Georgian billionaire ex-PM Ivanishvili returns to politics before election

Georgian billionaire ex-PM Ivanishvili returns to politics before election

TBILISI (Reuters) – Ex-leader of Georgia, Bidzina Ivanishvili who is a very rich man and has strong power in politics said on Saturday that he will go back to active political work after two years. This comes before the big vote for parliament happens in 2024.

In a speech posted online by the ruling party, Georgian Dream, Ivanishvili said he was returning due to complicated geopolitical situation and what he thought as failure of opposition in keeping government accountable.

A lot of people believe Ivanishvili has a big influence in the government even though he doesn't have any official job since stepping down as prime minister in 2013.

In his speech on Saturday, he said that he often talks with Georgia's leaders and hinted that would be involved in the election time as honorary boss of Georgian Dream.

Ivanishvili, who became wealthy in Russia during the 1990s and has been accused by opposition parties of loyalty to Moscow. They believe that Georgia's old ruler still thinks about South Caucasus as their own area where they can make decisions.

Russia is not liked by regular Georgian people. It supported violent separatists in the regions Abkhazia and South Osetia, which are backed by Moscow, during the 1990s as well as 2008.

Ivanishvili and Georgian Dream say they don't lean towards Russia. They favor joining the European Union and NATO, led by the U.S..

The Georgian Dream government recently reached its big goal of EU membership, even as Brussels repeated the need to stop powerful people in Georgian politics. This is thought by many to be about Ivanishvili.

In recent years, the government has also been blamed for trying to rule in an authoritarian way. In March, it tried to pass a law punishing so-called "foreign agents". Critics said this was like the Kremlin's use of laws in Russia to crush dissent.