How to quit a simple life
20 October, 2011
How to quit a simple life

If you are bored with your peaceful personal life, join in the political race. As a surprise to many, and not quite a shock to others, in the recent news  Bidzina (Boris) Ivanishvili announced his intention to run for a government seat in the coming 2013 elections. Why would a well-to-do, seemingly happy family man, disturb his life to participate in politics is anyone’s guess. But the fact is that the otherwise shy public figure has come out swinging into

the spotlight. At first news broke slowly and quite rightly. A new candidate who hadn’t before gone anywhere near politics has decided to throw his hat in the ring and declare his interest. It was exciting and riveting because all anyone had ever heard about Ivanishvili was that he was a businessman from Russia who had turned to philanthropy and arts. He wasn’t like the late Patarkatsishvili who was obliged by the Russian government to meddle in Georgian politics. Ivanishvili had a different life in store for himself; he was not interested in petty politics. He was into Picasso.

When Mr. Ivanishvili announced his intention people were pleasantly surprised and intrigued to see what this serious businessman could do. For his next step said he was going to create a new party, because all candidates (at this point it was not yet clear which position he was after) need a party to represent in order to run for an office in the government. Since Mr. Ivanishvili’s did not count any of the opposition parties as real opposition parties – he claims they are pseudo-opposition parties who really work on behalf of the government, he announced he would be creating a new one and perhaps will be working together with Mr. Irakli Alasania, leader of Free Democrats Party. So far, so good! And then Mr. Ivanishvili spoke of his intentions. He was tired of the ruling party ruling and it was time for them to go. Specifically he wanted President Saakashvili to leave politics for good.  For all his talk of despising the pseudo- opposition parties, he used the same rhetoric as they had been for years – Misha Go! Has no one noticed that Saakashvili will not be running for a third term, or is that besides the point? Perhaps living in Russia for so long with Putin resurrecting himself over and over again as the supreme leader of the land has traumatized Mr. Ivanishvili enough that he thinks every country has its own Putin. His speech turned into one full of threats and promises of more threats. “I will definitely come to power...” he declared on October 12. “I always keep my promise.” What he thought was a promise, sounded more like a threat. Has no one on his staff done PR? Negative campaigning never works, unless you are a Bush riding on populous fear of a war. This kind of language works only for a small number of people who want to go into the streets for money and fight with sticks and baseball bats.  The rest of the slightly saner population wants to know how it is that the candidate can do a better job than the other candidate. And as far as Mr. Ivanishvili’s laid out plan of what he intends to do with Georgia, it isn’t that much different than what is already being done. His statement sounds more like a personal dissatisfaction with the way the government deals with business than with anything else. But why now? Mr. Ivanishvili is right when he says his decision to go into politics is hard to swallow. If he is dissatisfied with the way the Government of Georgia (specifically Saakashvili) is ‘ruining the country’, he could have run against him in the second presidential elections. Supposedly Mr. Ivanishvili is afraid of all the changes done to the constitution that would give the prime minister more power and thus created himself another position. But this change had been approved last year. So what has changed since then?

The thing about going into politics is that the person is thrust into the limelight and all his past and present dealing resurface with a vengeance. Mr. Ivanishvili’s passports from three countries, one from Russia, one from Georgia and one from France have come into question. Speaking of France, isn’t that where another politician, ex-defense minister and co-founder of the Georgian Party, Irakli Okruashvili who also promised/threatened a lot of things, such as the personal overthrow of the government in May 2011. Promises, promises! It isn’t only the political affiliations that come into the light. For a businessman who once was number 12 on Forbes list of wealthy people in Russia, it is virtually impossible not to have had any help from the government, but how much help, and how much can that ‘help’ lobby for its own interests is unknown. There are stories about shady business dealings, mafia and Otari Kvantrishvili, money laundering and involvement in Chechnya. There are stories of illegal sales of partial government owned structures. And then there are stories of a very savvy businessman who studied well and who had a knack for economics and rose to the top of the food chain by working hard and selling computers from China, and by becoming a vice president of Roscredit bank in Russia in the 1990s. He is now a major share holder of the bank and number 25 on Forbes list of wealthy Russian citizens.

There are many stories on Mr. Ivanishvili, and nothing is certain with this mysterious person. Once thought to have wanted nothing to do with politics and thought to be interested in retiring from even his business life by selling most of his businesses in Georgia save for Kartu Group (“I am selling all of these [firms]… I’ll be 50 soon and have no energy to deal with everything… I have no political ambition… The younger generation has come into power in Georgia. I am neither for, nor against them, that’s all I can say,” Ivanishvili said in the interview in 2005 in an interview with Vedomosty – a Russian daily newspaper) he recently declared that he had been fooling everyone by telling the government spy Giga Chrdileli, the director of Mr. Ivanishvili’s own Kartu Group, the same line he had been feeding Vedomosty, because he wanted to fool the government. Well, it wasn’t just the government he had fooled. Mr. Ivanishvili had started out as an interesting and exciting new candidate, and turned out to be the same old candidate we had seen for years full of empty promises and tired threats.

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