Ex-President Mikheil Saakashvili’s remarks that GDDG leader Bidzina Ivanishvili was blackmailed by Tbilisi-based foreign ambassadors not to run for the upcoming presidential polls, and endorse an independent candidate instead, “is an insult to every diplomat accredited in Georgia,” Deputy Parliament Speaker Tamar Chugoshvili told media on July 26.
Chugoshvili’s statement came a day after Mikheil Saakashvili, who serves as the honorary chairman of the opposition United National Movement, said Bidzina Ivanishvili, “through western pressure, might nominate one or two [independent] candidates, who will supposedly be independent, but they will, of course, be under Ivanishvili’s influence.”
“Not long ago, Ivanishvili received ambassadors of western countries, who told him that it would be very bad if he put forth his candidacy; he was practically blackmailed and pressured,” he said, apparently referring to Bidzina Ivanishvili’s meeting with foreign ambassadors on June 22, shortly after PM Giorgi Kvirikashvili’s unexpected resignation.
Tamar Chugoshvili, who organized the meeting, slammed the ex-President’s remarks as “not serious.” “In reality, what happened was that when Bidzina Ivanishvili voiced his position on the presidential elections, it was met with absolute admiration … and was perceived as a right step and in the state’s interests,” the Deputy Parliament Speaker added.
Bidzina Ivanishvili spoke on the matter on July 24 in his first televised interview since his return to party politics, saying the Georgian Dream-Democratic Georgia party was pondering over endorsing an independent candidate “if there is a decent independent candidate,” or letting “the opposition take this institution” if no such candidates are found.