In Georgia, presidential candidate Bidzina Ivanishvili has recently recruited the services of several key foreign personalities. They will advise him in the upcoming presidential race, set to take place in early 2013. Among them, Larry King and Robert Ménard have joined the International Advisory Board of Channel 9, a media station that is controlled by the Georgian oligarch.
Bidzina Ivanishvili, the pro-Russian candidate running for presidential election in Georgia, has recruited several international personalities who will join a circle of advisors that the multi-billionaire already has in his corner. They will correspond with the candidate on Channel 9, a media station completely devoted to the promotion of Ivanishvili for president of Georgia. Even Ekaterina Khvedelidze, Ivanishvili’s wife, is contributing vast amounts of funds to this TV channel.
Among these new names added to Ivanishvili’s roster is Larry King, former star of CNN. The famous American presenter is likely to advise Ivanishvili on political communications issues, both in the region and internationally.
Ivanishvili also hired the French journalist Robert Ménard, founder and general secretary of Reporters Without Borders, an organization promoting freedom of the press. Until 2008, as a columnist and presenter on French media stations RTL and i>Télé, Robert Ménard was known for his constant provocation on television, which was symbolized in 2011 with the publication of his book that was very close to the views and ideals held by the extreme right French political parties.
After Robert Ménard was fired from this TV station, he sought new horizons, leaving behind the values that had animated his activities as head of Reporters Without Borders. Indeed, becoming an adviser to Bidzina Ivanishvili, Robert Ménard has joined a campaign with more than questionable practices.
With the support of Russia, Ivanishvili utilized his massive personal fortune to enter himself into politics. From obscenely aggressive PR and lobbying to suspicion of vote-buying, Ivanishvili is leading an offensive and democratically-illegal campaign. A few months ago, a journalistic investigation reported that Ivanishvili’s militants distributed gifts of up to €500 in exchange for a promise to vote for Ivanishvili in the upcoming elections.
More recently, the Komagi Foundation, a charitable organization linked to Ivanishvili, has been accused of buying votes on the basis of pretending to support “victims of political repression.” Scrutinized by Transparency International, an NGO fighting against corruption, these accusations have highlighted several questionable practices by Ivanishvili and his party “Georgian Dream”. These elections will be a real test for democratic development in Georgia.
On October 1, the “Georgian Dream” coalition, headed by Ivanishvili, will attempt to succeed in winning the general elections, just before the presidential election set to take place in January of 2013. Supported by the Kremlin – which has an obvious interest to have a pro-Russian politician in power in Tbilissi – Ivanishvili is far from being a stranger in Moscow. Georgian by birth, he has spent a large part of his life in Russia, where he made his billions on the rubble left behind from the soviet era before returning to his native country.