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Helsinki Commission to Hold Hearing on Ramifications of Presidential Elections in the Republic of Georgia

WASHINGTON – Congressman Alcee L. Hastings (D-FL), Chairman of the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe (the Helsinki Commission) and Co-Chairman Senator Benjamin L. Cardin (D-MD), will hold a hearing entitled “Georgia in 2008: Elections or Street Politics?” on Wednesday, February 6 at 2:30 p.m. in B-318 of the Rayburn House Office Building. 

Over the last few months, Georgia has experienced considerable turmoil, with the violent confrontation between riot police and protesters in November, the imposition of a state of emergency, the resignation of President Mikheil Saakashvili and the holding of a snap presidential election in early January. Although President Saakashvili narrowly won re-election in the first-round, opposition leaders refuse to recognize the outcome and have pledged to launch another round of protests beginning on February 15 unless their extensive list of demands are met. The hearing will examine the ramifications of these developments for Georgia, the United States and NATO, which Georgia is hoping to join. 

Chairman Hastings led the International Election Observation Mission for the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and was accompanied by Congressman Lloyd Doggett (D-TX). 

Testifying before the Commission will be: 

Mr. Matthew Bryza, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Europe and Eurasia 

H.E. Vasili Sikhuralidze, Ambassador of Georgia 

Salome Zurabishvili, former Foreign Minister of Georgia, now opposition leader and head of the “Georgia’s Way” Party 

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