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Risch, Shaheen Lead Bipartisan Letter to Prime Minister of Georgia Condemning Foreign Agents Law

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Jim Risch (R-Idaho), ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), chair of the Europe and Regional Security Cooperation Subcommittee, today led 12 of their colleagues in a bipartisan letter to the Prime Minister of Georgia following the re-introduction of a law that would force non-governmental organizations and independent media that receive more than 20 percent of their funding from foreign donors to register as foreign agents. Such a law, if successful, would severely limit free speech and undermine the United States’ longstanding relationship with Georgia, which is based on shared democratic principles that have also guided Georgia’s path towards membership in the European Union. 

In part, the senators wrote: “This legislation targets civil society, the lifeblood of Georgian democracy, and appears directed at assistance from the United States and Europe, which have invested hundreds of millions of dollars to support Georgia’s sovereignty and democratic transition since its secession from the Soviet Union in 1991. The legislation contradicts the wishes of the Georgian people, given that 79 percent of Georgians consistently support European Union (EU) membership.”

Joining Risch and Shaheen are U.S. Senators Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), Chris Coons (D-Del.), Pete Ricketts (R-Neb.), Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Roger Wicker (R-Miss.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Thom Tillis (R-N.C.), Tim Kaine (D-Va.), Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), and Martin Heinrich (D-N.M).

Full text of the letter can be found here.


Mass protests first broke out 13 months ago, when the Georgian government first introduced the foreign agents law. The government ultimately withdrew the legislation in response to the public outcry but have recently re-introduced a similar version of the bill. Once again, mass protests have taken place on the streets of Tbilisi in opposition to the legislation. The foreign agents bill resembles legislation enacted in Russia in 2012 that undermined democratic opposition to the Kremlin.