of Armenia: Nikol Pashinyan”,

Villagers in Armenian Tavush province protest the return of „four villages” to Azerbaijan due to safety concerns 

Residents of several Armenian communities in northeastern Tavush Province began protests late on April 19 after authorities in Armenia and Azerbaijan announced a border-delimitation deal under which Baku will regain control of four formerly Azeri-populated villages in the area, reported RFERL.

Following the announced agreement, residents of the villages of Kirants and Baghanis blocked traffic at sections of the road linking their communities to the towns of Ijevan and Noyemberian, respectively. Some residents of Voskepar, another Armenian village affected by the planned border demarcation, claimed, meanwhile, that what the authorities announced on April 19 contradicted what Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan had said when he held a closed-door meeting with residents earlier in the week.

In his reaction to discontent with the border delimitation, Pashinyan said that the given step is unpopular, but he is “sacrificing himself in the name of the Republic of Armenia”. At the same time, Pashinyan refused to call early elections before starting the demarcation of other sections of the border with Azerbaijan. According to his words, Armenian citizens will be able to evaluate his policies and actions in the next parliamentary elections, which are scheduled for 2026.

The situation remained tense in Tavush on April 22, with locals continuing to block the motorway leading to Georgia and not allowing demining to be carried out in the area. At some point, the protesters ran to the part where, according to them, the authorities wanted to carry out demining operations.

Information was received on April 21 that the special police forces were approaching the blocked area. In the morning, the police tried to convince the villagers to unblock the road, but the negotiations were unsuccessful. This protest has brought together the residents of not only Kirants and Voskepar villages but also of many other border villages of Armenia’s Tavush Province, which, according to Armenian media, might be in even greater danger if the Armenian authorities’ plan to hand over eight villages to Azerbaijan is implemented.

In the first phase, four non-enclave villages are planned to be handed over to Azerbaijan, followed by four enclave villages. In this case, stressed, the Azerbaijani military will be “literally a few meters away from the Armenian villages”; in the case of Kirants, practically in the village itself. In addition, the aforesaid interstate motorway sections that these residents have blocked, the Russian natural gas pipeline coming from Georgia, the strategic heights, and the local communication facilities will also pass to the Azerbaijanis.

The Armenian prime minister’s office on April 19 sought to address some of the residents’ concerns. “For the first time, there will be a demarcated state border between our countries [Armenia and Azerbaijan] in the section of the four villages,” the office said, according to Armenia’s state-run Armenpress news agency. “Yes, as a result of this process, the border guard service of Azerbaijan will get closer to the villages of Kirants and Voskepar, but their villages and ours will be separated by a delimitated state border.” The office added that “border protection will be carried out by the border guards of the Republic of Armenia” and that further security details will be “discussed and detailed in the near future.”



Armenia strengthens ties with US and EU in tripartite Brussels meeting

Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan, European Commission President Ursula von Der Leyen, EU Vice President Josep Borrell, and US Secretary of State Antony Blinken met on April 5 in Brussels, yielding a significant assistance windfall for Armenia. The EU pledged 270 million EUR over four years, and the US added another 65 million USD in aid designed to help Armenia recover from its decisive defeat in the Second Karabakh War and reduce its economic dependence on Russia.

In a joint statement, the participants affirmed a commitment to expanding cooperation across multiple political and economic spheres, including “governance, law enforcement, trade, connectivity, agriculture, energy, and technology.” “The European Union and the United States acknowledged the substantial progress Armenia has made since 2018 on democratic and justice reforms and the fight against corruption and expressed a commitment to continue partnering with and supporting Armenia as it further strengthens its democracy and the rule of law, in line with our shared values and principles”, the statement read, as cited by

During a joint press conference in Brussels, Josep Borrell, the High Representative of the European Union (EU) for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, emphasised Armenia’s continued efforts to implement reforms to enhance its resilience, noting that these endeavours are integral components of the Comprehensive and Enhanced Partnership Agreement. He highlighted the significance of such reforms in strengthening Armenian society and addressing challenges, particularly in the face of increasing foreign information manipulation and interference.

