Monday, September 16, 2019

What divides and what unites Georgian society?

[Note: This article was published in partnership with OC-Media, here.]

The last year has seen a number of conversations about polarization in Georgia. The President of the European Council, Donald Tusk, even commented on the issue in his Batumi speech.  One of the components of polarization, though not the sole factor, is division in society over actors, issues, and institutions.

While many things could divide the public, what do the people think and which groups report more and fewer sources of division? The April 2019 NDI-CRRC poll suggests that there are fewer perceived reasons for division in rural areas and among ethnic minorities.

Although ethnic minorities perceive fewer divisions, they also think that different issues divide the country: minorities are more likely to think that western actors create division, while ethnic Georgians are more likely to blame Russia and domestic institutions.

One factor does unite ethnicities however: the most commonly cited source of division, no matter the respondent’s ethnicity, was politicians.

The survey asked about whether 11 issues, actors, and institutions unite or divide Georgians as a society. The results suggest that politicians are most widely viewed as divisive.  Even Russia was viewed as less of a divider than politicians in Georgia. In contrast, religion and educational institutions were considered to unite society more than any of the other issues, actors, or institutions asked about. Uncertainty (don’t know responses) was greatest about NGOs (28%) and Euro-Atlantic institutions (24% for NATO and the EU).

 To further explore perceptions of division, a simple additive index of the above questions was created to carry out further analysis, with respondents receiving one point for each item they reported divided society. On average, individuals named seven items as dividing society. One in twelve (8%) reported that none of the issues asked about divide society and one in twenty (5%) reported that all of the issues asked about divided society.


The results of a regression analysis on the above index suggests that a number of socio-demographic groups perceive more issues, actors, or institutions as divisive. Ethnic Georgians, Tbilisians, and people with higher levels of education report that more groups are dividing society, all else equal. The difference is rather small for education, with people with vocational and higher education perceiving about one half of one issue more on average.

By comparison the difference is rather sharp with ethnicity. Ethnic Armenians perceive almost two issues less on average, and ethnic Azerbaijanis note around 2.5 issues less on average. The difference between settlement types falls in between, with inhabitants of rural areas highlighting about one issue less than those in Tbilisi, and those in other urban areas falling between the capital and rural areas.


With ethnicity, there are three sources of the observed differences. First, ethnic minorities express uncertainty more often than ethnic Georgians. This is particularly true of ethnic Azerbaijanis who report don’t know more often than ethnic Armenians.

Second, among those that said each of the above issues either united or divided the country, there are differences in attitudes related to foreign policy. Ethnic Armenians and Azerbaijanis are significantly less likely to report that Russia divides the country, and significantly more likely, albeit to a smaller degree, to report that NATO divides the country. Ethnic Azerbaijanis also report the EU divides the country at a greater rate.

Third, ethnic Georgians are much more critical of domestic actors. Georgians are more likely to say that politicians, educational institutions, the Georgian media, the country’s leaders, the current economic system, law enforcement, and NGOs divide the country.

While there is a division in perceptions of what divides the country between ethnicities, one thing is common among ethnic groups: of all the issues, actors, and institutions asked about on the survey politicians are the most commonly cited source of division.

Note: The above analysis was based on an ordinary least squares regression model. The model’s dependent variables was the number of issues respondents named as divisive in the survey. The independent variables included age, sex, wealth (proxied through number of assets owned), educational attainment (secondary or less, vocational, at least some tertiary), ethnicity (Georgian, Armenian, Azerbaijani), settlement type (capital, other urban, rural), and employment status (have a job versus not having a job). The data used in the analysis is available here. Replication code for the analysis is available here.


Dustin Gilbreath is the Deputy Research Director of CRRC-Georgia. The views presented in this article do not necessarily represent the views of CRRC-Georgia. The views presented in this article do not represent the views of the National Democratic Institute or any related entity.

Monday, September 09, 2019

The Easterlin Paradox and Happiness U-curve in Georgia

Two of the more prominent findings from the study of happiness are that money does not buy it (up to a point) and that young and old people are happier than those in between. That money does not buy happiness is often referred to as the Easterlin Paradox. It highlights that between and within countries happiness increases with wealth, but only up to a certain point, at which increases in wealth are associated with marginal gains in happiness. That the elderly and young are happier is referred to as the happiness U-curve. This finding has been found to hold in the West, but not in the former Soviet space, where the elderly are the least happy. This blog looks at these phenomenon in Georgia.

On the 2018 UN Women and CRRC Georgia survey, respondents were asked to rate their self-reported happiness, from “Extremely unhappy” to “Extremely happy” on an eleven point scale. A plurality of respondents reported being extremely happy (40%). By comparison, only 1% reported being extremely unhappy.


In agreement with previous studies on happiness within the post-Soviet space, increased household economic status was associated with higher levels of happiness. Individuals who were wealthier were more likely report a happier response on the scale. In contrast, those who have relatively few assets reported lower levels of happiness. However, once respondents have three out of the eleven assets asked about or more, reported happiness increases at a marginal rate, as the Easterlin Paradox would predict.



The U-shaped happiness curve does not hold in Georgia, as happiness generally decreases with age. The presence of children, sex, settlement type, household size, whether or not the respondent was displaced by conflict, and education level were not associated with happiness.



The above data suggests that the Easterlin paradox appears to hold in Georgia, with individuals becoming happier with greater wealth, up to a point. As in other post-Soviet countries, older people are generally less happy, again re-affirming the lack of a u-curve in happiness in the region.

Note: The above analysis is based on an ordinary least squares regression, where the dependent variable is the respondent's self-reported happiness level. The independent variables are respondents’ household economic status (measured with an asset index, composed of ownership of 11 assets), age, sex (male, female), education, settlement type, displacement status, household size, and age’s interaction with the presence of children in the home. Replication code for the above analysis can be found here. The data for the above analysis can be found here.


The views presented in the above blog post do not represent the views of UN Women, SDC, or any related entity.

Monday, September 02, 2019

Internal Displacements’ Impact on Attitudes towards Gender Relations

As a result of the conflicts in the 1990s and in 2008 in Abkhazia and the Tskhinvali Region/South Ossetia, nearly 6 percent of Georgia’s population is internally displaced. Previous studies have suggested that internal displacement from conflict can alter attitudes towards gender relations, and specifically perceptions of women’s household authority, tolerance of domestic violence, and attitudes towards women earning money.

This may be related to the psychological impacts of conflict and displacement on everyday household gender dynamics. Some have theorized that displaced women’s roles in the household often shift to that of breadwinner, and in response men push back by becoming more of a dominant presence in the home.At the same time, women reject their new leadership role by becoming more accepting of the idea of male authority.

A matching analysis, which compares individuals with similar social and demographic backgrounds except for whether or not the respondent had been displaced by conflict, using a 2018 nationwide survey CRRC conducted for UN Women shows that the previously noted differences in attitudes are present among Georgia’s conflict displaced population.

In the survey, male respondents in general were more likely to believe that men should have the final word in the household. However, both male and female respondents displaced by conflict were more likely to believe that men should have the final word in the household than individuals not displaced by conflict that had otherwise similar backgrounds.

As it relates to domestic violence, non-displaced women were least tolerant of domestic violence as a means to keep the family together, while female displaced respondents and non-displaced male respondents were more tolerant. Moreover, male respondents displaced by conflict were more tolerant in their attitudes towards domestic violence for the sake of family preservation than all other respondents.

