A report released on June 11 by a caucus of conservative U.S. Congressmen, which referred to Georgian Dream chair Bidzina Ivanishvili as “Putin’s close ally” and “destabilizing Georgia on behalf of Russia,” has triggered mixed reactions from Georgian ruling party and opposition figures.
Civil Georgia offers a compilation of these assessments.
Ruling Party Assessments
Davit Zalkaliani, Minister of Foreign Affairs: “We will have more communication with all the Congressmen. We will definitely examine by what means – and upon whose recommendation – had this paragraph [about Ivanishvili] been included in this very important study – which also features provisions in support of Georgia. From my point of view, the very fact, that former Georgian President [Saakashvili] was first to react [to the report] – publishing it on his Facebook page – is very deplorable. Generally, it is disgraceful to say that the ruling party leader [Ivanishvili] maintains ties with Russia and is leading the country to destabilization – while Georgia has never enjoyed such stable relations and cooperation with our strategic partner [U.S.].”
Tea Tsulukiani, Minister of Justice: “We remember similar studies and so-called reports dating from 2012, which referred to the Georgian Dream as Putin’s spy. The same study contains important insights – saying that military cooperation between two countries under Georgian Dream’s rule has risen to the highest level. Consequently, these inconsistencies certainly attract irony. Bidzina Ivanishvili is the sole figure on Georgian political scene who acts as a safeguard for our country’s sovereignty, independence, and stability.”
Gia Volski, Georgian Dream MP: “I can name examples of United National Movement and its spin-offs facilitating cementing of Russian positions in South Caucasus and anti-thesis [to my examples] cannot produced … Therefore, I reckon that a single sentence that was invoked is a result of elaborate, aggressive lobbying activities.”
Irakli Kobakhidze, Georgian Dream MP: “Such phrases, even when featuring in such low-ranking documents, are to be ascribed to money – gained at the expense of people and through corruption – which they paid to certain lobbyists [alludes to Georgian opposition figures]. Statements of certain politicians may feature in documents of such rank, but still [U.S.] institutions attitude [to our Government] is paramount – which was reflected in the statement of deputy Secretary of State. [Philip T.] Reeker said some two weeks ago that Georgian-American relations have never been reached such a high level as nowadays.”
Salome Samadashvili, United National Movement MP: “The fact that Bidzina Ivanishvili is mentioned in the report as an ally of Russia in the region means that our strategic partners await political changes in our country, which would – in fact – allow Georgia to return to Western vector and detach itself from the Russian sphere of influence.”
Sergi Kapanadze, European Georgia MP: “This report is like a verdict of sorts. In fact, Congressmen have told that Bidzina Ivanishvili is advancing Russian interests in Georgia and undermines the country – this verdict should be executed by the Georgian people at October elections. It is beyond belief that the country is run by a person, to whom such [an adverse] attitude exists from our strategic partners. It is evident, whom the West supports and whom it does not – and, obviously, Ivanisvhili’s policies have led us to a complete collapse.”
Eka Beselia, Independent MP: “Every day such critical statements are becoming sharper and sharper. Increasingly, talk is about [imposing] sanctions. We often hear that this is a warning, and, possibly, it may negatively affect relations [with U.S.]. The ruling party has to reflect on the reasons that triggered such a critical attitude.”