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Shaheen, Johnson, Risch, Cardin Issue Joint Statement on Former President of Georgia Mikheil Saakashvili

(Washington, DC) – U.S. Senators Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and Ron Johnson (R-WI) – chair and co-chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on Europe and Regional Security Cooperation – issued a joint statement with Senate Foreign Relations Committee Ranking Member Jim Risch (R-ID) and Senator Ben Cardin (D-MD), chair of the Helsinki Commission, in response to the treatment of former President of Georgia, Mikheil Saakashvili:

“We are closely following former President Saakashvili’s situation and treatment, which is concerning to friends of Georgia in the U.S. Senate. Although we cautioned that Mr. Saakashvili’s return would add to Georgia’s polarized political situation, Mr. Saakashvili, like all incarcerated persons awaiting trial, deserves to be treated fairly and with dignity, in accordance with international standards and Georgian law. We are concerned this is not currently the case. We urge the government of Georgia to ensure the independent medical team’s advice is acted upon immediately to provide Mr. Saakashvili the medical care he needs. We are watching the trial process closely and stress the importance of ensuring the process is fair, transparent, and in-person. The right to a fair and speedy trial is a hallmark for any democracy, and this case is no exception,” said the Senators.

They continued, “We urgently call upon the Government of Georgia to prioritize the seriousness of Mr. Saakashvili’s situation, and take heed of the implications for the political stability of Georgia. Now is the time to put aside political differences for the benefit of the Georgian people. As this situation grows more dire by the day, so does the risk of a miscalculation that could result in Mr. Saakashvili’s serious injury or worse. Such a tragedy would have a lasting negative impact on Georgia’s democratic aspirations. We encourage all parties to act in the best interest of the Georgian people.”

In March, Shaheen and Johnson held a hearing on bolstering democracy in Georgia in response to the country’s political crisis. During the hearing, Shaheen and Johnson both agreed on the importance of showing bipartisan support for Georgia’s path to strengthen its democracy and committed to spearheading a resolution in the Senate that expresses that sentiment, which has been approved by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

Shaheen led a bipartisan congressional delegation to Eastern Europe earlier this year, which included a stop in Georgia to reaffirm U.S. commitment to its regional partner and strengthen democratic reforms. Shaheen and Risch previously served as an election monitors during Georgia’s 2012 elections.