Billionaire-turned-politician, Bidzina Ivanishvili, said that his decision to go into politics created “new reality”, which the authorities were failing to adequately realize and were instead responding with “shortsighted” reactions including such as stripping him of Georgian citizenship.
In his second interview before a TV camera, Ivanishvili also said that he went into politics “unprepared”, which was now “to some extent” delaying the process of forming his political team. “But I will manage to tackle it,” he said.
Interview with Ivanishvili was recorded by a freelance journalist and dean of the Tbilisi-based Caucasus School of Media, Nino Zhizhilashvili, on October 23 and was made available for media sources on Tuesday.
Ivanishvili says, that his announcement of going into politics “frightened” authorities and prompted them to take “shortsighted” decision to strip him of his Georgian citizenship. He said he was sure, that this decision was taken personally by President Saakashvili hastily without any thorough consideration.
Ivanishvili also claimed that this decision to strip him of Georgian citizenship would eventually turn into his advantage; when asked how he was going to make it into his advantage, because without citizenship he can neither form nor fund a political party, Ivanishvili responded: “If they exclude me from elections this way, elections will not be legitimate.”
“Things are no longer like they were previously; I think we are now facing a new reality and they [the authorities] fail to take it into consideration,” Ivanishvili added.
When Ivanishvili was asked about the authorities’ allegations that he was “Putin’s project”, he responded with a bit of irritation: “You know what? Leave this issue alone. This issue is pulled out of thin air… I have not been in Russia for nine years. My way of life is clear for Georgians… Please ask me something more interesting.”
When the interviewer told him that this question was asked by at least one part of the society, Ivanishvili responded: “Not the society, but Saakashvili and his government ask this question, because they have nothing else to say and they have no arguments against [me]… I do not consider you to be their [authorities’] satellite, that’s why I am meeting you, so please leave this issue alone… I do not think that there is such a question in the society, they [the authorities] have such questions.”
Ivanishvili then apologized to the interviewer telling her: “I am not angry at you, I am angry at them [the authorities].”
In the same interview Ivanishvili says that initially he and his wife wanted to create a museum of Impressionism and contemporary art, but later had to change his mind as it required investment of at least USD 10 billion; he said, now he was mostly focusing on creating museum of contemporary art. Showing to the interviewer works of Damien Hirst, Roy Lichtenstein, Anish Kapoor and Gilbert & George in his headquarters, Ivanishvili said that now he was going to sell his collection of Impressionists paintings in order to then buy works of contemporary artists for the planned museum.
When Ivanishvili was asked whether his charitable activities in respect of restoring and building churches were related to his faith, he immediately responded: “I am Christian; that’s my culture… I respect our culture and our faith, which saved our country through it its history.”
He also addressed his remarks made over six years ago in his interview with the Russian business daily Vedomosti, when he said: “I am a materialist, I don’t believe life after death.” Ivanishvili said that his opponents wanted to portray him based on these remarks as atheist. “No one can say that I am an atheist,” he said. He, however, also reiterated his previous remarks made in the interview with Vedomosti, by saying: “Yes, I have doubts and I do not retract what I have said at the time.”