Georgia's Reforms Associates (GRASS) joins Georgian People's address to the Free World

21 February, 2020

Georgia's Reforms Associates (GRASS) joins Georgian People's address to the Free World

Letter of the Georgian People to the Free World

We, the citizens of Georgia, appeal for help in defending our free, sovereign and democratic country.

Since its independence from the Soviet Union, Georgia has moved steadily towards becoming an established democracy. Despite the odds—and in defiance of so many skeptics—our country showed what successful reforms could achieve. With Western support, Georgia became a leading democracy in the region, first and foremost due to the determination of its people.

But today, all of this is under a clear and growing threat—the young Georgian democracy is on the verge of collapse.

Georgia’s shadow ruler, Bidzina Ivanishvili, an oligarch with ties to Russia, is rapidly turning the country into his personal fiefdom. He runs Georgia as an unelected and unaccountable leader of the ruling party—much as it was done in Soviet times. The oligarch fully controls all three branches of Government and uses the courts as a weapon to silence critics and jail political leaders and activists. He funds anti-Western disinformation campaigns to demonize pro-Western opponents. His unchecked power is sowing discord and violence in Georgia, which only benefits our northern neighbor, Russia.

Public opinion has turned on Ivanishvili, and his increasingly brazen power-grabs. The overwhelming majority of Georgian society strongly supports reform of the electoral system. They understand that political pluralism needs to be restored in order to roll back the endemic state capture and one-man rule that has characterized the last several years of Ivanishvili’s informal rule.

Shaken by mass protests, Ivanishvili yielded in June 2019 pledged to reform the electoral system. But four months later, scared of losing power, the oligarch broke his word and binned the reform bill. Moreover, Ivanishvili jeopardized the subsequent negotiation process regarding the electoral system with the opposition by sentencing a major opposition leader, sending a clear signal that he is not interested in dialogue.

Georgia is located in a strategically important region, caught between Russia and the Middle East. Having democracy flourish here would have real implications for global peace and security. A strong and democratic Georgia would serve as a valuable example to the world. Its failure will strengthen Russia in its quest to weaken Euro-Atlantic security.

We are committed to strengthening Georgian democracy by means of free and fair elections. But to achieve this goal, we need the West to firmly stand with us.

We call on the leaders of the democratic world to use all means at your disposal to convince Georgia’s informal master, Bidzina Ivanishvili to compromise by putting an end to political persecution and releasing political prisoners, and delivering electoral reform that would defuse tensions and normalize the situation in the run-up to the 2020 parliamentary elections.


Ghia Nodia, Caucasus Institute for Peace, Democracy and Development

Giorgi Badridze, Senior Fellow, GFSIS, Former Ambassador to the UK

Grigol Mgaloblishvili, Former Permanent Representative to NATO, Former Ambassador to Turkey

Maka Chichua, Former First Lady of Georgia

Batu Kutelia, Vice-President, Atlantic Council of Georgia, Former Ambassador to the US

Nona Tsotsoria, Former Judge at the European Court of Human Rights

David Rakviashvili, Former Secretary of National Security Council of Georgia

Tornike Gordadze, Professor, Institute of Political Studies, Paris, Lille, Bordeaux

Vato Lejava, Rector of Free and Agricultural universities

Akaki Tsomaia, Professor of Economics, the University of Georgia

Alika Kuprava, Lecturer, Ilia State University

Giga Bedineishvili, Dean of Business School, Free University

Nana Alexandria, Chess Grandmaster, two-time World Vice-Champion

Anna Zhvania, Research Fellow, GISS, Former Chief of Intelligence Service

Giorgi Rukhadze, Founder, Director of European Studies at the Georgian Strategic Analysis Center

Teona Akubardia, Former Deputy Secretary, National Security Council

Iago Kachkachishvili, Head of Department of Sociology and Social Work, TSU.

