Expert opinion
20 October, 2011

Interview with Mamuka Areshidze, an expert

Last week Georgian billionaire Bidzina Ivanishvili assumed a new role. He declared about his intention to participate in the coming elections. But, as it became known later, he is no longer a citizen of Georgia and this gives rise to many questions. Will he manage to adjust himself to the new geo-political reality created around Georgia? It’s interesting what the authorities will oppose to Ivanishvili’s factor. To make a long story short, we are facing a

very interesting period and we requested Mamuka Areshidze, a political scientist, to make its detailed analysis:


Q. – Bidzina Ivanishvili has chosen a peculiar way of coming to politics. He neglects political correctness, mentions the ‘line of demarcation’, calls on the politicians for repentance and admission of errors. Will the attempt of dotting the  i’s and crossing the t’s justify itself?

M.A. – I think Ivanishvili’s aggressive step was aimed at opening the brackets from the beginning. I don’t think that it’s an emotional move. The choice of partners is also deliberate and well-thought. Naturally, this caused aggression on part of some politicians but if you want to help the country, Ivanishvili has a resource that is to be used. What kind of resource is it? First of all it’s an immense financial resource that excludes the much-talked-about topic of Russian money. In case of need he can even give away the money. Secondly, it’s connections with the world business. That isn’t the world we see from our poor country. It is the world that shapes economic and often political policy of the world.

Thirdly – the charm of his deeds. This is a serious resource as well. As for the choosing of partners – it’s remarkable that some representatives of authorities keep saying that Bidzina Ivanishvili is a Russian project but such argument is counter-productive, it’s working against the powers. So, what are we facing? Ivanishvili has chosen partners out of which one supports America, I mean Alasania’s team; the other, Republican Party, known for its pro-Western orientation even causes irritation of a certain part of our society.

So, have Russians, Europeans and Americans agreed to set up this alliance?

Q. – If we follow the authorities’ logic, this is the case. Besides, let’s not forget that Bidzina Ivanishvili’s public declaration very interestingly coincided, or was made to coincide, with Sarkozy’s visit to Georgia.

M.A. – Let’s not forget as well that when leaving Georgia the President of France was seen off only by the head of airport security.

By the way, besides propagandistic demarche of Georgian authorities, together with other positive moments Sarkozy stressed the necessity of good relations with Russia. What’s more, one could even see demand in his intonation. He declared that Russia is their strategic partner and friend and asked us to consider this. We should also mull over that Sarkozy replaced European policy of his country with American one; in other word, France is returning to the policy of De Gaulle’s times when France enjoyed influence over the whole world. His active involvement in Libya, Iran and the Caucasus is an indicator of this. As it seems, the policy of resetting didn’t live up to its expectations and American political scientists and a part of political elite insist that the Government change policy of relations with Russia. Ivanishvili’s emergence under this context is very interesting and it should also be noted that Western-oriented politicians became his partners. Against this background, speaking about a man sent by Russia is nonsense.

I think the political spectrum in Georgia will be reshuffled. Many political forces abstained from making sharp declarations because they are waiting for their turn to speak with Ivanishvili.

Q. – What do you think Saakashvili’s rule can oppose to the factor of Ivanishvili?

M.A. – It’s an interesting and complicated issue. There is one variant that can be called trifle attacks; this can result in oppression and arrest of the close circle of the friends of his family. According to the second variant, they may make some satellite parties speak about early elections; this will be done not because of Ivanishvili but because ‘the government doesn’t behave well’. But I don’t think this step will be profitable for the authorities.  The third one is blocking of his accounts and expropriation of property. For instance, recently they began speaking about ‘Sololaki Business Center’ and said that it was built without permission; or they may incommode ‘Cartu Bank’. Such cases are fresh in our memory from Patarkatsishvili’s example. They may try to expropriate his property as they did with Patarkatsishvili but we hope Ivanishvili has foreseen Patarkatsishvili’s mistakes. We also hope that when selecting his team members, Ivanishvili won’t repeat Patarkatsidhvili’s personnel mistake – majority of surrounding people betrayed him.