What Are the Expectations of Khazaradze's Political Movement?

Mamuka Khazaradze, one of the founders and former Chairman of the Supervisory Board of Georgia’s largest bank TBC, announced that he will unite a “healthy, progressive and pro-western society” and create a political force named Civil Movement in September.

Khazaradze said he made such a decision because of the recent developments in the country, which “are getting alarming,” adding there is a “deliberate process of confrontation and splitting the society.” He claimed June 20 events were a “watershed” that moved him to act, referring to the large-scale protest which left 300 arrested and around 240 injured.

He pledged to establish a movement together with his “friends and like-minded people, professionals from different fields,” but does not specify to whom he refers. It is only known that his business partner and friend Badri Japaridze will be in the movement.

Khazaradze, who says that he and his TBC Bank have been under attack by the government during the last few months, wrote in a Facebook post that his movement will unite the representatives of various spheres, “those people, who will be united by the idea of building a Western-style state in Georgia with the most competitive and strong economy, where the rule of law will triumph.”

Khazaradze’s announcement caused different reactions among politicians and experts.

Former Defense Minister Tina Khidasheli says Khazaradze became a politician on the day when he went to the parliament to announce that he received a letter of threat from the Interior Minister Giorgi Gakharia. Khazaradze made this statement in parliament in March, 2019.

The ex-minister believes that not a single businessman in the country has ever made such statements during a parliament tribune.

Opposition party European Georgia positively assessed Khazaradze’s statement, saying the formation of a pro-western movement is welcome. One of the leaders of the party, Giga Bokeria, said that they consider whoever shares their opinions on some fundamental issues to be a potential ally.

Former ruling party United National Movement has the same position. UNM’s Roman Gotsiridze underlined that the appearance of a new force on the political arena means that everyone is uniting against the ruling party Georgian Dream (GD) and its funder, “informal ruler of the country,” Bidzina Ivanishvili.

“We welcome all public and political forces, which will support us in ending Bidzina Ivanishvili's oligarchy,” he stressed.

The ruling GD MP and Deputy Parliament Speaker, Gia Volsky, claims it is natural that new political movements or forces appear before 2020 parliamentary elections. According to the MP, it is important to know what Khazaradze’s position is in order to assess his decision.

An independent MP, Davit Chichinadze, who quit GD recently, says Khazaradze wants to come into politics to “save himself.” He says this time betting is placed on Mamuka Khazaradze and his “so called new pro-western model, with relatively less bad history.”

Political expert Gia Khukhashvili explains that, after the government’s decision to hold 2020 elections with the proportional system and zero barriers, Georgia is showing signs of forming a multi-party democratic system.

The expert believes Khazaradze’s plans are “strategically well-calculated.” According to him, neither Georgian Dream, nor the UNM can overcome the 50% barrier to gain complete control. He says there is a likelihood that Georgia will have a multi-party parliament with the necessity of forming a post-election coalition.

“In such conditions, the emergence of a force with15-20%, even in the 3rd place, means that it will have a "golden key". Everything will depend on which side this third component will take,” he explained.

To note, on February 14, the National Bank of Georgia (NBG) stated that after examining transactions conducted by TBC Bank 2007-2008, it was revealed that the Chairman of the Supervisory Board of TBC Bank Mamuka Khazaradze and his Deputy Japaridze had violated the requirements of the legislation regulating conflict of interests. Therefore, it suspended the authority of the two men. Meanwhile, the Prosecutor’s Office launched an investigation or alleged money laundering.

Khazaradze resigned as the Chair of TBC Supervisory Board and in April, he and Badri Japaridze quit the board.

TBC Bank is leading the consortium that is constructing Anaklia Deep Sea Port, a very strategic port for the country on the Black Sea coast in the west. The deadline for attracting investments by Anaklia Development Consortium expired on June 15 but the government decided to extend the deadline for six more months.

By Thea Morrison

Photo source: RFE/RL

11 July 2019 18:05