August 27, 2012 Ivanishvili: He Wants Georgia!
The upcoming Georgian parliamentary and presidential elections are set to be one of the most eventful in Georgia’s recent history. The “Georgian Dream” opposition party, which is close to the extreme right, is becoming more and more aggressive every day. With the presidential seat up for grabs in the upcoming election, “Georgian Dream” and its leader Bidzina Ivanishvili are using every resource and dirty trick at their disposal to gain votes. Corruption, vote buying, and marginalization of a part of society- these are just a few of the categories that Ivanishvili’s actions fall under.
In April 2012, Bidzina Ivanishvili, Franco-Georgian multi-billionaire entrepreneur, set up an opposition coalition called the “Georgian dream.” After building up his fortune on the ruins of the USSR, he decided to enter politics. He is not the kind of person to give in to not getting what they want. In several cases already he has already crossed the line- from his highly xenophobic statements made on national TV, as well as in an extreme right newspaper interview, to his army of lobbyists who pressure the international media, among others –the oligarch always stands firm, regardless of the validity of his opinions.
This time, the billionaire has been implicated in the case of the Komagi Foundation. The foundation aims to protect “victims of political repression” by offering legal fees and financial support. This foundation has strong ties with the opposition party, and is heavily funded by Georgian expatriates who also make large contributions to Ivanishvili’s “Georgian Dream” party. This jarring conflict of interest has been flagged by Transparency International, an NGO who fights against corruption in the world.
Here is an excerpt from the official statement sent out by Transparency International, regarding the situation: “We call on all political actors to refrain from any activity that could be perceived as bribery of voters by offering free services to increase their popularity. Financial assistance may have a negative impact on voter behaviour and on their relations with political parties and candidates.”
In addition, Georgian law underlines the conclusions of Transparency International. “Vote buying is prohibited [...] Georgian law prohibits political parties to grant financial benefits, gifts or any other material consideration to citizens (with the support of candidates, their representatives or other persons [...] or providing or distributing any product free).”
Bidzina Ivanishvili, through his party, represents the decay of Caucasus democratic policy, and continues his attempts to discredit the government’s actions. The billionaire takes the shape of a powerful, soviet-inspired past: he assumes that he can buy the current administration with his massive fortune to back him up.
Unfortunately for you, Mr. Ivanishvili, power in Georgia is not for sale. In Moscow, perhaps. Not in Tbilisi.