In his address on April 10 during the parliamentary debates on the performance of the Armenian government in 2023, Pashinyan stated that the Armenia-US-EU high-level meeting in Brussels on April 5 had no security subtext and agenda. He noted that the meeting in Brussels was not about the EU and the US coming and solving Armenia’s problems. Instead, it was a platform for discussing and strategising on how Armenia can address its challenges. “I consider it important to voice this because sometimes artificial and sometimes not artificial expectations are formed at us that some friends or allies should come and solve our problems,” he said.

According to Pashinyan, Armenians must strengthen the awareness that they themselves must solve all their problems. “Those are our problems. By the way, this is the psychological formula of sovereignty because sovereignty means awareness of one’s own problems and willingness to solve them,” added the Armenian premier.

The news of the EU-US aid package received a chilly reception in Moscow and Baku. Russia’s Foreign Ministry issued a statement characterising the meeting as another “collective West” attempt to ratchet up tension in the South Caucasus, which the Kremlin has long considered its geopolitical backyard. It described the aid package as “irresponsible and destructive “while cautioning that pressing ahead with helping Armenia implement reforms could have “negative consequences.”

Azerbaijan, meanwhile, voiced concern that EU assistance for Armenia threatened to compromise Brussels’ ability to mediate a lasting peace settlement between Baku and Yerevan. Against the backdrop of the Armenia-EU-US meeting on April 5, building pressure burst along the Armenia-Azerbaijan border. Both sides accused the other of ceasefire violations, with sporadic gunfire reported at multiple sections of the heavily militarised frontier.

Armenia enhances legal ties with the EU through criminal justice agreement

On April 5, in Brussels, Ararat Mirzoyan, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Armenia, participated in the signing ceremony of the agreement “On cooperation between the competent authorities in the field of legal cooperation between the Republic of Armenia and the European Union in the field of criminal proceedings of the Republic of Armenia and the European Union Agency for Cooperation in the Field of Criminal Justice (Eurojust)”, reported Caucasus Watch. Minister Mirzoyan expressed his gratitude to all involved parties within the EU institutions and Armenia for their efforts in reaching this agreement. He highlighted Armenia’s keen interest in signing the agreement from the outset and underscored the significance of this step in enhancing cooperation in justice, the rule of law, and combating transnational crimes between Armenia and the EU.

The minister emphasised the existing cooperation between Armenia and, Eurojust and Europol, noting that the agreement would further strengthen and institutionalise this collaboration. He highlighted the agreement’s role in advancing the full implementation of the Armenia-EU Comprehensive and Enhanced Partnership Agreement and facilitating the exchange of expertise and capacity building.

  • Caucasus Watch, “Armenia Enhances Legal Ties with EU through Criminal Justice Agreement”,


Major renovation of BTK railway to increase the volume of cargo transported via the Middle corridor

The Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway line (BTK), which spans the territories of Azerbaijan, Georgia, and Turkey, has been undergoing a major “facelift” since 2023. The goal is for the line to become a key route extending the Middle Corridor’s rail leg through Turkey to Europe. “We will commence cargo operations soon,” commented Veysi Kurt, the Director General of the State Railways of the Republic of Turkey. On his behalf, Azerbaijan Railways chairman Rovshan Rustamov confirmed that the railway line will be ready by April 2024.

According to, the modernisation, with an estimated cost of 100 million USD, is set to revolutionise the railway’s capacity, increasing it five-fold to 5 million tons annually. Once the upgrade is complete, a joint Georgian and Azerbaijani enterprise will assume management of the rail route, heralding a new era of efficient and sustainable transportation.

