- Ivanishvili’s aide questioned for several hours in Tbilisi airport.
Billionaire-turned-politician, Bidzina Ivanishvili, has no intention for now to apply for the Georgian citizenship to President Saakashvili, his lawyer Eka Beselia said.
Ivanishvili instead appealed the court on October 21 with a request to annul the October 11 presidential order, which has stripped him of the Georgian citizenship, Beselia told Civil.ge on October 22. She added that court proceedings into the case was likely to last “for months”, especially if the case then goes to upper court.
Beselia, however, also did not rule out that Ivanishvili might appeal to the President for citizenship at some point in parallel to court proceedings.
She said that stripping Ivanishvili of his Georgian citizenship was “political motivated”. Beselia, along with Irakli Sesiashvili – both members of Ivanishvili’s advisory board – left for Brussels where, as Beselia said, they would meet with officials from European Commission, as well as hold meetings in the European Parliament to raise the issue of the Georgian authorities’ campaign against their political opponent.
Ivanishvili’s wife, Ekaterine Khvedelidze, has also been stripped of her Georgian citizenship. Ivanishvili himself said recently that if there was a formal reason for which he lost the Georgian citizenship, in case of his wife there was not even such formal reason, because at the time of receiving Georgian citizenship Khvedelidze already had the French passport.
Having no Georgian citizenship means that Ivanishvili has no right to establish a political party, which he was intending to do to run in the 2012 parliamentary elections; he also will have no right to fund any of the political parties in Georgia.
If at some point Ivanishvili decides to apply for citizenship to the Georgian President, the authorities should decide whether to grant him the citizenship or not within three months after submission of the application.
According to the law, reasons for refusal to grant the 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.
President Saakashvili granted Ivanishvili Georgian citizenship in 2004 saying in his presidential order that the move was in the “state’s interests”. At the time Ivanishvili also had Russian passport. But several years later Ivanishvili also became a citizen of France, which became a reason for revoking his Georgian citizenship. The Georgian authorities said they only learnt about Ivanishvili’s French citizenship from the billionaire’s October 7 statement in which he said that he would revoke his French and Russian citizenships.
After he lost his Georgian citizenship, Ivanishvili launched procedures required for revoking his Russian citizenship, but decided to retain his French passport.
Police Questioning and Magazine for Rockhounds
According to one lawyer from Ivanishvili’s legal team, gathering of papers required for applying on revoking the Russian citizenship started two weeks ago. The papers, among others, include certificate of no criminal conviction, as well as tax payment certificate.
Shalva Tadumadze, a Tbilisi-based lawyer from Ivanishvili’s legal team, told Civil.ge on October 23, that billionaire’s one of the Moscow-based aides, Valery Levin, who was in charge of obtaining and bringing these papers to Tbilisi, was detained in the airport upon arrival in the Georgian capital on Saturday.
According to the lawyer, Levin, who is a Russian citizen, was released four or five hours later without being charged.
Tadumadze said that on Sunday he met with investigators from the Interior Ministry’s Department for Constitutional Security to find out reasons behind Levni’s detention and questioning.
According to Tadumadze apart of papers needed for revoking the Russian citizenship, Levin was also carrying several issues of a Russian-language rocks and minerals weekly magazine for rockhounds, Energiya Kamney (Energy of Stones). The magazine was intended for Ivanishvili’s 14-year-old daughter, who, Tadumadze says, collects issues of this magazine. Each issue of this magazine contains a different rock or mineral sample.
Tadumadze says that he has been told by investigators that they were tipped-off about possible smuggling of “radioactive material” by Levin and for that reason they sent rock samples from the magazine issues to a laboratory for testing.
“Of course it’s simply a pretext; in fact it was one of those many moves undertaken by the authorities to target their political opponent Bidzina Ivanishvili,” Tadumadze told Civil.ge, adding that Levin was told by investigators not to leave the country pending laboratory test results.
The Interior Ministry confirmed that Levin was questioned in the Tbilisi airport; Shota Utiashvili, head of the ministry’s information and analytical department, however, said: “It’s all over now.” He told Civil.ge that it was “simply a questioning after which Levin was released.” He denied that Levin was not allowed to leave the country.