US Imposes Visa Restrictions on Georgia over “Foreign Agents” Law

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US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has announced the imposition of visa restrictions on Georgia, which will target those responsible for undermining democracy in the country. Blinken said in a related statement, published on the website of the Department of State. Blinken stated that both the recently passed “Transparency of Foreign Influence” law and the repressive tactics used to suppress legitimate dissent undermine Georgia’s democracy and the fundamental freedoms to which the Georgian people are entitled, and run counter to Georgia’s long-standing goal, reflected in its constitution, of Euro-Atlantic integration and strategic partnership with the United States. “In response to these actions, the Department of State is implementing a new visa restriction policy for Georgia that will apply to individuals who are responsible for or complicit in undermining democracy in Georgia, as well as their family members,” the statement reads. This includes individuals responsible for suppressing civil society and freedom of peaceful assembly in Georgia through a campaign of violence or intimidation. Anyone who undermines democratic processes or institutions in Georgia may be found ineligible for U.S. visas under this policy and precluded from travel to the United States. “I am also launching today a comprehensive review of bilateral cooperation between the United States and Georgia. It remains our hope that Georgia’s leaders will reconsider the draft law and take steps to move forward with their nation’s democratic and Euro-Atlantic aspirations,” Blinken said. Recall that US Senators Jeanne Shaheen and Jim Risch have proposed a bill that will impose sanctions against Georgian politicians declared responsible for undermining Tbilisi’s path towards the European Union. Earlier, the media learnt about the preparation of a separate bill in the US Congress, which offers Georgia large-scale support if it abandons its anti-Western course, and sanctions if it continues. The Venice Commission of the Council of Europe, in an urgent opinion published on 21 May, “strongly recommended” that Georgia repeal the law in its current form. However, Georgia’s ruling party rejected the Venice Commission’s scathing conclusion and promised to finalize the law in the coming weeks.