A day after the end of his prime ministerial tenure following the Parliament’s approval of Irakli Garibashvili as new PM, Bidzina Ivanishvili released on November 21 a written statement rejecting allegations about intending to rule the country from behind the scene as “nonsense” and saying: “From now on, I will be an active member of our society.”
“My activities will be absolutely transparent. And I will have a certain amount of influence, of course. At the same time, I do not look at this influence as something blameworthy. Quite the opposite, I will try to enhance this influence. How else can one be an active member of civil society?” reads the statement.
“Public influence on the government is of immense importance, being a primary sign of a healthy political system, that is, democracy, as this influence implies the accountability of the authorities to the people, society, and feedback between them.
The statement is an attempt to dispel allegations that he decided to quit in order to avoid political accountability, but at the same time to continue pulling the political strings from the sidelines.
“Since the day I entered politics, more than one absurd accusation has been made against me, from being a Kremlin agent to distributing refrigerators [to voters] for election purposes, not to mention the slanderous statement that I came into politics to save my fortune or to come into possession of large hydroelectric stations,” Ivanishvili says in the statement. “And now, after having already left politics, I would like to respond to this final nonsense suggesting that I intend to govern the country [from] behind the scenes and influence the government. And when referring to influence, unfortunately, only its negative context is usually implied.”
He says that after Mikheil Saakashvili came into power following the Rose Revolution, he was providing consultations to the new authorities and had met Saakashvili “on numerous occasions in the course of three years.” All these meeting, he says, were held upon Saakashvili’s initiative.
“In other words, even when I was not a public figure and indeed had ‘behind-the-scenes’ relation with highest governing circles, I never attempted to ‘govern from behind the scenes’,” reads the statement.
Ivanishvili says that he will try to influence the government in promoting democracy and Georgia’s Euro-Atlantic integration.
“Human rights, European values, Euro-Atlantic aspirations, the fact that America should be our strategic partner; the fact that we must reset relations with our neighbors, including Russia: these are the values I cherish. And if someone is against it, yes, he or she should be concerned, as I will surely exercise influence in this direction,” Ivanishvili says.
“If I succeed in exercising influence over the government in terms of the country’s progress toward Europe, this should be welcomed by all.”
“I will not hold back public support, recommendations, or criticism from the government which I have created together with our people and for which I have assumed responsibility,” reads the statement.