Georgian bans billionaire from forming party

Updated: 2011-10-12 12:00


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TBILISI - The civil registry agency under the Georgian Justice Ministry Tuesday clarified Bidzina Ivanishvili's citizenship in a statement, which actually deprived the billionaire's right to launch a political party or finance one in the South Caucasus country.

The registry agency said Ivanishvili did receive his Georgian citizenship on July 22 in 2004, but his Georgian citizenship was deprived of in accordance with the country's legislation after he had been granted the citizenship of the Republic of France later that same year.

According to the existing Georgian constitution, a person with dual citizenship cannot serve as Georgia's president, prime minister, parliamentary speaker or lawmaker.

The same constitution enables the state to impose restrictions on political activities of those without Georgian citizenship.

One of Georgia's opposition parties, Georgian Way, on Tuesday challenged the civil registry agency statement, saying it had found Ivanishvili on Georgia's 2010 voters' list, including his date of birth and current address.

"The civil registry agency issued ID card on his name on March 7 of 2006 and the person was given right to take part in the 2010 election," the opposition party said in a statement Tuesday.

Some members of parliament representing the ruling United National Movement party said Tuesday that the billionaire philanthropist was trying "to buy Georgia's future" for Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin.

The Frobes-list tycoon made headlines in Georgia in the past few days after he had announced his intention to form a political party to run for next year's parliamentary elections in Georgia.

"There will never be Russian money in the Georgian politics," said Pavle Kublashvili, a parliament member of the ruling party who chairs the parliamentary committee for legal affairs.

"No politics will ever be made in Georgia with money lent or granted by (Vladimir) Putin. We should spare no effort in order to protect the Georgian politics from the Russian money," he added.

He also proposed the Georgian political parties should be able to get fundings from the state budget and they should not be tied to the Russian financing.

Seventeen of Georgia's political parties are eligible to get state financing thanks to their capacity to get past the 4-percent threshold (getting 4-percent votes from among the total ballots) in the parliamentary elections. The state budget has set aside 5.9 million Georgian laris ($ 3.575 million) as funding for those 17 parties.

The ruling party is to get 1.95 million ($ 1.18 million) of the funding for next year's elections thanks to its share of the parliamentary seats the party won in the last elections.

The Christian-Democratic Movement party is to get the second largest share of funding -- 767,300 laris ($ 465,030 ).

Nugzar Tsiklauri, another ruling party lawmaker, said on Tuesday that Russia "wants to buy Georgia's future with the money of Russian oligarch Bidzina Ivanishvili.

"Our response is that Georgia's freedom and Georgia's democracy and the choice of the Georgian people is not for sale," the legislator added.