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PRESSURE ON GEORGIA

The U.S. is increasing pressure on the Republic of Georgia, after the government of the Black Sea nation this week refused to restore the citizenship of a leading political opposition figure.

U.S. Ambassador John Bass on Thursday questioned the legality of the decision to deny citizenship to Bidzina Ivanishvili, Georgia’s richest man who was born in the Caucasus nation but lost his birthright last year after disclosing that he also held Russian and French citizenships.

“As a matter of principle, the United States believes that citizenship laws should be adjudicated and applied in a way that reinforces the underlying principle of equality before the law,” Mr. Bass told reporters in the Georgian capital, Tbilisi.

“In this particular instance, we urge the government of Georgia to resolve the ongoing question of Mr. Ivanishvili’s citizenship … expeditiously.”

In March, Rep. Jim McDermott introduced a bill to cut off all U.S. aid to Georgia if parliamentary elections in October are fraudulent. The Washington Democrat mentioned Mr. Ivanishvili several times in his bill.

Mr. Ivanishvili this week accused President Mikheil Saakashvili of revoking his citizenship for political reasons because he plans to form a political party and run for prime minister.

Call Embassy Row at 202/636-3297 or email jmorrison@washingtontimes.com. The column is published on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.