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The News in Brief

Tuesday, September 4
Saakashvili, Ivanishvili Lobbyist Pleads Guilty in Trump-related Case

An American lobbyist who worked in Georgia for Mikheil Saakashvili, Irakli Alasania and Bidzina Ivanishvili pleaded guilty on Friday in a case related to investigations of US president Donald Trump.

Sam Patten admitted he used an unnamed American to pay $US50,000 for four tickets to one of the parties at Trump’s inauguration in 2017. The tickets were for Ukraine Serhiy Lovochkin, a Ukrainian businessman who was a close advisor to pro-Russian former Ukraine president Viktor Yanukovych.

Patten pleaded guilty to not registering as a foreign agent. He also admitted he withheld documents from the US Senate Intelligence Committee that could have shown that foreign money was used to purchase the tickets, a violation of US law.

Patten could be sentenced to five years in prison, but he has agreed to cooperate with prosecutors looking at all ties between Trump and foreign governments.

Patten once described himself as a “shadow manager” to Saakashvili. According to a 2008 Wikileaks cable, Patten met with US ambassador John Tefft as a representative of the US polling company Greenberg Associates, which had been hired by the Georgian president’s United National Movement Party.

Patten at one time was based in Tbilisi. Beginning in 2011 he signed contracts to lobby for Alasania, who was head of the Free Democrats Party, and Ivanishvili, who eventually led his Georgian Dream Party to victory in the 2012 election and became Prime Minister.

The contracts:

— $10,000 a month through his partner company BGR Gabara Ltd. with the Free Democrats to “provide strategic guidance concerning public relations and government affairs activities within the United States.”
— $25,000 a month through BGR Gabara Ltd. to help Ivanishvili “promote a stronger Georgian democracy through fair, open, and honest elections in 2012?.
— $20,000 a month to provide Ivanishvili with “strategic government affairs and public relations services within the United States.”

Patten has worked for several years for NGOs in the region. He ran the International Republican Institute office in Moscow from 2001-04, and later was Eurasian program director for Freedom House.

More recently he worked with Cambridge Analytica, a British data company under investigation for its possible role in trying to affect the results of the 2016 US presidential election.

The article was first published on on Sept. 1st.
(DF watch)

Belarus hosts Georgian culture days

Belarus was celebrating Georgian culture days from August 31 to September 2 involving film screenings and concerts.

A festival called Tbilisoba was held in downtown Minsk.

“The festival has become a tradition and is very popular among the locals,” the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said adding that up to 70 thousand people attended the event this year.

The first Deputy Minister of Education, Science, Culture and Sport is also visiting Minsk as part of the Georgian culture days.

Georgian traditional dance ensemble Erisioni, the folk ensemble Georgian Voices, as well as singer Nino Katamadze took part in the concerts. Representatives of the Georgian diaspora participated in the festival.