In relation to women earning money, female respondents were more likely to believe that a woman earning more than her husband would cause problems regardless of whether they were displaced by the conflict. However, male respondents not displaced by conflict were less likely to believe that women earning more would cause relationship problems than men displaced by conflict.

Men and women displaced by conflict are more tolerant of domestic violence over the non-displaced in Georgia. Males displaced by conflict are more likely to believe men should have the final word in the home over non-displaced individuals, and non-displaced men are less likely to believe that if women earn more than their husbands, it will cause relationship problems. These findings support past research suggesting that the process of internal displacement can lead to adverse gender norms.

Note: The above analysis is based on the use of matching together with a regression analysis, where the dependent variable is the respondent's attitudes towards gender relations. The independent variables are displacement status and sex.  The individuals in the sample were matched on the following characteristics: parental education level, age, ethnicity, settlement type, and sex. Replication code for the above analysis can be found here.

The views presented in the above blog post do not represent the views of UN Women, SDC, or any affiliated entity.


Monday, August 26, 2019

Attitudes toward politicians are related to evaluations of institutional performance

How citizens evaluate the performance of the state is often a reasonable proxy for its performance. In Georgia, evaluations of public institutions are mixed. While a number of social and demographic variables are associated with people’s perceptions of state performance, so too are people’s attitudes towards political parties and politicians. This shows once again how politics is personalized in Georgia.

The 2019 April CRRC/NDI data suggests that social and-demographic characteristics, including settlement type, ethnicity, and age are associated with perceptions of state performance. Ethnic minorities and rural residents tend to evaluate public institutional performance higher than ethnic Georgians or urban dwellers. In addition, young Georgians think public institutions perform well more often than older people.

Besides demographics, attitudes toward politicians are associated with attitudes towards institutional performance.  Positive attitudes towards Georgian Dream politicians are associated with more positive assessments of government performance. Interestingly, the same holds for attitudes towards opposition politicians, albeit to a weaker degree.


Note: An ordinary least squares regression model was used to generate the above chart. To measure the population’s attitudes toward institutional performance a public institutions evaluation index was created based on assessments of the following public entities: the current government, Sakrebulo (local councils), Parliament, Courts, Georgian Army, Georgian Police, Office of the ombudsman, Office of the Chief Prosecutor, and Public Service Halls. Attitudes towards the government and opposition affiliated politicians index are measured based on attitudes toward individual politicians asked about in the questionnaire. The regression model also included the following co-variates: Which party is closest to you? (First choice); intention to vote in the parliamentary elections; main sources of information; education level; employment status; age; gender; ethnicity, asset ownership index and settlement type. 

Partisanship also matters. Georgian Dream supporters evaluate institutional performance more positively than United National Movement or other opposition party supporters do.



While partisanship matters, attitudes towards government affiliated politicians still matter despite party affiliation when it comes to evaluation of public institutions. When supporters of different parties have positive attitudes towards GD politicians, they are more likely to evaluate government performance positively no matter what party they support.


Evaluations of public institutions are linked to how citizens see politicians. The more positive are people’s attitudes towards politicians, the more positive they are about institutional performance. This holds no matter the party of a given politician. However, partisanship still matters, with opposition supporters less positive about government performance than supporters of the Georgian Dream. Taking both of these factors together, suggests that attitudes toward government affiliated politicians is more important however.  Taken together, this suggests that institutional performance assessments in Georgia remain tied to personality.


Monday, August 12, 2019

Georgian Language Proficiency and Perceptions of Government Performance among minorities in Georgia

Integration of ethnic minorities into Georgian society is a significant challenge. As a result of ethnic Armenians and Azerbaijanis’ linguistic separation from ethnic Georgian compatriots, some research suggests their ability to participate in government has been low. Indeed, programming aimed at minority integration in Georgia often focuses on language skills. But, the question remains, how do ethnic minorities that are proficient in Georgian perceive the government? The April 2019 CRRC and NDI data suggest that, while ethnic Armenians that speak Georgian at an advanced level have worse attitudes towards government performance in Georgia, ethnic Azerbaijanis that speak Georgian at an advanced level have better attitudes.

Ethnic Azerbaijanis and Armenians generally have positive perceptions of the current government. Almost two thirds (62%) of ethnic Azerbaijani’s and about half (51%) of ethnic Armenians rate the current government as having performed well or very well. By comparison, Georgians rate government performance more negatively.


Further analysis, however, suggests that ethnic Armenian’s perceptions of the government are more negative if they report they have an advanced proficiency in Georgian. In contrast, ethnic Azerbaijani’s perceptions of government are more positive when they report knowing Georgian at more advanced levels.


Knowledge of Georgian language among ethnic minorities is associated with perceptions of government performance. However, for Armenians knowledge is associated with more negative attitudes, while for Azerbaijanis it is associated with more positive attitudes.

Note: The above analysis is based on an ordered logistic regression analysis, where the dependent variable is the respondent's perceptions of the current government's performance. The independent variables are knowledge of Georgian interacted with ethnicity and sex, age group, education, , household size, employment status, settlement type, and household economic status. Replication code for the above analysis can be found here

Monday, July 29, 2019

Perceived Threats to Georgia’s Security

Russian aggression is a key security issue for Georgia. In August 2008, a war broke out over the South Ossetia region with Russia party to the war. Since the war, there have been attempts to restore economic and diplomatic relations between the two countries. Some in Georgia support a policy of having closer ties with Russia. Still, the April CRRC/NDI 2019 survey shows that the public continues to see Russia as a threat.

A majority of the population of Georgia (59%) perceives Russia-related threats as the top threat to Georgia’s security. About a fourth (24%) of the population named other issues. Around a fifth (18%) cannot identify a threat to national security of Georgia and answered “don’t know”.

Note: The threats to Georgia’s national security considered as Russia related include the response options: “Occupation of Abkhazia and South Ossetia”, “Russian propaganda”, “Russian military aggression”, “Economic dependency on Russia”, and “Energy dependence on Russia”. 

Further analysis shows that threat perceptions vary with ethnicity, settlement type, sex, and education level. Compared to ethnic Georgians, Azerbaijanis and Armenians are more likely to name other threats as the top issue for Georgia. In addition, minorities tend to report “don’t know” more often compared to ethnic Georgians. Compared to people in rural areas, those who live in the capital report “don’t know” rarely. People with secondary or lower levels of education say “don’t know” more often than people with higher education. Women are less likely to name other threats compared to men.


Note: On the above chart, base variables for each category are as follows: male, 18-34 age group, Georgian ethnicity, rural, higher than secondary education, and Georgian Dream supporter. The category “No party” consists of individuals that responded none or don’t know when asked which party was closest to them. The liberal group consists of New Rights, Bakradze-Ugulava - European Georgia, the Republican Party, the Free Democrats, the New Political Center – Girchi, the Movement State for the People, Political Platform - New Georgia, and European Democrats. The other grouping consists of the Alliance of Patriots of Georgia, Free Georgia, Democratic Movement – United Georgia, Left Alliance, Industry will save Georgia/Industrialists, the Georgian Conservative Party, the Georgian Labor Party, the Unity of Georgian Traditionalists, Tamaz Mechiauri for United Georgia, and Georgian Troupe.

Different political parties have different views about Georgia’s relationship with Russia. Yet, there is no significant difference between Georgian Dream (GD) and United National Movement (UNM) supporters when it comes to threat perceptions. However, compared to GD supporters, those who identify with liberal parties are less likely to name other threats. In contrast, supporters of parties in the other grouping compared with liberal ones tend to name threats besides Russia more often. Those who report that they do not support a particular party are more likely to report they do not know what Georgia’s top security threat is, and they are less likely to mention a Russian threat.

