Georgian billionaire enters politics to oust Saakashvili

Boris Ivanishvili
Boris Ivanishvili, a Russian billionaire of Georgian descent, is launching a political party in order to oppose incumbent president Mikhail Saakashvili, whom he suspects of intending to hold on to the post at any cost.

Ivanishvili distributed a statement about the foundation of the new party on Friday, October 7. He claimed that he wanted to unite all opposition forces in Georgia and prevent Saakashvili from staying in power.

“My decision to create a political power and to take part in the forthcoming parliamentary elections in 2012 is based on the total monopolization of power by Mikhail Saakashvili and the recently-made changes in the constitution that make it obvious that Saakashvili wants to stay in power despite of the fact that all constitutional terms have expired,” reads Ivanishvili’s statement. The document also reads that the country’s authorities are immersed in the “elitist corruption.”

It adds that Saakashvili’s administration had made so many mistakes that any other politician would resign and apologize before his people a long time ago.

“Saakashvili cannot understand the most important thing – by ruling the country through force and lies he only aggravates Georgia’s difficult situation,” the document reads. Ivanishvili sets the goal for himself to become prime minister or parliamentary speaker.

Ivanishvili claims he has been rendering aid to opposition politicians in Georgia since 2008, but now he understands that it is difficult to get a result without personal participation in the process.

“For a certain period of time, about two or three years, I have wanted to personally exercise the co-ordination of the following political processes: the unification of healthy opposition forces with our party to get the absolute majority of votes in the 2012 parliamentary elections, to research the optimal model for building Georgian society together with the people and to conduct the constitutional changes,” the statement reads.

The businessman said that the elaborate political program of the party would be voiced at the founding congress in the nearest future.

Ivanishvili also said he was selling his multibillion assets in Russia and relinquishing the Russian citizenship (currently the businessman is a citizen of Russia, France and Georgia). “I am going to sell all my business in Russia before the parliamentary elections in 2012. For the same reason I am refusing the dual citizenship and will give away my Russian and French passports, leaving only the Georgian one,” he wrote.

Fifty-six-year-old Ivanishvili was born in Georgia, but has lived in Russia since 1980s. Russian Forbes magazine has put the businessman on the 25th place in the Russian billionaires list with an estimated worth of $5.5 billion. His views and opinions are not well known as Ivanishvili is one of the most reclusive people in the billionaires list.

Ivanishvili is not the first businessman who dared to challenge Mikhail Saakashvili. In 2007, Russian business mogul Badri Patarkatsishvili announced that he was going to fight Saakashvili in the political field. This was done after Georgian Defense Minister Irakly Okruashvili told the press that Saakashvili was planning Patarkatsishvili’s assassination (after this the minister was fired and put to prison on charges of corruption, but released after publicly retracting his statement, which he went on to repeat after fleeing Georgia). Patarkatsishvili died in London in suspicious circumstances just one month after Saakashvili won the early presidential elections at the beginning of 2008.