Leaders of Georgia’s ruling party have lept to the defence of party founder Bidzina Ivanishvili over a new legal dispute with Credit Suisse, claiming that alleged pressure on Ivanishvili could be part of an international conspiracy to involve Georgia in the war in Ukraine.
On Friday, Cision, a PR firm reportedly hired by Ivanishvili, reported that the former Georgian prime minister was filing a lawsuit against Credit Suisse for holding back funds from a trust held he holds. The case is not related to another lawsuit Ivanishvili won in March against Credit Suisse.
According to Cision, Credit Suisse ‘made unreasonable requests for information’, which led to a delay of a month in receiving funds from the trust, while another request for funds was still pending.
They said the Swiss bank had referenced the ‘geopolitical environment in Eastern Europe’, while insisting that Ivanishvili had no links to the Russian invasion of Ukraine and were not subject to any sanctions.
Speaking to reporters on Tuesday, Georgian Dream chair Irakli Kobakhidze speculated that the delay in the transfers could be the result of ‘coordinated actions’ aimed at involving Georgia in the war in Ukraine.
Kobakhidze cited a number of recent events to support his theory, including the recall of the Ukrainian ambassador to Georgia, as well as the release of an audiotape of Ivanishvili speaking with sanctioned Russian businessperson Vladimir Yevtushenkov.
‘When a Swiss bank is added to this, it certainly raises additional questions’, he said.
‘If someone tries to return Bidzina Ivanishvili to Georgian politics against his will so that the country is drawn into the war, I consider this at the very least unacceptable and fundamentally wrong’.
Georgian Dream MPs Sozar Subari and Irakli Kadagishvili also echoed the theory, suggesting that there may be political pressure or blackmail being used against Ivanishvili to involve the country in the war.
While Georgian Dream leaders refrained from explicitly stating who they believed was behind the conspiracy, with Kobakhidze citing his ‘political responsibilities’ not allowing him to do so, pro-government TV station Imedi pointed the finger at the West.
‘In the opinion of a part of the society, there is a clear coordinated action and scheme behind which the West stands’, Imedi anchor Levan Javakhishvili said while introducing a segment on the story.
The segment then went on to interview several people who claimed that the United States was attempting to pressure Ivanishvili in order to involve Georgia in Russia’s war against Ukraine.
‘There is a force in the United States that wants us to be involved in this conflict […] The aim is to present Russia as a global aggressor’, philologist Zaza Shatirishvili said.
On Tuesday, the deputy chair of the parliamentary committee on foreign affairs, Giorgi Khelashvili, tried to walk back some of the statements of his colleagues, insisting that ‘of course, it was not about our strategic partners’, referring to Western countries.
Ivanishvili formally left politics in January 2021, stepping down from his leadership role in Georgian Dream. When asked why third parties would attempt to pressure Ivanishvili in order to influence government policy given his apparent retirement, the party did not respond.