Georgia: Ex-PM Bidzina Ivanishvili’s “Reality” Show
Billionaire ex-Georgian Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili, long annoyed by the alleged lack of “correct” current-affairs analysis in Georgia, has launched a daily TV talk-show as part of his ongoing campaign to shape public opinion about the government he brought to power.
Not surprisingly, he was the first guest.
Charging that his enemies’ propaganda dominates much of Georgian television, the 59-year-old Ivanishvili, who left power in 2013, observed that “it is difficult for people to understand what is happening in reality.”
Called 2030, in honor of the year when Ivanishvili expects European-style democracy and wealth to hit Georgia, the 90-minute talkathon is intended as a counterweight to the country’s most popular TV channel, Rustavi2, a station Ivanishvili terms a “machine of lies” run by ex-President Mikheil Saakashvili and his cohort.
“It is about doing the right analysis,” said Ivanishvili, getting on his favorite soap box. He promised to use the 2030 show and an eponymous NGO to produce a new cadre of wonks to tell Georgians what’s really going on in the country.
Of course, one can’t be too careful when choosing the means for delivering such information. The ex-PM has selected GDS, an MTV-style station owned by his rapper son, Bera — an individual he presumably believes also capable of making the “right” analyses.
Ivanishvili opted against the original idea to co-host the show, but he will make frequent appearances to deliver — if the premiere is any indication — lengthy, didactic lectures as host and co-panelists nod approvingly.
“Be optimistic,” he expounded on Sunday night. “We are in for, or if you will, face the threat of very large and happy economic growth. We are doomed to check in as a successful nation, join and return to the European family.”
Viewed by many as the government’s grey cardinal, Ivanishvili has been dishing up such commentary ever since he resigned as PM in 2013, one year after his Georgian Dream coalition trounced Saakashvili’s United National Movement in parliamentary polls.
But the phlegmatically-paced, talking-heads format of 2030 may do little to sway viewers away from the more flamboyant Rustavi2, with its daily bashing of Ivanishvili (including on the channel’s comedy shows) and the government.
At least, not after a 30-percent devaluation of the lari last month, and rising complaints about price-increases and unemployment.
But Ivanishvili has more tricks up his sleeve. He is producing both a documentary and fictional TV series about Saakashvili, too. In order, of course, to complement the “right” analysis with the “right” visuals.