On March 16, President Ilham Aliyev and Georgian Prime Minister Irakli Kobakhidze issued a joint statement following a meeting in Baku touting BTK’s potential, calling it “one of our most noteworthy [bilateral] achievements.” “The operationalisation of this railway promises to foster connectivity among numerous nations,” the statement read. The two leaders also discussed ways to expand westward-bound natural gas exports and green energy projects.

The payoff for developing freight rail capacity in the Caucasus will depend heavily on the future of European Union-China trade. Observers say the medium-term prospects for such commerce are dimming, given China’s deepening economic woes, the sclerosis of its political system and its inflexible geopolitical outlook.

The BTK route was completed in 2017 but has yet to operate at full capacity. It received renewed attention after Russia’s unprovoked invasion of Ukraine in 2022, which made the northern transit route through Russia unreliable and risky due to sanctions. In a report released last year, the World Bank said that it expects trade volume along all so-called Middle Corridor routes to triple by 2030.

  •, “Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway opens in April after major refurbishment”,

  •, “Baku-Tbilisi rail route gets a facelift”,

Azerbaijan reportedly continues its destruction of Armenian churches, cemeteries and villages in former Nagorno Karabakh

Between December 28, 2023, and April 4, 2024, St. John the Baptist church (S. Hovhannes Mkrtich), a 177-year-old landmark in Shushi (Shusha), was destroyed, Azerbaijan’s most egregious violation yet of a December 2021 ICJ order, the Caucasus Heritage Watch reported as cited by Massis Post and OC Media.

The Caucasus Heritage Watch analysed satellite imagery, which appeared to show that the church was completely destroyed between December 28 2023 and April 4 2024. Built by Armenians in 1847, the church, also known as Kanach Zham (Green Chapel), was damaged amidst the 2020 war. In the aftermath of the war, the Baku diocese of the Russian Orthodox Church laid claim to the building and pledged restoration. Nevertheless, the church is now gone.

At the entrance to the belfry, building inscriptions in Armenian read: “St. Hovhannes Mkrtich Church was built by Shusha townsman baron Hovhannes and Baba Stepanyan Hovnanents in memory of their deceased brother Mkrtich in the year of 1847.” The Caucasus Heritage Watch reports that satellite imagery dated April 4 shows the destruction of the Ghazanchetsots cemetery in Shushi is complete.

This marks the first destruction of a cemetery since the International Court of Justice ordered Azerbaijan to prevent and punish attacks on Armenian cultural heritage. Damage to the cemetery began in October 2023, as CHW reported in an alert on November 27. It was not too late to stop the destruction at that point, but by December 2023, it was almost gone.

Meanwhile, information supported by satellite images appeared on social media about the nearly complete erasure of the formerly ethnically Armenian village of Karin Tak (aze. Daşaltı) in the Shushi district of former de facto Nagorno Karabakh.  Baku has previously been accused of destroying or erasing Christian Armenian heritage in Nagorno-Karabakh. Following the end of the Second Nagorno-Karabakh War in 2020, Azerbaijani authorities openly accused Armenians of appropriating what they said were Caucasian Albanian monuments and churches — referring to a Christian kingdom that existed in the South Caucasus in the first millennium, wrote OC Media

  • Massis Post, “Azerbaijanis Completely Destroy Kanach Zham Church and Ghazanchetsots Cemetery in Shushi”,

  • BARSEGHYAN Arshaluys, OC Media, “Azerbaijan reportedly destroys Armenian church in Shusha”,



France recalls ambassador to Azerbaijan

In a significant move, France recalled its Ambassador to Azerbaijan on April 16 for consultations, levelling serious accusations against Baku for damaging the bilateral relationship. French President Emmanuel Macron received Ambassador Anne Boillon in Paris to discuss the issue, the foreign ministry said in a statement, accusing Azerbaijan of continuing “in recent months unilateral actions damaging to the relationship between our two countries”.

