Russian billionaire Ivanishvili stripped of Georgian citizenship

The Georgian authorities have deprived Bidzina Ivanishvili, a Georgian-born billionaire living in Russia, of his citizenship, citing the nation’s ban on dual citizenships.

The move came after Ivanishvili, who is ranked 25th by Forbes in its list of Russian businessmen with an estimated fortune of $5.5 billion, said last week he was ready to sell his businesses in Russia and give away his Russian and French passports in order to challenge incumbent Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili’s party in next year’s parliamentary elections.

The Georgian Justice Ministry issued a statement saying Ivanishvili was granted French citizenship after receiving his Georgian passport in July 2004.

“Proceeding from this, given the provisions of the Georgian constitution and the organic law on Georgian citizenship, Bidzina Ivanishvili’s Georgian citizenship has been suspended,” the statement reads.

In line with the Georgian constitution, a Georgian citizen cannot simultaneously be a citizen of another state.

The document does not specify when Ivanishvili was granted his French passport.

On October 7, Ivanishvili announced plans to set up a political party uniting “healthy” political forces in Georgia with the goal of achieving an absolute majority in 2012 elections.

The 56-year-old businessman said in a statement his decision was “due to the total monopoly held by Mikheil Saakashvili and the recently-made constitutional amendments which demonstrated Saakashvili’s desire to stay in power regardless of all constitutional terms.”

The businessman said he was ready to assume the post of Georgian prime minister or parliamentary speaker.

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