What You Give to Others… An Exclusive Interview with Bidzina Ivanishvili

By George Sharashidze

We interviewed Bidzina Ivanishvili on 9 January but, at the respondent’s request, we publish this interview only after the dissemination of his statement about his final departure from politics. The idea of an interview was conceived in early January, when I, running some personal errands in the entrepreneurial registry, accidentally discovered that Bidzina Ivanishvili had transferred a sizeable portion of his wealth to the Cartu Charity Foundation (see the list of assets below). I believe that this interview answers all questions that readers may have about Bidzina Ivanishvili’s philosophy of life, his charity, business, money, and wealth….

Mr. Ivanishvili, your decision on 30-31 December 2020 to transfer unprecedentedly large assets to the Cartu Charity Foundation did not really elicit feedback. Can you please specify exactly what we are dealing with here?

If memory serves, it was in an interview with your magazine that I mentioned my decision to donate at least 90% of my wealth to public and national causes. However, this statement did not receive adequate feedback from the media or society at the time. In reality, we are dealing with a logical continuation of the process I decided on much earlier, even mentioning it to you in an interview 18 months ago. By the way, in addition to the interview with you, I revealed my intentions to several international publications, though my statement never received an adequate response. Frankly, I never tried to push it either.

Both then and now, the media and the public overlooked the large-scale act of charity that took place on 30-31 December - one large enough to be called a monumental Christmas gift. These assets are estimated at over one billion GEL, maybe even up to a billion USD. Like I said earlier, I learned about these transactions by sheer accident, which motivated me to get in touch with you. Yes, some media outlets critical of the authorities tried to show the donation of an asset to the foundation in a bad light, but even that topic was not picked up by the media. I am honestly surprised that neither the government’s PR services, nor neutral media outlets have tried to bring this topic to light. How do you explain it?

I have the same question and, just like you, I cannot answer it. It is what it is, and unlike you, George, I accept this reality calmly. As for the opposition media, they, just like you, have come across a full list of the list of assets handed over to the charity foundation on 30-31 December, of course, fathoming the scope and positive potential alike, though spreading information about the transfer only of those assets that they, in their shortsightedness, believed to show the issue in a bad light and leave narrow room for blatant speculations - and just turning a blind eye to the rest. Why, they wouldn’t betray their own principles by putting in a good word in for me, would they? [Smiles.] Yet, remembering how the Hippodrome issue backfired at them, they quickly realized that cutting the issue of money laundering out of whole cloth was out of their league, which is why this whole brouhaha quickly died down, as you put it succinctly.

You stated that you are leaving politics for good to return to your pre-2011 lifestyle, that is, when you were not really fond of publicity, to say the least. Better still, there is only one interview, given to Vedomosti in 2005, dated before your coming into politics. In that interview, a section from which was published by the Georgian media as well, you describe your views on philanthropists, categorizing them into those who advertise their charity to score material dividends, and those who do good in secret. Yet even secret, silent charity you believe to be beneficial for the benefactor, in line with Rustaveli’s famous aphorism “What you give to others, you will keep, whatever you don't - you will lose.” The way I see it - please correct me if I’m wrong - you’re trying to say that the ultimate beneficiary of charity is the benefactor, because charity grants enormous spiritual comfort to the benefactor. Do you still hold this belief today, 15 years after that interview, with much more charitable experience to your credit?

Vedomosti removed those passages from the final publication without coordinating with me, which is why, around that time, we asked Kviris Palitra to fill in the gaps, and that must be the version you are quoting.

Of course, I have not changed my mind. On the contrary, as years go by and as I gain more experience, my conviction grows ever stronger. I strongly believe that no material good comes even close to the spiritual comfort you experience when helping the needy, your people and country. And it’s not just about material resources, nor does the scope of unconditional charity ensure one’s spiritual contentment. Because of particular circumstances, I was given a chance to help a large group of people and the country in general for a long time, continuously. But I don’t think that the moral contentment this process has given my wife and I is special or superior in any way over the feelings of those who take their time and make an effort to help an elderly person with a cane cross the street, even though it may make them late somewhere. It is human nature that any honest step taken toward assisting others and making their lives easier fills us with enormous positive energy, because the desire to do good is a natural urge of any healthy person. 

