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Hogan Lovells to lobby in favor of Georgian Dream in the US

By Natalia Kochiashvili
Thursday, February 13
Georgia's ruling party, the Georgian Dream(GD), has contracted with one of the world's largest US-British lobbying companies, Hogan Lovells.

According to a registration application filed by Hogan Lovells with the US Department of Justice on February 8, 2020, the subject of the service is "Strengthening US-Georgia Bilateral Relations."

Hogan Lovells signed the contract on January 21, 2020. The agreement, endorsed by the GD on January 30, is signed by the party's executive secretary, former parliament speaker Irakli Kobakhidze.

As stated in the registration application, “The Registrar (Hogan Lovells) was hired by a foreign client to consult with him and is intended to enhance the political, economic and social aspects of US-Georgian bilateral relations. To this end, the task of the registrant is to provide legal analysis, consultation and strategy development to a foreign client. ”

The registrant will also publicly advocate for the client before representatives of the US legislative and executive authorities.

It will also cooperate with elected representatives of the Georgian government, members of parliament, and may receive instructions from them. The monthly service charge is $ 75,000 and is set to last until January 2021.

"But the registrar will act by direct direction and control of the political party, the Georgian Dream," reads the statement.

The Hogan Lovells' service will also cover political activities. The document indicates that the company has not provided such service to this customer so far.

The application submitted to the Ministry of Justice is accompanied by a letter from Hogan Lovells to the Chairman of the GD Bidzina Ivanishvili. The letter outlines the terms of the contract and expresses the hope that the company will continue to work with him and the party in the future.

The letter says that the GD case will be led by the company's top employees - former senator Norm Coleman, former chairman of the house of representatives and a democrat on the senate floor, Ivan Zapien and Aaron Cutler.

Hogan Lovells is one of the largest legal and lobbying companies in the world. In 2017, it ranked seventh in the world with $ 2 billion a year in turnover.

At the moment, there are 6 companies registered with the US Department of Justice that lobby for Georgia - two contracts signed by the Ministry of Economy and Sustainable Development, one each with the Georgian government, the head of the Georgian government's administration, the ruling GD party and the opposition United National Movement Party.

The GD is addressing lobbying for support in the wake of growing criticism of the Georgian government in the US Congress and concerns raised in the open letter about "Georgia's backward democracy".

In a letter from January 29, senators James Risch and Jeanne Shaheen addressed PM Giorgi Gakharia and criticized the Georgian authorities for refusing a proportional electoral system, for "violent suppression" of protests and for "persecution" of opposition leaders. Influential senators do not rule out that if the government does not change the situation, the US could reconsider partnership with Georgia.

Earlier, Congressmen Adam Kinzinger, Gerald Connolly, Eliot Engel, Michael McColley addressed critical letters to Gakharia. Their criticism is about the politicization of the Anaklia deep-sea port project; Harassment of American and European companies in Georgia; Funding of GD’s fake Facebook network.

On February 10, the announcement of the arrest of former Tbilisi Mayor Gigi Ugulava, one of the leaders of European Georgia, was followed by statements of concern and frustration from influential congressmen.