Before moving on the main issues I want to say a couple of words about myself.
Key secret behind my success in business is the following: I can assess situation quickly, make a correct decision, select the right staff and achieve the goal quickly through good management.
At the same time, I believe that any business should be done with clean hands based on honest and open relationships with people. That’s the way I live, that’s way I passed up to these days and this is how I am known both in Georgia and in various countries of the world.
To prove this, I will recall several details from my only interview, which I gave to Russia newspaper Vedomosti in 2005 (I also want to emphasize that I could not have said anything exaggerated in the interview, because nobody would forgive me even an elementary error).
It is quite obvious from the interview that the journalist was desperately trying to expose me of committing illegal actions. However, it is also obvious that the interviewer fails to do that. On the contrary, in this interview you can see several examples, which are unprecedented for Russian and not only for Russian business, which I still remember with pride. Here is one of them:
In 1998, when the Russian state announced a default, my bank was the only one out of those largest banks (it was ranked 2nd and 5th in various bank ratings, and took the second place by number branches after Sberbank), which honestly fulfilled all of its obligations before the depositors and business partners.
In the same interview I recall the words said by then Russian Finance Minister at the meeting with the frustrated European and U.S. business elite, where he was saying how he was pressed by them, that they lost a lot of money in Russia and that his grave situation was eased by the only precedent, which was created through the activity of my bank.
Owing to this precedent and not only it, I have a stainless name among the Russian, as well as European and American business elite. Therefore, when the Russian government, irritated at Saakashvili’s absolutely undiplomatic, insulting statements, started deportation of Georgians in the way unacceptable for the international law, nobody even dared to touch my businesses [in Russia]. I think the experience and characteristics, which I gained as a result of my long business activities, will help me to correctly pursue my activities in politics.
The fact that businesses I have launched in Russia are working absolutely properly although I have not been in Russia for already nine years, is enough proof speaking in favor of my managerial skills.
Although the Georgian authorities and media outlets controlled by them are obstinately trying to tie me to Russian politics and almost declared me as a Russian agent, nobody will be able to mention even one fact to collaborate that [allegation], because no such fact exists at all.
As I have said I have not been in Russia for already nine years and during this period there had been not a single call on my phone from Russian political circles, I have not had even a single meeting with Russian politicians.
The Georgian authorities will not find it difficult to check it; though, they do not need to check it – they already know very well that I have not had and do not have any links with Russian politics.
I am not going to explain away all the gossips and absurd allegations fabricated by the authorities. I will only say one thing – how can one, if he has at least a bit of conscience, to link my deeds done in Georgia for years with Russian political interests? Where is an elementary logic here?
As it is said, actions speak louder than words.
After 2008, when the Georgian authorities rigged the elections, because of which I cut all ties with these authorities, the state machinery started working against me at its full capacity. A flow of dirt started running from TV screens, newspapers, threats and blackmail were launched, but they failed to achieve anything – they failed to find any black spots and shortcomings in my activities – they will not be able to find what does not exist in nature.
By the way, a quite voluminous book was issued to disavow these groundless accusations, where a detailed answer is given to slanderous and fabricated allegations.
I will seize upon a chance and ask the journalists not to start again talking about those issues and not to ask for my answers on the questions, which have already been answered.
As far as I have decided to go into politics, I will definitely come into power.
As I have said above, I always keep my promise; I always keep my word and commitment.
I have promised to the Georgian people that I will come into power that means that I will definitely do that.
And when it happens, I also promise that I will use all my experience, all my resources for the revival and revitalization of Georgia, for the wellbeing of each citizen of Georgia.
At the same time, I also promise that I will be fair, impartial, loyal and simultaneously extremely principled, strict and firm in respect of each person, who will have to work in the state structures.
The society knows that I did not even forgive my very close acquaintances when they violated the norms established by law and the moral-ethical principles.
Everybody will be given a chance to correct mistakes, but nobody will have the right to tailor country’s affairs to their private interests and to arrange their wellbeing at the expense of others, at the expense of the people.
I reiterate, that I will definitely come into power; because I have promised, I will definitely come!
Why I went into politics
Many people ask and many people are surprised, why I, a successful business and absolutely prosperous person, threw everything into a scale and why I decided to go into politics?
