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Ivanishvili ‘sends personal envoy’ to Washington amidst growing reports of sanctions against Georgian officials

2 July 2024
Bidzina Ivanishvili. Photo: Mariam Nikuradze/OC Media.

The founder and honorary chair of the ruling Georgian Dream party, Bidzina Ivanishvili, has reportedly sent an ‘envoy’ to Washington amidst increasing reports of Georgian officials being hit with sanctions.

On Sunday, former Georgian Dream prime minister and current head of the opposition For Georgia party, Giorgi Gakharia, claimed that Ivanishvili had sent a high-level official as a ‘personal envoy’ to Washington.

‘Bidzina Ivanishvili has sent one of the representatives of the Georgian government as his personal envoy, and it was better not to send them. This is another example that the current government does not understand how institutional democracy functions’, he said.

While Gakharia did not specify which official he was referring to, local media has suggested that the billionaire founder of the ruling party sent the head of the State Security Service (SSG), Grigol Liluashvili.

On 12 June, following Washington’s announcement of travel sanctions against Georgian officials, Liluashvili told parliament that he was planning on going to the US.

The SSG on Monday confirmed that Liluashvili had gone to the US on an ‘annual […] ordinary working visit’ at an unspecified time.

‘[Lliluashvili] said [on 12 June, in parliament] that the partnership continues and we are planning new stages of interesting cooperation — he went there in relation to that’, they told IPN.


Washington in May announced it would sanction Georgian Officials ‘complicit’ in ‘undermining freedoms of peaceful assembly and association, violently attacking peaceful protesters, intimidating civil society representatives, and deliberately spreading disinformation at the direction of the Georgian Government’. 

In June, they announced that ‘dozens’ of Georgian nationals had been sanctioned, including members of Georgian Dream, MPs, law enforcement officials, private citizens, and their immediate family members, but did not provide the names of any sanctioned individuals.

‘You’re likely to see more’

Reports of Ivanishvili sending a representative to Washington come as local media reported that several more high-ranking officials have been hit with US travel sanctions.

On Monday, opposition TV channel Mtavari Arkhi reported that the US had sanctioned Interior Minister Vakhtang Gomelauri, Criminal Police chief Teimuraz Kupatadze, and Patrol Police chief Vazha Siradze.

Kupatadze told Mtavari Arkhi that he had not received any notification about his sanctioning. Gomelauri and Siradze have yet to comment.

Last week, media reported that three ruling party MPs had been sanctioned, including Georgian Dream parliamentary leader Mamuka Mdinaradze, Legal Affairs Committee chair Anri Okhanashvili, and Dimitry Samkharadze.

TV Pirveli also reported that Washington had sanctioned Zviad Kharazishvili, or Khareba, the head of the Interior Ministry department responsible for riot police.

[Read more: US travel sanctions reportedly hit Georgian officials]

On Monday, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken reiterated his country’s concerns about Georgian Dream’s controversial foreign agent law.

‘We’ve taken actions to manifest those concerns, and I think you’re likely to see more of that’, he said, likely in reference to the sanctions he had announced in late May.

On Tuesday, the State Department’s deputy spokesperson Vedant Patel stated that Washington was maintaining cooperation with representatives of the Georgian government.

‘When it has come to this specific legislation, you’ve heard me and [State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller] talk about the many issues that we have and how we believe it is counter to Georgia’s own EU aspirations. [We] still believe it’s important to engage, and there continue to be other issues that we have no doubt we’ll talk about with them’.

Georgia’s foreign agent law labels any civil society or media organisation that receive at least 20% of their funding from outside Georgia ‘organisations carrying out the interests of a foreign power’. Such organisations are subject to ‘monitoring’ by the Ministry of Justice every six months, which could include forcing them to hand over internal communications and documents and confidential sources. Organisations and individuals who do not comply would be subject to large fines.

Read in Armenian on CivilNet.
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