While parts of Georgia are occupied by Russia, some do not see Russia related threats as the primary security issues the country faces. Still, a majority do. Ethnic minorities tend to name Russian threats less than ethnic Georgians. Support for different parties is also associated with threat perceptions, with parties outside the mainstream being less likely to name Russia as a threat.

Note: The above analysis is based on a multinomial logistic regression analysis, where the dependent variable is the top threat to Georgia’s national security. The independent variables are party support, gender, age group, ethnicity, settlement type, education, and household economic status. Replication code of the full analysis is available here. The data used in the blog is available here.


Monday, July 22, 2019

Cultural Heritage and Identities of Europe’s Future Project Meets in Tbilisi

The fifth international meeting of the Cultural Heritage and Identities of Europe's Future’s (CHIEF project) was held on July 17-18, 2019 in Tbilisi, Georgia. The meeting gathered all nine partner countries involved in the three year international project funded by the EU. Overall about 40 researchers attended the meeting from UK, Georgia, Latvia, Spain, Turkey, India, Germany, Slovakia, and Croatia. In Georgia, CRRC-Georgia is leading the project.



The project aims to explore young people’s (aged 14 to 25) cultural literacy and identity through conducting research in schools, non-formal and informal institutions; and improve cultural literacy and appreciation of diversity through partnerships with a diverse range of policy and cultural institutions. It also aims to build an effective dialogue between young people, education practitioners, civil society activists, community leaders and policymakers to facilitate a future of Europe based on more inclusive notions of cultural heritage and cultural identity.

To achieve its’ goals, the project is using a combination of a survey in schools, semi-structured interviews and focus group discussions with young people, and participant observations in all participant countries.

During the two day meeting, participants discussed works in progress. In addition, the leads of the work packages presented the next steps of the fieldwork and led discussions on methodology and different approaches.


To stay up to date on the CHIEF project check out the project’s website here, and follow CHIEF on Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube.

Monday, July 15, 2019

The direction Georgia’s headed in

The most recent NDI polling showed a decline in the direction the country was heading. Though not the direct cause by any means, the growing sense that Georgia is going in the wrong direction was likely an enabling factor for the protests that erupted in June and have continued through July in Tbilisi. The CRRC-NDI survey has tracked the direction people think the country is headed over the last decade. While numerous factors affect people’s perceptions of where the country is going, a number of events including elections and the devaluation of the Georgian Lari against the US Dollar appear to show up in CRRC-Georgia and the National Democratic Institute’s data. This blog provides an overview of how views of the direction the country is headed in have changed over time.

In 2009, 40% of Georgians reported that the country was going into the right direction. Attitudes improved from this period to February 2012 when it reached the highest recorded share of positive response on the survey. Attitudes dipped slightly afterward, but remained generally positive, until there was a sharp rise in people reporting that the country was not changing in June 2013. This was a period of relatively tense co-habitation between then President Mikheil Saakasvhili and the newly in office Georgian Dream coalition. It was also the start of the pre-electoral period for the presidential race which resulted in Giorgi Margvelashvili winning the elections. In the November 2013 survey, immediately following Margvelashvili’s electoral victory, there was a spike in people saying the country was headed in the right direction and a drop in people reporting that the country was not changing and saying it was going in the wrong direction.



While attitudes shot up following Margvelashvili’s electoral victory, optimism was short-lived. In the wave of survey after the pre-electoral one, attitudes returned to levels comparable to prior to Margvelashvili’s electoral victory. In the subsequent wave of the survey, attitudes were similar, and then experienced a precipitous decline between August 2014 and April 2015. Not only was there a decline in positive attitudes, but also a sharp increase in the number of people reporting that the country was going in the wrong direction. One likely contributor to this rise in pessimism is the devaluation of the Georgian Lari, which started in October 2014 and continued during this period. Notably, this was the first time that the survey had recorded more people having negative than positive outlooks for the country in the history of the survey.

Between March and November 2016, attitudes recovered to a certain extent though similar shares of people reported that the country was not changing, going in the wrong direction, and going in the right direction. This recovery might be associated with the 2016 elections as negative attitudes peaked as elections approached and then become less negative after elections.

In June 2018, during the pre-electoral period for the presidential race, more people started to report that the country was not changing and fewer reported that it was going in the right direction. Attitudes recovered following the elections in December 2018. However, in the most recent CRRC-NDI survey in April 2019 attitudes became more negative.

Public opinion on the direction of the country has become increasingly pessimistic over the last ten year. The public mood often declines prior to and improves after elections. However, this recovery does not last long. Besides elections, the devaluation of the Georgian Lari appears to have led to a precipitous decline in people’s outlooks for the country. There are surely many other causes of changes, but these do stand out as plausible explanations for some of the larger shifts shown above.

The data used in this article is available from CRRC-Georgia’s Online Data Analysis tool.

Tuesday, July 09, 2019

Who is afraid of the Lugar Centre?

[Note: This piece was written by David Sichinava, the Research Director at CRRC-Georgia, and co-published on OC Media. The views expressed in this article represent the views of the author alone and not of the National Democratic Institute (NDI) or East-West Management Institute’s ACCESS program.]

In Georgia, a conspiracy about the US-funded Richard Lugar Centre for Public Health Research in Tbilisi has recently gained traction. As CRRC-Georgia’s USAID-funded research shows, Georgia’s far-right groups eagerly picked up on this conspiracy and blamed the centre for the seasonal flu outbreak in early 2019.

The conspiracy has also acquired influential endorsers outside Georgia. Russia’s diplomatic and military circles were quick to accuse the centre of developing biological weapons and conducting secret experiments on human subjects.

How do Georgians perceive the conspiracy around the Lugar Centre? In a recent CRRC/NDI survey, respondents were asked whether it was true or not that the Lugar Centre contributes to the spread of epidemics. About 20% of respondents said that the proposition was true, while about 40% did not know whether the statement was true or false.

Attitudes vary across socio-demographic groups. Women are slightly more likely than men to believe that the Lugar Centre spreads epidemics in Georgia. Respondents with a higher education are less likely to believe in the conspiracy.

Ethnic Armenians in urban and rural areas are more likely to think that the statement is true. Ethnic Azerbaijanis are more likely to have no opinion than to believe that the statement is false. There is no significant difference between older and younger respondents, or among those who have different economic status.

Importantly, the way people perceive the Lugar Centre conspiracy is strongly associated with their geopolitical views. Those who believe that the Centre contributes to spreading epidemics are more likely to think that Georgia would benefit more from better relations with Russia. They are less likely to believe that Georgia would benefit more from membership in the European Union or NATO.
Georgians and Azerbaijanis who think the Lugar Centre conspiracy is true are also more likely to support abandoning Western integration projects at the expense of improving relationships with Russia.

Disbelief in the conspiracy is associated with positive feelings towards Western integration projects.


Note: The probabilities given on the chart are calculated using a logistic regression model. Explanatory factors include the respondent’s demographic characteristics (gender, age, education, ethnicity) and socio-economic controls (index of household’s economic conditions, knowledge of Russian and English).

The most tempting explanation of what is described above would be accusing Russia of spreading propaganda. Considering how Russia’s state-run foreign-language media outlets weaponise conspiracy theories to manipulate foreign public opinion, this might indeed be a plausible explanation.

Although the study only establishes possible links between pro-Russian feelings and beliefs in the Russia-endorsed Lugar Centre conspiracy, further research is required to attest to whether the latter can actually change foreign policy attitudes.