Seized by Armenian separatists in a war as the USSR fell, Azerbaijani forces regained control of much of the Nagorno-Karabakh region in a 2020 war and then the remaining part in the lightning September 2023 offensive.

Macron and other French officials have long voiced concern Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev will not stop there and has designs on Armenian territory. In his meeting with Boillon, the French president said he “regretted Azerbaijan’s actions and expressed a wish for clarification by the Azerbaijani side of its intentions”, the foreign ministry said. According to, Ambassador Bouillon has returned to Baku on April 30.

As relations with Moscow deteriorate, Armenia strategically bolsters its defence capabilities through increased reliance on cooperation with France. In February 2024, Armenia agreed to purchase precision rifles from French arms manufacturer PGM, though the price tag was not disclosed. In October 2023, France announced the sale of defence equipment—three radar systems and night vision goggles—to Armenia, provoking anger from Azerbaijan.

Meanwhile, local media informed that the Baku French Lyceum (BFL) will cease to function from the end of the current school year. The Lyceum’s education advisor, Gulshan Naghizade, told OC Media that the decision was driven in part by an order from the Education Ministry but also in part by a decision of the school’s founder. The Lyceum allowed French-speaking foreign citizens in Azerbaijan as well as Azerbaijani citizens to study in French, with the school’s graduates able to go on to study in French higher education institutions.

Russia withdrew peacekeepers from former de facto Nagorno-Karabakh

Both Russian and Azerbaijani officials confirmed on April 17 that Russian peacekeepers in former de facto Nagorno Karabakh would start withdrawing immediately, a year ahead of schedule. Azerbaijani pro-government news agency APA first reported the withdrawal on April 16 night, reporting that Russian troops had withdrawn from the medieval Armenian monastery of Dadivank, located in Kalbajar.

Footage purported to show Russian peacekeepers leaving their positions was also posted on social media on April 16. Meydan TV reported that the footage was captured in Tartar and Barda, outside of the contingent’s mandate. Meanwhile, on April 26, the Russian and Turkish flags were lowered to mark the closure of a centre set up to monitor a ceasefire in Nagorno-Karabakh.

As noted, since the completion of the reconquest last year, a good number of Azerbaijani citizens believe there must have been some deal between the Russian and Azerbaijani governments: Baku got a free hand in Karabakh, and in return, Moscow gets … what? The April 17 announcement did not put an end to the speculation of a quid-pro-quo. “May God make it end in peace. What did they [Russians] ask for in return? A man is afraid to even think about it,” one Facebook user commented on the news.

Baku-based analyst Shujaat Ahmadzade scoffed at what he described as a “reductionist interpretation” of Azerbaijan-Russian relations. The withdrawal of the peacekeepers could well be rooted in pragmatism without ulterior motives. With the Russia-Ukraine war dragging on, the Kremlin can use the troops elsewhere and will not mind the savings involved in curtailing the deployment. Besides, Ahmadzade said, the two states have lots of common interests at the moment, including a mutual desire to expand North-South trade routes.

“The situation is more nuanced,” he said, adding that the bilateral relationship “fluctuates like a rollercoaster with occasional highs and lows. Currently, there appears to be alignment between Azerbaijan and Russia on various issues.”

The peacekeepers’ mandate was set to expire at the end of the year 2025. Around 2,000 of them were deployed to Nagorno-Karabakh as part of the ceasefire agreement that brought an end to the Second Nagorno-Karabakh War in 2020. They were meant to provide security for the region’s roughly 100,000 ethnic Armenian population. In September 2023, Azerbaijani troops took control of the areas under the peacekeepers’ control, with the peacekeepers declining to intervene. This led to the mass exodus of the region’s entire population.

