**NOTE TIME CHANGE AND ADDED WITNESS
WASHINGTON–The Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe (U.S. Helsinki Commission) announced the following hearing:
Georgia’s Parliamentary Election: How Free and Fair Has the Campaign Been, and How Should the U.S. Government Respond?
Thursday, September 20, 2012
**New time: 12:30 p.m.
2255 Rayburn House Office Building
Georgia’s upcoming election will be a critical moment in the country’s development of democratic governance. An energized opposition coalition has posed the first serious challenge in years to the ruling party. The opposition has accused the government of harassment and skewing the playing field, while the government has denied these allegations and charged opposition with violating campaign laws. The atmosphere of the campaign and contending claims has been unusually heated, with both sides employing lobbyists to make their case in foreign capitals, especially Washington.
The focus of the hearing will be on the election’s fairness during the run-up to the vote and vote count, human rights issues connected to the election, and U.S. policy in response. The administration witness, Deputy Assistant Secretary Thomas Melia, has just returned from leading an interagency delegation to Georgia to assess the pre-election environment.
The Following Witnesses are scheduled to testify:
Thomas Melia, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State, Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor
Dr. Ariel Cohen, Senior Research Fellow for Russian and Eurasian Studies and International Energy Policy, Heritage Foundation
Dr. Mamuka Tsereteli, Director, Center for Black Sea-Caspian Studies at the School of International Service, American University
**Dr. Archil Gegeshidze, Senior Fellow, Georgian Foundation for Strategic and International Studies
The Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe, also known as the U.S. Helsinki Commission, is an independent agency of the Federal Government charged with monitoring compliance with the Helsinki Accords and advancing comprehensive security through promotion of human rights, democracy, and economic, environmental and military cooperation in 56 countries. The Commission consists of nine members from the U.S. Senate, nine from the House of Representatives, and one member each from the Departments of State, Defense, and Commerce.