Eka Akobia, International Relations Expert

Shota Gvineria, Georgia’s former Ambassador to the Kingdom of the Netherlands

Giorgi Tabagari, Director of Tbilisi Pride

Keti Devdariani, Screenwriter

Anastasia Bendukidze, Partner and Director of Knowledge Fund

Achiko Guledani, Musician, Tbilisi Open Air Founder

Tinatin Khidasheli, Chairperson of Civic Idea, Former Minister of Defense

Dr. David Jandieri, Director, Center for Democracy and Rule of Law, GSAC

Lasha Bugadze, Author

Vasil Sikharulidze, Atlantic Council of Georgia

Levan Bokeria, PhD student, University of Cambridge

Levan Ramishvili, Chairman of the Liberty Institute

Nodar Kharshiladze, Founder of Georgian Strategic Analysis Center

Beka Mindiashvili, Founder of Tolerance and Diversity Institute

Natia Samushia, Vice-Rector of Free and Agricultural Universities

Nino Evgenidze, Director of Economic Policy Research Center

Tamara Chergoleishvili, Founder of Tabula Media

Paata Shamugia, Poet

Giorgi Targamadze, Deputy CEO of Formula Media

Nutsa Batiashvili, Dean of the Graduate School, Free University of Tbilisi

Anina Tepnadze, CEO of On.ge Media

Archil Marshania, MD, Anesthesiologist/ ICU doctor

Badri Gelitashvili, Professor, Free University Tbilisi

Giorgi Isakadze, Managing Partner at Business Media Georgia

Giorgi Kldiashvili, Executive Director of IDFI

Tamar Kintsurashvili, Media Researcher

Tamar Tsopurashvili. Full Professor, Ilia State University

Ana Tavadze, Fukuyama Democracy Frontline Center

Levan Ghambashidze, Teacher

Zurab Katchkatchishvili, Georgia’s former Ambassador to India

Bejan Javakhia, Professor, Ilia State University

David Paitchadze, Professor, Ilia State University

Zurab Gumbaridze, CEO at Formula

David Khidasheli, Artist

Zurab Davitashvili, Professor of International Relations, Tbilisi State University

David Khvadagiani, Historian

Giorgi Janelidze, Screenwriter

Salome Ugulava, Editor-in-Chief of Tabula

Natalia Antelava, Co-Founder, CEO Coda Media

David Zurabishvili, Author and Publicist

David Tsiramua, Education Columnist

Giorgi Muchaidze, Executive Director, Atlantic Council of Georgia

Tamar Khidasheli, Former Member of the Parliament of Georgia

Nino Jangirashvili, Owner, Director of Kavkasia TV media

Nini Gogiberidze, Lawyer

Ucha Nanuashvili, Director, Democracy Research Institute, Former Public Defender of Georgia

Giorgi Mshvenieradze, Chairman of Georgian Democracy Initiative

David Zedelashvili, Associate Professor, Free University of Tbilisi, Constitutional Scholar

Dimitri Liparteliani, Medical Doctor, Medical journalist

Ninia Kakabadze, Member of Georgian Public Broadcaster Board of Trustees

Dr. Shalva Dzebisashvili, Head of PS&IR Programs, University of Georgia

Irakli Tabliashvili, Founder of Voice from Georgia

Ellen Nodia, Caucasus Institute for Peace, Democracy and Development

Eduard Marikashvili, Strategic Litigation Program Director, Georgian Democracy Initiative

Gaioz Japaridze, Professor, University of Georgia, Expert, GSAC

Giorgi Maisuradze, Professor, Ilia State University

Tornike Sharashenidze, the Head of the MA Program of International Affairs at GIPA

Tengo Pkhaladze, Former Advisor to the 4th President of Georgia, Foreign Relations Secretary

Giorgi Meladze, Associate Professor, Ilia State University

Zaal Andronikashvili, Professor, Ilia State University

Giorgi Mumladze, Lecturer, Ilia State University

Giorgi Noniashvili, Lecturer, Ilia State University

Giorgi Tabliashvili, Artist

Salome Khvadagiani, Director of Liberty Institute

Nino Macharashvili, Editor, Tabula Media

Gela Vasadze, Director of regional Studies Programs, GSAC

Gkhedav Platform

Shame Movement

Keti Bakradze, Chef, Restaurateur

Ioseb Berikashvili, Dean of the School of Economics, Caucasus University

Irakli Khvadagiani, Historian

Levan Sutidze, Journalist, Tabula Media

Vato Tsereteli, Owner of TV Pirveli Media

Irakli Phorchkhidze, Founder of the GISS, Dean of Ilia State University Law School

Ivane Tsereteli, Associate Professor, Tbilisi State University

Jaba Devdariani, Independent Consultant, Public Administration Reform

Sopo Gelava, Media Researcher

Jaba Zarkua, Lecturer, Gastroenterologist

Julie Giorgadze, Expert in Political Communication;

Kato Kopaleishvili, Liberty Institute

Theo Khatiashvili, Film Critic

Misha Mshvildadze, Daily Show Host, Formula Media

Ketevan Khachidze Director, Orbeliani Georgia

Mirian Khukhunaishvili, Conductor

Vladimer Apkhazava, Global ambassador of Global and Varkey Foundation, Teacher

Ketevan Mskhiladze, Member of Georgian Public Broadcaster Board of Trustees

Khatuna Lagazidze, Political analyst and expert in security issues, TSU, GSAC

Lana Lagvilava, Lawyer, Author

Levan Sikharulidze, Liberty Institute

Lia Liqokeli, Author

Zaza Abashidze, Founder of Governance Monitoring Center / Squander Detector

Raul Agikiani, Lawyer

Paata Gaprindashvili, Director, Georgia’s Reforms Associates

Rusudan Kobakhidze, Tbilisi Green School

Misha Mdinaradze, Composer

Nikoloz Aleksidze, Associate Professor and Dean of Social Sciences, Free University

Sergo Chikhladze, MD, PHD Public Health, Hubert H.Humphrey Fellow 2013-2014

Teona Beqishvili, Literary Critic, Researcher at Ilia State University

Gvantsa Chachanidze, Liberty Institute

Tengo Tevzadze, Law and Equality Center

Vakho Jajanidze, Film Director

Zaal Chkheidze, Translator, Literary Critic

Zaza Koshkadze, Author

Zviad Ratiani, Author, Poet

Zviad Adzinbaia, Nonresident fellow, Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy