The financier Bidzina Ivanishvili has decided to go to court in order to get back his citizenship which was taken from him right after he announced he would use his considerable wealth and influence to challenge the ruling party’s grip over the country.
“We made a decision to file the lawsuit with the court against the president, and request it to repeal decree number 602 signed by him,” reads a statement from Ivanishvili’s lawyer Eka Beselia, a well-known opposition figure.
When the Georgian Civil Registry stripped the financier of his citizenship, it effectively meant that he was barred from getting involved in politics. Since taking on the job of representing him less than a week ago Beselia has vigorously challenged the legality of the decision, but until today held back from saying this would end up in court.
One of the crucial issues was whether president Saakashvili had issued a decree, and if so, when. Saturday, lawyer Eka Beselia told media they had been shown the presidential decree, and it is dated October 11. The document revokes the citizenship of Georgia’s richest and his wife and was handed to the businessman’s lawyer on October 14.
In the statement Beselia lays out the case as she sees it, explaining that the president’s action was unlawful and a violation of both the Organic Law of Georgia, which is a fundamental law much like a constitution, as well as procedural rules for administrative acts.
After holding a dual Russian Georgian citizenship for some time Bidzina Ivanishvili obtained an additional French citizenship, which was the stated reason given by the Civil Registry for terminating his Georgian citizenship.
But according to his lawyer, due to the administrative code, authorities should have waited until Ivanishvili had made his decision about how to solve the issue and whether to give up his French and Russian citizenship through the proper procedures. It was also obligatory for them to give Ivanishvili a chance to defend his rights before making an official administrative decision.
Beselia says Ivanishvili has decided to keep his French citizenship but will renounce his Russian one.
When it comes to the businessman’s wife, Ekaterine Khvedelidze, she received her Georgian citizenship on July 22, 2004 at a time when she was a citizen of both Russia and France. She has crossed the Georgian border with her French passport several times, which is confirmed by the record, Beselia claims. She thinks government had no formal reason for revoking her citizenship.
“There is no legal procedure, except for abuse of presidential powers and using illegal methods out of fear for Saakashvili, who’s afraid of Bidzina Ivanishvili as a political opponent,” Beselia claims.
The Georgian billionaire who is listed on 185th place on Forbes list of the world’s richest recently made several statements explaining the reason for launching an opposition movement and criticizing the media as well as opposition groups and commentators. He revealed several important incidents which took place a year and a half before the war in August 2008, which involved himself and several key figures in Saakashvili’s administration: Giga Bokeria and Vano Merabishvili, Internal minister.
While addressing particularly to Vano Merabishvili, he reminded him of how he had managed to change Bokeria’s mind and not send Georgian troops into Tskhinvali. Ivanishvili also claims that the director of the company Kartu Group is a spy for the Internal Ministry.
The day before he released his second statement it became known that Ivanishvili’s citizenship had been revoked.
“With this political act Saakashvili admitted that he does not respect the Constitution, norms of international law and [that he is] using illegal methods against political opponents,” Eka Beselia says.