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

(Washington, DC) – U.S. Senators Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), a senior member of the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee and Chair of the Europe and Regional Security Cooperation Subcommittee and Jim Risch (R-ID), ranking member of the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee, 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.”

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.

Joining Shaheen and Risch are U.S. Senators Ben Cardin (D-MD), Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Chris Coons (D-DE), Pete Ricketts (R-NE), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Roger Wicker (R-MS), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Thom Tillis (R-NC), Tim Kaine (D-VA), Dan Sullivan (R-AK), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) and Martin Heinrich (D-NM).


Shaheen participated as an election monitor in Georgia with U.S. Senator Jim Risch (R-ID) in 2012. Last year, Shaheen traveled to Georgia and Romania to meet with heads of state, members of legislature and representatives from civil society to discuss the nations’ bilateral relationships, as well as the geopolitical importance of the Black Sea region. While in Georgia last year, Shaheen spoke out against the first introduction of the Georgia Dream’s foreign agents law, noting that it resembles laws passed in Russia. In June 2021, Shaheen led a bipartisan group of lawmakers to Eastern Europe, including Georgia and Ukraine.

In March 2021, Shaheen held a U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee subcommittee hearing on bolstering democracy in Georgia and previously introduced a bipartisan resolution reaffirming U.S. support for a pro-democracy future for Georgia. Senator Shaheen has also successfully led bipartisan legislation in the U.S. Senate to establish a U.S. policy toward the Black Sea region.