The research “Threats of Russian Hard and Soft Power in Georgia” conducted by the Liberal Academy Tbilisi and lead by the Steering Committee Member Lasha Tughshi seeks to analyse the dynamics of Russian influence in Georgia. Furthermore, it puts forward some recommendations to reduce Georgia’s vulnerability vis à vis Russia’s increasingly intrusive foreign policy.
Firstly, the paper delves into the impact of Russian propaganda on the Georgian media, as well as Russia’s funding of pro-Russian political and community organizations. In particular, it deplores Georgia’s lack of an effective monitoring mechanism for party financing capable of limiting the inflow of political funding through informal channels. Secondly, this publication looks into the economic, financial, and investment relations between Russia and Georgia, arguing that, even if, at this stage, Georgia’s trade dependence on Russia does not pose serious threats, the Russian market is likely be a risky one in the short and medium terms. Thirdly, this paper examines the defence and security dynamic between Georgia and Russia. More precisely, it forecasts that Russia will deploy its soft power to persuade the Georgian side to move discussions on the country’s security problems from multilateral to bilateral formats, thus easing international pressure on Moscow.
Finally, the researchers make some recommendations to reduce the abovementioned threats in the short, medium, and long run. In the first place, they recommend the development of a unified government approach to security policy development and implementation. Moreover, they make several suggestions for the improvement of Georgia’s crisis management system, stressing the need of proper democratic oversight and civic engagement mechanisms for the security sector agencies.