Georgia has just announced that parliamentary elections will be held on 1 October. They are being seen as the biggest test facing the country’s democracy since the Rose Revolution in 2003. Until the end of last year it looked like President Mikheil Saakashvili’s governing party would win this election easily. A boringly predictable affair – welcome in a country where elections can provoke crisis and instability. But now the volatility is back in Georgian politics. The country’s richest man, Billionaire tycoon Bidzina Ivanishvili, whose $6.4bn (£4.1bn) fortune is worth almost half Georgia’s economic output, has vowed to oust the ruling party from power. And the fight is getting nasty. Mr Ivanishvili accuses the government of targeting him, in an attempt to stamp out political opposition. He says he has been fined more than $200m, allegedly for breaking party funding rules.
After moving to the opposition, he was stripped of his Georgian nationality, ostensibly for holding other citizenships, he says. And his supporters claim they are being harassed by the authorities. According to Mr Ivanishvili, it is all part of President Saakashvili’s strategy to crush any political opponent. “He has managed to persuade the US and Europe that he’s building a real democracy. But nothing like that has been happening in this country over the last few years. “The biggest injustice which we have in Georgia right now is this facade of pretend justice,” Mr Ivanishvili said.
But the government alleges that Mr Ivanishvili is illegally using his massive wealth to skew the political landscape. He is accused of breaking strict laws on how political parties should be funded. These cap the amount individuals and companies can donate.
Full Article: BBC News – Georgia election: Battle for the country’s heart.