US Senator Risch expresses disappointment over attacks on journalists in Georgia, Supreme Court judge appointments

He also noted that Senator Shaheen shares his concerns over the recent developments in Georgia. Photo:, 21 Jul 2021 - 14:13, Tbilisi,Georgia

US Senate Foreign Relations Committee chairman Jim Risch has expressed his disappointment over violent attacks on journalists at the Tbilisi Pride counter rally on July 5 and the appointment of judges to the Supreme Court ‘in contravention of the EU-mediated agreement.’ 

Risch spoke about the physical assault of 53 journalists by right-wing protesters of the Tbilisi Pride march counter rally in the country’s capital and the death of TV Pirveli cameraman Lekso Lashkarava. 

In Georgia, I’m increasingly worried by the steps backward. In the past weeks, more than 50 journalists were beaten – one of them died from his injuries,” said US Senator Risch yesterday.

He also discussed the appointment of six judges to the Supreme Court, despite calls from the international community, NGOs and opposition for a moratorium on the process in compliance with the EU-mediated agreement, which resolved a political crisis in Georgia caused by the parliamentary elections of 2020. 

Several judges were pushed onto the Supreme Court in contravention of the April 19 agreement,” Risch noted. 

He also noted that Senator Shaheen shares his concerns over the recent developments in Georgia.

I know Senator Shaheen shares my concerns in that regard, we’ve had a number of discussions on that. I hope you will work to address the issues with Georgia’s government,” said Risch. 

Nominee for the U.S. Assistant State Secretary for European and Eurasian Affairs Karen Donfried in response to Senator Risch’s comments called for the support of the April 19 agreement and noted that electoral and judicial reform is crucial for Georgia.

Opposition politicians responded to the US senator’s statement and noted that if the messages made by the strategic partners will not be taken into account then it will damage the country.

Our American partners see that it is time for political change in the country, but at the same time say that this is a matter for the Georgian people to resolve,” said MP Salome Samadashvili from the faction - Lelo Partnership for Georgia.

Member of Citizens MP Levan Ioseliani stressed the need for changes in the judiciary. 

This country needs justice and this is realized by our citizens inside the country and of course by all our friends as well,” said Ioseliani. 

Ruling Georgian Dream party MP Mikheil Sarjveladze said that the critical statements of US congressmen are the result of a lack of information.

It was clear in this statement that some information had been given incompletely to the US Congressmen,” Sarjveladze noted. 

The US Department of State and the US Embassy to Georgia have called on the Georgian government to uphold the rule of law while investigating the recent attacks on journalists and to suspend the process of appointment of judges until the implementation of comprehensive judicial reform.