What is more important is that the belief in a conspiracy, or exposure to it can have negative consequences. Research shows that exposure to conspiracy theories undermines trust in institutions.

Right-wing populists often use conspiracies to propagate hatred towards minority groups. As conspiracies provide simple answers to complex questions, especially to those who are seeking one, hoaxes like the one surrounding the Lugar Centre can easily gain traction.

While beliefs in certain conspiracies can be reversed, there is no clear evidence that fact-checks and information corrections are always successful.

This matters in the Georgian context. Georgia’s far-right groups have already endorsed the Lugar conspiracy and their leaders seem to be attracted to others.

As beliefs in anti-Western conspiracies and one’s attitudes towards foreign policy show strong associations, the data might suggest that the Lugar Lab conspiracy, among others, could shift people’s attitudes.

While this requires further research, the data do suggest that communicating on the issue is important, and particularly among ethnic Armenian and Azerbaijani communities, given their higher prevalence of belief in the conspiracy and uncertainty over it, respectively.

Monday, July 01, 2019

Judges in the criminal justice system: A new study

What is the role of judges in the criminal justice system? Are there obstacles that judges face to providing fair, impartial, and human rights oriented justice? A new study on the role of judges in the criminal justice system collected the opinions of city court and court of appeals judges and lawyers in February-March 2019. The report was released on June 26th.



CRRC Georgia conducted the study on the role of judges within the project “Facilitating Implementation of Reform in the Judiciary” (FAIR), funded by the European Union and implemented in partnership with Human Rights Education and Monitoring Center (EMC) and the Institute for Development of Freedom of Information (IDFI).

The study attempted to identify issues that judges and lawyers find important for the expansion of the role of judges, their evaluations of the role of judges, and any needed changes in a number of domains, including: administrative offenses, competitiveness in criminal law, closing cases at the pre-court hearing stage, plea bargaining, punishment policy, the role and status of victims, domestic violence, and drug crime. In addition, the report provides information on general issues such as the mechanism for appealing to the Constitutional Court.

Some of the findings include:

  • Some judges and lawyers described a need to change the Code of Administrative Offences. The exact definition of different offenses was of particular focus in this regard;
  • The absence of the burden of proof when discussing administrative offences was named as a challenge, especially if there is only testimony or the protocol of an administrative body representative in the case; 
  • When discussing the Criminal Procedure Code, judges and lawyers named two main domains for the expansion of the role of judges: 
    • Giving judges the right to ask questions without the consent of the parties and; 
    • The ability to demand expert testimony;
  • Some judges and lawyers also find it necessary to equip judges with the right to change the terms of plea agreements;

When it comes to the role of victims:

  • A large number of judges see no need for change. 
  • A smaller share noted that victims should have the right to present evidence and to appeal if the Prosecutor’s Office rejects their request;

With domestic violence cases:

  • Judges name insufficient evidence and witnesses changing or rejecting testimony as the main challenges; 
  • Lawyers report it is important to investigate the reasons victims change their testimony or refuse to make it again and to take into consideration their social-economic background when discussing the case;

With drug-related crimes:

  • Judges see no need to expand their rights to check the reliability of the sources of investigative information;
  • According to a small number of judges, they should have some ability to check the reliability of the source of investigative information;
  • In contrast, most lawyers think it is necessary that judges check the reliability of the source.

Overall, the study suggests the need for a number of legislative changes, the expansion of the role of judges in the criminal justice process, and their increased activity in terms of appeals to the Constitutional Court to overcome legislative shortcomings. The full study report with a detailed summary of the views of legal professionals for each topic is available in Georgian, and the executive summary is available in English.

Monday, June 24, 2019

How is memory about Stalin kept in contemporary Georgia?

[This blog post was written by Rati Shubladze and Tamar Khoshtaria within the auspices of the CHIEF project. It was originally published here. The opinions expressed in this blog are the authors alone, and do not represent the views of CRRC-Georgia, the CHIEF Project, or the European Union]

On May 12, 2019, the Joseph Stalin museum hosted a public lecture in his hometown, Gori, dedicated to the “Day of Georgia’s Allotment to the Virgin Mary”, a holiday that the parliament of Georgia minted into the calendar a week prior in special session. Rather than a scene from a postmodern farce or satire, this is Georgian reality. In that reality, memory is bifurcated. As Nutsa Batiashvili  has argued, this bifurcation in collective memory presents Georgia as glorious or heroic and wrong or inadequate at the same time. Memory of the legacy of Joseph Stalin in Georgia is no exception to this broader pattern, and the Stalin Museum in Gori is a clear manifestation of this.

The fact that a Georgian became one of the most powerful people in the world awoke national pride in Soviet Georgia. In the peak of his power, in 1937, the house where Stalin was born was turned into a memorial museum. Later, but still during Stalin’s lifetime, next to the memorial house, construction started on a new building, which would become the museum. The building was finished in 1957, four years after Stalin’s death.


Today, the two-floor building is considered a monument of cultural heritage. The museum has kept its Soviet aesthetic. The first thing a visitor sees in the gigantic hall of the building, built in the best practises of Stalinist architecture, is a white statue of Stalin. The size of the hall gives the impression that you are visiting a Soviet bureaucracy with red carpets and old wallpaper. Inside are artefacts related to Stalin’s life, including childhood and family photos, materials from his school days and the revolution, his works and his poems.

As one of the most influential political figures of the 20th century and a leader of the Soviet Union, Stalin is considered a national hero and saviour of the country from Nazism. At the same time, he is perceived as a bloody dictator. A survey that CRRC Georgia conducted in 2012 showed that nearly 45% of Georgians had positive attitudes (respect, sympathy, or admiration) towards Stalin, while 20% reported having negative feelings (antipathy, irritation, fear, disgust, or hatred).  The same study showed that while half of Georgians (53%) agree that Stalin was a cruel tyrant, responsible for the deaths of millions, a significantly higher percentage (68%)  perceive Stalin as a wise leader who brought power and prosperity to the Soviet Union.

The Stalin Museum, as a storehouse of memory of Stalin, is a vivid manifestation of the bifurcation of memory in Georgia. In it, the official soviet iconography of Stalin and contemporary attempts to show the horrors of Stalin’s rule co-exist in one space. When entering the museum, a wise and powerful portrayal of Stalin in Soviet style greets the entrant. Though, not many things have changed in the permanent exhibitions to reflect recent Georgian history, the museum added two small exhibits dedicated to victims of the Great Purge of the 1930s and the 2008 Russian-Georgian military conflict, during which Gori was largely affected. These small exhibits are meant to emphasize the Soviet Union’s and Russia’s destructive side. However, the image of Stalin overshadows these minor updates.

The subject matter of the museum is sometimes challenging. During field visits within the CHIEF project, one of the museum’s staff noted that visitors are divided in their assessment of Stalin’s legacy and arguments and debates occur regularly among visitors. Guides try to remain neutral to avoid arguments with visitors. However, they find it difficult to talk objectively about Stalin’s deeds in a quasi-temple of the “Father of Nations”.

Today, as a local hero in his hometown, many schools organise field trips to the Stalin Museum. Interviews conducted with school children near the Stalin Museum indicate that young people frequently visit the Museum with their school. These young people noted that they respect Stalin, as he was a strong man and a local, who remains a source of pride in the community.


The notion of Stalin as a sort of local hero is clearly illustrated in a study Alexi Gugushvili and a number of collaborators published in 2016. It shows that there are clear links between people’s attitudes and where they live in Georgia. In settlements around his birthplace and locations in Georgia where he usually spent his holidays attitudes are more positive.