  •, “Departure of Russian peacekeepers from Karabakh an outgrowth of strong ties between Baku and Moscow – Aliyev”,

  • FARHADOVA Aytan, OC Media, „Russia begins withdrawal of peacekeepers from Nagorno-Karabakh”,

  • BAGIROVA Natalia, Reuters, “Ceasefire monitoring centre in Nagorno-Karabakh shuts as Russian peacekeepers withdraw”,



The government re-introduced “foreign agent law”, causing mass demonstrations

On April 3, the Georgian ruling party, Georgian Dream (GD), re-introduced a Russian-style bill on Foreign agents. According to local media, the bill is virtually the same as one withdrawn in March 2023 after sparking mass protests across Georgia. If passed, the so-called foreign agent’s bill would require organisations receiving more than 20 per cent of their annual budget from foreign sources to declare that they are “pursuing the interests of a foreign power” or face stiff fines. This legislation, as critics argue, could potentially give the government a powerful tool to stifle NGO activists and independent media outlets, thereby hindering the watchdog activity of officials. They further add that the bill, if passed in its current form, could pave the way for an authoritarian system in Georgia, similar to Russia, where a similar so-called “foreign agent” legislation was used to suppress civic freedoms, as reported by

Georgian Dream claims that the law will address issues with transparency among NGOs and media outlets. Shortly after the party’s parliamentary majority leader, Mamuka Mdinaradze, introduced the bill, the party released a statement saying that the “lack of transparency… is one of the most important challenges for state security.” Opposition politicians were swift to voice their concerns about the bill. Teona Akubardia, an MP and member of the Reforms Group, expressed that the law “takes us back to the past.” MP Ana Tsitlidze of the United National Movement went further, stating that “[Bidzina] Ivanishvili’s party and the European integration of Georgia are incompatible,” in reference to the founder of the Georgian Dream. These reactions from the opposition highlight the public’s concern about the bill’s potential impact.

On April 8, Georgia’s draft foreign agent law passed its first stage, with Parliament’s Bureau giving the legislation the go-ahead to proceed—meanwhile, hundreds of protesters around the rear and sides of parliament. According to OC Media, a number of journalists were refused entry to parliament as the Bureau was considering the legislation, including its employees.

On the same day, more than 400 Georgian civil society groups issued a joint statement warning that the bill was a Russian authoritarian tool to suppress freedom of speech and that its adoption would preclude the country from opening membership negotiations with the EU at the end of the year.

The controversial draft passed its first reading in parliament on April 17 as thousands of protesters came out to the streets to oppose the law. Protesters gathered behind the parliament early in the afternoon, growing to tens of thousands by evening — the largest since the bill was re-introduced.

The protests remained peaceful. However, police arrested two people, one of whom they said had a weapon. Police also detained Aleko Elisashvili, the leader of the opposition Citizens Party, for several hours. Earlier this week, Elisashvili punched Georgian Dream’s parliamentary leader during committee hearings of the bill. An earlier demonstration on April 16 resulted in clashes that led to injuries among protesters and a police officer.

Even after eight days of protests, an unexpectedly large number of citizens of all generations, but mostly youth and students, gathered near the Parliament on April 22, once again blocking Rustaveli Avenue. As OC media reported, several high-profile Georgian sportspeople made posts apparently expressing opposition to the draft law, including the captain of Georgia’s national football team, Jaba Kankava. A number of prominent players, including Budu ZivzivadzeGiorgi MamardashviliGiorgi Chakvetadze, and Khvicha Kvaratskhelia, also made similar posts. The footballers have enjoyed massive popularity in recent weeks due to the team’s progression to the Euro 2024 finals.

Georgia’s first UFC champion, Ilia Topuria, and Merab Dvalishvili, who currently ranks first in the UFC bantamweight rankings, also made pro-European posts in apparent support of the protesters. During an interview with BBC News on April 17, President Salome Zurabishvili characterised the Foreign Agents law as “a direct provocation” aimed at impeding EU integration and obstructing the conduct of free and fair elections. She labelled the upcoming Parliamentary elections as the “main test.”

