Sopo Japaridze - USSR: A Common Home & History | Georgia’s Foreign Agent Bill | Armenian Georgian Relations | Ep 330 - May 18, 2024 [EP330]

Posted on Saturday, May 18, 2024 | Category: Georgia, Armenia | Series: cog



  • USSR: A common Home & History
  • Georgia’s Foreign Agent Bill
  • Armenia-Georgian Relations

Episode 330 | Recorded: May 17, 2024

Show Notes

Introduction To Sopo


  • Sopo, since it’s your first time on Groong, please tell us more about yourself?

You describe yourself as an “old school socialist” and a “unionist”. That is a fascinating profession, as well as self-description.


  • How did you arrive at such a unique position?
  • How difficult is it to organize labor in Georgia? Can you give us some examples?
  • Do you collaborate with counterparts in Armenia or the region for instance? Is there any benefit in sharing knowledge and experience?

USSR: A Common Home and History

Czech author Milan Kundera, in his The Unbearable Lightness of Being, has an interesting sentence which I like to quote frequently. He says: “The struggle of man against power is the struggle of memory against forgetting.”

Ironically, Kundera was referring to the Soviet domination and influence in his country, where he emphasizes that remembering itself is an act of defiance and a way to remain human.

Of course, when we talk about the Soviet Union, especially if you follow the emphasis of traditional main-line historiography, there’s plenty of negative developments to recall. However, in your podcast, Reimagining Soviet Georgia, you say that Georgia’s Soviet legacy is not so black and white.


  • Tell us more. Do you believe that Georgians, and for that matter Armenians, Ukrainians and other former Soviet peoples, have a distorted memory about their common home and history?
  • What do you remember, when you think about Georgia’s Soviet legacy?

Foreign Agent Bill

A year ago in March 2023 the Georgian government introduced a “Foreign Agent” bill in parliament, but a wave of protests forced them to withdraw the bill. Earlier this year the bill was reintroduced, and last week the Georgian Parliament passed it into law. (84/150 votes)

The bill is similar to the US “Foreign Agent Registration Act”, commonly known as FARA. There are similar bills around the EU as well. The Georgian bill mandates that NGOs that receive more than 20% of their funding from foreign sources be registered as organizations “pursuing the interests of a foreign power”. Unlike the US law, the Georgian law doesn’t foresee any criminal punishment, just fines.

It’s hard to cut through all the hype and extreme language around the issue. The government talks about the Maidanization of Georgia; the opponents, which is primarily the west, talks about loss of democracy, Russification, etc. of Georgia.


  • What are the key sensitivities around this bill?
  • Regardless of the polarized hype, is there a necessity for this law?
  • With thousands of NGOs registered in Georgia, what is your assessment of the effect of foreign-funded NGOs on Georgia’s politics?
  • Why was the bill brought back now?

Armenian-Georgian Relations

We’ve discussed Armenian Georgian relations with Georgian colleagues earlier this year. Dato Darchiashvili, Archil Sikharuldze. We always like to ask about this: Georgians and Armenians have a huge amount of similarity & affinity with each other. Both are indigenous to the Caucasus area, both are eastern orthodox Christian nations, our elites have intermingled for centuries, and we don’t have a history of enmity.


  • Why are we not better friends and allies and maybe “brother nations”?
    • We are acquaintances, not friends. We are cordial, not warm. Why is this?
  • Why do Georgians consider Russia as their biggest threat?
  • How do Georgians view Turkey?


All right, that’s our show, we hope you found it useful. Please find us on Social Media and follow us everywhere you get your Armenian news, the links are in the show notes. Thanks to Laura Osborn for the music on our podcasts. We’ll talk to you soon!


Sopo Japaridze

Sopo Japaridze

Sopo Japaridze is the chair of Solidarity Network, an independent care workers union in Georgia. She has been a labor organizer for over a decade. She researches and studies labor and social relations and writes for various publications. She is cofounder of the Reimagining Soviet Georgia podcast.


Hovik Manucharyan

Hovik Manucharyan

Hovik Manucharyan is an information security engineer who moved from Seattle to Armenia in 2022. He co-founded the ANN/Groong podcast in 2020 and has been a contributor to Groong News since the late 1990s.

Disclaimer: The views expressed by Hovik Manucharyan on the ANN/Groong podcast are his own and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of his employer or any other organization.

Asbed Bedrossian

Asbed Bedrossian

Asbed is founder of the Armenian News Network Groong and co-founder of the ANN/Groong podcast.

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