Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili on November 2 named 31-year-old Interior Minister Irakli Gharibashvili as the ruling Georgian-Dream coalition's choice for prime minister once Ivanishvili resigns later this month.
Speaking to journalists at the Georgian Dream's central office in Tbilisi, Ivanishvili described Gharibashvili as "very worthy," "very practical" and "a good manager."
"He knows the price of work," the prime minister, a self-made billionaire, said with a smile.
Gharibashvili, who, under Georgia's amended constitution, will take on broad powers formerly reserved for the president, is a newcomer to government. His post as interior minister, held for barely a year, is his first public office. A replacement has not yet been named.
While hailed by Ivanishvili for running "the most complicated structure" in the Georgian government, he has faced public criticism for an alleged uptick in crime since the amnesty of hundreds of people imprisoned under outgoing President Mikheil Saakashvili. The government denies the accusations; Ivanishvili claimed that Gharibashvili has restored public trust in the police.
Most of Gharibashvili's past career, however, has been tied to Ivanishvili himself. Before becoming a founder of the Georgian-Dream coalition in 2012, he managed the recording label for the prime minister's teenaged rapster son, Bera, and served on the supervisory board of Cartu Bank, a venture formerly owned by Ivanishvili. He also acted as general director of the Ivanishvili-financed International Cartu Charity Foundation.
He got his start in business working in logistics for the non-residential construction company Burji Ltd, owned by the business holding Cartu Group, another venture formerly owned by Ivanishvili.
A fluent French speaker (he studied international relations for two years at the Sorbonne), Gharibashvili holds a master's degree in international affairs from Tbilisi State University. His English-language skills are less publicly established.
Not known for his chattiness with reporters, Gharibashvili, intermittently smiling, commented briefly that he intends to continue the policies started by Bidzina Ivanishvili.
This week, opposition to the Georgian-Dream's then-unknown candidate had been rumored, with Parliamentary Speaker Davit Usupashvili commenting on November 1 that the candidate's confirmation by parliament was not certain.
Scant sign of such differences appeared at the press briefing, however, with key cabinet members and parliamentarians on hand to back the announcement. President-Elect Giorgi Margvelashvili, who must present Gharibashvili's nomination to parliament for confirmation, stood off to stage-left.
Emphasizing that the Georgian-Dream council had met Gharibashvili's nomination with "ovations," but not "a Communist-style ovation," Ivanishvili claimed that chances had been given for dissenters to express their views.
Ivanishvili has announced plans to resign at a November 24 conference of his Georgian Dream coalition.
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