Bidzina Ivanishvili Opens Up on Imedi TV

Last week, ex-Georgian Prime Minister, Bidzina Ivanishvili, made an appearance on Imedi TV’s talk show Kronika to discuss the dissimilar internal political issues of the country.

Ivanishvili called the National Democratic Institute’s (NDI) research, ‘the National Movement’s dream.’ “The NDI is a respected organization for me, as well as the International Republican Institute (IRI). However, the NDI’s surveys are conducted by Turmanidze’s organization founded by the United National Movement (UNM), while IRI’s surveys are carried out by Tskitishvili, a member of the UNM,” Ivanishvili said.

After assessing the work of Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili, Ivanishvili described him as a good Prime Minister and assumes Garibashvili’s emotional reactions are due to his youth.

“There are strong leaders in the team. There are parties in the coalition which perform their functions. I think Irakli is a very good leader and in the future he will be even more effective,” said Ivanishvili.

According to Ivanishvili, Georgia does not need leaders from the past. “We do not need that kind of team. Of course, lack of order can be seen in the team, but this is much better than the order of the UNM, when the rest of the team followed and repeated one man’s stupidity. This does not happen anymore. We have a government that serves the people,” Ivanishvili said.

The former PM also discussed the issue of TV Company, Rustavi 2, stating that he was surprised by such a stir solely around Rustavi 2, “while there is a dispute among the shareholders of Maestro TV as well.”

According to Ivanishvili, there are no TV channels controlled by the government today.

“Of course, there was criticism of Rustavi 2, as well as of other channels, because we did not have our own TV channel,” Ivanishvili said.

The ex-PM, who is accused of controlling the overall political processes in the country and especially the Rustavi 2 case, said that the TV Company is not independent.

“It is the UNM’s propaganda machine. However, they do have a right to this,” Ivanishvili said.

Analysis by Steven Jones

While the former PM disappeared from the official scene of Georgian politics on his first anniversary as a governmental leader, Ivanishvili was strongly believed to be ruling from the backstage for the entire period of his official absence from the governmental circle. Moreover, some strategic issues for the country, such as relations with Russia, the Abkhazia Railway, as well as the recent Gazprom issue and Russia’s possible entrance into the Georgian energy market, were broadly considered to be orchestrated by Ivanishvili as an unofficial person.

Likewise, as the case regarding the possible closure of Rustavi 2, Georgia’s largest TV station, was directly attributed to Ivanishvili and his team’s desire to mute free word in the country prior to the elections of 2016, the former PM seems to be attempting to revitalize his political positions in the country. Despite Ivanishvili’s continuous claim that ‘he enjoys an excess of trust” from society, the NDI’s recent polls speak differently. According to the last opinion poll, only 13 percent of the citizens questioned throughout the study support Georgian Dream, whereas the UNM is supported by 14 percent.

Will Georgian society - which has seen a dramatically devalued Lari, increased crime and a weakened international position– vote for the same party again? Does the Ivanishvili factor still matter?

Steven Jones

29 October 2015 22:31