(UPDATE: the original text first posted at 16:39 was updated with adding fourth, fifth, sixth and seventh paragraphs)
Billionaire philanthropist, Bidzina Ivanishvili, who has announced about the intention to set up a political party to run in next year’s parliamentary elections, has no Georgian citizenship, the Civil Registry Agency (CRA) at the Georgian Justice Ministry said in a statement on October 11.
“Citizen of the Russian Federation Bidzina Ivanishvili was granted the Georgian citizenship on July 22, 2004. According to the Georgian Constitution and article 32 of the law on Georgian citizenship, obtaining a citizenship of other state by a Georgian citizen results in revoking the Georgian citizenship. The agency of civil registry has studied the issue and concluded, that after obtaining the Georgian citizenship in 2004, Bidzina Ivanishvili also obtained citizenship of France. Because of these circumstances, the Georgian citizenship has been revoked from Bidzina Ivanishvili based on the Georgian Constitution and based on the law on the Georgian citizenship,” CRA said in the written statement.
The statement does not provide details about exactly when it “studied” the issue and when the procedures for revoking Ivanishvili’s citizenship were carried out.
No response on these questions was available from the civil registry on Tuesday.
An online registry of private property shows that Bidzina Ivanishvili carried out his most recent property-related operations with his Georgian identification card on September 27, 2011. His name is also listed in the voters list – the voter registry data available on the Central Election Commission’s website says that the registry was last updated on August 1, 2011.
A ruling party lawmaker, Lasha Tordia, who chairs parliamentary committee for human rights, said on October 11, that procedures for revocation of Ivanishvili’s citizenship probably started after Ivanishvili himself said in his written statement on October 7, that he was a citizen of France and Russia.
Revocation of the Georgian citizenship also requires a presidential order. The President’s decision on citizenship, according to the law, can be appealed to the court.
According to the election code a person willing to run in the Parliament should be a Georgian citizen and a resident of Georgia for at least two years preceding elections.
The law on political parties says that only a Georgian citizen can establish a political party and the same law bans political parties to receive funding from foreign citizens and stateless persons.
In his written statement on October 7 Ivanishvili said that he was intending to revoke his French and Russian citizenship.
“About one third of my capital, in the form of various businesses, is located in Russia. To avoid emergence of additional questions among the society during my political activities, I will sell my businesses in Russia before the 2012 parliamentary elections. For the same reason, I will say no to dual citizenship and will revoke my Russian and French passports in the nearest days,” Ivanishvili said in the statement.
According to the law on citizenship, the state should decide whether to grant or not a person citizenship within three months after applying for citizenship.
Since 2004 the constitution allows President to grant Georgian citizenship to a foreign citizen “for special merits” before Georgia or if such move originates “from the interests of the state.”
According to the law, reasons for refusal of admission to Georgian citizenship are if a person “has committed an international crime against peace and humanity”; “has taken part in a crime against the state” or if granting of a citizenship would be “inexpedient” from the point of view of state and public security.