Another 2016 study Peter Kabachnik and colleagues published argues that positive attitudes toward Stalin among young people relates to the process of socialization in schools and families. They argue that “while parents in families cannot be prevented from transmitting positive attitudes toward Stalin to their offspring, schools and universities are public spaces in which positive indoctrination about Stalin can be prevented by way of governmental policy and the crafting of national curricula.

What efforts there have been to erase Stalin from Georgian public life have achieved limited success. A study Carnegie Endowment published in 2013 suggests that the de-Stalinization process in Georgia was superficial and that attitudes toward the leader remained positive. More recently, in 2008, Georgian authorities tried to revise Stalin’s place in the public discourse through removing a bronze statue of Stalin from the central square in Gori. The move angered the Gori public as, the government removed the statue without consulting them. Since 2012, following the loss of power of the government that removed the Gori statue, new Stalin monuments were raised in other villages, towns, and cities.

Politicians and civil society groups have proposed different policies on the Stalin museum since independence. In the book The Stalin Puzzle, Lasha Bakradze, the director of the Georgian State Museum of Literature, together with Maria Lipman and Lev Gudkov, discuss two proposals. In 1995, then Georgian president (and former Communist Party leader), Eduard Shevardnadze proposed transforming the museum into a “centre to study the ‘phenomenon’ of Stalin.” Civil society groups in the mid-2010s advocated for it to be renamed the “Museum of Stalinism”. However, neither of these proposals gained traction.

Efforts to erase Stalin are unlikely to work. Therefore, rather than making Stalin “disappear”, it would likely be more effective to start addressing the issue by providing more information about the consequences of Stalin’s legacy in schools and educational centres. The Stalin museum as an education oriented institution could play a role in this process, given its status as a storehouse of memory about Stalin and his legacy.

Monday, June 17, 2019

Do Georgians understand what gender equality means?

[This article was co-published with OC-Media. The views expressed in this article are the author's alone and do not reflect the views of CRRC-Georgia, the National Democratic Institute, or any affiliated entity.]

The terms ‘gender equality’ and ‘feminism’ are increasingly used in public discourse in Georgia. In 2010, Georgia passed a law on gender equality. Popular TV shows often discuss the topic, and Georgia’s Public Defender reports on the issue. Yet, survey data shows that Georgians often appear not to understand what gender equality means.

In October 2014, the CRRC/NDI survey asked the population whether they thought that there was gender equality in Georgia or not. Only a fifth of respondents said there was, though twice as many people reported that women and men in Georgia have equal opportunities to succeed in any field.
Even though they touch on the same subject, the difference between the answers to these questions is significant, suggesting a misunderstanding in what the population understands by the term ‘gender equality’.

The CRRC/NDI December 2017 survey asked whether people had positive or negative associations towards gender equality, equality between men and women, and feminism, two terms that basically mean the same thing and another that means advocating for the other two.

The data shows that the majority of Georgia’s population has positive associations towards ‘equality between men and women’ and ‘gender equality’. However, they have more negative than positive associations with the term ‘feminism’. An even larger share is uncertain about what types of associations they have with the term feminism.


People of different genders, age, and levels of education report similar associations towards equality between men and women, with a majority indicating positive associations towards the expression. A slightly smaller share of the population of the capital reports positive associations compared to those living in other urban and rural settlements. In ethnic minority settlements, even smaller shares hold positive attitudes and more say they don’t know whether their associations are negative or positive.



A similar situation is observed with the term ‘gender equality’. While there are no differences by gender, age, and education level, a smaller share of the population of the capital report positive attitudes, compared to those living in other urban and rural settlements. Moreover, an even smaller proportion of people from ethnic minority settlements say they have positive attitudes and more than 40% say they don’t know if their associations are positive or negative.



As for the term feminism, there is more variance in people’s attitudes across various demographic groups. People over 55 indicate more frequently that they don’t know if their associations are positive or negative compared to younger people. People from rural areas and minority settlements are much more likely to say they don’t know if they have positive or negative associations.

The difference is especially visible when comparing people with different levels of education. Forty-seven per cent of people with secondary or lower education indicate they don’t know if their associations are negative or positive, while 40% of people with secondary technical education and only 25% of people with tertiary education state the same. People with tertiary education are more capable of providing a response compared to those with lower levels of education.



People have more positive associations with the expression ‘equality between men and women’ and less positive associations with ‘feminism’. In all demographic groups, people have the least clear attitudes towards feminism, frequently responding they don’t know what associations they have with the term.

Why this might be a case?

One albeit speculative explanation hints to the relative novelty of the idea of feminism in Georgia’s public discourse. Even though feminism implies equal rights for men and women, the explicit accent on one gender might trigger negative attitudes.

At the same time, heated verbal exchanges which often accompany televised discussions on gender equality are unlikely to help create positive associations with feminism. Nevertheless, this is only speculation and further research could clarify why people are less likely to have an opinion about feminism or be positive about it.

Tsisana Khundadze is a Senior Researcher at CRRC-Georgia. The views expressed in this article are the author’s alone and do not reflect the views of the National Democratic Institute, CRRC-Georgia, or any related entity.

The data used in this article is available here.


Monday, June 03, 2019

It’s the economy stupid: An experiment on Georgian support for the European Union

Georgians are enthusiastic in supporting the country’s accession to the European Union. Since 2012, when the National Democratic Institute (NDI) and CRRC-Georgia started tracking attitudes, three quarters of Georgians approved of the government’s goal of joining the EU, on average. What motivates Georgians to support the Union, or alternatively, to abandon support? A survey experiment included in the latest CRRC/NDI poll suggests potential economic burdens have a modest yet significant effect on support for membership. Results do not support the common belief that a potential military threat from Russia dampens Georgians’ support for the EU.


Over the years, a utilitarian hypothesis for public support of the European Union has gained traction: the potential economic gains associated with EU membership explain popular attitudes in Western Europe as well as in countries formerly behind the Iron Curtain. At first glance, economic factors are key for Georgian support for the EU. When prompted on reasons for approving the country’s EU membership, Georgians most frequently pick the opportunity to improve Georgia’s economy. In contrast to support, security appears to be the main reason why people oppose EU membership

Although these findings are suggestive, people’s stated reasons often hide other potential causes. Moreover, less is known about whether potential economic and security trade-offs have a compounding effect on decision making to approve EU membership. In the April 2019 CRRC/NDI poll, CRRC carried out a survey experiment to learn more about these issues. Respondents were randomly presented four vignettes describing potential economic benefits and losses of EU membership. To assess whether a potential security threat might cancel out or exacerbate the effects of more utilitarian statements, two out of the four vignettes included an additional sentence on a potential security threat from Russia.




















After hearing vignettes, respondents were asked their voting intentions on a hypothetical EU membership referendum (see figure above). The results suggest that a potential economic loss (“increasing prices”) increases the probability of voting against EU membership. The effect is rather small – presenting the statement on the potential economic burden of EU membership increases the probability of voting against EU membership by five percentage points. These findings might be explained through the concept loss aversion. According to this idea, humans are more likely to act to avoid losses rather than working for a gain or pleasure. Thus, not surprisingly, Georgians are more concerned with potential losses associated with EU membership than its benefits. Although a plausible cause, a further experiment testing whether people react to the idea that joining the European Union could decrease prices would better pinpoint whether loss aversion is at work or not in this case.



