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Ivanishvili Public Event Apparently Blocked

By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Tuesday, November 22
The first public presentation of the civil movement named the Georgian Dream by Georgian billionaire Bidzina Ivanishvili had been planned for November 25. However, the event was postponed “due to artificial obstacles" according to Ivanishvili’s press service, on November 21.

Ivanishvili was seeking a place to hold the event where a significant number of Georgians could be present. However, as the press service of the businessman claims “from November 3 [we] have been holding negotiations with the Sports Palace and Mikheil Meskhi Stadium administrations, however, all the time we were instead offered the Grand Concert Hall."

It appears that Ivanishvili was ready to accept holding the event at the concert hall, however this attempt also failed as it was later clarified that part of the concert hall, the so-called Event Hall, was unavailable for the Georgian Dream presentation. This would mean holding the event in a small restricted area which, as the press service reports, ”is unimaginable and would create discontent in Georgian society.”

Currently, the press service says that the Sports Palace seems to be the likely arena for the event and negotiations are still ongoing, yet how successful it might be is another matter. “We want only one day in the period from November 25 to December 10 for the presentation, however we have already got a verbal refusal. The reason given was that the palace already has planned activities till January 1, however, the palace administration did not specify which year’s January 1 this is," the press service for Ivanishvili added. Ivanishvili's side is certain that such actions are deliberate and provoked by government pressure. As for the date when the event might be held this, “would be known in the next few days."

However, as the Sports Palace administration admits, “the issue has not been decided yet and Ivanishvili’s press service will get a definite response on November 22." As the director of the palace, Zurab Nakeuri states, they were addressed by the Ivanishvili team on November 19, "however we got [Ivanishvili's] letter only on November 21. We will discuss the issue and respond tomorrow." He did not deny that there was indeed a “verbal refusal“ however, he also mentioned that “I advised them to wait for an official response."

The main part of the Georgian opposition parties frequently point to pressure on Ivanishvili and mention that tension is building. The ruling party, the United National Movement, in general cast Ivanishvili as an aggressive actor stating that “pro-Russian forces will not achieve success in the country.” However, one of the majority leaders, Gigi Tsereteli, made recent statements which were quite dissimilar from this general governmental rhetoric. He stated that he is not “very aware of the details regarding Ivanishvili’s issue," however the billionaire and his lawyers should "use all legal means and appeal to the president for the restoration of his citizenship.” He also stated that though he could not make a forecast beforehand "the issue might be positively decided.” He also made a general conclusion, saying,”If a man wants to do good things for the state, he can do it even when he is not a Georgian citizen.”

The director of Elections and Political Technologies Research Centre, Kakha Kakhishvili considers that more complicated situations are expected compared to the current one and the upcoming elections “will be very difficult." According to him, the current government is not “Eduard Shevardnadze’s government,“ and fighting the current authorities would be very difficult for Ivanishvili. Yet, “Ivanishvili has a very serious opponent, which has money, administrative resources and many clever figures inside it, which plan each step and do not give the wrong legal advice. Ivanishvili would be able to split Shevardnadze’s government in five minutes, however the National Movement has strong party discipline and its splitting would be difficult.”