Bidzina Ivanishvili speaking at a press conference on November 1. Photo: Guram Muradov/Civil.ge
Billionaire-turned-politician, Bidzina Ivanishvili, said on November 17 that he would submit an appeal to President Saakashvili with a request to restore his Georgian citizenship.
Speaking at a news conference for media sources based in the Georgian regions, Ivanishvili said that he would submit such formal appeal to the president’s office either on Friday or next week at the latest.
According to the law the President should decide whether to grant Ivanishvili the Georgian citizenship or not within three months after submission of the application.
According to the law, reasons for refusal to grant the Georgian citizenship are if a person “has committed an international crime against peace and humanity”; “has taken part in a crime against the state” or if granting of a citizenship would be “inexpedient” from the point of view of state and public security.
Initially Ivanishvili and his team were reluctant to appeal the President for restoration of his citizenship, instead deciding to appeal the court with a request to annul President Saakashvili’s October 11 decree through which Ivanishvili was stripped of his citizenship.
Speaking at the news conference on November 17, Ivanishvili acknowledged that his decision to submit an application for citizenship to the president’s office was to some extent in conflict with the court case into the same issue. He, however, said that he decided to appeal the President because the court would most likely “drag out” the proceedings.
He said that he hopes his Georgian citizenship would be restored through double pressure on the Georgian authorities – from the international community on the one hand and from the Georgian people on the other hand.
Without having the Georgian citizenship Ivanishvili has no right to personally either establish or finance a political party. He, however, said that even if the President refuses to restore his citizenship it won’t stop him from political activities. Earlier Ivanishvili said that he was considering putting his 19-year-old son as a nominal leader of his planned party that would help him to bypass legal hurdles.
President Saakashvili granted Ivanishvili Georgian citizenship in 2004 saying in his presidential order that the move was in the “state’s interests”. At the time Ivanishvili also had Russian passport. But several years later Ivanishvili also became a citizen of France, which became a reason for revoking his Georgian citizenship. The Georgian authorities said they only learnt about Ivanishvili’s French citizenship from the billionaire’s October 7 statement in which he said that he would revoke his French and Russian citizenships.
After he lost his Georgian citizenship, Ivanishvili launched procedures required for revoking his Russian citizenship, but decided to retain his French passport. On November 17 Ivanishvili said that currently he only had French passport.