Yet, on closer examination, your years-long philanthropy features one recurring characteristic, a signature style, if you will. Even though you never held back - and confirmed today that the benefactor is the ultimate beneficiary of any charity, you never tried to have the foundation finance projects that place the benefactor on a pedestal, as it were. For the most part, you focused on supporting existing cultural and material heritage created by ancestors or previous generations but on the verge of destruction, such as churches and monasteries, centers of education or culture. This approach features certain components of humility and anonymity, when billboards promote the existing brands instead of he who supports them - I’m talking about the Opera House, theaters, universities.  This approach is not “advantageous” by any stretch - if the word advantageous applies to philanthropy at all - because some “pragmatists” may argue that resources spent this way are wasted. You have paved hundreds of kilometers of roads with your money - roads that are subject to wear and tear, require periodical renovations, and therefore do not really “make a mark.” And that is probably why you ended up repaving some roads. The same is true of sewage systems and waste disposal infrastructure, and roofing for 11,000 households in the Sachkhere District. While preparing for this interview, I came across some exciting TV materials that were unfamiliar to me, such as the former army sanatorium in Tskaltubo, where veterans of the Abkhazian war were supposed to live and yet the state could not afford to take care of the facility - which you roofed with your own money and saved from destruction. You also donated to Georgia 400 tractors fully equipped for ploughing and planting, for the purchase of which you had to borrow half of the purchase amount, if I am not mistaken.

To be honest, the only thing I’ve been trying to do since the very outset - something that my involvement with politics has made impossible - is making sure not to advertise my charity work as much as possible. As for other priorities, I let the rest go with the flow, the way I saw fit - that is, using and channeling resources into urgent causes I believed would be impossible without said resources or, if delayed, would be dead in the water. We launched the Kutaisi International University project, for one, only after making sure to renovate already operating educational centers. You call this approach my signature style. So be it. Let’s call it my signature style. I’m fine with it.

During the World Economic Forum in Davos in early 2020, Global Citizen and Forbes published a joint study into the world’s largest philanthropists, with Warren Buffett and Bill Gates and his wife at the top of the list, having respectively donated 16% and 9% of their wealth to charity over the previous 5 years. The list also features Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and his wife who donated 1.2% of their wealth. With this information in mind, the statement on you and your wife eventually donating at least 90% of your wealth to charity and public causes is like a bolt out of the blue. It is unmatched in its scope worldwide, indeed. Could you be more specific about your unprecedented decision to channel your personal wealth toward philanthropic causes?

It may look like a bolt out of the blue, as you put it, to those who, for whatever reason, are stubborn enough not to believe what they actually see with their own eyes—that which can be easily verified whenever they please. I never compare myself to other philanthropists, to aim at some benchmark target. In fact, this is the first time I've heard such detailed information about others. We all have our own paths and, as we Georgians like to say, Godspeed! I have never swayed from the path of my own values, principles, and conscience - be it in politics, in business, or in the cause we are discussing now. I made my choice long ago, and I am sticking to it. I’ve always believed that it is the greatest joy to be able to benefit a common cause when you can afford it, using your personal hard-earned material or intangible capital, be it money or public trust and approval.  That’s why I - without false modesty and pretense - can repeat word for word everything I said in that first interview with you: The most valuable thing I have done in terms of charity is my participation in politics because, under the previous government, this decision put not just my wealth but my and my family’s lives at stake. Consequentially, because my involvement in politics contributed to and made it possible peacefully to remove a regime thriving on abusing people, and to set the stage for the country’s irreversible peaceful and democratic development - entering politics must be the most valuable thing I've done in my life.

Your resignation before the expiration of your term was an equally unprecedented decision in contemporary global politics, I believe. At any rate, I cannot cite a precedent. Although the tradition of democratic transfer of power on the basis of election results has become routine in the civilized world, losing an election implies that the defeated government wanted to win and, correspondingly, to continue to rule, relinquishing power only because the people decided otherwise and decided against extending its mandate. In my view, your case is also unique in that for the second time now, you voluntarily relinquish power at a time when you are at the peak of democratic, that is, popular legitimacy – no one is challenging you, and you are legally entitled to it.

My involvement with politics had concrete goals and objectives, as discussed in detail in my statement. After reaching them, I decided to leave politics for good. I never considered myself a typical politician per se, in the classic sense of the word. Everything that comes with politics, especially successful politics, such as power, privilege, publicity, etc, only made me feel uncomfortable because of my character and, honestly, I couldn’t wait for this period in my and my family’s life to end.

