In a letter sent to Georgia's PM Bidzina Ivanishvili last week, five U.S. Senators said they were "deeply troubled" and concerned about the possibility that recent legal proceedings against officials from the previous administration "are politically motivated and designed to settle political scores", The Cable, a blog of The Foreign Policy magazine, reported on December 11.
The letter, dated December 7, is signed by Jeanne Shaheen, Democrat representing New Hampshire; Joe Lieberman, an Independent from Connecticut; John McCain, a Republican from Arizona; James Risch, a Republican from Idaho and Lindsey Graham, a Republican from South Carolina.
Senators McCain, Lieberman and Graham visited Georgia less than a month before the October 1 parliamentary elections and Senators Shaheen and Risch were in Georgia during the polls as official election observers.
"We are deeply troubled by reports of detentions, investigations, imprisonment and allege persecution of political figures associated with the opposition party [UNM] in Georgia," they wrote in the letter. "We write today to express our growing concerns about the possibility that these moves are politically motivated and designed to settle political scores in the aftermath of the recent election."
The Senators call on PM Ivanishvili to do "everything necessary to avoid even the perception of selective justice against members of the previous government."
"We are concerned that the reality or even the perception of political retribution against opposition figures will polarize Georgian society and risk derailing its democratic progress. It will be profoundly harmful if political figures in Georgia come to believe that those who lose an election or peacefully concede power might soon find themselves behind bars," the letter reads.
"We welcome your words ruling out selective justice, but we regret to say that we are deeply concerned by developments thus far," the Senators wrote.
Then the letter makes a reference to remarks of Georgian Foreign Minister, Maia Panjikidze, made in an interview with The Cable during her trip to the United States in late November, in which she said that officials from the previous government are "criminals and guilty." The Senators said that these remarks were "especially troubling." They wrote: "Guilt and innocence should be determined by an impartial court, to do otherwise undermines the rule of law."
"This year's parliamentary elections were no doubt divisive; however, the campaign is over. The Georgian people need you to work together in a spirit of cooperation with the opposition, including President Saakashvili, to solve the challenges Georgia faces," the letter reads.
The U.S. Senators welcome new government's commitment for EU and NATO integration and note that Georgia's Euro-Atlantic integration and its relationship with the U.S. "depends on the continued consolidation of Georgia's democracy." They also wrote that they look forward to PM Ivanishvili's visit to the U.S. soon "soon to discuss these and other important challenges and opportunities facing the people of Georgia."