The answer to this question is very simple because I see that I am losing my homeland, and when you are losing your homeland, nothing has any price – neither your property and money, nor any privileged status.
Maybe anybody suffering with conformism will find these words extremely loud, but that is exactly the reason of our misfortune. I will not hide – before deciding to go into politics I was thinking of leaving Georgia twice.
Those, who do not believe, can recheck and see how I canceled a reserved plane. My family members, my wife and my sons told me – you can go, it’s your will, but we are staying here.
My older son, Uta, told me, if you do not go into politics, then I will go.
My wife and I managed to ensure that our sons, who were grown up in France, are greater patriots than their parents and better Georgians than us. Uta’s words were the last drop which overweighed everything and put everything in its place.
I managed to outdo myself, to overcome fear, doubt, skepticism in myself. Now it’s your turn.
Now each of you, each citizen of this country should manage to prevail over yourself and unite around common national deed.
We all are equal in this struggle and we all assume equal responsibility for the present and future of our country. I am going into politics because I realized that I will not be able to change overall situation in the country only through charity, financial aid, sponsorship and through investing in separate sectors and localized events, if all these [activities] are not strengthened by the political will and support of the authorities.
I realized my mistakes and came to a conclusion that it is urgent and necessary, first and foremost, to change the political environment in the country, to change generally the understanding about the essence and purpose of a politician and politics.
I am going into politics not for defeating anyone and not for revenging, but for victory of each and every citizen. Georgia has no person to lose; the potential of each person should be used and estimated properly; we should all get united; I extend a hand of cooperation to everyone, including to my opponents. We should all get united, but before unification everything and everyone should be called with its real name, we should face each other not with a mask, but with our real faces; we should all get free from a burden, which we took intentionally or unintentionally.
I am ready to answer any question coming from the society and I demand the same from others.
I am not faultless and I am not hiding my mistakes. I think, others will do the same and say no to some things. Only afterwards, I will be ready to cooperate with any of them; otherwise, our relationship will be impossible.
In my opinion, first of all, it is necessary to put a demarcation line, to create two poles and to make it clear, with whom I cannot stand and with whom I cannot cooperate for various reasons.
With whom I cannot cooperate
I cannot cooperate with pseudo-opposition parties, who have covert deals or secret links with the authorities and who act upon their [authorities’] instructions and orders.
In my opinion, just pseudo-opposition parties are the most hindering and hampering force for the country’s democratic development, which at a decisive moment emerge as the most reliable allies and partners of the authorities.
Actually, Saakashvili’s authorities rely upon the shoulders of these pseudo-opposition forces – these forces create a democratic façade for Saakashvili’s regime before the rest of the world and actually provide a one-party Georgian parliament with an image of multi-party parliament through their pseudo-oppositional activities.
Just they instigate a split and disorder in any undertaking by genuine opposition forces; they suppress, neutralize and derail people’s protest mood.
I will not refrain from naming them and I declare openly: I cannot cooperate with Christian-Democrats, Labor Party, New Rights, National-Democratic Party, Georgian Party, as well as [MP Gia] Tortladze’s [Democratic Party of Georgia] and [MP Paata] Davitaia’s [European Democrats] parties.
CDM leader Giorgi Targamadze’s political career has numerous suspicious moments, starting from his cooperation with Aslan Abashidze, continued with his betrayal of Badri Patarkatsishvili and ending with the fact that in exchange of that betrayal, the authorities helped Targamadze to establish his political party, financed it and endorsed [his party’s members] in the Parliament through falsifications.
The governmental orders are fulfilled by the leaders of the above mentioned parties: Shalva Natelashvili [Labor Party], Davit Gamkrelidze [New Rights], Erosi Kitsmarishvili [political secretary of the Georgian Party], Bachuki Kardava [National-Democratic Party]. Yes, I cannot cooperate with these people, though I do not rule out that I would agree on relations with separate members of these pseudo-opposition parties, if they manage to revise their own political past.
I cannot refrain from not saying a few words about Sozar Subari [former public defender and chairman of the Georgian Party], a person, who has done a lot of good deeds on the post of a public defender, who has numerously demonstrated his firm position against the authorities’ willfulness.
I say with a huge regret that Sozar Subari appeared where there was no place for him.
