Nationality: Georgian, Russian
Place of Residence: Tbilisi, Georgia; Paris, France
Net Worth: USD $4.9 Billion
Source of Wealth: Investments; Self-made; Iron ore production, Steel plants, Banks and Real Estate.
Education: PhD, Moscow State University, 1986 Graduated, Tbilisi State University, Engineering, 1980
- Share-holder of Stoylensky and Mikhailovsky GOK, Orlovsky steel plant
- Founder of Rossiysky Kredit bank in 1990, Impex bank
- Stoylenskaya Niva; Doctor Stoletov retail pharmacy chain
- Ivanishvili was elected prime minister of Georgia in October 2012
- Since 2012 Bidzina Ivanishvilli has sold all of his assets in Russia.
In His Own Words:
There have been dozens of projects I have carried out with my own money and then gift them to the state. Now the opposition is telling people that I made the dendrological park in western Georgia for myself, which is a big lie. (2018 Agenda.ge Interview)
This is my philosophy: I prefer to stay out of the public eye. I love freedom. But I’ve come under more and more pressure in recent years. I had to choose: Either leave the country, where it’s become dangerous for me, or go on the offensive.
(2012 Spiegel Online Interview)
Bidzina Ivanishvili has contributed significant amounts of money both to a political party he founded – Georgian Dream – and to opposition parties of Mikheil Saakashvili in the years he was not campaigning. Today, the Georgian Dream bloc consists of six members: Democratic Georgia, the Conservative Party, the Republican Party, Industry Will Save Georgia, Our Georgia-Free Democrats, and the National Forum. As a part of the political party Georgian Dream, Ivanishvili also campaigned and was elected as Prime Minister in October 2012.
Georgian law on “Political Unions of Citizens” establishes limits on donation to political parties from Georgian citizens. The laws state that the overall amount of financial and material donations from each individual to the political party shall not overcome GEL 60,000 per year. However, On June 7, 2012, the Financial Monitoring Service of the Chamber of Control of Georgia found Bidzina Ivanishvili guilty and drew up two protocols of violation against him. The case involved the making of an illegal donation in the amount of 14,865,013 GEL in favor of the political merge Georgian Dream-Democratic Georgia by Bidzina Ivanishvili.
Lobbying & Advocacy: 10
“I’ve been talking to the ambassadors of European countries a lot lately.” (Spiegel.de Online Interview)
Bidzina Ivanishvili has been a strong supporter of large economic reform in Georgia since he first formed his political party the Georgian Dream. He participated in numerous public campaigns, most notably the Police Anti-Corruption campaign, which is reported to have been successful. Additionally, he continuously lobbies EU officials to intervene in Georgian economics and political policy, pushing his reform plans.
Additionally, former PM Bidzina Ivanishvili presented and launched a private investment vehicle in late September 2013 which he said will stimulate private sector investment in Georgia. Ivanishvili vowed to invest USD 1 billion of his personal wealth into the new Georgian Co-Investment Fund (GCF).
In May 2015, Transparency International Georgia reported that after the 2012 parliamentary elections, persons working in the companies associated with the former Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili or their family members have been appointed or elected for leading positions in the Public Service. According to the Officials’ Asset Declarations database, at least 38 officials have in the past worked in companies associated with Bidzina Ivanishvili, six of whom currently hold political office.
According to an interview with Agenda, a Georgian newspaper, Ivanishvili, who resigned as prime minister in 2013, decided to return in politics in April 2018 due to problems within the organization of Georgian Dream, and this inevitably made him take the step to re-enter the political world. “The team was on the verge of a split,” said Ivanishvili.
Opinion Shaping: 8
“Rustavi 2 will no longer be able to take our society hostage, to make them live in deception and stress,” (Interview with Civil.ge)
Until 2013 Ivanishvili was the owner of TV9 a popular television channel in Georgia. According to a report by Transparency International Georgia, following the closure of TV9 in mid-2013, Georgian Dream Studios is the only major media asset owned by the Ivanishvili family. GDS is, however, officially owned by Ivanishvili’s son, Bera Ivanishvili. Additionally, a relative of the former Prime Minister, Aleksandre Ivanishvili, was the majority shareholder in Global Contact Consulting (the cable operator Global TV), which distributed tens of thousands of satellite dishes ahead of the 2012 parliamentary elections.
Furthermore, in 2014 Ivanishvili formed his own non-profit organization, Citizen (Moqalaqe), which aims to work on improving the quality of media reporting in Georgia, including through media monitoring efforts. Since his comeback in 2018 leading a strong opposition against Mikhail Saakashvili, Ivanishvili has been using his wealth to buy full-page ads in prominent US newspapers like the Washington Post calling on the West to end its support for Saakashvili.
According to Reuters News, businessman Bidzina Ivanishvili has spent the last decade aiding Georgia’s poor by using his fortune to build houses, hospitals, and schools. It is reported that Ivanishvili has paved roads, built villagers new homes with water, electricity, and gas, provides households with 200 Lari ($120) a month and has reportedly given newlyweds $3,000 in Chorvila, Georgia. In 2016, the Cartu Charity Foundation invested about 10 million GEL to build a miniature park in Tbilisi, Georgia.
Furthermore, Bidzina Ivanishvili founded the Cartu Charity Foundation which donates money to social, cultural and educational causes. Through the Cartu Charity Foundation, Ivanishvili donated more than $70 to various causes in Georgia and through the Komagi Foundation. However, in 2012 Transparency International Georgia released a statement saying that “Georgian Young Lawyers’ Association, ISFED, the coalition Free Choice and Multinational Georgia are concerned that a new charity fund might be misused to influence voters by the opposition coalition Georgian Dream.”
Ivanishvili prides himself on aiding his country through philanthropy. In an interview with Spiegel Online, he emphasized “I’m obligated to my country. Ninety-nine percent of my spending goes to Georgia. I’ve had all the theaters renovated, as well as all the museums. I’ve had roads built, as well as 50 new schools.”
Ivanishvili Rejects NGOs’ Allegations about Possible Vote-Buying