The United States on Thursday announced the first tranche of visa restrictions on a few dozen Georgian nationals, including ruling Georgian Dream party members, parliamentarians, law enforcement officials, as well as private actors for undermining democracy, TURAN's Washington correspondent reports.

The move comes just three days after Georgia's parliament speaker signed a Kremlin-backed controversial measure into law — following GD lawmakers' override of a presidential veto — which the U.S. says will curb freedoms and jeopardize the country’s chances of joining the European Union.

"Secretary Blinken recently announced a comprehensive review of all bilateral cooperation between the United States and Georgia. As part of that review, the department implemented a new visa restriction policy to address these actions under Section 212(a)(3)(C) of the Immigration and Nationality Act," State Department Spokesperson Matthew Miller told a daily briefing.

He declined when pressed to name the names of those targeted in the first tranche of sanctions. "I’m prohibited by law from announcing who visa restrictions apply to," Miller told TURAN's correspondent. "I can tell you that we are prepared to impose additional sanctions, and we will take all other steps as appropriate," he added.

According to Miller, the first tranche targets individuals responsible for or complicit in "undermining democracy and Georgia, such as by 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."

The United States hopes Georgia's leaders will reconsider their actions, Miller said. If not, he warned the U.S. is prepared to take additional actions.
"There is still time for the Georgian Government to reverse the trajectory that it’s on," the spokesperson told TURAN's correspondent.

He went on to elaborate: "That doesn’t just reply – apply with respect to this law that they passed. It applies to the way they have been cracking down on dissent.  It applies to the statements that their leaders have made rejecting the path that Georgia has been on for so long.  So there is still time to turn it around, and our policy will be dependent on the policy that Georgia undertakes."

In addition to sanctions, the U.S. is also reviewing all its assistance to Georgia, which has amounted to $390 million over the past several years.

"Georgia can make its own decisions about how it wants to move forward. We can make our own decisions about how we want to move forward.  But we are not going to continue to allow people to come into the United States... We will continue to review the financial assistance that we give to Georgia, and that all is potentially at jeopardy if Georgia is not pursuing policies that are in line with the interests and values we have seen expressed here to date," Miller concluded.

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