If Mr. Subari is willing to join our political organization, I will only welcome it.
I reiterate that I refuse to cooperate with the above mentioned opposition parties and not with its separate honest members.
Since the statement made by me in respect of Georgian media triggered hype, I deem it necessary to make some explanations about this issue. The true is bitter, but if fail to learn to face the truth, this country will be doomed for existence in permanent fear and falsehood.
I ask journalists from Maestro TV and even its administration or founders – when the television is managed by the company of a pseudo-opposition politician, Erosi Kitsmarishvili, a person, who, as he himself acknowledged, buried people’s real choice in 2008 [reference to Kitsmarishvili alliance with Saakashvili during the presidential elections that year] together with the present authorities, can one have an illusion that such a person will become a guarantor of free word?
I again offer them:
1. I am ready to assume all the financial commitments, which the above mentioned person [Kitsmarishvili], nobody knows where he brought these finances from, fulfills (or not fulfills) before you;
2. To conclude a warranty contract on editorial independence, that will guarantee journalist’s freedom, or even critical attitude towards my activities.
3. All Georgian journalists, for whom freedom of speech and professional dignity is important, will be employed. We will create an opportunity for them to get rid of pseudo-welfare tongs.
4. We should together return power to people and start it with the fourth branch of government, i.e. with you.
I also want to seize upon a chance and address a leading journalist of Maestro TV, Shalva Ramishvili.
Shalva, at the time when you were making Dardubala [a hugely popular political satire cartoon series which was targeting ex-President Eduard Shevardnadze], I lived in Paris together with my family.
Each series of Dardubala was a real celebration for us, a real firework of a talent. You were an idol for me and my family, as well as for entire Georgia, as you demonstrated the swamped situation in the country quite skillfully and you told the people directly that living in a swamp was insulting for a human dignity.
What happened to you today, what’s up, Shalva? How can you, such a talented person, serve an ungifted person [a reference to Erosi Kitsmarishvili]? Talent is a mercy granted by the God and how can you waste this mercy while serving unworthy people? Shalva, how cannot you understand that you are gradually looking like the characters which you created in Dardubala?
You should be creating new Dardubala now and instead of it, the owners of Maestro TV, who have made a deal with Saakashvili, make you run up and down.
Go away Shalva [from Maestro TV] and start producing new Dardubala, which will have much sharp plot than the old one, with new notorious characters; life has put it on the table and you do not want to take it.
I promise you publicly, start producing new Dardubala and I will finance you!
And finally: an excellent team of journalists are working at Maestro, they are excellent young people, talented, beautiful, educated. I perceive them as my own children and I regret about the situation in which they now appeared.
I regret that Eka Beridze [a host of the political talk show on Maestro] is wasting her time on Maestro TV, this extremely talented journalist distinguished with her civil responsibility and honesty.
There is only one way out: leave this double-face and triple-face television jointly and I guarantee to give you all jobs in accordance to your professions.
Now, I want to address Davit Akubardia [a host of a daily political talk show on Kavkasia TV and a husband of Kavkasia TV’s owner and director Nino Jangirashvili], as the Georgian people nicknamed him, Mr. Aku.
Mr. Akubardia, I remember your program on June 30, when you reprimand and disclosed hypocrisy of Christian-Democrats and Mamuka Katsitadze [of the New Rights Party].
You were excellent then, your arguments were absolutely convincing, your position was absolutely right. The same evening you hosted Erosi Kitsmarishvili and if in the first program you were at your best, during your conversation with Kitsmarishvili you were extremely depressed, false and weak and it was obvious that you were fulfilling an order.
Mr. Akubardia, you are an erudite journalist capable to make excellent analysis, who knows economy, history, literature at a professional level, who knows political labyrinths very well, but because of various motives and reasons you frequently betray yourself, your own principles and give platform to pseudo-opposition, pseudo-impartial subjects.
Mr. Akubardia, I do not want your Kavkasia TV – do not either sell or donate it to me, but be impartial, true and unbiased not day after day, not sometimes, but always, twenty-four-hours. Do the financial problems hamper you? I do not need anything from you; I will help you without anything, but do not sell your freedom and your faith to scum.
My recent statement about willingness to buy Kavkasia or Maestro was misunderstood by some people.
