Leaked Draft Bill Reveals US Might Sanction Georgia Politicians

The politicians in the country of Georgia who are responsible for pushing forward with its “foreign agents” law that is modeled after something Russia has on the books could soon face sanctions from the U.S.

A new bill that was presented to Congress would see these politicians face travel bans and freezes on their assets.

Politico saw a version of the draft bill, which warns that the governing Dream party in Georgia has “increasingly and regrettably embraced a policy of accommodation with the Russian Federation” as part of an “increasingly illiberal turn.”

In addition, the bill writes that the country “has openly attacked U.S. and other western democracy promotion organizations as well as local and international civil society while embracing increased ties with Russia in particular, as well as China.”

The legislation is being prepared by Republican Representative Joe Wilson of South Carolina, though it hasn’t been formally introduced just yet.

If it were passed, it would oblige all top officials in America to brief Congress on “nodes of improper political influence, kleptocracy and elite corruption in Georgia.” They also must do so on any suspected intelligence assets from China or Russia that are operating in the country.

The draft law, which is part of an overall effort at “protecting and securing democracy,” would force sanctions on any government official and anyone else who might “have material responsibility for undermining or injuring democracy, human rights or security in Georgia.”

Visa bans would go into place not just for politicians but also for families who are responsible for passing “the recent Russia-style foreign agent legislation” that targets NGOs and other media outlets that get at least 20% of their funding from foreign sources.

In addition, the penalties that the bill lays out would target law enforcement sources in the country as well as security services — both of which have worked to clamp down the protests that have started after passage of the foreign agent bill.

Tens of thousands of people have taken to the streets in Georgia to demonstrate, and authorities responded by deploying water cannons and tear gas. They’ve also detained and beat activists as well as any politicians who have opposed them.

Last week, James O’Brien, the Assistant U.S. Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs, warned Georgian officials during a trip that sanctions would come. He said that if the country ended up passing the foreign agent bill, “we will see restrictions coming from the United States.”

Then, White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre followed up those comments by saying that if that legislation went into effect, it would “compel us to fundamentally reassess our relationship with Georgia.”

The bill passed through the parliament in Georgia last week, but a majority of the country’s MPs still need to approve it before it can become law. This is required because the country’s independent president exercised her veto power, though it’s really only symbolic in Georgia.