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Ivanishvili gives up French and Russian citizenships

By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Friday, December 30
After giving up his Russian citizenship, Georgian businessman Bidzina Ivanishvili has decided to refuse his French citizenship as well for one specific reason. The businessman has already called on official Georgian structures with the demand to grant him Georgian citizenship, and his most recent action gives him some additional rights and raises the obligations of the state regarding his case.

“I’ve already given up my Russian passport. Now I’m giving up my French citizenship as well. According to European convention, a person who gives up citizenship of any European country should not be left entirely without citizenship. I call on Georgia’s official structures to grant me Georgian citizenship as I now don’t have a passport of any country. I was born in Georgia, I live here and they don’t have any right to refuse me,” Ivanishvili said, and mentioned that France’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs will wait until he is granted Georgian citizenship, and only after will they annul his French passport.

He has also commented on new regulations approved by the Parliament the same day, specifically changes in the law on Political Unions. The billionaire states that Georgian authorities are “in agony”. The authorities want the whole of Georgia to be in jail and they want to maintain power through fear and lies, but that won’t happen,” he said.

Opposition political parties, which will have to return or spend the money donated to them from companies related to Ivanishvili in three days time, state that they will act within the frames of the law and mention that the reason for all the changes in the legislation is specifically because of the fear that Ivanishvili’s coming to power has imposed on the current government.

As majority MP Davit Darchiashvili said, “Ivanishvili’s actions have had an influence on the law and no one denies this. The Venice Commission and even NGOs acting in Georgia frequently mentioned the threat of political corruption. Giving a lot of promises to voters based on some financial abilities is a typical sign of political corruption and after his appearance and making promises such a threat became more apparent,” Darchiashvili said, and mentioned that statements made by opposition members and “some NGOs can be taken as our political opponents”, regarding the fact that there are some anti constitution articles in the legislation aimed at “just blackening the authorities and nothing more”. The MP was also asked to comment on the change in the legislation, frequently mentioned by the NGOs, referring specifically to when a voter is also punished for accepting some material means from a political party. In response, the MP said, “I have no information on such a change. In general, bribe taking is also a crime, based on the law”.

The US Embassy also made a statement regarding the changes in the legislation. Based on the statement, they are focused on the process, and they do not support any particular party or candidate. “We believe that many of these legislative changes, if coupled with successful efforts to address real and perceived irregularities in the voters’ lists, will contribute to a more competitive campaign environment for the 2012 parliamentary election”. However, at the same time the Embassy expressed regret that there was no agreement on elements of the new code that would have addressed lingering perceptions on inequality within the electoral system. “We are concerned that retroactive application of certain campaign finance provisions would reinforce existing imbalances in political competitiveness.” The Embassy has also made a recommendation to the Georgian Government to continue to work in close consultation with opposition parties and civil society to ensure that the 2012 elections are free and fair and enjoy broad credibility.

“The President is obliged to grant citizenship to a stateless person who was born in Georgia and owns real estate in the country,” lawyer Soso Baratashvili said. According to Baratashvili, Georgia has undertaken this obligation as per the international convention on stateless persons.

The lawyer explained that a stateless person applies to the President, who should then make a decision on granting citizenship within three months.

The current legislative changes have been coined “Bidzina’s code” rather than the “election code” by analyst Gia Khukhashvili. Based on him, those changes have no place in a just system and with international legal norms. “It is a phenomenom I have never heard of and is now being named “Bidzina’s code”.” He also paid attention to the “dangerous tendency” and explained that by such anti-constitution actions “the authoritarians are revealing that they are ready to do anything to protect their interests, even go so far as to execute their own citizens”.