I do not want to buy journalists, but to release them from that insulting atmosphere, which is restricting their creative independence in which they have to work today.
The goal of my statement addressed to mass media was to prove to the society that these pseudo opposition TV channels are actually controlled by Saakashvili and without his confirmation and permission the patrons of these televisions cannot make any decisions. I achieved my goal – the heads of these organizations have actually confirmed by their comments [in which they strongly slammed Ivanishvili and refused to sell their TV stations] that Saakashvili is the real owner of their organizations.
Along with pseudo-opposition, it will be expedient if we talk about that harmful influence of pseudo-impartiality, which pseudo-impartial people exert on public life.
Today, when a machine of lies is working at its full scale with the purpose of brainwashing and depicting faked virtual pseudo-reality as a reality, it is difficult to distinguish, who is telling a lie and who is telling a truth! With the efforts of the government, a multiple and mobile groups of so called experts, political commentators, analysts, sociologists has been set up, which voice plot written by the authorities, portraying black as white and vice versa.
We listen to these people every day on TV, we read their letters, interviews, which aim not at depicting the truth, but at stifling the truth and obviously, it deprives the people of an opportunity to make a right choice and make right conclusions.
A team of pseudo-impartial people is so diverse, it will take us long to list all of them; still, I will focus my attention on some of the most ‘distinguished’ ones.
First of all, I want to name [a political and media commentator] Ia Antadze, an obviously talented woman, good analyst, who, I suspect, sometimes serves the government’s interests very skillfully and covertly.
I can give a lot of examples confirming it, but this time I will focus on one of them.
Quite recently Ia Antadze described me without any arguments as a pro-Russian force, and Saakashvili – as an apologetic of pro-western liberal values.
Ok, I will not take offence at whatever Ia Antadze calls me, but how can one see liberalism and pro-western orientation in Saakashvili, who established an authoritarian regime in Georgia? When you have a reputation, when the society knows you as a highly skilled and honest journalist and when you make such conclusions, such action is already equal to a crime.
For example, [foreign policy commentator] Soso Tsintsadze’s primitive and obscure remarks are less harmful; they are so weak and unilateral that you can even neglect them. But when such a clever person with analytical skills, like [political commentator] Ramaz Sakvarelidze, demonstrates his inclination towards playing with double standards, it is already alarming. Recently I listened to the debate between Ramaz Sakvarelidze and Paata Zakareishvili [of the Republican Party]. Undoubtedly, Paata Zakareishvili is an intellectual and far-sighted politician, emotional person and was expressing his opinions during the program quite emotionally. Sakvarelidze was calming him down – ‘Do not be so nervous, do not be afraid, you are visiting a doctor’ – he repeated this phrase twice that looks like hooliganism rather than a behavior by intellectual.
Ramaz Sakvarelidze, who was thrown into ecstasies, even said that the opposition and authorities should be treated equally, that prompted Zakareishvili to give an adequate response. Probably, our society is really ill from so many lies, so many psychological pressure and influence; it can only be treated with the truth, instead of cynicism and well-packed lie.
Today it is time for the great truth!
If we want to help our country out of this semi-mortal condition and shock, first and foremost, we should tell the truth and we should call everything with its real name.
I want to directly state that I have no complaints towards the governing team and ideologists serving to Saakashvili, since everything regarding them is clear, and so their choice and their position stands clear and visible.
Everyone has the right to support whoever they like as a leader and a politician. These people like Saakashvili, he satisfies their political tastes, and as the saying goes, tastes are not argued. Although in my personal opinion, it’s exactly the taste which is the primary subject of arguments and quarrels. [Ruling party lawmakers] Davit Darchiashvili, Nugzar Tsiklauri, Akaki Minashvili, Khatuna Ochiauri, Zurab Melikishvili, Paliko [Pavle] Kublashvili are all distinctive ideologists of the government.
Although this ideology often grows into demagogy, and is absolutely unacceptable for me, it is, as I said, their choice. Many supported Saakashvili in the past – some of them have reviewed their position with a critical eye and quit his [Saakashvili’s] team in time, others stayed and are still with him.
I understand the state in which these people are. Some may wnat to quit the governing team from the bottom of their heart, but it’s not a decision which can be made easily.
