TBILISI, DFWatch – The Appeals Court in Tbilisi will June 21 hear the appeal of Bidzina Ivanishvili, after he lost his case to reclaim his Georgian citizenship.
The court made this decision on Friday.
President Mikheil Saakashvili revoked wealthy opposition financier Bidzina Ivanishvili’s Georgian citizenship four days after the latter threw himself into the political ring by challenging the president’s legitimacy in an open letter in October 2011.
At the time, Georgian legislation didn’t allow a non-citizen to get involved in political life, but the ruling party amended the constitution so that it now allows an EU citizen born in Georgia who has lived here for the last five years — an exact description of Ivanishvili — to participate in elections and hold elected positions like prime minister.
But weary of the implications of taking the offer Ivanishvili, a French citizen, said he will continue to try to reclaim his Georgian citizenship.
In January, he applied for citizenship through naturalization, under a special provision which allows the president to grant citizenship for special merits to the country. This is the same way Ivanishvili originally obtained Georgian citizenship in 2004, on the background that the businessman has financed a number of large-scale projects in Georgia, including the construction of Trinity Cathedral in Tbilisi, and many government and charity projects.
But in April, after waiting as long as it could with answering, the Civil Registry rejected the businessman’s application as incorrect, because, in contrast to the practice in most countries, only stateless persons may become naturalized citizens in Georgia, and advised him to instead apply for double citizenship.
This is the decision now up for review in the Appeals Court, after City Court rejected the initial appeal.
Friday morning the Appeals Court held a preparatory session with the two sides present.
Lawyers for Ivanishvili said that Tbilisi City Court’s decision was unjustified, while officials representing the president noted that the shape and form of the appeal does not comply with the law’s requirements and argued that the president’s original decision to revoke the citizenship was made on a legally sound basis.