Since he took control of the country in October 2012, Bidzina Ivanishvili’s governance has been based on lies and deceit.
Ivanishvili lied to the Georgians, to the international community, and, most importantly and dangerously, to his own party and to his own government, by hiding from them his real agenda.
He instructed his government over the years to follow and lobby for his publicly announced policies but has systematically undermined those policies through his own hidden cabinet in the shadows.
Since coming to power, Ivanishvili instructed the government to promote Georgia to the international investor community. For the past seven years, this is what government officials have been doing consistently and professionally. They have promoted Georgia abroad and are doing their utmost to improve the country’s international image and rankings. Meanwhile, through Georgia’s security services, which report directly to Ivanishvili, he has arbitrarily rejected and banned from the country scores of international investors of various nationalities who were willing and able to invest in the country.
At the same time, many foreign investors who had already started their businesses in Georgia were facing artificially created hurdles that the government was either unable or unwilling to solve.
Today, Georgia is an investment destination that has totally lost its attractiveness. The FDI figures for 2019 are self-telling and have reached a level lower than that of 2006.
Those acts of sabotage by Ivanishvili and his shadow cabinet have resulted in the systematic devaluation of the Georgian lari over the past seven years and the pauperisation of the country. It is estimated that the nominal GDP per capita in dollar value will be lower at the end of 2019 than it was at the end of 2012 when Ivanishvili took power.
This policy of selectively rejecting foreign investors has allowed Ivanishvili to become the one and only major investor in the country, a position that he has been using since day one to expand exponentially his own private businesses in a textbook case of conflict of interest, nepotism, shady deals, abuse of power and corruption.
The development of Anaklia Port is the largest infrastructural project in the country in recent years. It was initiated by the founders of TBC Bank, one of the two largest banks in Georgia listed on the London Stock Exchange.
This project, close to the border with Abkhazia, conflicts with Russian interests considering that it will be the deepest port on the Black Sea and will strengthen Georgia’s role as a transit hub in the region and make the country a viable alternative route over Russia. Furthermore, such a large project next to the Abkhaz border would create jobs and bring the Georgian and Abkhaz populations closer to each other.
Following instructions from Ivanishvili, the Prosecutor General, the revenue service, the Financial Monitoring Service, and the National Bank of Georgia audited TBC Bank and “discovered” one financial transaction from 11 years ago that they falsely and purposefully labelled as “money laundering”. This was done to discredit the TBC/Anaklia founders so that international financial institutions would decline to finance the development of the port.
At the same time, Ivanishvili instructed his government to claim loudly and clearly to the international community that Georgia was fully supportive of the development of the Port of Anaklia, that it was the best possible project for the country and that the government would spare no effort to make it happen.
Western orientation and NATO
At Ivanishvili’s behest, and for the past seven years, the government has been engaging very seriously with the West, talking of full integration with the EU and NATO.
Ivanishvili’s Western-educated government officials and parliamentarians have been roaming the capitals of the EU and US, lobbying for quick integration with the European Union and NATO.
At the same time and behind the scenes, Ivanishvili has done everything in his power to foster and develop a Kremlin-friendly sentiment in the country by boosting the pro-Russian far-right, Orthodox extremists, and anti-LGBT groups while closing his eyes to Moscow’s creeping occupation in order to appease the Russians and promote Georgian tourism in Russia by hosting Russian officials within the Georgian parliament. In short, Ivanishvili is doing everything in his power to shift public opinion from being pro-Western into becoming pro-Russian.
The words of the Russian Minister of Foreign Affairs shortly after the anti-Russian protests last June in Tbilisi, Russia’s Foreign Affairs Minister, Sergey Lavrov, comments were self-explanatory: “We are very surprised with what’s happening in Tbilisi. We thought that our relations with Georgia had normalised”.
Proportional electoral system
Pressured by street protests, Ivanishvili promised in June that his party would support the transition to a fully proportional electoral system and would pass the relevant legislation during the fall session. He sent his representatives to Washington, Brussels, and Strasbourg to present his initiative and to advertise him as a “leader of democracy”. Meanwhile, he was preparing for a Hollywood-style stunt that involved some of his parliamentarians staging a “rebellion” during the voting process to “oppose” his initiative and effectively vote the law down.
The most interesting development after this scenario unfolded when the party parliamentarians loyal to him, those who voted for the proportional election system as per his “official” instructions, resigned from his party after the vote failed. those parliamentarians who so-called “rebelled” against him, however, are still members of his party.
All of Ivanishvili’s policies have been based on lies and deceit. He has taken the country back to where it was 15 years ago and destroyed all of its institutions. He is the de facto president, prime minister, speaker of parliament, prosecutor general, chairman of the supreme court, and the one and only major investor in the country.
In effect, he has turned the whole country into a mega-company that fully belongs to him and of which he is the owner, the chairman of the board, and the general manager.
Any politician in Georgia or abroad who still believes Bidzina Ivanishvili’s speeches and rhetoric must surely enter the Guinness Book of Records as the most naive and gullible politician on the planet.