They are hostages of once made wrong decision, and I look at them with pity. I don’t harbor aggression towards them – even more, if some of them change their position and political convictions, I do not rule out cooperation with them.
I equate three TV companies with the government: the Georgian Public Broardcaster, Rustavi 2 and Imedi – and what I’ve said above was also referred their employees. Who works and who used to work with Saakashvili, or who works or used to work in the government structure – that’s not criteria for me based on which persons should be assessed. That’s not what matters; what matters is a person realizing their mistakes before it’s not too late, and taking a step towards doing a good deed.
As I said already, Georgia does not have people to lose and to cast away.
Since the governing team was mentioned, I’d like to address Merabishvili, whom I know as a good manager, good organizer and a person with many positive traits.
Merabishvili managed, through much diligence, to create a functional system in the form of the Ministry of Internal Affairs. The Patrol Police or other power-wielding structures, if stripped of their punishing functions, could play a quite useful role for society. Merabishvili often impressed me with his competence in economical affairs, although I in return have many times surprised him too when solving matters far from my profession.
From quite a number of cases, I’d like to remind just one to Vano Merabishvili. Vano, do you remember when, after much pleading, Saakashvili managed to convince me to approach Bokeria and make him change his mind to take a very risky and fatal for the country step?
It was a year and a half before the August 2008. The very same scenario was being discussed at the time which you put into action in August 2008. Bokeria was insistently demanding moving the Georgian forces into Samachablo [breakaway South Ossetia], hoping the Russian forces would have stranded aside and let the Georgian army into Tskhinvali without a fight.
I did manage to convince Bokeria that making that move was unacceptable.
Along with Saakashvili, you were also attending that meeting, and I remember how impressed you were with me. I managed to prove to Bokeria that what he was planning to do was nothing but pure provocation and adventure. Bokeria settled down, but Saakashvili suddenly asked: - "what if the Russians themselves offer us to do that? What then?”
“Unless the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs makes an official statement, even if they give you these territories as a present, don’t take it,” – I warned them.
I managed to temporarily halt that fatal decision from being made, but you still went through with that scenario later on, and the results we got in August 2008 are quite clear.
My dear Vano, I’d like to remind you of one more story before I finish.
Approximately a year after the Rose Revolution, Saakashvili arrived in Bobokvati [on the Black Sea coast in Adjara] for a special meeting with me (I was in Ureki at that time), and he told me that he wanted to sack Merabishvili.
I spared no efforts to convince Saakashvili against dismissing you. I convinced him that you’re an honest man, a smart organizer and a watchful manager.
Saakashvili believed me then, and he didn’t regret it, which was unarguably due to you. I’ve never given him bad advice, neither to him, nor to you. And now I’d like to give you another advice – advise to Saakashvili to step down timely.
Saakashvili is tired and exhausted, and he’s leading himself and the country towards an abyss, with you and your mentor [Justice Minister Zurab] Adeishvili do a disservice him by helping him to keep the power.
This is not a solution; this can not go on forever and one day this attempt of holding grip on power through forceful means may end in a huge catastrophe.
Advise him to step down! This is the only chance he has to continue living in his country. If Saakashvili doesn’t heed your advice, step down yourself, since that is the best solution for you – by doing so you will remain respected and dignified person in Georgia.
Meanwhile, I’d like to share a secret with you, Vano.
I’m aware that the entire government is surprised to hear of my decision to enter politics this late [from the written statement released to the press]. The fact is, I took advantage of the “free services” from an agent you recruited in my organization. I was telling him time after time that I’d never go even near to politics, that it was not interesting to me and that I was to leave Georgia soon anyway. Your agent believed what I said and relayed it to you, convincing you that possibility of me going into politics was out of the question. And so you were calm and joyful; that’s why my statement was shocking and devastating to you.
You recruited that agent not now, but three years ago – when the relationship between us was yet normal.
That is what you are – you are incapable of trust and love.
Your agent doesn’t know that he has been uncovered. He’ll find out today, from newspapers.
He’s good in finances, so take him and make good use of him.
I am talking about the president of the Cartu Group, Giga Chrdileli.
Finding this out will be a blow for you, but I warn you: your every attempt at weaving a web of spies around me will fail just like this one.
Two or three months after the war in August 2008 was lost, when great chaos was threatening the country, I sent a letter to Saakashvili myself, advising him to step down.
