Anri Okhanashvili, a ruling Georgian Dream party MP and Chairperson of the Legal Issues Committee of Parliament discussed the European Commission’s recommendation on de-oligarchization during a briefing today and said the ruling party plans to make a proposal based on the Ukrainian legislation.
MP Okhanashvili told journalists that the Georgian Dream intends to copy the Ukrainian model with the key difference that in Georgia the Parliament will be responsible for compiling the list of the potential oligarchs, while in Ukraine, it is the Presidential Administration.
MP Okhanashvili said, as in Ukraine, the Georgian draft law will consider an individual to be an oligarch if s/he meets at least three of the following four criteria: has influence over the media; has influence in political and public life; is engaged in the monopolistic activity and possesses a specific amount of assets.
MP Okhanashvili claimed that the law on de-oligarchization will be discussed in the Georgian Parliament “as transparently and inclusively as possible,” and with the involvement of relevant political groups. He said that the public will then receive information about those who meet the criteria for oligarchy.
According to MP Okhanashvili, however, no specific names will be mentioned in the law. “The names were proposed by individual opposition groups, and others, which is [legal] nonsense. […] This won’t happen, that would be a step against democracy,” he underscored.
Asked by a journalist whether Bidzina Ivanishvili, the Georgian Dream founder, and patron, is likely to be included, MP Okhanashvili reiterated Georgian Dream’s position that “this draft law, physically and objectively, cannot apply to Bidzina Ivanishvili.” He added, that he is certain that it applies to Davit Kezerashvili, the former Minister of Defense.
Similarly, when a journalist referenced the European Parliament’s June 2022 resolution, which demanded the imposition of sanctions against Ivanishvili, MP Okhanashvii stated that “the resolution and the statements of individual MEPs distort facts and [are] misinformation.”
“These people should show more responsibility and speak on the basis of facts, and not pursue the interests of any radical opposition party,” he stressed.
According to United National Movement (UNM) MP Levan Bezhashvili’s assessment, the situation in Georgia is completely different from Ukraine because the ruling party in Georgia is under the oligarchic influence of “oligarch” Bidzina Ivanishvili.
“There are all of the signs of oligarchic rule, the state has been hijacked, and this is reflected in many conclusions of international organizations,” he said and emphasized that “we must write a Georgian version of the law on de-oligarchization that corresponds to modern Georgian reality, otherwise the proposed changes will be a legislative hypocrisy.”
Davit Usupashvili, Lelo for Georgia MP, remarked that the government proposed a law that they had openly discussed for a “long time, which should not touch Bidzina Ivanishvili.” According to the MP, the opposition will counter the ruling party’s proposal before it presents the official bill.
Girchi MP Vakhtang Megrelishvili said that the law “is restrictive of particular human rights” and far from helping Georgia achieve its European aspirations, “it will distance us from European society […] somewhere in Europe, this law may cause less harm, in Georgia, it will be very damaging.”
According to Citizens’ Deputy Alexander (Aleko) Elisashvili the Ukrainian law on de-oligarchization “is not worth a dime and transferring it [here] will not change anything.” “If we will have a normal justice system, we won’t need to adopt special laws regarding the interference of oligarchs in politics […] but in this case, this will end with [Davit] Kezerashvili and several others being banned from financing parties and the media,” he emphasized.
Khatuna Samnidze, an MP of the Republicans party, noted that the proposed law is unacceptable to the opposition. She also said that copying it from Ukraine is wrong and underscored that it should take into account the situation in Georgia, as well as the government and opposition’s stance.
“[However] the government has a completely different vision […] [it] believes that Bidzina Ivanishvili is not in the ranks of oligarchs, which a priori confirms that the government does not intend to adopt a normal, objective bill in accordance with the country’s context,” she added.
Note: This article was updated on 4 October at 11:00 to reflect comments from the opposition.