The tug-of-war over Forbes billionaire Bidzina Ivanishvili’s Georgian citizenship may now be approaching a dénouement, but a national probe into the financing of his Georgian Dream opposition coalition still raises concerns among watchdog groups about how far Georgia’s commitment to competitive parliamentary elections this fall actually goes.
While officials deny that the investigation, which took place in March, was meant to intimidate voters, residents in the destitute western region of Guria claim that the Chamber of Control, the audit agency that enforces campaign finance regulations, threatened them for having ties with the Georgian Dream.
Seventy-two of the 370 interrogations occurred in Guria, where the Ivanishvili family has business interests, and Ivanishvili’s brother, Adiko, lives.
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Paul Rimple is a freelance reporter based in Tbilisi.