President Zourabishvili expressed significant concerns regarding the draft law, equating it to Putin’s law from 2012 and denouncing it as a restriction on the activities of NGOs, media, and international organisations that have long supported Georgia’s independence and development. She condemned the law’s reintroduction as a direct challenge to the rule of law and society, highlighting the lack of transparency in its decision-making process. President Zurabishvili emphasised that while international organisations supporting Georgia adhere to strict transparency rules, corruption at the highest levels of government remains opaque.

MEPs condemned the Georgian bill on foreign agents

According to, the re-introduced bill is just the latest in a string of illiberal policy actions taken by the government that threaten to derail the country’s hopes for EU membership. Brussels gave the green light to Georgia’s candidacy late last year but attached conditions, including a need to implement reforms protecting free speech and other basic rights. Shortly before re-introducing the bill on foreign agents, Georgian Dream unveiled plans for constitutional changes that would codify discrimination against LGBTQ-identifying Georgians.

The European Union stated on April 4, reacting to the reintroduction of the Foreign Agents bill in Georgia by the Parliamentary majority, that “the announcement by the ruling party in Georgia to re-introduce a draft law on “Transparency of Foreign Influence” raises “serious concerns.”

In the statement, the EU says that “transparency should not be used as an instrument to limit civil society’s capacity to operate freely,” encouraging the Georgian authorities ” to adopt and implement reforms that are in line with the stated objective of joining the European Union, as supported by a large majority of Georgia’s citizens”. The statement said, “the EU regrets that it [the bill] is once again being considered despite strong public and international reactions in March 2023”.

At the European Parliament session, which took place in Strasbourg on April 22-25, MEPs once again discussed Georgia under the agenda item “Attempts to re-introduce a foreign agents law in Georgia and its restrictions on civil society.” MEPs’ interventions on the issue were strongly critical of the ruling Georgian Dream authorities and the reintroduction of the Foreign Agents Law, with some calling for the introduction of targeted sanctions against those involved in pushing through the law.

Miriam Lexmann (EPP) said that Brussels shouldfreeze any opening of accession negotiations” if the law is adopted, adding that “any future assistance must be conditional on scrapping this law.” According to her opinion, the plain fact is that “this law is the same” as the foreign agents’ law in Russia.

Viola von Cramon (VERTS/ALE) compared the process ongoing in Georgia to a puppet show and called the 83 MPs who voted for the agents’ bill in its first hearing “the 83 button-pushers.” She slammed the “oligarch” who she said “receives instructions” from Russia and is “destroying Georgian future.” Anna Fotyga (ECR) said: “We have to consider targeted sanctions possibly against the oligarch Bidzina Ivanishvili” and called for the release of Mikheil Saakashvili.

Group of strongly critical MEPs also included Janez Lenarčič, EU Commissioner for Crisis Management, Sven MIkser (S&D), Urmas Paet (Renew), Markéta Gregorová (Greens/European Free Alliance), Michael Gahler (EPP), Marina Kaljurand (S&D), Petras Auštrevičius (Renew) and Andrius Kubilius (EPP).

At the press conference following the meeting of EU Foreign Ministers in Luxembourg on April 22, the High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Josep Borrell, said that the proposed bill is incompatible with European values. Noting that the European Commission “will have to present an oral report on this development,” he reiterated: “We are very much concerned that this law has been presented again to the Parliament.”

On the other hand, Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov defended the reintroduction of the Foreign Agents law by the Parliamentary majority in Georgia, saying that “no sovereign state wants interference from other countries in domestic politics. This is normal practice.”  “We see a rather acute and sharp reaction of the opposition to such plans. But probably there is just a need to more actively explain to them the absurdity of [attempts] to consider this a Russian project”, Peskov said. “Georgia is our neighbour. It is in our interests that the situation in Georgia is stable and predictable,” Peskov added

  • SHOSHIASHVILI Tata, OC Media, Georgian foreign agent bill passes first stage in parliament

