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Ivanishvili Eyes Regaining Georgia Citizenship Through Naturalization
Civil Georgia, Tbilisi / 29 Dec.'11 / 15:24

Billionaire opposition politician, Bidzina Ivanishvili, is intending to try regain his lost Georgian citizenship through naturalization process, one of his legal advisors said on Thursday.

A person willing to become citizen of Georgia through naturalization should meet the following set of requirements, as envisaged by the law on citizenship: an applicant must have permanently lived in Georgia for last five years; knowledge of the Georgian language and history “within the established limits”; is employed in Georgia or has any real estate on the territory of Georgia or has shares in an enterprise in Georgia.

“Bidzina Ivanishvili fully meets all of these requirements,” Zakaria Kutsnashvili, one of Ivanishvili’s legal advisors, told Civil.ge on December 29.

According to the law the application has to be submitted to the President’s office and the President has three months to respond. Kutsnashvili said the application would be submitted “in the nearest future.”
 
On December 29 Ivanishvili, who has recently revoked his Russian citizenship, was in the French embassy in Tbilisi to submit his request for launching procedures for his withdrawal from the French citizenship. One of his lawyers, Shalva Tadumadze, told Civil.ge the move did not mean that Ivanishvili would now become a stateless person; Ivanishvili’s French citizenship would only be revoked after gaining the Georgian citizenship, the lawyer said.

After visiting the French embassy, Ivanishvili told reporters: “I was born in Georgia, I have lived in Georgia for last ten years and there is no reason to decline my [request for granting the Georgian citizenship].”

Ivanishvili has lost a court case over his citizenship after the Tbilisi City Court upheld on December 27 a presidential order stripping Ivanishvili of his Georgian citizenship; the court, however, also said that the part of the same decree revoking Ivanishvili’s wife of the citizenship was illegal. His lawyers say they would appeal the court ruling to the Court of Appeals.
 
One more option for gaining Georgian citizenship for Ivanishvili is to appeal the President with a request to grant him Georgian passport “for special merits” before the country – a rule different from the naturalization process. This very same rule was applied when in 2004 Ivanishvili was granted citizenship by President Saakashvili for “special merits” before Georgia.
 
According to the law, reasons for refusal for granting 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.

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