Seizure of cash belonging to billionaire-turned-politician Bidzina Ivanishvili’s Cartu Bank by the police was “a robbery attack”, which shows that the authorities are “scared” of a strong political opponent, Irakli Alasania, leader of opposition Our Georgia-Free Democrats party, said.
“The fact that the authorities are scared was demonstrated in today’s robbery attack on Cartu Bank’s cash van,” Alasania said.
Late on Tuesday afternoon Cartu Bank’s cash-in-transit vehicle was stopped by the police, which arrested several bank employees accompanying the vehicle and seized the cash. The Interior Ministry said in a brief statement that several individuals with “especially large amount of cash” were arrested in connection to money laundering. No other details were provided.
“It was a move by scared, desperate authorities; it was a demonstration of extremism by the authorities,” Alasania told Georgian Public Broadcaster late on Tuesday night.
Alasania met with Ivanishvili twice since the billionaire philanthropist announced about his intention to form a political party to run in the next year’s parliamentary elections..
Alasania also said that a decision to revoke Ivanishvili’s Georgian citizenship was also part of the authorities’ campaign to bar the opponent from the political processes. He said that he would raise all these issues when he meets on October 19 with U.S. Deputy Secretary of State, William J. Burns, who visits Tbilisi as part of his South Caucasus trip.
Alasania also said that Ivanishvili had turned into an important factor in the Georgian politics; he said Ivanishvili’s decision to go into politics was “very courageous” and described him as “a reliable partner.”
He also said he had “a full concurrence in opinions” with Ivanishvili on all the key issues, including on foreign policy priorities, which includes turning Georgia into “a full-fledged member of the European family.”