At the same time, let me emphasize that I in no way mean to demean politics as a profession. I believe that it is one of the most serious, responsible, and honorable lines of work. Throughout these years, I have encountered many politicians both on our team and in the international arena, and I have a great deal of respect for the vast majority. Any profession, including politics, has its own dialectics of nature and motivational aspect, so to speak, which means a chance of self-realization and a healthy ambition to lead the country in the right direction, also prospects of career growth, and decent remuneration, if anything. These are absolutely normal motivational aspects of any profession, and politics cannot and should not be an exception. Otherwise, a politician cannot succeed. And a laggard is no good for himself or his country. It’s just that I had a different starting point and motivation for entering politics, and all of the above were naturally missing from the sphere of my interest. I felt obligated to pay my dues to the country and people, which would be impossible without my direct involvement in politics, which is why I said in advance that it was a temporary measure, that I had no intention of staying in politics long. As soon as I saw that my mission was accomplished, I left politics for good, even though I was forced to come back once again, and that was also due to my high sense of responsibility. I couldn’t let myself fail to finish what I had started, and quietly keep living. My recent letter explains all that in detail, so let’s not overburden our readers.

In that case, I will return to the keyword of our interview, philanthropy, and its scope. People just love counting other people’s money. It is known for a fact that, over the years, the Cartu Foundation, and you and your family as its sole donors, has spent over 3 billion USD on charity, as evidenced by the annual reports of Deloitte, one of the Big Four accounting networks recognized by the World Bank. A few days ago, the foundation published a long list of assets donated on your decision from private ownership to the charity foundation; and, of course, all these material assets, in line with applicable legislation, must be used for the goals set forth in the foundation’s charter and will be spent on ongoing and planned philanthropic projects. In this context, I have two interconnected questions. Is it correct to say that you granted the charity foundation all material assets owned by you through various legal entities? If so, how much financial resources will you and your family own after this transaction?

I understand that both questions are of high public interest, and I appreciate your tactful humor. As for the assets, my wife and I have decided to donate all material assets—except those with credit or other obligations, those difficult for the foundation to manage—to the foundation without delay, on one condition: The purpose of the assets cannot be changed in the process of management or alienation, because most of them are not ordinary business projects but ones focusing on the development of individual branches, or even entire regions, and designed to bring about positive processes in various economic segments, including in tourism.

Several international business media outlets, including Forbes and Bloomberg, assess your wealth at about 5.5 billion USD.

Those are outdated numbers, to put it mildly. They are from 10-15 years ago. I have not worked with Forbes in over a decade, for example. At first, they, with my consent, studied the source of my capital, and I had no problem with the data published by them. But in recent years, I have no idea what they calculate and how because I no longer supply them with information. As for Bloomberg, I have never worked with them, though they too publish their own data.

I disengaged myself from active business long before taking up politics, around the time when I gave my first and last interview to Vedomosti. As a representative of the business press, you know that profiting from a small or large business alike is impossible without full engagement in its administration. Some think that bigger and smaller businesses require different approaches, but there is actually almost no difference in terms of approach. Unless you are involved in risk assessment, investment decision-making, monitoring of market specifics and trends, and unless you make quick, effective decisions, your facultative business engagement is guaranteed to leave you with losses, an axiom that any businessperson will confirm. And what happens to money entrusted to someone else is perfectly illustrated by the recent scandal involving me and a large Swiss bank of nearly impeccable international reputation. Consider yourself lucky if you avoid losses. Consequently, my capital could not have grown over these years, even theoretically.

As for expenses, calculations here are just as simple. As mentioned by you and confirmed by public information, Cartu Foundation has spent 3 billion USD on various charity projects. However, our family has also been privileged to be part of another honorable mission, one we have never discussed and, if not for your question, would probably never be discussed in the future. For almost 30 years, our family has been supporting a large group of friends and acquaintances on an individual basis. Given the unemployment rates and absence of functioning social and medical infrastructure, especially in earlier years, people encountered numerous insurmountable difficulties, from health-related issues to living conditions and basic needs. We could, of course, cover these expenses through the charity foundation - there is nothing illegal about it - but I insisted on bypassing the foundation in this case. I didn’t want a subjective factor to emerge in the process of spending amounts accumulated for public causes, even from the foundation’s founder and sole donor. The foundation has scrupulously observed charter criteria. The foundation’s reputation had to remain spotless, and no exceptions could be allowed, an additional benchmark we set for ourselves. Consequently, we kept said expenses away from the foundation, instead covering them separately over these years. Add to these sizeable expenses the financial resources spent on politics and projects dedicated to the long-term development of various economic areas - those already transferred to the foundation and referred by you as social entrepreneurship - and you have about a billion USD. I will not engage in debates whether or not these expenses qualify as traditional charity - they more likely do not - despite the fact that the amount of capital spent on the development of tourism infrastructure, for example, is sometimes at least twice the current market value of assets created with this capital.

