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Ukraine calls for sanctions against Bidzina Ivanishvili

6 September 2022
Ivanishvili at a press conference in 2013. Photo: Mariam Nikuradze/OC Media

Ukraine’s anti-corruption agency added Georgia’s ‘informal ruler’, billionaire Bidzina Ivanishvili, his close associates, and several Georgian businessmen to a list of persons ‘awaiting sanctions’ for their alleged ties to Russia and its military campaign against Ukraine.

On 5 September, War and Sanctions, an official Ukrainian database of individuals that are alleged to have ties with Russia, called on world governments to impose sanctions on former Georgian Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili.

The online database was developed by Ukraine’s National Agency on Corruption Prevention and Ukraine’s Foreign Ministry. It lists over 18,000 individuals that it believes should be sanctioned for their support for the Russian regime and its invasion of Ukraine. 

The database suggests that Ivanishvili, the founder of the ruling Georgian Dream party and former Prime Minister, has close ties with the Russian political elite and is 'responsible for material or financial support for actions that undermine or threaten the territorial integrity, sovereignty, and independence of Ukraine'.

The website claims that Ivanishvili has close ties with and has lobbied for the interests of influential Kremlin-allied Russians including Vladimir Yevtushenkov, a Russian businessman, Georgy Poltavchenko, Saint Petersburg’s former governor, and Russian MP Anna Kovychko. 

Irakli Kobakhidze, the chairman of the ruling Georgian Dream party and a close ally of Ivanishvili, reprimanded the Ukrainian authorities while commenting on the news to Georgian agency Palitranews later that day. 

‘There is an agreement to this day that Ukraine is considered one of the most corrupt countries, reflected in [international] rankings. When the anti-corruption agency of a country like this comes up with some list, this is not serious, this is not even ridiculous’, Kobakhidze claimed. 

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‘They should deal with their own corruption that the country is mired in. Ukraine has two big problems today: the first is a war and the second — corruption’, he added. 

Together with Bidzina Ivanishvili, 12 Georgians were added to the list, including five relatives of the former Prime Minister. 

The new additions include individuals who have previously been the subject of criticism by Georgian civil society organisations and government critics. They include Ucha Mamatsashvili, Ivanishvili’s cousin, as well as Georgian businessmen Ivane Chkhartishvili and Davit Khidasheli, and former Prosecutor General Otar Partskhaladze

[Read about allegations against Partskhaladze in OC Media’s archive: Former Georgian minister ‘beaten and threatened with rape’ by chief prosecutor

Earlier this year, the Tbilisi-based watchdog group Transparency International  Georgia identified Ucha Mamatsashvili and Bidzina Ivanishivili's brother Alexander Ivanishvili — also included in the database — as having done business with Poltavchenko. 

Georgia’s ultra-conservative campaigner and businessman Levan Vasadze was also included on the list. As well as having ties to pro-Kremlin ideologue Aleksandr Dugin, the database claimed Vasadze financially contributed to Russia’s war through his Beethoven pet product retail chain as a Russian taxpayer. 

These 12 are the first Georgia-based individuals to be added to the War and Sanctions database.

The War and Sanctions project was launched in April to both list all entities that have faced international sanctions for their role in Russia’s war against Ukraine and advocate for more candidates to face similar measures. 

Some Georgian opposition groups, including United National Movement and Lelo for Georgia, have repeatedly called on the international community to impose sanctions on Ivanishvili. In early June, a similar suggestion was made by the European Parliament. 

[Read more on OC Media: European Parliament calls for sanctions to be considered on Ivanishvili]