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Anger as businessman denies funding Georgian government

By Salome Modebadze
Tuesday, May 17
The press service of Cartu Group founded by Bidzina Ivanishvili denounced the Labor Party's rally against the businessman. Tired of Shalva Natelashvili’s “absurd statements” the Cartu Group finally tried to answer the question as to why Natelashvili, the leader of the party, has been fighting against Ivanishvili for the last three years. “No one is surprised by Natelashvili’s absurd statements so far as the repertoire of their shows is still the same: they claim that Ivanishvili was strengthening the government by financing Saakashvili with USD 150 million annually,” said the statement released on May 14.

According to Natelashvili’s accusations, it was Ivanishvili’s fault that “Saakahsvili’s governance hasn’t been ruined yet”. As the Georgian businessman has 1/3 of his capital in Russia the Labor Party leader has been accused of encouraging the Russian Government to help the Georgian people destroy Ivanishvili as their main enemy, thus simplifying the process of Saakashvili’s withdrawal.

Emphasizing how controversial Natelashvili’s claims have been, Ivanishvili’s press service spoke of the much maligned elite corruption allegedly controlling most of the strategic business in Georgia. “We have asked economic experts for consultations to find out how much money Saakashvili can get from such businesses. As the experts claimed this figure can range from around 300-400 million annually,” the Cartu Group said demonstrating that the President has enough power even without Ivanishvili’s support.

Highlighting once again that they have never financed the President, Cartu Group representatives spoke of the stable cooperation between the so-called pseudo-opposition and the Government. “The current Government feels rather comfortable in such a situation as they have the pre-condition to stay in power while the real oppositional movement finds it difficult to resist,” the statement claimed.

Emphasizing that Bidzina Ivanishvili has never been a politically biased person the Cartu Group spoke of the possibilities that businessmen might support a particular political party or the entire opposition which would cause an imbalance for the Government. “Saakashvili’s governance has been trying to convince the Georgian people and the Russian Government to avoid the theoretical threat from Ivanishvili,” Cartu Group said demonstrating that Natelashvili has been “serving Saakashvili’s interests with or without consciousness.”

The Labor Party found it difficult to make serious comments about the issue. Giorgi Gugava, Political Secretary of the party, spoke of the absurdity of Cartu Group’s claims against their leader. “Accusations that Shalva Natelashvili has been carrying out the interests of the President are absurd and illogical. The only thing we have been aware of is that Bidzina Ivanishvili has been financing Saakashvili through lots of transactions,” Gugava said wishing this money were used for poor people not the President.

Akaki Minashvili, MP from the ruling United National Movement (UNM), said they wouldn’t interfere in “a dispute between the two individuals”, while Levan Vepkhvadze Deputy Parliamentary Chairman from Christian-Democrats faction said Ivanishvili had publicized his position through his statement. Confident that this step would become the catalyst for Ivanishvili’s entrance to the political arena Vepkhvadze supposed that Natelashvili’s rally had been the simple reason for Ivanishvili to share his positions. Confident that Ivanishvili can create an imbalance between the Government and pseudo-opposition, the Deputy Chairman didn’t accept the businessman’s claims of his own political power.