Importantly, none of the other treatments including the combination of the Russian threat and increasing prices changed attitudes. It is hard to crack the mechanism why a doubly negative statement does not affect respondents’ feelings, when one of the statements alone does. One speculative explanation suggests that potential benefits associated with the European Union overpowers or cancels out the effects of ominous Russian threat as the latter is almost ever-present in the country’s life. Nontheless, more research is needed in order to test whether this is a plausible explanation.
  
What do these findings tell us? Null results suggest that many Georgians have attitudes towards the country’s foreign policy goals that are not easily swayed. Positive attitudes are relatively prone to change even when communicating potential economic and security threats. Importantly, among other utilitarian factors economic costs have the highest potential to move Georgians against integration in the European Union among the lines of argumentation tested. 

To explore the data in the blog above, visit caucasusbarometer.org. Replication code for the analysis used in this blog is available here. A full presentation of the results of the recent CRRC/NDI poll is available here.

Monday, May 27, 2019

Does our algorithm still work?

Within the Russian Propaganda Barometer Project, funded by USAID through EWMI’s ACCESS program, CRRC-Georgia created a model, using a k-nearest neighbors algorithm, which attempts to predict whether a person falls into one of three groups: consistently pro-Western; anti-Western; or neither and potentially at-risk of being influenced towards an anti-Western foreign policy position. The model used data from NDI and CRRC’s polling between 2008 and July 2018.  It included variables for age, education level, settlement type, and when the survey was conducted.

In essence, this was done to see whether it is possible to guess a person’s foreign policy preferences using the aforementioned variables. The model successfully predicted people’s status 64% of the time, as described in this policy brief. This was a nine percentage point improvement over always guessing the most common status.

But, as is well known, social scientists can play around with data to make themselves look good. In this regard, one way of understanding how well a model works is whether it can predict observations that are inaccessible to the researcher at the time of the development of the model i.e. does the model make accurate predictions about people it does not yet have information about?

To test the model, CRRC-Georgia used the same algorithm to predict people’s status on the December 2018 and April 2019 NDI survey. Neither dataset was available to the researcher at the time the model was developed.

The results suggest the model works in near identical form, predicting 65% of responses accurately. As in the policy brief, the new data suggest that people in predominantly ethnic minority settlements, people with lower levels of education, and older people are significantly more likely to be at risk of being influenced by anti-Western propaganda in Georgia.


These results lead to a number of conclusions. First, the model does appear to work. In essence, it can guess someone’s foreign policy position correctly two thirds of the time if you know the type of settlement they live in, age, and education level.  Second, it re-affirms the recommendation in the policy brief that people working towards countering anti-Western propaganda in Georgia should prioritize working with ethnic minority communities; people who are not so young; and those with lower levels of education. At some level, these groups are relatively difficult for NGOs to reach. NGOs often focus on working with young people and the highly educated. Moreover, NGOs rarely have the capacity to work in Armenian and Azeri communities, aside from the organizations from those communities.

Despite the challenge in reaching these populations, the need is clear, and if Georgia is to prevent anti-Western propaganda from dividing society actors should work to counter Russian propaganda efforts among these groups.

The views expressed in this blog post do not represent the views of EWMI, USAID, or any related entity.

Replication code for the above data analysis is available here.


Monday, May 20, 2019

Grit among young people in Georgia

Angela Duckworth’s concept grit has gained a great deal of attention in recent years. Grit, described as some combination of perseverance and passion, has gained this attention, because the data suggest it is associated with a number of positive outcomes like employment and completion of education. In 2018, CRRC-Georgia measured the grit of over 2500 young people (15-35) within a baseline evaluation for World Vision’s SAY YES Skills for Jobs project (funded by the European Union within EU4YOUTH program) which is taking place in Mtskheta, Akhaltsikhe, Adigeni, Kutaisi, Zestaponi, Bagdati, Senaki, and Zugdidi. The data suggest that grit is good predictor of positive outcomes in Georgia as is it is in other contexts.

The grit scale is made up of 12 questions, measured on a five point scale, which were asked to a representative sample of young people in World Vision’s project area. The chart below shows the average score for each of the 12 statements.

The grit scale (average score on the above statements) is quite a good predictor of labor force participation. A person is considered outside the labor force if they do not have a job and are not interested in one, looking for one, or able to start one. A person is considered in the labor force if they are employed or are looking for a job, can start one, and are interested in one. The chances of whether someone will be in the labor force increase significantly as an individual’s grit increases. This pattern holds when adjusting for other factors including age, sex, parental education level, whether the person was displaced by a conflict, family size, and municipality. The chart below shows the probability of participation in the labor force adjusted for each these factors. It suggests that all else equal, if a person moved from the lowest score observed (1.4) to the highest (5), their chances of participating in the labor force would increase from 47% to 82%, a 35 percentage point increase in the probability of labor force participation.

The pattern is also quite consistent when looking across different demographic groups, with the pattern holding for women and men, people of different ages, from different socio-economic backgrounds, affected and not by the conflicts in the country, from large and small families and in the different municipalities the survey was carried out in.

The above data may suggest that grit may help in getting a job in Georgia, a positive story given that people often think connections are more important than hard work for finding a job. Given this, it also suggests that the grit scale works in Georgia as in other contexts, giving some amount of validity to it outside the United States where it has been used extensively.

The views presented in the above blog post are the author’s alone and do not represent the views of World Vision or the European Union.


Monday, May 13, 2019

Pessimism about Georgia’s direction hides room for optimism

[Note: This article was co-published with OC-Media. The article was written by Koba Turmanidze, the Director of CRRC-Georgia. The views expressed in this article represent the author’s alone and do not necessarily represent the views of the National Democratic Institute or any other entity.]


While a large number of Georgians think the country is going in the wrong direction, the fact that they are judging the country’s performance based on issues rather than political partisanship alone is a good sign.

A quick and simple look at where people think the country is headed is not very hopeful in Georgia: NDI/CRRC survey data show that at least one in three adults believe that the country has been going in the wrong direction for the past five years, and for most of that time, more people have reported the country was going in the wrong direction than the right one.

While a first look suggests a less than rosy picture, the data do hide some positive news. People, at least in part, appear to judge direction based on policy performance rather than only whether their preferred party is in power, something that has inhibited the development of a stable political and party system in Georgia.

Looking at demographic factors that might influence assessments of the country’s direction, including age, gender, education, employment, household economic status, and household size suggests demographics explain relatively little in terms of attitudes towards the direction of the country. Only tertiary education is associated with having a more negative attitude towards the direction of the country among these variables.

Yet, a statistical analysis that includes people’s assessments of specific policies and party preferences shows a strong link with how people perceive the direction of the country. People who negatively assess a specific issue are two to three times more likely to assess the country’s general direction negatively. Of 16 issues asked about on the survey, the only exception was inflation, where a negative assessment influences perceptions of the country’s general direction relatively little, all else equal.


Surely, some issues are more important for people than others, jobs being at the top of the list in Georgia. In contrast, freedom of speech was close to the bottom at the time of the survey, with only 2% naming it as an issue of national importance in the same survey wave.

Yet, no matter the relative importance of the issue, the relationship described above still holds. The chart below illustrates the point. A person with a negative assessment of the country’s direction is 25 percentage points more likely to say that the situation regarding jobs is going in the wrong direction. Likewise, people who say that the situation regarding freedom of speech is going in the wrong direction are 32 percentage points more likely to assess the country’s direction negatively.


Attitudes towards political parties are also associated with assessments of the country’s general direction. On the survey, people were asked whether there was a party they would never vote for, a question used to measure negative partisanship.