  • OC Media, “Georgian foreign agent bill passes first reading in parliament amidst massive protests”,

  •, EU: “Seriously Concerned over Reintroduction of Foreign Agents Law”,

  •, “Kremlin Defends Reintroduction by GD of Foreign Agents Law”,

  •, “Calls for Targeted Sanctions as MEPs Debate Georgia”,

  • Caucasus Watch, “Georgia’s EU Path at Risk, President Slams Foreign Agents Law as ‘Putin’s Law’”,

EU Parliament calls for sanctions against Bidzina Ivanishvili

On April 25, The EU Parliament adopted a scathing condemnation of Georgian Dream’s foreign agent draft law, calling for the sanctioning of the party’s founder, Bidzina Ivanishvili, and hinging Georgia’s accession talks with the abortion of the draft law. The European Parliament approved the resolution with 425 MEPs voting in favour, 25 against, and 30 abstaining, reported OC Media.

The resolution strongly condemned Georgian Dream’s reintroduction of the controversial foreign agent bill, underlining that the draft law was “incompatible with EU values and democratic principles, runs against Georgia’s ambitions for EU membership, damages Georgia’s international reputation and endangers the country’s Euro-Atlantic integration”.

The EU Parliament has not held back in its criticism of the founder and honourary chair of the ruling Georgian Dream party, Bidzina Ivanishvili. It has approved an amendment calling for the imposition of sanctions against him for his “role in the deterioration of the political process in Georgia and in working against the interests of its people”.

In another amendment, the EU Parliament called on the EU Commission to “promptly assess” the impact of the foreign agent law on Georgia’s fulfilment of the fundamental rights visa liberalisation benchmark — one of four benchmarks Georgia had to fulfil before being granted EU visa liberalisation in 2017.

Moreover, the EU parliament also called for the Georgian Dream to recall their “LGBT propaganda” constitutional amendments and for the government to release imprisoned former president Mikheil Saakashvili on “humanitarian grounds and to allow him to receive proper medical treatment abroad”.

Shalva Papuashvili, Speaker of the Parliament, called the resolution a “scrap of paper” that has “no legal force”. Mamuka Mdinaradze, GD Parliamentary majority leader, stressed that “The appearance of an entry in the resolution on visa liberalisation, i.e., a topic on which any kind of decision (even the initiation of such an issue) requires consensus, i.e., the consent of all twenty-seven states, is another hoax and plain blackmail on the part of the initiating MEPs and nothing more!”

According to Giorgi Vashadze from Strategi Aghmashenebeli, Georgia is “facing a difficult reality” after the European Parliament resolution, adding that the “Russian law” and the European Union are incompatible. Another opposition leader, Levan Khabeishvili from the UNM, believes that “the time of sitting at home, with TV remotes at hand is over; any other business must wait—Ivanishvili is cancelling Georgia! We shall protect our country, our nation, and absolutely all engage in combat against Russian law, against this government.”



The political wing of Georgian far-right Alt Info group de-registered as a party

According to a decision issued on April 8, the National Agency of Public Registry of Georgia (NAPR) cancelled the registration of the pro-Russian, anti-liberal “Conservative Movement/Alt-info” party. The Public Registry decided following a request from the Anti-Corruption Bureau to review the legality of the party’s registration.

NAPR found several irregularities, including missing signatures, incomplete member information, inconsistencies in naming, emblem discrepancies, and lack of defined governance and property provisions in the charter, reported the

The decision takes effect upon publication and allows for appeal within 30 calendar days at the National Agency of Public Registry, after which it may be appealed in court. As OC Media noted, Georgia’s investigative services have in the past ignored repeated calls to probe Alt Info for their repeated use of violence against queer people, activists, and journalists.

