PM hails “charity” of ruling party founder, role in changing “dictatorial regime” at Global Security Forum

Georgian Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili on Tuesday answered questions at the panel discussion of the Global Security Forum in Bratislava. Photo: Government press office, 30 May 2023 - 14:55, Tbilisi,Georgia

Georgian Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili on Tuesday hailed charity initiatives by Bidzina Ivanishvili, the founder of the ruling Georgian Dream party and the former PM of the country, and his role in replacing the “brutal, dictatorial regime” of the imprisoned former President Mikheil Saakashvili in 2012, in comments at the Global Security Forum in Bratislava. 

At a panel discussion for the event, Garibashvili was responding to a question on the domestic deoligarchisation bill - designed to address one of the 12 conditions outlined by the European Union last year for granting its membership candidate status to Georgia - amid demands by some opposition groups in the country for Ivanishvili to be included in the list of oligarchs for his alleged influence on the Government.

In his reply, the PM said former officials in the UNM Government were oligarchs and not Ivanishvili, and highlighted the example of David Kezerashvili, the former UNM Defence Minister who was this year convicted in absentia by domestic courts for embezzlement of state funds during his time in office, and was also linked to an international fraud scheme in an investigative report by the British Public Broadcaster in April. 

Garibashvili also said the ruling party had used Ukrainian legislation to draft its own deoligarchisation bill, which was also forwarded to the Venice Commission of the Council of Europe for opinion. 

I think we are going in the right direction. Nevertheless, we have also heard some criticism that Georgia does not need this law - [but] why we do not need it, I do not understand”, Garibashvili said, adding when adopted such a law would “make things clear” and “demystify this issue and these allegations [against Ivanishvili]”. 

Ivanishvili entered politics for the second time, after quitting in 2013, in 2018 and left again in 2021. Photo: Georgian Dream press office. 

He stressed it was Ivanishvili’s Georgian Dream coalition that in 2012 replaced the “brutal, dictatorial regime of Saakashvili”, which he said carried “no signs of democracy” and saw people “tortured, raped, killed in prisons [and] on the streets, and more than 300,000 people were tried”. 

There was no free media, no real justice, no rule of law. [The Georgian Dream Government] has made dramatic changes over the past decade, and the change is huge”, the Government head said. 

Ivanishvili entered and left Georgian politics twice - most recently in 2021 - since the Georgian Dream took office in 2012.