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Ivanishvili: Russian Occupation Provoked by Government

By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Thursday, October 20
Reuters released a new portion of its interview with Bidzina Ivanishvili, recorded last week, on October 19. As Ivanishvili claims Tbilisi will have to mend relations with Moscow with the help of the US and the EU, despite the fact that 20% of Georgia’s territory is occupied by Russia.

“Although Saakashvili’s reckless actions were met with even bigger recklessness by Russia, which carried out terrible aggression during the August events and actually 20% of Georgia’s territory is today occupied, we will have to sort out [relations] with Russia – we won’t be able to avoid it – and I hope that the US and Europe will take an appropriate position,” Ivanishvili said.

He also said that Georgia “should manage to find its own place in global politics” and for that purpose, he said, he had already started to work with a group of Georgian analysts.

“We are working on security issues as well as, on forming a general strategy of development for Georgia. And together with them [expert groups] I will be able to find an optimal way for Georgia's development in global politics, internal policies and economic development,” Ivanishvili said.

He said there “are many professionals” working in the government ministries, including in mid-level positions and although some reorganization might take place he was not going “to crash and destroy” ministries after coming into power. Ivanishvili says that there “is a probability of minimum 90% that we will enter parliament with an absolute majority.”

“Of course the majority of them [employees of state structures] will keep their positions and jobs. I am not going to crash and destroy the ministries. Some reorganization will take place but I think the absolute majority will keep their positions,” Ivanishvili said.

Despite Ivanishvili’s statements that Georgia is being occupied by the Russians and that his course is pro-western, the Georgian authorities claim that “Ivanaishvili is either naive or has been bought by the Russians.” According to the majority representative, Goka Gabashvili, there are several factors indicating Ivanishvili’s connection with the Russians, however Gabashvili named just one of these: “he accumulated his property in our enemy state Russia and gives an interview where he does not state that Georgia's territories are being occupied, but instead he blames the Georgian authorities for the 2008 August war."

Fellow majority representative , Shota Malashkhia, states that using the word “occupation“ by Ivanishvili does not clear his doubts away that the businessman is Russia-backed, “he mentioned the word occupied, however, he also stated that the Georgian authorities' actions imposed the occupation. At the same time he talks about different issues, thus it is not right to tear out just one word from the interview and discuss whether he is a Russian stooge or not.”

Analyst Mamuka Areshidze assessed Ivanishvili’s statements as “very sensible ones“ and stated that the authorities “are scared“. According to the analyst, Ivanishvili’s arrival in politics was not a “spontaneous decision and despite financial resources the businessman has international connections as one of the most serious resources.” The analyst also states that stating Ivanishvili’s pro-Russian orientation is meaningless given his political statements and the parties he is collaborating with into consideration which are pro-western. Thus, such statements from the government can only arise out of fear of Ivanishvili’s personality, the analyst said.