Georgian Politics Seduces Another Billionaire
Just as political pundits were calling it a day on Georgia's seemingly uneventful fall season, a reclusive Georgian billionaire has inserted himself and his fortune into the country's political scene. Enter Bidzina Ivanishvili, a Forbes-list billionaire who has famously shunned both politics and publicity till now.
In a one-sentence statement, suggestive of the adage that time is money, Ivanishvili stated that he was setting up a political party to run in Georgia's 2012 parliamentary elections. Details to follow on October 7, a spokesperson told InterPressNews agency.
The 55-year-old businessman ranks as the second billionaire to take the plunge into Georgian politics. Badri Patarkatsishvili unsuccessfully challenged President Mikheil Saakashvili’s rule in 2008, but died in London the same year.
Senior party member Nugzar Tsiklauri said he will hold tight to see if Russia, where Ivanishvili made his fortune (banking, real estate, drugstores), will have any influence on the tycoon’s political choices. The accusation of being pro-Russian has become standard fodder for political mud-slinging in Georgia.
Ivanishvili so far has refrained from direct attacks on Saakashvili, but in earlier statements he argued that the main roles in Georgia’s political theater are divided among the ruling establishment, a real opposition and a fake opposition. His announcement today, terse as it was, suggests that he will try to challenge this status quo.