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Financial war against Ivanishvili

By Messenger Staff
Monday, June 18
A fierce battle has been unleashed by the country’s government against opposition leader Bidzina Ivanishvili. The government is fighting within the framework of the Constitution and is urgently introducing additional amendments either in the constitution or legislation as a tool to fight the opposition.. Some analysts think that the scale of financial sanctions, penalties and pressure imposed on Ivanishvili could receive a negative response from the population. The ruling national movement has attempted to control financial resources during elections previously. During previous elections, the ruling party did not receive much resistance from the opposition from a financial perspective. During the 2008 Parliamentary elections, the ruling party spent 12 times more money than all opposition parties combined. It should be added that administrative resources were utilized by the ruling party intensively.

So from the financial point of view, the opposition had no chance at all. The ruling authorities meanwhile kept asserting that businesses were voluntarily financing the national movement as a result of their appreciation of the party's conduct and achievements. Today it is known that much of the money received by the national movement came from billionaire Bidzina Ivanishvili.

However, his transformation into the opposition in October of 2011 created big headache for the ruling party, as the authorities realized that the huge financial resources of the opposition could become decisive. Therefore legislative and constitutional changes were adopted quickly to counter-balance Ivanishvili’s financial resources. Several penalties, financial sanctions and limitations were applied against Ivanishvili. During the first stage, police seized nearly three- million EUR from a Cartu Bank vehicle carrying money to the opposition leader's bank. Later this money was returned. However, an increasing number of penalties and sanctions were imposed against Ivanishvili. Most recently, Tbilisi's court decided to levy a GEL 148 million fine against the leader of the Georgian Dream.

Various judicial and legislative laws were applied to the case made against Ivanishvili by the chamber of control. Ivanishvili has protested, saying that the court decision was unfair and he has since refused to pay the fine. Some analysts predict that officials are prepared to increase the amount of fines so that eventually Ivanishvili will be forced to leave Georgia. He has not been granted back his Georgian citizenship and currently holds French citizenship. Technically, Ivanishvili can be deported before the elections.

However many analysts think that such pressure exercised on the opposition leader is unfair and it might cause negative reactions from the likes of France and Georgia's other allies around the world. Recently, many observers consider some comments made by Georgia's allies as criticism and look at them as a warning to the Saakashvili administration. Some analysts think that the oppressive policies directed against Ivanishvili might raise sympathy within the population-particularly because of his charity work within Georgia’s cultural, historical and humanitarian sphere.

Two big rallies one in Tbilisi and another in Kutaisi proved that Ivanishvili has solid popular support However, visible support for Ivanishvili leads to an increased grudge on behalf of the ruling party, as well as increased pressure against the opposition and its leader. Of course the best solution to this situation is to hold democratic, fair and transparent parliamentary elections. Only time will tell...