Georgia Revokes Citizenship of Billionaire Ivanishvili
The Georgian government today revoked the citizenship of tycoon Bidzina Ivanishvili after the Forbes-list billionaire announced plans to challenge President Mikheil Saakashvili’s rule during next year's parliamentary elections.
The country’s ever-alert Justice Ministry found Ivanishvili in violation of citizenship rules soon after the businessman, whose property interests are located mostly in Russia, announced he was setting up a party and looking into buying a television channel to challenge Georgia’s political status quo. Ivanishvilil was granted French citizenship in 2004, which, by Georgian law, automatically cancels his Georgian citizenship, the ministry announced.
Reporters and pundits have predicted that Ivanishvili, listed by Forbes Magazine as the world’s 185th richest man, could become a new Badri Patarkatsishvili, another billionaire (also thanks to Russian businesses) who came out fierce and fighting against the Saakashvili government during the 2008 presidential elections. Patarkatsishvili, who died in early 2008, was later accused of plotting a coup against Saakashvili.
Moscow, the persistent phantom of Georgian politics, is alleged to have an interest in Ivanishvili's political aspirations. In a standard mud-slinging routine, Pavle Kublashvili, a senior parliamentarian from Saakashvili's United National Movement, claimed that the Kremlin wanted to “buy” Georgia through the businessman.
Ivanishvili is expected to seek restoration of his citizenship through court.
Giorgi Lomsadze is a journalist based in Tbilisi, and author of Tamada Tales.
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