Oligarch Bidzina Ivanishvili at center of Russian ‘takeover’ of Georgia

The role of Bidzina Ivanishvili at the center of Russia's 'takeover' of Georgia

The main player in a $600 million ruling by a Bermuda court against a sizable global banking behemoth is now heavily involved in the alleged Russian takeover of Georgia, a neighboring nation.

Detractors of the pro-Russian prime minister of Georgia claim that Oligarch Bidzina Ivanishvili, a wealthy and well-connected Georgian tycoon who both significantly influenced the prime minister’s election and amassed his wealth in Russia, had a significant influence on him.

Known as a well-known Russian oligarch, Oligarch Bidzina Ivanishvili is also well-known in Bermudan legal circles for his triumphant legal battles against Credit Suisse, the massive Swiss bank that ultimately caused the financial institution to fail.

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In the midst of numerous legal issues and disputes, Credit Suisse received punishment from courts in Singapore and Bermuda due to significant financial losses suffered by Mr. Ivanishvili.

A Bermuda court ruled in March 2022 that Credit Suisse’s Bermuda life insurance company owed the billionaire and his family damages in excess of $500 million. The court established a connection between Oligarch Bidzina Ivanishvili and his family and a significant fraud scheme carried out by a former Credit Suisse advisor in Europe, which led to significant losses.

Russian ‘takeover’ of Georgia
Russian ‘takeover’ of Georgia

The bank targeted a successful businessman who also happened to be the former prime minister of Georgia, not just any old investor. He currently lives in a $50 million mansion with a view of Tbilisi, the capital of Georgia.

Most people know him as a 67-year-old billionaire who has close ties to the Kremlin. International sanctions against him have been pushed by European parliamentarians for a long time.

Bidzina Ivanishvili is responsible for giving “actions that disrupt or jeopardize Ukraine’s territorial integrity, sovereignty, and independence material or financial support.” He is also called the “unofficial leader of Georgia,” driving Georgia’s government away from Europe and giving it authority.

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At the moment, 8,000 Russian forces control about 20% of Georgia’s territory. Moreover, Georgia acts as a covert channel via which Russia imports commodities from Europe, occasionally breaking UN sanctions.

Concurrently, there has been evidence of a Russian citizen inflow into Georgia. The situation took a different turn from what was initially thought to be young people avoiding military conscription and other people fleeing the economic and social difficulties of living in Russia, especially in light of international sanctions. As more Russians moved to Georgia, bought large lots of land, and started a lot of businesses, Georgians started to get worried. This resulted in what President Salome Zourabichvili of Georgia recently called a “silent invasion.” She made this statement during an interview with 60 Minutes.

Oligarch Bidzina Ivanishvili
Oligarch Bidzina Ivanishvili

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Ms. Zourabichvili said that she was powerless to alter the course of events because of powerful individuals, including some members of the Georgian administration, who have pro-Russian views. Oligarch Bidzina Ivanishvili is one of these prominent individuals.

On February 24, 2022, Russia invaded Ukraine. A little more than a week later, on March 3, 2022, Georgia submitted an application to join the European Union.

According to a survey done in April 2014, only 11% of Georgians were against EU membership, while 77% supported it.

Georgia’s 70-year-old president, Zourabichvili, is anticipated to be the country’s final widely elected leader during her six-year tenure as governor (2018). Under new rules, a parliamentary college of electors will now choose future heads of state in an indirect manner.

She told 60 Minutes: “It’s very unnerving when, in your own country, you have people who are talking the language of the enemy, and believe they are at home. They are behaving and believing that they are very much at home.”

She worries that Russia may employ the tried-and-true strategy of a military invasion while claiming to be defending its population.

Ivanishvili at center of Russian ‘takeover’ of Georgia
Ivanishvili at center of Russian ‘takeover’ of Georgia

Legislators who support Russia have used legislative tactics to block Georgia’s entry into the European Union.

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However, Russia is also waging a propaganda war in Georgia that includes anti-Western messaging on television and the internet—a “hybrid war,” as she put it.

CNN said in May that when Moscow attacked Ukraine, more than 100,000 Russians had arrived, sparking massive protests against the Georgian government’s legislative efforts to obstruct Georgia’s EU integration.

Some individuals think that Russia’s efforts to reconstruct the Soviet empire are at odds with Georgia’s desire to join the EU.

After the Soviet Union fell apart and the Cold War ended in 1991, Georgia earned its independence once more.

However, Russia attacked several regions of the nation in 1992 and 2008.

These are the motivations behind Georgia’s hostility against Russia.

Despite having a 556-mile border, Georgia and Russia have not maintained formal diplomatic ties since Russia’s invasion in 2008; yet, Georgians are unhappy about the relaxed visa restrictions enjoyed by Russian residents and workers in that country.

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