The authorities’ “illegal” and “politically-motivated” decision not to grant Bidzina Ivanishvili Georgian citizenship through naturalization will not derail his opposition coalition Georgian Dream’s electoral plans, Maia Panjikidze, a spokesperson for the Ivanishvili-led coalition said on April 4.
The Civil Registry Agency of the Ministry of Justice said on April 4, that Ivanishvili was not eligible to obtain Georgian citizenship through naturalization process, which he was requesting since January 5; the agency said, Ivanishvili, as a French national, should instead seek regaining his Georgian passport through dual-citizenship process.
“This decision is based on lies and illegality,” Ivanishvili’s spokesperson said. “Stripping him of citizenship was in itself a politically-motivated decision, because he [Saakashvili] was afraid of a strong political opponent, the same is about this recent decision, because Saakashvili knows very well the public stance and knows real ratings.”
“Nothing will change in our plans, he stays the leader of [opposition Georgian Dream] coalition and his coalition will be called Bidzina Ivanishvili-Georgian Dream and he will be a prime ministerial candidate of this coalition; this coalition will definitely win in the October elections,” Maia Panjikidze added.
She also said that Ivanishvili would speak about the details at a news conference on April 5.
If Ivanishvili decides to re-apply for the Georgian citizenship through a process indicated by the Civil Registry Agency - the dual-citizenship process, the authorities will again have three months to respond.
Without Georgian citizenship Ivanishvili has no right to establish a political party or to run in the parliamentary elections this October. He already established a public movement (formally not a political party) Georgian Dream and set up a coalition with three other opposition parties.
A senior ruling party lawmaker, Giorgi Gabashvili, said that the Civil Registry Agency’s decision was stemming from purely legal-related issues, which had nothing to do with politics. From the political point of view, MP Gabashvili continued, Ivanishvili had and still has an opportunity to continue political activities.
MP Giorgi Targamadze, leader of Christian-Democratic Movement and of a small parliamentary minority group, said “no one will believe” the ruling party lawmakers’ statements that the Civil Registry Agency’s decision was only about legal matters.
“Of course politics are involved,” MP Targamadze said. “We believe that Ivanishvili should have the Georgian citizenship, which is also important for competitive electoral environment.”
He said that the dispute could be resolved through constitutional amendment designed specifically for Ivanishvili. According to MP Targamadze’s proposal a constitutional amendment should allow a citizen of EU-member state, who was born in Georgia and who has lived in Georgia for recent ten years, to run in the elections.