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Ivanishvili Urges Georgian Supporters to Stop Protests

  • VOA News

Georgia's billionaire and opposition leader Bidzina Ivanishvili speak to the media during press conference in Tbilisi, Georgia, Tuesday, Oct. 2, 2012.

Georgia's billionaire and opposition leader Bidzina Ivanishvili speak to the media during press conference in Tbilisi, Georgia, Tuesday, Oct. 2, 2012.

Georgia's Bidzina Ivanishvili is urging supporters of his coalition to stop street protests against the country's outgoing government.

Ivanishvili told reporters Thursday all election-related disputes should be resolved in courts. He said his Georgian Dream coalition is now in power and will soon take control of parliament.

Ivanishvili's coalition defeated the United National Movement of President Mikheil Saakashvili in Georgia's parliamentary elections on Monday.

Also Thursday, Ivanishvili said he will make Washington his first foreign trip should he become prime minister.

The announcement seemed aimed at discrediting claims that Ivanishvili, a billionaire businessman, is a pro-Russian politician.

Ivanishvili has said he will seek close cooperation with Russia and Western powers.

Russia, which defeated Georgia in a brief war in 2008, has said it hopes Georgia's parliamentary election will help normalize ties between the two countries.

Saakashvili will remain Georgia's president until his term expires next year. Under changes in the constitution, many of the president's powers will then transfer to a yet-to-be chosen prime minister. Ivanishvili is expected to take that post.
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