Bidzina Ivanishvili continues to pursue his goal of reclaiming his Georgian citizenship, but accepts that he might have to run as a Frenchman under a constitutional change that seems set to be passed. (Photo: Mari Nikuradze.)

TBILISI, DFWatch – Georgian billionaire Bidzina Ivanishvili continues his struggle to be allowed to stand for election for parliament in October.

His lawyers say a recently proposed constitutional change to allow non-Georgians to hold office has not made the businessman drop his quest to get back his Georgian citizenship, but if it comes to it, he will make use of the constitutional change and run for election as a citizen of France.

His lawyers say the new constitutional changes even grants him more rights than if he gets back his Georgian citizenship.

President Mikheil Saakashvili revoked Ivanishvili’s citizenship in October 2011, four days after the businessman had announced that he was becoming a politician and setting up his own party. In 2004, the same president granted him Georgian citizenship for special merits to the country.

Ivanishvili has re-applied on the same grounds, and can cite an additonal seven years role in financing the country’s reforms, but the application was rejected by the civil registry and is awaiting the president’s final word. If negative, they will take the decision to court. It is already past the deadline, and the businessman’s legal team is beginning to think that no answer is forthcoming from Saakashvili.

“It seems, the president is not going to make a final decision about Ministry of Justice’s Civil Registry’s conclusion at all. It means the government considered the Civil Registry’s conclusion as final, which is illegal,” Alexandre Baramidze, another Ivanishvili lawyer said today at a press conference in Tbilisi Marriot Hotel.

The Civil Registry’s conclusion suggested that should Ivanishvili apply to the president for double citizenship as a French citizen, however lawyers refused this way, because in this case the president has chosen whether to grant citizenship. In case of naturalization, the president is obliged to grant citizenship. According to the lawyers, the only grounds for denial is if the person is internationally wanted, a terrorist or if granting him citizenship poses a danger to people.

“Bidzina Ivanishvili was saying that he would for sure become Georgian citizen and would attend the founding congress of the new party as a Georgian citizen. Being a Georgian citizen was an opportunity to realize political rights for him, but now he got what he didn’t ask for and more. He was ready to give away his French passport. Today, he is told ‘have your French passport in your pocket, remain a French citizen and this way do what you wanted to do.’ This means that Bidzina Ivanishvili remains in a political-legal connection with France,” Kbilashvili said today.