- Eyes either PM’s or Parliamentary Speaker’s post;
- Says will quit politics in two-three years after achieving goals;
- Says to sell businesses in Russia;
- Plans to revoke his Russian and French citizenship;
- “Starting sorting out relations” with Russia;
- “Deepening friendship and integration with U.S., EU”;
- Pledges USD 1 billion for agriculture.
In a lengthy written statement released on October 7 a billionaire philanthropist Bidzina Ivanishvili said he goal was “to win absolute majority” in 2012 parliamentary elections through joining forces of his planned political party and other “real opposition” forces.
“President Saakashvili’s total monopoly on power and constitutional amendments, which clearly reveal Saakashvili’s intention to maintain power and stay in leadership beyond any constitutional term, prompted my decision to establish a political party and to run in the 2012 parliamentary elections,” Ivanishvili said in the statement.
He said that to achieve his goal of bringing the country on the right track he would require two or three years of being in politics in a capacity of either Prime Minister (whose powers will be increased significantly as a result of the constitutional amendments starting from 2013) or a parliamentary speaker. “After that I am going to quit politics,” he writes.
In the statement Ivanishvili repeats his views, unveiled in May 2011 statement, about the political landscape in Georgia saying without specifically mentioning any party that there is “pseudo-opposition” and “real opposition.”
He also slammed two Tbilisi-based television stations, Kavkasia and Maestro, as “pseudo-opposition” channels, claiming that their work only benefited President Saakashvili by creating façade of democracy in the country.
In a separate statement also released on October 7, Ivanishvili made a bid to buy a television station with news broadcasting license, offering owners – mainly to Kavkasia and Maestro TV – that he would pay them three-fold more than the market price of their TV stations. In addition he also offered that after maximum two years he would return a station to its previous owner for a symbolic price of GEL 1. Maestro TV co-owner, Mamuka Glonti, has declined the offer. Kavkasia TV’s owner was not immediately available for the comment.
Ivanishvili, whose fortune is estimated by the Forbes at USD 5.5 billion, said that the third of his business assets were located in Russia and in order to prevent any speculation about his ties to Russia he was intending to sell those businesses before the 2012 parliamentary elections. He also said he would revoke his French and Russian citizenships.
He also pledged to invest USD 1 billion in the agriculture – the project, according to Ivanishvili, he had discussed at three various occasions with President Saakashvili since 2004. Ivanishvili, however, said his project was blocked by Saakashvili upon the advice of Kakha Bendukidze, Georgia’s former economy minister.
Ivanishvili’s statement does not make clear whom he will rely on while forming his political party. He, however, made it clear that would welcome joining forces with “real opposition” forces without specifying them.