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Russia-Based Expat Tycoon in Georgian TVs’ Spotlight
Civil Georgia, Tbilisi / 31 May.'09 / 01:49

Alexander Ebralidze, a St. Petersburg-based tycoon, who said wanted to run for Georgian presidency, has gained publicity in Georgia after receiving an extensive coverage on all three major Georgian nationwide television stations.

On May 29 Ebralidze invited correspondents from Rustavi 2 TV; Imedi TV and public TV’s First Channel in his Taleon Imperial Hotel in St. Petersburg and gave them an interview and told them that his major goal was “Georgia’s territorial integrity.”

“That is my goal; neither presidency, nor purchase of media outlets in Georgia; media, presidency or other steps – these are simply means for achieving that goal,” he said.

Asked how he planned to run for presidency even without having a Georgian citizenship, Ebralidze responded: “Remember this question and when I become the Georgian President, I will ask you: do you remember that question?”

And on May 30 Ebralidze was interviewed live by Rustavi 2 TV’s popular weekly program, Kurieri P.S. Speaking from St. Petersburg, Ebralidze said during the interview: “I am sure that I will achieve my goal – this goal is Georgia’s territorial integrity. The goal is independent Georgia with friendly relations with Russia.”

54-year-old Ebralidze, who was born in Georgia’s Black Sea town of Batumi, has been living in Russia since 1971. In late 70s and in 80s he was twice convicted for assault, illegal possession of arms and hooliganism, according to the Russian media sources.

Ebralidze is the President of World Congress of the Nations of Georgia (WCNG), which was founded in March. He first made a surprise announcement about having ambition to run for the Georgian presidency at an assembly of the Congress in Sochi in mid-May. The announcement triggered protest of some of those participants of the event, who arrived in Sochi from Tbilisi; outspoken critics of the Georgian authorities were among those participants who walked out from the conference hall after Ebralidze’s announcement. Temur Shashiashvili, who was governor of Imereti region during the Shevardnadze’s presidency, was among them.

In a video posted on the WCNG’s website, Ebralidze says that his target is 2013, when President Saakashvili’s second and final term in office expires.

In the interview with the three Georgian television stations, he also said: “I see that there may be catastrophe in Georgia; I see that the situation is difficult in Javakheti [a region populated predominantly by ethnic Armenians]; the situation is difficult in Marneuli [a district in Kvemo Kartli region populated predominantly by ethnic Azerbaijanis].”

“I also see how Turkey is strengthening its foothold in the Caucasus. I do not want to see Turkish forces in Batumi,” he added.

An influential lawmaker from the ruling party, Givi Targamadze, claimed on May 22 that the failed Mukhrovani mutiny was sponsored by Ebralidze, who, he suggested, had links to Russia’s PM, Vladimir Putin.

Ebralidze’s attorney lawyer, who visited Tbilisi this week, said that his client had formally requested the Georgian general prosecutor’s office to probe into the allegations. Ebralidze said that he would seek for public apology from MP Givi Targamadze.

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