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    Georgia's Former President Lobbied US Senator

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    Lobbyists representing former Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili met with staffers from US Senator Marco Rubio’s office just months before Rubio called for integrating Georgia into the NATO alliance as a way of punishing Russia, a US campaign finance watchdog group said in a blog post.

    WASHINGTON (Sputnik) — This is not the first time foreign agents have reportedly attempted to influence Rubio’s policy decisions. Senior United Kingdom (UK) government members tried to persuade Rubio to cover-up evidence of British involvement in CIA torture operations, UK-based human rights group Reprieve announced in a press release in April 2015.

    Rubio had five meetings with UK officials in the 12 months before the US Senate Intelligence Committee released the CIA torture report in December, 2014, according to Reprieve.

    “Molly McKew, principal of Fianna Strategies, said her firm represented former Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili,” OpenSecrets.org stated on Friday. “McKew said [Georgia] NATO membership was likely a subject discussed at her firm’s meetings [in 2013] with Rubio staffers.”

    In March 2014, just months after the Senator’s staff met with Georgian lobbyists, Rubio called for integrating Georgia into NATO and sending arms to Tbilisi to punish Russian President Vladimir Putin for his “aggression in areas like Ukraine,” according to the post.

    Fianna Strategies and two other Georgian lobbying firms made phone, e-mail or face-to-face contact with Rubio staffers on 53 occasions in 2012 and 2013, the post explained.

    Rubio is a 2016 US Presidential candidate and one of the frontrunners to win the Republican nomination according to a WSJ/NBC poll released on June 22, 2015.

    In May 2014, WikiLeaks released a classified report by US Assistant Secretary of State William Burns that outlined the possibility of NATO absorbing Georgia and Ukraine.

    Russian envoy Alexander Grushko said in May 2015 that Moscow hopes NATO will abandon its policy of “senseless expansion” and that common sense prevails when the alliance decides on Georgia and Ukraine membership.

    Ukraine and Georgia have each declared ambitions to join NATO. However, both countries are involved in territorial disputes with Russia.

    Kiev has not recognized Crimea's reunification with Russia last year, while Tbilisi still considers the breakaway republics of Abkhazia and South Ossetia as parts of its territory.

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    NATO, Mikhail Saakashvili, Marco Rubio
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