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Ivanishvili: Looking West or Looking North?

By Messenger Staff
Thursday, October 20
Already for the last two weeks the major issue in Georgian politics has been Bidzina Ivanishvili's decision to move into politics. From the very beginning officials accused Ivanishvili of carrying a pro Russian agenda because he has Russian and French citizenship. He was deprived of his Georgian citizenship just a week ago. The opposition Labour Party calls Ivanishvili an American stooge. Ivanishvili himself does not talk about his political orientation and promises to regulate relations with Russia.

The member of the ruling National Movement party Goka Gabashvili stated that Ivanishvili acts in Vladimir Putin’s interest. Gabashvili mentioned that he always appreciated Ivanishvili’s charitable activities but still criticized the billionaire’s political position, in particular the idea that Georgia should agree on Russia’s accession to the WTO. He also thinks it is wrong to believe that Putin will start democratic reforms in Russia and combat corruption and come closer to the west. According to Gabashvili, Georgia should not be sold for any money and the votes of Georgian citizens are not for sale.

Leader of the Labour Party Shalva Natelashvili, however, thinks that if Ivanishvili comes to power, he will lead the country into NATO and that would further disintegrate Georgia. Natelashvili thinks that the US is supporting the billionaire and wants to substitute Saakashvili for Ivanishvili. Analysts believe that the pro-Russia label attached to Ivanishvili is too simplistic an explanation from the ruling authorities. According to the analyst Gia Khukhashvili Ivanishvili is more pro western than pro Russian. For one thing, Ivanishvili named his allies and partners and these were clearly pro-western oriented politicians from the Republican Party and Irakli Alasania.

In his interview to Reuters, Ivanishvili stated that he promises to regulate relations with Russia, whoever is chosen by the Russian people as their leader. Ivanishvili wants to find a position for Georgia that would be acceptable for the US, the EU and Russia. Yet this remains vague. Ivanishvili's platform has yet to take shape. Current developments however suggest that either way, it will be a serious challenge for Ivanishvili to get in the race, as he is receiving flak from all sides.