Eurasianet (USA): members of Congress call for an investigation into the relations of the government of Georgia with Russia

After the Georgian government won the case in international arbitration against American oil companies, supporters of the company in the U.S. Congress accused the ruling party of Georgia in that it operates at the behest of Russia.

Four members of Congress, including Senator Ted Cruz, may 15, wrote a letter asking Secretary of state Mike Pompeo and Minister of Finance Steven Mnuchin to investigate the “relations of Georgia with hostile rivals and enemies of the United States supported to the detriment of our geostrategic and economic interests”. In particular, in the letter, the government of Georgia is accused of negligence in the promotion of U.S. sanctions against Iran, and Chairman of the ruling party “Georgian dream” Bidzina Ivanishvili, in connection with the Russian government.

Allegations of Russian influence on Ivanishvili is widely believe among the opponents of the Georgian government, although they are not proven and diplomats dealing with Tbilisi, as a rule, do not take them seriously. Formed “Georgian dream” government that came to power in 2012, holds not such a demonstratively anti-Russian policy, as the previous administration, headed by the United national movement. Meanwhile, under the current government the relations of Georgia with the United States rather strengthened, including a significant expansion of military cooperation and consolidation in the Constitution of the country’s aspirations to join NATO and the EU.

Nevertheless, conspiracy theories about the Russian puppets found a new life in Washington after the decision of Tbilisi to take legal action against Frontera Resources, a Texas energy company operating in Georgia since 1990-ies.

In December it became clear that the Georgian government sued the company in an international arbitration for failure to comply with contractual obligations. In April, the government stated that the arbitrators ruled in his favor (although Frontera Resources has challenged that interpretation of the arbitration award) and terminated the contract with the company. By that time, Frontera Resources did not pay the workers for several months.

In response, Frontera Resources and its supporters in the U.S. Congress accused the Georgian authorities that they oppose the company because it is American.

In January, Pete Olson, Republican Congressman from Texas, called Ivanishvili “a Russian puppet” and likened him to a character on “sesame Street” Oscar Grouches because they “both puppets are smashing your own house.” Olson received from Frontera generous donations to his election campaign, in connection with which the news website Texas Monthly compared the Olson’s with another character on “sesame Street”, Big Bird, saying that they “both know whose hands feed”.

Of the four signatories of the recent letter from three individuals were obtained from Frontera money for their election campaign.

The letter contains the most extensive to date, geopolitical charges against the “Georgian dream”. The extra weight gives the document the signature of the Cruz — one of the leading presidential candidates in 2016 and try to get into a situation Pompeo and Mnuchin.

The authors of the letter are trying to tie together a number of other events in Georgia, including the termination last year of the contract for the construction of a megaport on the Black sea in Anaklia. Sofa geopolitics also tried to associate this episode with the Russian influence — through this port, if it were built, would pass transit routes from East to West to bypass Russia — but the rejection of the project is associated more with personal rivalries within Georgia than with any geopolitical machinations.

However, Pompeo has expressed concern about related Anaklia geopolitical aspects. In particular, last year he said that the project “will strengthen Georgia’s relations with the countries with a free economy and will not allow Georgia to become a victim of the economic influence of Russia or China”.

In a letter to us lawmakers also contain poorly supported innuendo about the activities of Iran in Georgia, presumably in an attempt to interest Pompeo, who is in Iran an even more hawkish stance towards Russia.

But the most serious charges relate to Russia, and the authors ask the administration to provide to Congress a report on the extent to which “the party “Georgian dream” was involved in efforts to oust the legitimate American businesses” and also about “reports of the relationship between the Chairman of the party “Georgian dream” Bidzina Ivanishvili and the Russian government,” and “the deliberate refusal of American companies to participate in the construction of the port, the purpose of which was to protect Georgia’s dependence on Russia.”

It is not clear what are the chances that Pompeo and Mnuchin take actions in connection with this letter. First, the charges do not have a particular reason. Second, the U.S. government to date has sought to position itself as an honest broker in deeply divided domestic political arena of Georgia, and such an investigation would undermine these efforts, so it is unlikely that the American administration will try to do it for a small (by the standards of the United States) energy company.