In the 2024 edition of POLITICO’s annual ranking of Europe’s most influential people, former Georgian Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili is recognized as an oligarch and emerges as a disrupter, ranking eighth on the list. This is the first time a Georgian is included in the list.
POLITICO splits the ranking into three sections: the doers (those with executive power), the dreamers (those who represent an idea driving the debate) and the disrupters (those best placed to upend the game in unexpected ways).
According to POLITICO, although Bidzina Ivanishvili has seemingly retired from politics to live a simple life in a dendrological park on the Black Sea, he is known to have significant control over Georgia’s ruling party, Georgian Dream, which he founded. ” His goal: to push Tbilisi out of the EU’s waiting room and into the Kremlin’s clutches”.
POLITICO notes that rumors suggest that the “67-year-old oligarch ultimately answers to Russia,” where he built his “astronomical” fortune along with other oligarchs.
POLITICO cites analysts who say Ivanishvili is largely responsible for Georgia’s pro-Moscow pivot since Russia’s war in Ukraine began: “Despite a fifth of Georgian territory being occupied by the Kremlin’s forces and their proxies in South Ossetia and Abkhazia, the country has become a key hub for sanctions-busting parallel exports to Russia. At the same time, observers warn Tbilisi is backsliding on human rights, the rule of law and democracy — at the very moment Brussels is considering its long-standing membership application”.
As POLITICO put it, the question for 2024 is whether, despite the majority of Georgians supporting EU membership and a Western course, Ivanishvili will let the country follow the clear path outlined by Brussels with the 12 recommendations in June 2022 to gain entry into the block.
- 27/11/2023 – Government Approves De-oligarchization Action Plan
- 27/07/2022 – Ivanishvili Addresses “War Blackmail” Controversy
- 10/05/2022 – As Ivanishvili Battles Swiss Bank, GD Hints at U.S. Pushing Georgia into War