“The Georgian people are generous and they will forgive you mistakes. Stepping down will allow you to not only continue living in your country, but to continue your political career, as well,” – I wrote to him.
Misha [refereeing to Saakashvili], you are the one who came to power and swore on the grave of [the King David] the Builder [who reunited Georgia in the twelfth century], promising Georgia that you were aiming to be the David the Builder, but instead, time has passed and you’re more like Brezhnev, getting close to the Brezhnev’s era.
A proof of that is your recent meeting with locals in Telavi [in the eastern region of Kakheti], where hired applauders were posing as Kakhetians and chanting “Misha! Misha!”
You and your group have even touched the holiest Church, and put a venerable Patriarch [of the Georgian Orthodox Church Ilia II], this wise man, into an extremely difficult position.
Instead of helping the Patriarch, you started searching for weak-willed people in the church, bribing and recruiting them.
Stop, Misha, you’re standing at the edge of an abyss, stop!
I have never advised you out of my own interests, and now, too, I give you an advise not for mine but for your own good – step down!
With which political forces I’ll cooperate
First of all I’d like to mention the Republican Party, as one of the most experienced and battle-worn parties, with a long track record of politics, intellectual resources and clearly defined political leaders.
Our Georgia-Free Democrats are a promising, modern and interesting political organization – and their leader, Irakli Alasania, is an important and trustworthy figure in today’s Georgia.
Unlike the Republicans, I have no questions to Irakli Alasania and his party.
It’s obvious that in this letter I won’t manage to list every politician and organization I intend to cooperate with.
In the near future we will set everything in place and the list other potential partners.
I really would cooperate with the Republican Party with pleasure, but to my great surprise, after my [previous] statement several members of the party made overly aggressive comments regarding me. I’d like to ask one of the founders of the Republican Party, Levan Berdzenishvili: In the time when the government attacked us through Aria media holding, throwing mud at us, Levan Berdzenishvili took a hesitant position saying that he knew where Ivanishvili got his money from asking not to let him start talking about it.
We responded immediately and asked for clarifications, but you evaded an answer.
If you really know something specific, than step forward and openly, publicly tell me, or else stop with these nonsensical statements Mr. Levan [Berdzenishvili] if you know anything concrete then say it publicly and stop empty statements.
I apologize, but I’d also like to ask one common question to all the parties: based on what sources do you exist, and where do you get the funds needed to keep the parties running, if you have any?
Relying on generous friendship not enough – I will not accept this as an argument! The answer to this question is critically important to me, and there will be no cooperation before I get clear answer on that.
And lastly, once again about myself…
I don’t want the society to have an impression of me being a sinless lamb, judging others and preaching moral.
No, this is not so, I’ve made many mistakes and many errors, and I’ve openly admitted them and judged myself.
We are all citizens of this country with equal rights and I have never, I repeat, never thought that I was superior to anyone, even the poor, because of my wealth.
Neither have I thought that I’m doing more for this country than a simple peasant who takes care of his vineyard; a mason who lays bricks on bricks, a poet who writes rhymes, an athlete in sports.
The most important is to show maximum of our ability and put our capabilities in service the national deed.
I’ll repeat what I said in the beginning of the letter: I wanted to go away from here, explaining my decision by pointing out that by entering into politics I was dismissing my own binding standard of never coming to politics… My vision of charitable activity was totally being destroyed by going into politics.
But after a long inner struggle I reached a conclusion that I was wrong; which was only a step away from admitting that some of the things I’ve done up until now were mistakes.
I am going to rectify this mistake and make life easier for every Georgian through a completely new approach oriented on future perspectives.
It was a mistake, I’d even say a mistake equal to treachery, when I decided to leave Georgia. Leaving is one thing, but how would you return, knowing that you left your country when it was very desperate? Will there even be a country when you return?
Like I said, my closest persons convinced me that I was wrong. Although it also must be said that my family, like other Georgian families, were talking in whispers with each other for the last two years, but by mutual support and hope, we defeated fear.
The time for fear and whispers is gone – now is the time to speak up loudly, so that the whole Georgia and the entire world hear us, so that the whole Georgia and the world hear out truth.
Togather we must make the “Georgian dream” come true – this is united, strong and just Georgia.