|Opposition tycoon loses Georgian citizenship appeal|
|Tuesday, 27 December 2011|
A court on Tuesday rejected an appeal from a billionaire tycoon against the annulment of his Georgian citizenship, which was revoked after he announced that he would try to oust the government.
The judge said a decision had been made “not to satisfy the complaint regarding the cancellation of Bidzina Ivanishvili’s citizenship”, an AFP correspondent at Tbilisi City Court reported.
Ivanishvili, one of Georgia’s richest men with a fortune estimated at $5.5 billion (four billion euros), announced in October that he intended to form an opposition party to battle President Mikheil Saakashvili’s governing team in 2012 parliamentary polls.
He was stripped of his Georgian passport by presidential order a few days later for allegedly violating citizenship laws, and more than $3 million (two million euros) was seized from the bank he owns amid a money-laundering probe.
His lawyer said there would be an appeal against the court’s ruling.
“The judge did not dare to be fully fair and law-abiding and say that Bidzina Ivanishvili’s Georgian citizenship was revoked illegally,” Eka Beselia told AFP.
Ivanishvili also holds a French passport, but on Monday he confirmed that he had cancelled his citizenship of Russia.
Beselia said he would now also cancel his French citizenship and again ask for a Georgian passport.
The tycoon, whose decision to enter politics caused intense interest in the ex-Soviet republic, has claimed the authorities are trying to quash his political challenge because only Georgian citizens can set up a party.
Ivanishvili’s allegations that pro-Western Saakashvili was responsible for starting Georgia’s brief war with Russia in 2008 have infuriated the authorities.
Saakashvili’s allies have accused the businessman, who made his fortune in Russia, of being a stooge of Georgia’s enemies in Moscow.
The row has also seen the country’s best-known footballer Kakha Kaladze, who plays for Genoa in Italy’s Serie A and is a supporter of Ivanishvili, quit the Georgian national team this month in protest.
© AFP 2011. All rights reserved.
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