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Ivanishvili hopes half of GD retains their seats after 2016 parliamentary race

By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Monday, October 26
Georgia’s former Prime Minister, the billionaire founder of the Georgian Dream coalition Bidzina Ivanishvili, has given an interview to Imedi TV, wherein he spoke about all the sensitive issues the country is currently facing.

Ivanishvili stated that he hoped the coalition which he had founded would retain major seats in the legislative body after the 2016 parliamentary elections. However, he also expressed the hope that professional and qualified individuals with a better knowledge of the law and foreign languages would make up GD's ranks.

He stressed that the current state leadership led by Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili has done their utmost to advance the country, and it was due to foreign factors and the alleged failures of the National Bank of Georgia that caused the current problems in the Georgian economy.

“Despite the difficulties, Georgia had an economic growth rate of 3% last year, which was one of the best outcomes in the whole region,” Ivanishvili said.

“It is impossible for Georgia to be like Switzerland in just a few years as the opposition is demanding,” he added, noting that the current state leadership, unlike the previous one, ensured a free business environment and other vital positive changes that were top preconditions for the country advancement.

In this context, the ex-Prime Minister touched on the results of a recent survey conducted by the National Democratic Institute (NDI), which said that the GD coalition had 11% support in the upcoming elections (less than the figure for the UNM), and called it the “dream” of the opposition.

“I respect both the NDI and IRI. However, the people who conduct the surveys locally are under the influence of the UNM,” Ivanishvili said.

Ivanishvili excluded his involvement in the activities of the current state leadership and stressed that the PM, Parliament Speaker and majority MPs never took his advice into account.

“I have told Garibashvili not to be very emotional in his speeches, but he is…. I also proved to Parliament Speaker Davit Usupashvili that the President was wrong when he decided to live in the Presidential Palace; he said he had no counter arguments, but he practically justified the President’s decision in his comment to the media. I also phoned MP Zakaria Kutsnashvili and gave him advice over one of the cases, but he also did not agree with my position,” Ivanishvili said.

Regarding his controversial criticism of the President, the ex-Premier stated that he criticized all state figures and none were exempt.

“I have no idea why my criticism of the President was so strange I am critical of everyone. The President did indeed change his position when he was elected; he was stating before the elections that he would not use the guard and would not live in the Presidential Palace as it would cost a lot for the state budget. However, now he lives in the palace and also wanted the Bobokveti Presidential residence. Two delegations to the UN General Assembly this year were also not beneficial for the state image, and his recent statements over some civil confrontation because of the Rustavi 2 case were far from reality. There are some other issues I have never spoke about which I will reveal at later date for the picture to be more clear,” Ivanishvili said.

Speaking about the Rustavi 2 developments, Ivanishvili said that it was a dispute over its current and former owners.

“I have no idea why the issue is being speculated by some people as the government’s intention to close Rustavi 2 when the same dispute among the former and current owners is also ongoing over Maestro TV. Why is Rustavi 2 so special in this regard?” Ivanishvili said, stressing that the government had no TV channel under its influence unlike the former state leadership.

“I closed Channel 9 when GD came to power so as not to cause speculation over a channel being run by the government. Government-controlled media is unacceptable for me. The UNM tries to display the issue as a confrontation among the government and the channel. It is interesting what their reaction might be if the court makes a verdict in favour of the channel,” Ivanishvili said.

Concerning the recent leak of sexual abuse videos on the Internet, Ivanishvili stated that if any GD member spread the videos he would be strictly punished as the incidents took place years ago.

He also said that the previous state leadership spent 100 million GEL for filming the abuse videos to later use them for the purpose of blackmail.

“The current director of Rustavi 2 ,Nika Gvaramia, was Deputy Chief Prosecutor at the time when the UNM was filming hundreds of such videos,” Ivanishvili said.

Gvaramia has dimissed Ivanishvili’s statements as 'delirium' and stressed that the government was directly involved in the Rustavi 2 case.