As one would expect, a negative attitude towards Georgian Dream, the ruling party, is positively associated with a negative assessment of Georgia’s general direction, while a negative attitude towards the United National Movement is associated with more positive assessments. This holds for both the direction of the country as well as individual policies in most cases.


While people’s partisanship matters, so do their assessments of particular issues. Both predict whether or not someone thinks the country is headed in the right or wrong direction, controlling for the other factors.

The chart showing assessments regarding each of the 16 issues by negative attitudes towards the two largest parties illustrates the point. Whether people dislike Georgian Dream or the United National Movement, a negative assessment of a specific issue is associated with a negative assessment of the country’s direction. The same observation holds for people who do not hold a negative predisposition towards any political party.

This matters. Citizens are not looking at specific and general issues through narrow partisan lenses alone. Instead, the data suggest assessments are at least partly independent from party labels, which provides parties with the opportunity to campaign on issues instead of merely blaming each other for their failures and attempting to cultivate followings around charismatic leaders.   

Note: The above analysis is based on a series of logistic regressions, where the dependent variable is a negative assessment of Georgia’s general direction, key independent variables are a negative assessment on each of 16 specific policy issues as well as attitudes towards political parties. In addition, all models have demographic control variables including, gender, age, settlement type, education, employment status, household size, and household’s economic status. Replication code of the full analysis is available here

Tuesday, May 07, 2019

Men report doing more at home than they likely do in Armenia and Georgia

[Note: This article first appeared in OC-Media.]

In Armenia and Georgia, traditional gender roles continue to define the division of labour within families. Although a few tasks are within men’s domain and a few others are more or less equally shared, for the most part, women hold the primary responsibility for household duties.

However, men and women also have different perceptions of how much work each are doing: data from a UN Women survey on women’s economic activity and engagement in the informal labour market suggests that men tend to overestimate their own household contributions relative to women’s.

Most Armenians and Georgians see household tasks as divided according to standard gender roles. As shown below, when asked who in their household was mainly responsible for certain tasks, people said that cleaning, cooking, and laundry are often done by women. More Georgians than Armenians said that men share the responsibility of childcare with women: 28% of Georgians said that both male and female household member are responsible for childcare, compared to 12% of Armenians.


Men tend to have fewer household duties. Among the long list of household tasks asked about, ‘Repairing things around the household’ is the only activity for which men are primarily responsible. Grocery shopping is the only household activity with a distribution perceived to be near-equal. The only other task where there is a relatively higher number of shared responsibilities is related to ‘Taking care of other family members’, although the task is still mostly performed by women. These percentages are similar across Armenia and Georgia.



However, men and women also have different perceptions of how household labour is split— and the data suggests that men tend to overestimate the relative share of their contributions. Across a wide range of household tasks, men are more likely than women to report that duties are shared equally. Women, on the other hand, are more likely to report that tasks are their responsibility. This gap is larger in Georgia, where men report more involvement in household labour than in Armenia.

The perception gap is more striking for the activities in which men reported higher levels of equal involvement. For example, as we see below, 20% of Armenian men and 40% of Georgian men said that childcare duties were shared equally, while only 7% of Armenian women and 18% of Georgian women agreed. Regarding grocery shopping, 57% of Armenian men and 57% of Georgian men said that men and women were equally responsible, while only 39% of Armenian women and 42% of Georgian women agreed.


This is not unique to Armenia and Georgia: it’s consistent with trends from other contexts showing that even when both parents work outside the home and aspire towards an equal division of household labour, in practice, women usually still end up doing more. Surveys from the US show that although men are doing more in the house than ever before, they still do not do as much housework or childcare as their partners. Despite this, men are more likely to say that duties are shared equally.

Indeed, in Armenia and Georgia, when asked about the actual time people spent on tasks, women were likely to report higher average hours for most tasks. While men and women reported roughly equal time spent grocery shopping, and men spent more time fixing things, the amount of time required for these tasks was much less than women reported spending on childcare, cooking, or cleaning.


So how do men and women feel about this? Despite these differences, most people in Armenia and Georgia said they expressed satisfaction with their household labour division.  Only 6% of Armenian men, 10% of Armenian women, 5% of Georgian men, and 9% of Georgian women said that they were either ‘dissatisfied’ or ‘very dissatisfied’ with the breakdown of labour in their household.
Gender stereotypes appear deeply rooted in labour distributions in families in both countries. Women bear primary responsibilities for most household activities, while ‘repairing things around the house’ is the only predominantly male activity. Even when men think they are sharing household duties, in practice, women are still likely to be doing more.

This article was written by Meagan Neal, an International Fellow at CRRC-Georgia, and Kristina Vacharadze, CRRC-Georgia’s Programmes Director.

The data used in this article are available at CRRC-Georgia’s Online Data Analysis tool

The views presented in this article are the views of the authors alone and do not represent the views of UN Women. 

Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Who doesn’t want democracy for Georgia?

After the collapse of the Soviet Union, Georgia adopted western-style democratic institutions. They have never functioned in a fully democratic manner, fluctuating between more liberal and authoritarian tendencies. That is, Georgia is and has been a hybrid regime.

But what do people want?

CRRC-Georgia and NDI’s December 2018 survey suggests that about half of the public thinks a western style liberal democracy (53%) is most suitable for the country. The other half of the country is split between not knowing what would be best for Georgia (14%), and thinking a system like the Soviet one, but more democratic and market-based (11%) would be suitable. One in ten (10%) report the Soviet system itself (10%) would be best, and another 10% report a strong authoritarian system that places order above freedom would be most suitable. Relatively few want a monarchy or hereditary autocracy (2%).

This leads to the question, who doesn’t think democracy is suitable for Georgia?

As the chart below shows, ethnic minorities, older people, and people with children in their home are less likely to think that democracy is the most suitable system for Georgia. People with higher levels of education are more likely to report a democracy is the most suitable form of government for the country. Having a job may also be associated with a higher level of support for democracy. There is no statistically significant difference between those who use the internet once a week or more often and those who use it less often; between different settlement types; or sexes (male, female).


There is also a substantively large differences between poorer people and the relatively well off. The survey asked about ownership of ten different assets, and individuals who own 10 assets have a 63% chance of reporting that democracy is the most suitable system for Georgia compared with 41% for those with 0 of the assets asked about on the survey.



Preferences for democracy are also associated with different party preferences, as measured by intended vote choice. GD and UNM supporters (as measured by who they reported they would vote for if an election were held tomorrow) are a bit more likely to support democracy than supporters of other parties, those who refused to identify what party they support, and individuals who do not support any party.  In some sense, this might not be surprising. After all, both groups have substantial representation in parliament, likely meaning that they have at least some sense that democracy is serving their interests.


Who is less likely to think democracy is suitable for Georgia? Older people, poorer people, ethnic minorities, people with lower levels of education, those with children in their home, and those who do not support a party.

The data which the above analysis was made using is available here.

Monday, April 22, 2019

Perceptions of prosecutors’ and judges’ wheelings and dealings

On January 19th, 2019 the Rustavi 2 TV channel broadcast an investigative documentary Studio Monitor and Radio Liberty produced. The documentary “Judges in the Government’s Service” followed up on the government’s attempted confiscation of Constanta Bank from its founders in 2011. It further hinted at alleged misconduct by the prosecutors and judges.

