Erosi Kitsmarishvili, a political secretary of the opposition Georgian Party, suggested that billionaire philanthropist Bidzina Ivanishvili’s announcement of going into politics would speed up political process in the country eventually leading to early parliamentary elections, originally scheduled for autumn, 2012.
Kitsmarishvili, who has been slammed by Ivanishvili in his written statement on October 12 as “pseudo opposition” acting “upon the authorities’ instructions”, said there was no time for infighting and lengthy consultations within opposition and offered his party’s partnership with Ivanishvili.
He has also claimed that Ivanishvili was “in talks” with Irakli Okruashvili, ex-defense minister and co-founder of the Georgian Party who is wanted in Georgia and has an asylum in France. Kitsmarishvili declined to elaborate further into details and Ivanishvili’s spokesman was not available to confirm the reports about consultations between the billionaire and the ex-defense minister.
The only person from the Georgian Party, whom Ivanishvili offered cooperation in his October 12 statement, is Sozar Subari, ex-public defender and chairman of the Georgian Party. But the latter said in a written statement that he was ready for cooperation only on behalf of the Georgian Party.
Kitsmarishvili told Maestro TV’s talk show late on October 12, that Ivanishvili’s decision to go into politics created “a storm capable to destroy Saakashvili’s regime.”
“We will definitely see a response from Saakashvili – his first reaction was yesterday [on October 11, referring to the authorities’ announcement that Ivanishvili has lost his Georgian citizenship] and the second will for sure be early parliamentary elections which will be called by Saakashvili in the nearest future,” Kitsmarishvili said.
He said that presidential elections in Russia in early March, 2012 in which PM Vladimir Putin is slated to return in the Kremlin, would also play a role in Saakashvili’s decision to call early parliamentary elections.
Kitsmarishvili, who in May vowed to quit politics if his party failed to force Saakashvili to resign before the end of this year, said that the Georgian Party would run in the parliamentary elections.
Vice Speaker of the Parliament Mikheil Machavariani of the ruling party ruled out holding of early elections, saying that now the priority was working on the new electoral code, including rechecking of voters list by a planned special commission, which has to complete the process by July, 2012.
Apart of his role in the Georgian Party, Kitsmarishvili also has a say over the issues related to Tbilisi-based Maestro TV, which is managed by Kitsmarishvili’s company.
Ivanishvili made it clear from his statements that he wants to take over Maestro TV to, as he put it, free the television station from the control of “pseudo opposition” Kitsmarishvili and provide genuine freedom to its journalists. He had offered owners to pay three-fold more than the market price of the TV stations. In addition he also offered that after maximum two years he would return a station to its previous owners for a symbolic price of GEL 1.
Kitsmarishvili said on October 12 that he was ready to relinquish management rights for a symbolic GEL 1 in favor of Ivanishvili on the condition that the billionaire and co-owners of the Maestro TV agree on investment terms.
Although initially some owners of the Maestro TV, in particular Mamuka Glonti strongly rejected Ivanishvili offer, on October 12 he softened stance suggesting that talks on the issue were possible.
25% of Maestro TV’s shares are owned by Giorgi Gachechiladze, brother of an opposition figure Levan Gachechiladze. Unlike Glonti, Gachechiladze welcomed Ivanishvili’s offer from the very beginning. 25% of Maestro TV’s are owned by Maka Asatiani, Gachechiladze’s long-time friend and a wife of a wealthy Georgian businessman Kote Gogelia, who is also affiliated with the Georgian Party. The rest of the shares are divided between four original founders of the TV station with three of them holding 15% of shares – Glonti is among them – and one holding 5%.