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Open Letter to Bidzina Ivanishvili

Thursday, November 12
November 11, 2015

Dear Mr. Ivanishvili,

I read with great amazement your interview of November 10 in which you deny that businesses are being pressured and harassed by the financial bodies and in which you claim that I had many suspicious deals with the United National Movement when in power and that I have the nostalgia of Saakashvili and Merabishvili.

May I remind you of some historical facts: I was the ONLY businessman in Georgia to fight against harassment of businesses by the Financial Police under the Saakashvili administration and I paid a very hefty price for that at a time you were the number one supporter of this administration and its major financier.

Your accusations remind me that of Arab rulers who systematically accuse those who criticize their policies of being “agents of Israel”.

When I was a teenager my late father had me take a pledge to never join any political party; in summer 2012 when you were personally attacked in your businesses by the previous government and deprived of many of your assets I felt so angry and so frustrated that I was about to break my pledge to my father and join the Georgian Dream as a gesture of solidarity with you.

The only reason I did not join your party was because of my function as chair of the International Chamber of Commerce that is an apolitical organization; however I did vote for your party in October 2012 and if your memory is not faltering you will surely remember that I did organize on October 5th 2012 your first meeting with the business community; I will remind you of your statements to businesses during this particular meeting and I quote you:

“I vow that my government would provide equal conditions for all the businesses and would eradicate practice of pressuring businesses by the state.

“You should immediately set off alarm bells if a government official exerts pressure on you”.

“I guarantee that no one will dare to exert pressure on businesses and the very first case of such pressure will be strictly punished. But you too should not yield to [pressure] and you should speak out in order to make it easier for us to find out [circumstances]… Speak out and let us know if there is a problem so that we can react instantly,”

“Government should be kept at distance from the business. You have to disturb the government if legislation is wrong, initiative should be coming from you and not vice versa,”

“As soon as someone from the government starts trying to befriend you, you should start shouting out loud: ‘I’m raped’… and you should start ringing alarm bells as soon as someone from the government starts offering ‘help’,”.

Dear Mr. Ivanishvili, we have followed your instructions word by word and for three years we have set off all kind of alarm bells, we have spoken out to make it easier for you to find out, we haven’t yielded to pressure and we have disturbed the government when the legislation was wrong, we have shouted “we are raped” hundreds of times however unfortunately it all fell in deaf people’ ears as your words and promises had died with the sunset of October 5th 2012.

What struck me as well very much in your interview of yesterday is your statement that international society, authoritative organizations, diplomats, foreign media and foreign ambassadors to Georgia have all been misled; so in your own thinking everyone is wrong including eighty nine percent of the Georgian population but your ruling coalition is right!

Dear Mr. Ivanishvili, as long as you are in denial of the reality the situation in Georgia will worsen and your ratings will fall even further; people will not only have the nostalgia of Saakashvili and Merabishvili but also the nostalgia of Shevardnadze and of the Soviet Union!

My advice to you is to listen attentively to those who are criticizing you instead of listening to those who are polishing your shoes! You will then better understand what is really happening in Georgia, why the economy is doing so badly and why the government that you have appointed is in free fall.

Best wishes,
Fady Asly
Chairman, ICC-Georgia