Protests in Georgia: A Conversation With Anna Dolidze


Amid ongoing large-scale demonstrations in Georgia’s capital Tbilisi, the Center for the National Interest hosted a special discussion on May 15 with Anna Dolidze, leader of Georgia’s opposition party “For the People.”

Protestors are objecting to a draft law on media and non-governmental organizations that requires the groups to register as “pursuing the interests of a foreign power” if they receive over one-fifth of their revenue from foreign sources. They charge that the law—which Georgia’s parliament voted to approve on May 14—aims to stifle opposition views and cite similar earlier Russian legislation to illustrate its dangers and to connect the bill to Russian influence in Georgia. During recent demonstrations, authorities have sought to disperse demonstrators with tear gas and water cannons and have reportedly arrested dozens. Opponents of the law expect further demonstrations to come.

Trained as a lawyer in Georgia and the Netherlands, Dolidze has been a staunch advocate for human rights, democracy, and rule of law in Georgia. As the chair of the country’s Young Lawyers’ Association, she became a vocal critic of former Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili, who was lionized by some in the West at the time despite frequent illiberal conduct. This contributed to her departure from Georgia. After Saakashvili left power, Dolidze returned and served as a Deputy Defense Minister and then as Parliamentary Secretary under former Georgian President Giorgi Margvelashvili. Her political party, For the People, is a progressive opposition party.