US Senate to consider bipartisan Georgia sanctions bill as ‘foreign agent’ row rages

The proposals would allocate millions for democracy-building while imposing restrictions on Georgian Dream politicians.

US Senate to consider bipartisan Georgia sanctions bill as ‘foreign agent’ row rages

TBILISI, Georgia — Leading Georgian politicians responsible for undermining the country’s path to the EU could face sanctions under the terms of a new bipartisan bill set to be introduced by two U.S. senators.

According to a document seen by POLITICO, New Hampshire Democrat Jeanne Shaheen and Idaho Republican Jim Risch will announce the “Georgian People’s Act” later Thursday.

The move comes as Georgia’s parliament prepares to pass a final vote on a controversial Russian-style “foreign agent” law which the EU has warned will torpedo the candidate country’s hopes of joining the bloc.

The U.S. bill would impose travel bans and other sanctions on Georgian politicians accused of “obstructing Georgia’s Euro-Atlantic integration” and being behind “corruption, human rights abuses and efforts to advance foreign agents law or facilitate its passage.”

It also calls for a permanent suspension of the U.S.-Georgia Strategic Dialogue, which has seen the two countries work together on security and democracy issues.

As well as targeting the governing Georgian Dream party and other officials, the bipartisan bill would allocate at least $50 million “to support democracy and rule of law projects in Georgia,” as well as trigger probes into “foreign malign influence” in the country.

Georgia’s proposed foreign agent law is similar to rules used by Russia to silence civil society and voices critical of the government, a report by the Council of Europe’s top legal body found. Tens of thousands of people have protested the proposals in recent weeks, with riot police deploying tear gas and making violent arrests.

On Monday, POLITICO reported that the U.S. Congress would consider a draft bill that would sanction Georgian Dream politicians if they pass the law, while offering visa liberalization, trade deals and military support if they reverse democratic backsliding.

Georgian Dream has blasted the package as “blackmail” and called for those incentives to be granted with no preconditions.