Press Release

McCain Institute, George W. Bush Institute, Freedom House Call for Action Against Autocratic Georgian Dream Government

WASHINGTON, D.C. (May 22, 2024) – Today, the McCain Institute, George W. Bush Institute, and Freedom House called on the United States and European allies to impose restrictions and sanctions on Georgian Dream officials and their families who threaten democratic development in the Republic of Georgia. The three organizations issued the following joint statement:

“We call on the United States and its European allies to immediately impose travel restrictions and financial sanctions against individuals responsible for undermining Georgia’s democratic development and Euro-Atlantic aspirations, including high-ranking Georgian Dream officials and their families. The United States must stand with the Georgian people against the autocratic actions of the Georgian Dream government.

“The latest example of the government’s attack on democracy came on May 14, when Georgia’s Parliament passed a draconian ‘foreign agents’ law, which will force Georgian organizations receiving more than 20% of their funding from abroad to label themselves as ‘organizations serving the interest of a foreign power.’ The law suffocates civil society and media by exposing potential government critics to overly burdensome regulations and imposing crippling fines on organizations and private individuals who fail to comply. This legislation, which mirrors a Kremlin law designed to suppress dissent and opposition in Russia, will have a devastating impact on civil society and democracy within the Republic of Georgia.

“Hundreds of thousands of Georgians have taken to the streets for weeks to peacefully protest this authoritarian power grab. The people of Georgia recognize this bill is the latest threat to their rights and freedom, and they are making clear that the future of Georgia lies with Europe and democracy, not Russia and repression. Meanwhile, the Georgian government has responded with a violent crackdown, as police and other security personnel have brutally attacked and injured numerous peaceful protestors.

“This law’s passage represents another significant step in the Georgian Dream attempts to undermine democracy and freedom in the Republic of Georgia.

“Following Russia’s 2008 invasion of Georgia, Senator John McCain famously stated that ‘we are all Georgians.’ Today, our organizations continue to stand with the people of Georgia and their demands for a free, democratic future.”