“Who’s Your Boss?”
By Vladimer Napetvaridze
Wednesday, September 12
Are you accountable to Ivanishvili? Who is your boss? " This question was asked by the journalist of an influential British media-Financial Times to the Prime Minister of Georgia, on the 4th International Conference organized by Economic Policy Research Centre (EPRC) of McCain Institute “The World in 2018 – Upside Down”.
As Mamuka Bakhtadze replied to this question, he is accountable to the people who vote for "Georgian Dream" in the elections: "I am accountable to the people who voted for the" Georgian Dream," and the rest is political speculations," Bakhtadze said. "For many reasons I cannot say that there is oligarchic governance, Bidzina Ivanishvili is the founder and head of the Georgian Dream. He won the elections in 2012, the best answer to what the country has done after this election, the international ratings in all directions are improving. We are on the right track of building a truly democratic country, "- said Mamuka Bakhtadze.
To see why the analyst of an influential western media corporation asked such a question, we should analyze the transformation of Georgian political elites from 2012 to the present day.
After the winning the parliamentary elections in 2012, Georgian Dream replaced the National Movement, and the leader of the party Bidzina Ivanishvili became the prime minister of the country. After a year he quit politics and presented Irakli Gharibashvili as his 'successor.'
In 2015 international organization Transparency International published a report about Georgian authorities’ affiliation with companies owned by Ivanishvili.
According to the report: “Ivanishvili's companies – the forge for government officials,” after the 2012 parliamentary elections, persons working in the companies associated with the former Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili or their family members have been appointed or elected to leading positions in the Public Service.
“People of different experience who held different positions in the companies related to Bidzina Ivanishvili have been employed in the leading positions of every branch of government”- the report says.
Even the most powerful political position - the prime minister post, was held by the ex-employees of “Cartu,” the organization which is owned by Ivanishvili’s family.
Prime Minister Irakli Gharibashvili was General Director of Charity Foundation Cartu, Director of the Georgian Dream Ltd, and a member of JSC Cartu Bank’s Supervisory Board which is owned by Uta Ivanishvili, the son of Bidzina Ivanishvili. Gharibashvili held the position of the prime minister for two years. On 30 December of 2015 he resigned, and in one of his interviews, he mentioned that he had consultations about his resigning with former Prime Minister Ivanishvili despite the fact, that in 2013 Ivanishvili stated that he quit politics.
The next Prime Minister was Giorgi Kvirikashvili, who held the position of the General Director of JSC Cartu Bank; Kvirikashvili held this position from December 2015 to June 2018. It is noteworthy that two months earlier before Kvirikashvili’s resigning, in April, Bidzina Ivanishvili, who was dissatisfied with the work of Kvirikashvili returned in politics.
The fact that a pattern can be detected of individuals who were formerly employed by companies associated with Bidzina Ivanishvili being appointed to senior positions in the public service, or his privileges to quit politics, whenever he wants, and to return as a leader of the ruling party whenever he wants, encourages the belief that the former Prime Minister is the most influential person in the country, no matter what position he held. From the perspective of the western society, the signs of the shadow governance don’t speak well of Georgian democracy.