The Dispatch

The Dispatch – January 13

GD’s Late Offer Finds Few Takers – Ivanishvili’s Doubted ‘Generosity’ – Politics as Vocation in Georgia – Wag the Dog, or Invasion of Presidential Privacy

THE LAST TEMPTATION… In a gesture of goodwill, that the opposition may well find diabolical, the incoming chair of the ruling Georgian Dream party, MP Irakli Kobakhidze proposed to set up an inquiry commission in the Parliament early next month, to probe possible fraud during the October vote. The opposition is invited to enter and participate – local and international watchdogs are invited too, the ruling party whip said. Here’s the deal: should the commission find an imbalance of as little as 1% in the election results, the ruling party will announce snap elections right away. And that’s not all: should that be the case, Kobakhidze, as GD campaign chief, promises to cease his political activities. In a synchronized pincer movement, several Georgian Dream MPs leaned on the election watchdog, ISFED on Facebook to produce evidence of fraud. ISFED became the punching bag for the ruling party after the watchdog discovered an error in its parallel vote tabulation (PVT). The director quit in the wake, but the ruling party keeps on the pressure.

…GETS NOT TRACTION Most of the opposition does not seem to buy it, arguing it is too late for a vote recount to be reliable, and seeing this late offer as a trick of political theatre – why did the GD resist recounts, to begin with, they reasonably ask. But while one part of the opposition keeps insisting on unconditional snap elections, others wonder, whether they should have taken the offer concerning further reform of the election system, while it was still on the table. Speaker Archil Talakvadze (GD) hopes there are more of such parties willing to end the boycott and join the parliament, but unable to break away from pressure and blackmail of the more powerful opposition parties (read UNM).

CASTAWAY Two days ago, the news broke that Bidzina Ivanishvili’s announcement on departure from politics was preceded by a less publicized financial operation, in which most of Ivanishvili’s Georgia assets were consolidated under his charity foundation, Cartu. The info of this princely generosity was likely leaked by the Ivanishvili circle – unless you believe in an unlikely cover story, that an unsuspecting journalist just stumbled upon it while trying to arrange personal issues in the public registry of entrepreneurs.

See here the list of assets and Ivanishvili’s comments on his latest ‘generous’ act.

But thorny is the path of a lone oligarch. Evil tongues got wagging – He only switched the assets from one pocket to another, they say… he may be attempting to safely consolidate his assets for the emergency, they argue… he tries to cut and run from feared US financial sanctions, or perhaps he tries to evade taxation by putting money into charity?! The conspiracies abound, the information is – as often is the case – missing. Hopefully not for long.

POLITICS AS A VOCATION Max Weber’s work has been gaining on relevance in Georgian politics recently. In one of his latest interviews, Ivanishvili showed respect for politics as a profession – implying, however, that he is not one of those trained professionals and only entered politics to do something others could not (something he portrays as his “biggest charitable act to date”).

His own former political counselor Gia Khukhashvili, who has been mostly restraining himself from hitting the former boss directly, stated recently he’d be getting more into countering the ‘absurdity’ of the Georgian Dream. (Rumors are he might be joining the Lelo party). He does not see politics as his vocation, he said. And finally, the news came in that Giorgi Kanashvili, a member of the same Lelo party, has returned to his research and academic activities. And while concluding – somewhat unoriginally – that practical politics and political analysis are two different things, Kanashvili still says politics are “worth trying”. He recommends.

A STREET OF ONE’S OWN A video went viral showing President Salome Zurabishvili avoiding journalist’s questions while walking her dog in the street. “I’m not answering in the street,” she insisted. The footage raised a question of whether politicians are entitled to some privacy, including outdoors. That debate is likely to be central to Georgia’s twittering masses tomorrow.

That’s the full lid for today. Celebrate the bizarre and the curious in Georgia’s politics with us every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday!

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