News / Europe

Billionaire Philanthropist Poised to Become Georgia's PM

Leader of the opposition Georgian Dream coalition Bidzina Ivanishvili (C) addresses the media near his wife Eka Khvedelidze (R), who voted at a polling station during the parliamentary election, in Tbilisi October 1, 2012.Leader of the opposition Georgian Dream coalition Bidzina Ivanishvili (C) addresses the media near his wife Eka Khvedelidze (R), who voted at a polling station during the parliamentary election, in Tbilisi October 1, 2012.
x
Leader of the opposition Georgian Dream coalition Bidzina Ivanishvili (C) addresses the media near his wife Eka Khvedelidze (R), who voted at a polling station during the parliamentary election, in Tbilisi October 1, 2012.
Leader of the opposition Georgian Dream coalition Bidzina Ivanishvili (C) addresses the media near his wife Eka Khvedelidze (R), who voted at a polling station during the parliamentary election, in Tbilisi October 1, 2012.
VOA News
Georgian opposition leader Bidzina Ivanishvili is known in the former Soviet republic as a once-poor, now-billionaire philanthropist who backed President Mikheil Saakashvili before his crackdown on public dissent and the 2008 territory war with Russia.

Ivanishvili, who leads the opposition Georgian Dream coalition, is now poised to become prime minister, a position that will gain much more power when  Saakashvili finishes his final term next year. The Georgian constitution mandates that some presidential powers be handed over to the prime minister at that time.

The opposition leader says he, like the president, supports Georgia joining NATO and the European Union, but he also wants to mend ties with Russia.

 Ivanishvili, 56, is reported by Forbes magazine to have a fortune of some $6.4 billion, and is known for keeping exotic animals, collecting art, and funding various improvement projects in the poor region of Georgia where he grew up. Before his relationship with  Saakashvili soured, Ivanishvili even used his fortune to buy supplies for soldiers in Georgia's army.

Ivanishvili made much of his fortune building various businesses in Russia, leading to criticism from Saakashvili that his rival is too strongly tied to Moscow and Russia's President Vladimir Putin. Ivanishvili has sold all his Russian businesses since joining the political competition.

But he says his ties to Russia -- compared to the icy relationship between Saakashvili and Putin -- will benefit Georgia diplomatically and economically.

Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.
 

  • Supporters of an opposition Georgian Dream coalition celebrate exit poll results in Tbilisi, Georgia, October 1, 2012.
  • Georgian billionaire and opposition leader Bidzina Ivanishvili, left, celebrates with supporters at his office in Tbilisi Georgia, October 1, 2012.
  • Opposition supporters reacts on the central square during a rally in Tbilisi, Georgia, October 1, 2012.
  • Georgians vote during Parliamentary elections at a polling station in Tbilisi, October 1, 2012. Voters in Georgia are choosing a new parliament in a heated election that will decide the future of Saakashvili's government.
  • Lines at a polling station in Tbilisi, Georgia, October 1, 2012.
  • An elderly woman casts her ballot at her home in the village of Sartichala in Georgia's Kakhety region, October 1, 2012.
  • Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili, his wife Sandra Roelofs, and his son Nikoloz at a ballot box before voting in Tblisi, October 1, 2012.
  • Leader of the opposition Georgian Dream coalition, Bidzina Ivanishvili, addresses the media in Tbilisi October 1, 2012.
  • Bidzina Ivanishvili and his wife Ekaterine Khvedelidze pray in a church in Tbilisi, October 1, 2012.
  • Supporters of the opposition Georgian Dream Coalition attend an election rally in Tbilisi September 29, 2012.


 

You May Like

Computer Crash Halts US Visa, Passport Operation

Problems with database have resulted in extensive backlog of applications, affected State Department's consular offices all over the world More

Migrant Issues Close to Home Spur Groups to Take Action

Groups placing water, food in the desert, or aiding detainees after release, have one common goal: no more deaths of migrants crossing illegally into the US More

World Bank: Boko Haram Stalls African Aid Projects

Islamist group’s terrorism sets back agriculture, health efforts in Cameroon, Chad and Nigeria More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Israel Targets Gaza Supply Tunnelsi
X
July 24, 2014 4:42 AM
The Israeli military has launched a ground operation in Gaza to destroy the myriad tunnels that may have been used to smuggle weapons to Hamas. VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports that could mean more hardship for the people of Gaza, who obtain some of their essential supplies through these underground passages
Video

Video Israel Targets Gaza Supply Tunnels

The Israeli military has launched a ground operation in Gaza to destroy the myriad tunnels that may have been used to smuggle weapons to Hamas. VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports that could mean more hardship for the people of Gaza, who obtain some of their essential supplies through these underground passages
Video

Video MH17's 'Black Boxes' Could Reveal Crash Details

The government of Malaysia now has custody of the cockpit voice and flight data recorders from Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, which was hit by a missile over Ukraine before crashing last week. As VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports, the so-called black boxes may hold information about the final minutes of the flight.
Video

Video Living in the Shadows Panel Discussion

Following a screening of the new VOA documentary, "AIDS - Living in the Shadows," at the World AIDS conference in Melbourne, a panel discussed the film and how to combat the stigma associated with HIV/AIDS.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Relic of Saint Draws Catholics Worried About Immigration Issue

A Roman Catholic saint who is a figure of devotion for those crossing the border into the United States is attracting believers concerned about the plight of undocumented immigrants. Mike O'Sullivan reports from Los Angeles, where a relic of Saint Toribio has drawn thousands to local churches.
Video

Video US Awards Medal of Honor for Heroics in Bloodiest of Afghan Battles

U.S. combat troops are withdrawing from Afghanistan, on pace to leave the country by the end of this year. But on Monday, U.S. President Barack Obama took time to honor a soldier whose actions while under fire in Afghanistan earned him the Medal of Honor. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from the Pentagon.
Video

Video Ukraine Rebels Surrender MH17 Black Boxes

After days of negotiations, a senior separatist leader handed over two black boxes from an airliner downed over eastern Ukraine to Malaysian experts early Tuesday. While on Monday, the U.N. Security Council unanimously demanded that armed groups controlling the crash site allow safe and unrestricted access to the wreckage.
Video

Video In Cambodia, HIV Diagnosis Brings Deadly Shame

Although HIV/AIDS is now a treatable condition, a positive diagnosis is still a life altering experience. In Cambodia, people living with HIV are often disowned by friends, family and the community. This humiliation can be unbearable. We bring you one Cambodian woman’s struggle to overcome a life tragedy and her own HIV positive diagnosis.

AppleAndroid