June 25, 2024

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US could impose sanctions on Georgia politicians for ‘defending democracy’ – POLITICO

US could impose sanctions on Georgia politicians for ‘defending democracy’ – POLITICO

As part of efforts to “protect and secure democracy,” the bill imposes sanctions on government officials and others who “bear material responsibility for undermining or harming democracy, human rights, or security in Georgia.” It would impose a ban on granting visas to politicians and the families of politicians responsible for passing the “recent Russian-style foreign agents legislation” targeting NGOs and media outlets that receive more than 20% of their funding from abroad.

The sanctions will also target Georgia’s law enforcement and security services, which suppressed protests against the draft foreign agents law. Authorities responded to tens of thousands of people taking to the streets to demonstrate by using tear gas and water cannons, and beating and detaining activists and opposition politicians.

On a visit to Georgia last week, US Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs James O’Brien to caution If Georgia passes the foreign agent bill, “we will see restrictions coming from the United States” that affect the finances or travel of those behind it. White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said the Foreign Agents Act taking effect “will force us to fundamentally reevaluate our relationship with Georgia.”

The foreign agents bill passed its third reading in the Georgian parliament last week, but will require a majority of MPs to vote on it for the final time in the coming days after the country’s independent president exercised a symbolic veto.

The government insists that the law, which classifies NGOs that receive more than 20 percent of their funding from abroad as foreign agents, is necessary to prevent foreign interference. But critics fear Georgian Dream will be used to suppress the media, the opposition and civil society.

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Brussels warned that the law could undermine Georgia’s hopes of joining the European Union. EU Scholarships Georgia Candidate status In December, despite warnings about a decline in human rights and a failure to implement basic reforms.