Opposition coalition, Georgian Dream, led by Bidzina Ivanishvili, alleged on March 16, that the authorities were preparing ground for saying no to granting Ivanishvili Georgian citizenship depriving him the right to run in the October parliamentary elections.
Ivanishvili tries to regain his Georgian citizenship through naturalization. He submitted relevant papers to the authorities on January 5, 2012. According to the law on citizenship, the authorities have to respond within three months after the application was submitted.
The Georgian Dream said in its statement on Friday, that twenty days remain before expiration of that deadline and “the authorities have no legal ground to refuse Ivanishvili in granting Georgian citizenship.”
“For that reason, through imposing large amount of administrative fines and through revealing so called wrongdoings [in Ivanishvili’s actions], the authorities are trying to artificially create ground for presenting Bidzina Ivanishvili as a threat to the state and public security, consequently to refuse to grant him Georgian citizenship,” the Georgian Dream said.
According to the law, reasons for refusal for granting 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.
The state audit agency, Chamber of Control, which is also in charge of monitoring political finances, has already imposed total of GEL 3.9 million (about USD 2.4 million) fine in three separate cases on Ivanishvili’s movement or other entities and individuals affiliated with the billionaire politician.
In addition, the state audit agency said on March 15 that it was examining the case involving GEL 406,525 provided to members of the Georgian Dream public movement in salaries directly by Ivanishvili, who is French citizen. The Georgian Dream said this latest accusation, like the previous ones, was “illegality” on the part of the state audit agency and potentially part of the authorities’ plot to pave way for “an eventual one huge injustice” involving refusal to grant Ivanishvili Georgian citizenship.
“Although the authorities spare no efforts to not let Bidzina Ivanishvili run in the elections, political coalition Georgian Dream will accomplish deed it has started and win the parliamentary elections,” the Ivanishvili-led opposition coalition said.
Ivanishvili said in January he was sure he would regain his Georgian citizenship allowing him to personally establish and lead a political party, but if not he was considering as a plan B that his wife, Ekaterine Khvedelidze, would do that on his behalf. Khvedelidze, who was stripped of her Georgian citizenship together with Ivanishvili last October, unlike her husband regained the citizenship through court ruling in late December.
On March 15, Ivanishvili and two other leaders of his coalition, Irakli Alasania and Davit Usupashvili, met with representatives of Tbilisi-based foreign diplomatic mission and urged them to react on “intimidation” of opposition activists in the regions.
Alasania, the leader of Our Georgia-Free Democrats party, has claimed at that meeting that the authorities were setting up “paramilitary groups” in western Georgia, suggesting that President Saakashvili was “preparing for the civil war and confrontation”.
“I want to emphasize your attention on what’s happening in western Georgia; why the paramilitary groups are formed? Who’s arming them?” Alasania said in remarks made in English. “This precisely leads to believe that Saakashvili is not preparing grounds for fair and free election; he’s preparing grounds to have official execution of political opposition, because we are ‘the enemies of the state’, because we are ‘controlled by the Kremlin’,” Alasania said, adding that Saakashvili recent rhetoric “indicates that he is preparing for the civil war and confrontation.”
“This is not an exaggeration,” he continued at the meeting with diplomats. “Without your specific interference, without your help… it's gonna be hard to prevent confrontation.”
“Before it’s not too late… I am asking you to be more active, to be proactive in regions… Your reaction has to be very strong, solid. All we are asking is to have really fair battlefield and playing field for competitive elections.”
“We are getting to the critical point; your involvement is absolutely necessary,” he said, claiming that the authorities were setting up groups, including within the Ministry of Defense, “specifically tasked to target opposition and our parties”.
“Before it’s not too late and before we gonna have another Homs [a war-battered city in Syria] in Zugdidi [a town in western Georgian region of Samegrelo] or some other places, I’m begging you, please, start reacting; we can still change these dramatic events, which we will face if this go[es] on before October”, when the parliamentary elections are scheduled, Alasania said.