Georgia Hires Lobbying, PR Firms in Washington
Civil Georgia, Tbilisi / 21 Mar.'09 / 16:23

The Georgian government has contracted lobbying and PR consulting firms in Washington to boost bipartisan support in the United States, the Washington-based congressional newspaper, The Hill, reported on March 19.

The newspaper reported that Public Strategies, which was signed to a six-month, USD 300,000 contract, will provide media and public-relations consulting to enhance “the reputation of the Republic of Georgia government,” according to the agreement.

Georgia has also hired, according to The Hill, a pair of consultants to an 11-month contract worth roughly USD 470,000 - Gregory Maniatis and Daniel Kunin, who has been President Saakashvili’s adviser for years. The pair will split the fees.

“The contract is to provide strategic and communications advice to the Government of Georgia in its international relations, specifically with the United States,” Maniatis told The Hill in an e-mail.

The new consultants join the Glover Park Group, a lobbying firm which has been hired by the Georgian government in August, 2008. So far, Glover Park has received USD 320,000 from Georgia, according to recently filed Justice Department records, The Hill reported. It also reported that the striking of new contracts have been confirmed by the Georgian embassy in Washington.

According to the newspaper, Georgia has not renewed its contract with Orion Strategies to which the government has paid USD 150,000 in 2008, according to Justice Department records. The Washington Post reported in August, that since 2004, Orion Strategies had collected USD 800,000 from the Georgian government.

The Georgian government was also using services of the Brussels-based PR firm, Aspect Consulting.

Gela Bezhuashvili, the Georgian intelligence chief, told a group of lawmakers from the parliamentary committee for defense and security on March 20 that Russia had spent USD 20 million in 2008 for the service provided by number of PR consultancy firms “to discredit Georgia.” Bezhuashvili listed Ketchum; Kreab Gavin Anderson; GPlus; Alston & Bird LLP, among the lobbying firms, he said, were hired by Moscow.

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