Such calls, including from Western countries and institutions such as the EU, intensified after Alt Info successfully thwarted a queer pride march in Tbilisi in July 2021.  Calls to refuse them to register as a party, including from the Public Defender, also went unheeded. After organising and leading a violent mob that attacked government critics, their offices, and reporters in 2021, Alt Info was able to obtain a national broadcasting licence for their namesake TV channel. The channel has since broadcast hate speech regularly, wrote OC Media.

The move to de-register Alt Info also comes as the ruling Georgian Dream party has itself taken a strong conservative and anti-Western turn, including proposing its own homophobic legislation. Rumours of a rift between the Government and Alt Info emerged in 2023, coinciding with some Alt Info supporters alleging that the ruling party had decided to appropriate their ultra-conservative and anti-Western messages.

Georgian Dream eliminates taxes on offshore assets brought to Georgia

On April 10, Georgian Dream introduced the amendments exempting taxes and duties on offshore assets being brought into the country. The ruling party passed amendments in all three readings in just one week. According to the amendments, tax incentives will be provided to all offshore companies that transfer their assets to Georgia by January 1 2028. To be eligible, the assets must be owned 100% by both the sender and the entity that receives them in Georgia.

Amendments introduced alongside the offshore tax exemptions would also write off tax debts incurred and unpaid before January 1, 2021, which the government says will benefit 145,000 people who have accrued tax debts of a total of ₾590 million (206.750.000 EUR). This move is seen by many as preparation for Bidzina Ivanishvili to move his assets to Georgia.

For years, some opposition and civil society figures have called for the West to impose sanctions on Ivanishvili. These calls have intensified since the ruling party re-introduced the foreign agent bill earlier in April. The changes came soon after the US imposed sanctions on former chief prosecutor Otar Partskhaladze, who has been closely linked with Ivanishvili in the past. The US said the sanctions were because of his alleged connections with the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB).

Observers also fear the law will stimulate the flow of black money into Georgia while allowing ruling party founder Bidzina Ivanishvili and his cronies to evade possible Western sanctions. “Georgia is becoming a tax haven for black money, not just an offshore, but more than an offshore – a hub to bypass offshores,” Aleksandra Aroshvili, a social policy researcher, wrote on Facebook on April 18.

  • SHOSHIASHVILI Tata, OC Media, “Georgian Dream eliminates taxes on offshore assets brought to Georgia”,

  •, “New Tax Law Fuels Worries of Georgia Becoming Black Money Hub”,


Parliament Abolishes Quotas for Women MPs

On April 4, the Parliament of Georgia abolished the mandatory gender quotas in an accelerated manner. 85 MPs voted in favour of abolition, while 22 voted against. Prior to this decision, the Electoral Code of Georgia required that at least one out of every four persons on a party list must be a woman, reported

The decision follows an agreement between the ruling Georgian Dream and the parliamentary opposition Girchi party under which the Georgian Dream backed Girchi’s proposal to abolish quotas, while in exchange, Girchi is to vote in favour of the GD candidate for the position of Central Electoral Commission (CEC) Chairperson.

  •, „Parliament Abolishes Quotas for Women MPs”,
Georgian foreign agent law protester freed after year in prison

Lazare Grigoriadis, convicted of violence during the anti-government protests in Tbilisi in March last year, has been released from prison following President Salome Zurabishvili’s pardon.

Zurabishvili announced her decision hours after Grigoriadis was sentenced on April 12 to nine years in prison on charges of arson and attacking a police officer during the March 2023 protests against Georgia’s draft foreign agent law.

Grigoriadis left prison on April 24. His release from Tbilisi’s Gldani prison came as the ruling party again attempted to bring the controversial legislation back.

Lazare was charged with throwing a Molotov Cocktail at law enforcers and burning a patrol police car and thus sentenced to nine years in prison.

  • KINCHA Shota, OC Media, “Georgian foreign agent law protester freed after year in prison”,
  • 1TV, “March 7-9 protests activist Lazare Grigoriadis leaves jail after presidential pardon”,

Share This Story, Choose Your Platform!