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Senate Legislative Counsel

Draft Copy of MCC20577

1 Purpose: Expressing the sense of the Senate on the state of democracy in the Republic of
2 Georgia.
3
4
5 S. 4049

6 To authorize appropriations for fiscal year 2021 for military


7 activities of the Department of Defense, for military
8 construction, and for defense activities of the Department of
9 Energy, to prescribe military personnel strengths for such fiscal
10 year, and for other purposes.
11 Referred to the Committee on __________ and ordered to be
12 printed
13 Ordered to lie on the table and to be printed
14 AMENDMENT INTENDED TO BE PROPOSED BY MR. RISCH
15 Viz:
16 At the end of subtitle D of title XII, add the following:

17 SEC. __. SENSE OF SENATE ON THE STATE OF


18 DEMOCRACY IN THE REPUBLIC OF GEORGIA.
19 (a) Findings.—The Senate makes the following findings:
20 (1) Since gaining its independence from the Soviet Union in 1991, the United States has
21 strongly supported the Republic of Georgia’s democratic transition and Euro-Atlantic
22 aspirations.
23 (2) Since its liberation from a communist dictatorship, Georgia has made great strides in
24 democratic governance, free-market economic reforms, and the rule of law.
25 (3) Since 1992, the United States has provided Georgia with at least $4,200,000,000 in
26 assistance, including at least $732,000,000 in defense assistance.
27 (4) Georgia has been a committed partner of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and
28 has contributed significant military forces and resources to the North Atlantic Treaty
29 Organization missions in Afghanistan and the Multi-National Force in Iraq.
30 (5) Russia has illegally occupied the Georgian territories of South Ossetia and Abkhazia
31 since 2008, which comprise fully 20 percent of the land of Georgia, in contravention of
32 international law.
33 (6) On June 20, 2019, as part of the Interparliamentary Assembly on Orthodoxy held in
34 Tbilisi, Georgia, Member of the Russian State Duma, Sergei Gavrilov, addressed the group

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Senate Legislative Counsel
Draft Copy of MCC20577

1 from the chairman’s seat in the Parliament of Georgia, leading to a political uproar in
2 Georgia.
3 (7) In response to the actions of Mr. Gavrilov and worries of growing Russian
4 interference in the politics of Georgia, tens of thousands of Georgians took to the streets in
5 protest, including by barricading and attempting to storm the parliamentary building.
6 (8) The Georgian riot police violently suppressed the protests, including through the use
7 of water cannons, which resulted in hundreds of individuals severely injured and several
8 hundred detained.
9 (9) On July 25, 2019, Irakli Okruashvili, a former Defense Minister of Georgia and a
10 leader of the political opposition, was arrested on charges of inciting violence during the
11 June 2019 protests against the government and sentenced to five years in prison.
12 (10) On November 18, 2019, Giorgi Rurua, a businessman and founder of the television
13 channel Mtavari Arkhi was arrested on charges of possessing an illegal firearm.
14 (11) On February 10, 2020, Giorgi (Gigi) Ugulava, the former mayor of Tbilisi and a
15 leader of the political opposition, despite having previously served a prison term of 15
16 months on charges of misusing funds while mayor of Tbilisi, was sentenced to an additional
17 38 months in prison on similar charges.
18 (12) Independent observers and Georgia’s political opposition maintain that these arrests
19 were politically motivated.
20 (13) On March 8, 2020, the Embassies of the United States, the European Union, and
21 Germany, and the representation of the Council of Europe in Georgia, facilitated an
22 agreement between several political parties of Georgia designed to break a political
23 deadlock, implement Organization for Security Co-operation in Europe recommendations
24 on electoral reform, and move Georgian democracy forward.
25 (14) The parties reached a consensus “on the importance of upholding and striving for the
26 highest standards in the functioning of Georgia’s judicial system” and “the necessity of
27 addressing actions that could be perceived as inappropriate politicization of Georgia’s
28 judicial and electoral processes”.
29 (15) The agreement detailed the changes that would be made to the electoral law of the
30 Republic of Georgia under which the 2020 parliamentary elections would be conducted, to
31 include “an election system for 2020 based on 120 proportional mandates and 30
32 majoritarian mandates, a fair composition of election districts, a 1% threshold, and a cap
33 recognizing that no single party that wins less than 40% of the votes should be able to get its
34 own majority in the next parliament.”.
35 (16) On May 11, 2020, having seen little progress in implementing the agreements of
36 March 8, 2020, the facilitators called publicly “upon all sides to uphold the letter and spirit
37 of both parts of the agreement with a view to its successful implementation”.
38 (17) On May 15, 2020, Georgian President Salome Zurabishvili pardoned Irakli
39 Okruashvili and Giorgi (Gigi) Ugulava, saying that “I cannot allow the agreement
40 recognized by the international community not to be implemented because of them”.
41 (18) Despite the agreement, Giorgi Rurua still remains in pre-trial detention.

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Senate Legislative Counsel
Draft Copy of MCC20577

1 (19) Opposition parties in Georgia maintain that the release of all political prisoners,
2 including Mr. Rurua, is a precondition for their support for the agreed upon changed to the
3 electoral law.
4 (20) The agreed changes to the electoral system remain incomplete, although
5 parliamentary elections are set for late October 2020.
6 (b) Sense of the Senate.—It is the sense of the Senate that the Senate—
7 (1) applauds the strides Georgia has made in governance, economic reforms, and anti-
8 corruption since Georgia’s independence from the Soviet Union;
9 (2) reaffirms the desire for continued cooperation between the United States and Georgia
10 in furthering those efforts, including in defense of Georgia’s sovereignty and territorial
11 integrity, should the Government of Georgia continue to exhibit a good faith effort to
12 implement those reforms;
13 (3) urges the Government, elected officials, and political leaders of Georgia to reject the
14 temptations of power and work together to continue to build a free press, allow for private
15 enterprise, and become ever more accountable and transparent in governance;
16 (4) underscores the importance of implementing the Organization for Security Co-
17 operation in Europe recommendations on electoral reform agreed to by Georgian political
18 parties on March 8, 2020;
19 (5) urges the Government of Georgia to further strengthen the country’s democracy by
20 improving judicial independence, including by implementing more transparent procedures
21 to appoint judges for all courts and ending the practice of appointing judges who are unduly
22 influenced by or loyal to the ruling party;
23 (6) affirms that successful implementation of these electoral and judicial reforms is
24 critical to the ability of the Government of Georgia to restore trust in its commitment to
25 continued democratic development and further integration with the West;
26 (7) calls upon the Government of Georgia to undertake policies that strengthen both the
27 spirit and letter of Georgia’s democratic and legal processes and thus further solidify
28 Georgia’s Euro-Atlantic path; and
29 (8) recognizes the importance of the upcoming elections for the Parliament of Georgia
30 and calls on officials of the Government of Georgia to ensure that such elections are free,
31 fair, peaceful, and conducted according to the rules agreed to on March 8, 2020.
32

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