Between January 28 and February 4, 2019 CRRC-Georgia conducted a follow-up phone survey to find out whether and how the public viewed the documentary. The survey asked about a number of issues presented in the documentary including:

  • If people knew that the Department to Investigate Offenses Committed in the Course of Legal Proceedings existed in the Prosecutor’s Office of Georgia; 
  • Generally, in their opinion, how likely it was that the Prosecutor’s Office effectively prosecuted representatives of the justice system (judges, prosecutors) if it found they had committed offences in the course of legal proceedings;
  • How frequent or rare cases of judges in Georgia making deals with the government to have decisions favorable for them are;
  • If they could recall a specific, recent case of government representatives seizing property from private individuals. 
The phone survey resulted in 804 completed interviews. Its results are representative of the adult Georgian-speaking population of the country. The average margin of error of the survey is 2.6%. Results discussed in this blog are based on all completed interviews (804) and are weighted to the demographic characteristics of the population.

The documentary was broadcast on Rustavi 2 and shared on the websites and social media pages of Radio Liberty and Studio Monitor. Only 3% of the adult Georgian-speaking population of the country reported watching the film. Most of them (66%) saw it on Rustavi 2. Most respondents that saw the film (54%) found it convincing.

A small share of the public had heard of the Department to Investigate Offenses Committed in the Course of Legal proceedings. Only 12% of the adult Georgian-speaking population had heard that a special department was established at the Prosecutor’s Office of Georgia to investigate offences committed in the course of legal proceedings. A large majority (87%) did not know about it.

People are often uncertain about the Prosecutor’s Office serving as a neutral actor in relation to the judiciary. About a quarter (26%) said it was fully likely or more likely than unlikely that the Prosecutor’s Office prosecuted judges and prosecutors if it found that they had committed offences in the course of legal proceedings. About the same share (27%) reported that it was more unlikely than not or entirely unlikely that the Prosecutor’s Office effectively prosecuted representatives of the justice system. For the most part, people found it hard to respond to this question and the most frequent response was ‘Don’t know’ (46%). One percent of respondents refused to answer the question.


As for judges making deals with the government, about a third (30%) of the population reported that in their opinion it was frequent, 27% said it was rare, and only 6% responded that it was never the case. A plurality (37%) could not answer the question.


Few people can recall a case of the government seizing private property. Respondents were asked to recall a specific, recent case of a government representative seizing property from private individuals. Only 1% could. Respondents generally said they did not know (49%), they could not recall a specific case (46%), or refused to answer the question (4%). Only a few people named specific cases. Those that did pointed to the Omega case, TBC Bank case, and Anzor Kokoladze case.


Overall, the data suggests a small share of the public is aware of the Prosecutor’s Office’s department for investigating crimes committed during legal proceedings. They are also generally uncertain about how the Prosecutor’s Office would deal with issues in the judiciary.

The phone survey conducted in January 28-February 4, 2019 resulted in 804 completed interviews. Its results are representative of the adult Georgian-speaking population of the country. The average margin of error of the survey is 2.6%. They survey is part of the “Promoting Prosecutorial Independence through Monitoring and Engagement (PrIME)” project funded by the European Union.  This blog post has been produced with the assistance of the European Union. Its contents are the sole responsibility of CRRC-Georgia and IDFI and do not necessarily reflect the views of the European Union.

Monday, April 15, 2019

Georgians are split over the Prosecutor’s Office in Georgia

On November 3, 2018 Rustavi 2 broadcasted an investigative film created by the Studio Monitor and Radio Liberty about a suspended investigation of the Prosecutor’s Office of Georgia. The film How to subjugate a judge? focused on accusations against prosecutors and judges related to the abuse of power, seizure of real estate, and giving of land to private individuals.

On November 16-28, 2018 CRRC-Georgia conducted a phone survey to find out if people watched the film and what was their attitude towards the issues raised in it. The survey specifically asked about:

  • How often people think prosecutors abuse power and make deals with judges; 
  • If the Prosecutor’s Office prosecutes current and former high-ranking officials impartially;
  • What the goal of the restoration of justice investigations was.
The phone survey resulted in 599 completed interviews. Its results are representative of the adult Georgian-speaking population of the country. The average margin of error of the survey is 2.4%. Results discussed in this blog are based on all completed interviews.  The data are weighted to reflect the demographics of the population.

Even though the film How to subordinate a judge? was broadcasted on Rustavi 2 and shared on the websites and social media pages of Radio Liberty and Studio Monitor, only 2% of the adult Georgian-speaking population reported watching it. The majority of those who watched saw it on Rustavi 2 and found the film convincing or partially convincing.

Respondents were asked if abuse of power by prosecutors in Georgia was, in their opinion, frequent, rare, or never occurred. Even though few watched the investigative video, a quarter of the public (27%) said abuse of power was frequent, 44% said it was rare, and only 8% reported it never happened in Georgia. About a fifth (21%) did not know what to answer to the question.
The same scale was used to ask about whether prosecutors made deals with judges to have favorable decisions. About a quarter of the population (28%) said they did not know. Another quarter (23%) said it happened frequently, 37% said it happened rarely, and 12% said it never took place.




Opinion on the Prosecutor’s Office in Georgia is relatively split. On the survey, about half the public (52%) reported trusting the Prosecutor’s Office (22% fully trust and 30% trust more than distrust). With current officials, 41% say the Prosecutor’s Office will prosecute them impartially and 41% partiality. The public is also split about former officials, with 41% reporting they would be prosecuted impartially and 38% partially. Interestingly, in terms of both current and former high-ranking officials, only 4% and 3% of the population, respectively, said the Prosecutor’s Office will not prosecute them at all, whether it is reasonable to do so or not.


Of those who responded that the Prosecutor’s Office will prosecute high-ranking officials very un-objectively (17%), more than a quarter (28%) recalled Saralidze’s case, 6% named the cases of Saralidze and Machalikashvili, and 3% the Partskhaladze case as recent examples of unfair prosecutions. However, almost half (49%) could not recall a specific case of unfair prosecution.
Of those who said the Prosecutor’s Office will prosecute former officials very un-objectively (11%), half (50%) could not recall a specific case, 6% named the Saralidze’s case, 4% the Mirtskhulava case, and 2% the cases of Robakidze and Merabishvili.

Studio Monitor and Radio Liberty discussed the “restoration of justice” that the Georgian Dream government initiated after coming to power in 2012. Respondents were asked their opinion about the “Restoration of Justice”. Officially, the process was meant to prosecute former high-ranking officials who allegedly abused power during the previous government. Although some groups argued that it was used for justifying persecution of political rivals. When asked what the goal of those investigations was, the most frequent response was “restoration of justice” (31%). A fifth (21%) reported it was a way to present the government positively to the public. About a third (30%) named political retribution as a goal of the “restoration of justice” investigations. Less than one fifth of the population (17%) said it was to punish criminals, and 12% related it to the protection of human rights. Another 16% of the population did not know what to answer to this question.


Note: Respondents were allowed to give multiple answers. Therefore, percentages do not add up to 100%.

Overall, the public is relatively split in terms of attitudes towards the Prosecutor’s Office. About half the public trusts them, and relatively equal shares think they will do their job impartially and partially when it comes to prosecuting current and former officials. This suggests the need to work towards increasing trust in the Prosecutor’s Office among the public that distrusts them.

[Note: The survey is part of the Promoting Prosecutorial Independence through Monitoring and Engagement (PrIME) project implemented by the Institute for Development of freedom of Information (IDFI) in partnership with CRRC-Georgia and Studio Monitor with the financial support of the European Union (EU).  The contents of this blogpost are the sole responsibility of CRRC-Georgia and do not necessarily reflect the views of the European Union, IDFI, and Studio Monitor.]