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Garibashvili Denies Meeting Russian Tycoon

Georgian Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili today denied having met Russian tycoon Ali Uzdenov, allegedly dispatched by sanctioned oligarch and former majority shareholder of Sistema JSFC Vladimir Yevtushenkov with a business proposal to Georgia in March.

The PM confirmed to reporters however that he was approached about “certain business proposals” by ethnic Georgian businessman David Khidasheli, supposedly sent to Tbilisi alongside Uzdenov. 

“I told him simply that I could not meet, I was not in town,” the Georgian PM said, adding that he instead directed the two businessmen to meet with local entrepreneurs.

“Why is there such a stir, what happened, did any crimes take place?” he also remarked, and stressed that Uzdenov’s trip to Georgia “did not have any continuation, any result.” 

Speaking about the two audio recordings purporting to show Yevtushenkov and Georgian Dream founder and billionaire Bidzina Ivanishvili discussing Uzdenov’s visit to Georgia, PM Garibashvili claimed that those who published the tapes mainly aim for “a war to start in Georgia.”

“They are bitter and desperate, trying to mislead the public [and] the international partners,” he asserted.

The Prime Minister also said “he refuses to believe” that a subsequent interview between Yevtushenkov and a government-critical Formula TV indeed took place, with the oligarch confirming that Uzdenov had met the Georgian PM. “This is unimaginable, it could be written in a fairy tale.” 

Speaking with reporters, PM Garibashvili also reiterated that the authorities “will not allow” anyone to use the Georgian territory to avoid the international sanctions regime against Russia. “This is our principled position, which will not be reconsidered.” 

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