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Thursday, March 23, 2023

the majority of Georgian citizens are in favor of a visa regime with Russia

Most Georgian citizens are unhappy with the policy of the Georgian authorities towards Russians entering the country and believe that a visa regime should be established with Russia. These are the results of another study conducted in Georgia from December 3 to 20 by an American non-governmental organization – the National Democratic Institute (NDI).

Thus, 57% of NDI respondents said they did not approve of the Georgian government’s policy regarding migrants from Russia; 29% consider the approach of the authorities acceptable; 14% don’t know or refuse to answer.

Meanwhile, 69% of NDI respondents favor introducing entry visas for Russians, 21% disagree with this, and 10% said they had no response.

At the same time, 69% of NDI respondents said that the resettlement of Russians in Georgia will have negative consequences, 17% hold the opposite opinion, 6% believe that Russian migrants will not affect the course of life in any way in Georgia, and 8% struggled to answer.

Recall that on the initiative of Mikheil Saakashvili, then President, on February 29, 2012, Georgia unilaterally canceled entry visas for Russians. Statements about the need to introduce visas appeared in the Georgian media after Russia invaded Ukraine, when citizens of the Russian Federation began to settle in the country. According to official figures, around 120,000 Russian citizens now live in Georgia, of whom 112,733 moved to Georgia after the start of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. In general, visiting Russians make up about 3% of Georgia’s population.

The authors of the study note that Georgians make a distinction between the Russian government and the people. Thus, 80% of Georgian citizens have a negative attitude towards the government of the Russian Federation, 13% have a positive attitude, and 6% have no opinion about it. Although, at the same time, 56% have a positive attitude towards Russians, 38% – negatively and 7% – found it difficult to answer.

Interestingly, over the past year, more and more Georgian citizens are accusing not Russia, but Russian President Vladimir Putin of attacking Ukraine. While 67% of NDI respondents blamed Russia for invading Ukraine in March 2022, in August last year their number fell to 58% and in December to 54%. At the same time, in March 2022, 11% blamed Putin for the start of the war, in August – 18% and in December – 25% of NDI respondents. 15% of those polled by NDI in December blamed the US for the Russian-Ukrainian war, 8% blamed Ukraine, 3% blamed NATO, 2% blamed the EU and 17% blamed declared to have no response.

According to a December NDI poll, support for the Western course and for the country’s integration into the EU and NATO has increased in Georgia. Thus, in three months, the number of supporters of Georgia’s EU membership rose from 75% to 81%, and the number of supporters of the country’s integration into NATO from 69% to 73 %. At the same time, only 30% of respondents believe that the Georgian government is doing everything possible to ensure that the country joins the European Union. At the same time, 56% are convinced that the authorities are not doing enough or nothing at all to achieve this goal, and 14% cannot or refuse to answer.

As for domestic politics, the majority of Georgian citizens are disappointed with political parties and one in five expects to emigrate from the country within a year.

Thus, 61% of participants in the NDI survey believe that no party in Georgia represents their interests (56% – in August 2022); although 31% say there is such a holiday in the country (39% in August 2022). At the same time, 3% do not know or refuse to answer.

At the same time, 39% of study participants said they had nothing in common with any of the parties. At the same time, 25% of NDI respondents said they considered the ruling party Georgian Dream to be closest to their views, 6% – the UNM party of former President Mikheil Saakashvili, and 13% named other parties.

The positive assessment of the Georgian government has increased by 10% since last August. Thus in December, 51% of NDI respondents said they were satisfied with the work of the authorities (41% – in August 2022), 39% – dissatisfied (51% – in August 2022), 10% – had difficulty answering (8% – in August 2022). At the same time, 31% of NDI respondents positively assess the work of Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili, 27% – negatively, and 36% believe that the work of the Prime Minister deserves an “average” rating. At the same time, only 14% of respondents appreciate the work of President Salomé Zurabishvili against 32% of respondents, and 45% describe it as “average”.

At the same time, the majority of NDI respondents (48%) are dissatisfied with the economic situation in Georgia. Unemployment (58%), rising prices (55%), low wages (40%), poverty (26%) and high taxes (26%) were among the five most problematic issues. At the same time, 51% (vs. 37%) of respondents do not believe that the government will be able to solve the economic problems facing the country. Nevertheless, 44% of NDI respondents (compared to 17%) say they are optimistic about the country’s future, 37% are neutral and 2% find it difficult to answer.

2,519 respondents participated in the NDI study. The statistical error of the survey is 1.6 percentage points.

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