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Signs of Ivanishvili’s influence

By Messenger Staff
Thursday, April 14
“There is ineffective pluralism in Georgia,” the project director of the Freedom House annual report 'Countries in Transition', Nate Shenken, told the Georgian Bureau of Voice of America .

In his interview, Nate Shenken talked about the Freedom House annual report for 2016.

He believes that the main threat to the Georgian elections is severe polarization. According to him, the forces of the Georgian political system are trying to demonize each other, as a result of which, cooperation or constructive criticism becomes impossible.

"As we have seen in the region and other European countries, it could contribute to the strengthening of non-liberal parties that do not respect democratic principles and question the values of democracy, tolerance and acceptance of different view.

“I am not saying that such forces will be the main players, but they can gain more support and influence. We will closely follow this process," said Nate Shenken.

He thinks that the main problem facing Georgian democracy is the politicization of the judiciary.

When asked about “Ivanishvili’s informal ruling” mentioned in the report, the project director said:

“It is difficult to exactly measure the influence of the billionaire standing behind the scenes on the government’s decisions, but we are observing developments and see clear signs of his influence. Ivanishvili definitely has influence on the system,” he said. The recent survey by the National Democratic Institute also revealed that many in Georgia believe billionaire Ivanishvili has an influence on political processes in Georgia.

It was Ivansihvili’s high ratings that ended the United National Movement party's nine-year rule in October 2012.

The political parties he gathered for the parliamentary race initially were thought to have no chance against Saakashvili’s United National Movement (UNM) party.

Ivanishvili, who was initially only known for his philanthropic activities, revealed his interest in Georgian politics prior to the 2012 parliamentary elections and then kept his bizarre promise of leaving the Prime Minister’s post one year after winning the elections.

He stated then he wanted to move to the civil sector to empower the field and aid the government from the sidelines.

However, as it appears he still influences government actions but not from the civil sector.

Running the state from backstage will not bring any positive results to any true democracy.