You must be referring to Paragraph Hotel, as discussed during our first interview.

Not just Paragraph Hotel, though it is a very illustrative example. In excess of 127 million USD was spent on its creation and development, yet its market value fluctuates between 50 and 60 million USD, which is why the charity foundation will count this site as its asset based on its market and not investment value, notwithstanding the fact that our investment is at least twice its current market value. Equally disproportionate is the Panorama project, with our investments amounting to twice its current market value. As for the Dendrology Park in Shekvetili - which cost tens of millions of dollars, besides me being labeled as nothing short of an enemy of Mankind -it was never viewed as a commercial project in the first place.

So that leaves you with a billion and a half in capital, right?

Roughly, yes. A part of this amount was already transferred to the charity foundation on 30-31 December, as reflected in the list obtained by you and intended to be published along with this interview. As for other business projects financed by the Co-Investment Fund, and excess capital from these projects, we will free these assets from strictly technical credit and other burdens characteristic of business dealings, and then transfer them to the charity foundation, either as immovable property or as monetary resources after sales. The same is true of the collection of oil paintings which is also part of said excess capital. A portion of the collection has already been sold, and the money has been transferred to the foundation. The same will happen to the assets generated from selling the remaining paintings. Alternately, we may not wait for sales and hand a part of the works over to the foundation.

In your 2012 interview, you said, “Money has never been important to me. I don’t think that a person needs billions. Excess money is like excess weight.” Many find these words hard to process - and rightly so - because most people have a hard time grasping the meaning of “excess money,” because it is generally believed that there is never enough money. Still, now that you continue taking consistent steps toward losing “excess money” - or, as you refer to it, “excess weight” - let’s go back to the catch in the previous question: For the sake of the allegory offered by you, how much does Bidzina Ivanishvili weigh today? How much in financial resources do he and his family keep for personal needs from that billion and a half?

This billion and a half will be used in full for charity. And this very process started on 30-31 December 2020, when the assets mentioned by you were transferred to the foundation. It is an irreversible process that will continue in installments. My wife and I will keep 200 million USD available as free assets besides the billion and a half. To my children I will leave enough not to lose motivation for full self-realization and development, in which living off dividends may be an obstacle.

How do your children take this decision?

Let me tell you that they fully agree with my position, and the decision was made in coordination with them. I am happy that my children are so ambitious and creative, and I am convinced that they will succeed independently from me. Most importantly, I gave them a quality education and, equally importantly, total freedom of choice. We wanted them to choose future vocations on their own, because it is just as important to love what you do as it is to succeed. As for my take on excess money, my children and I are on the same page.

By the way, the passage with the excess money/weight analogy was also removed by Vedomosti from my interview, and nor did Forbes publish it in my short interview in the same year of 2005.

Given the volume and diversity of the donated assets, they will be quite difficult for the foundation to administer. Do you think that you may have to reinforce the foundation’s management with qualified human resources?

Time will show. As for asset administration, once the assets are transferred, it will be up to the foundation, meaning that some may be sold right away, and others may continue to be capitalized on. Still, I believe that they should be alienated soon, to transfer from the foundation to business. Naturally, it does not mean getting rid of an asset prematurely or selling it cheap—if a business offer is much lower than the asset’s market value, the foundation will continue its management until an acceptable offer is made. In the case of hotels, it may be better to alienate them for a few years, because their value will increase alongside political stability and the country’s economic growth, and that will ultimately have a positive impact on the quality and scope of the foundation’s planned and ongoing charity projects.

I might as well preempt possible speculations and ask you, would it have been better, instead of transferring the assets to the foundation now, to have donated matching amounts of money earlier, to allow the foundation to launch projects of its own?

I have a clear answer to this question. By making this decision, I saved the foundation from a blow, because I did not want anyone to cast a shadow over the foundation’s idea, so I intentionally opted to take the fall. You probably remember the torrents of criticism and dirt hurled at me for tourism projects on the Black Sea coast and Tbilisi. My opponents passed off development for destruction and my charity for avarice. That’s why I choose to be their target instead of the foundation. But now that I am leaving politics for good, I am more confident and at peace taking this decision.

Mr. Ivanishvili, I absolutely must ask you: It is known for a fact that, given the scope of your philanthropy, your capital has been steadily decreasing over the years, and yet the international media has been stubbornly assessing your wealth at 5-6 billion USD, give or take. Most likely, they mean the total value of securities owned by you in the past, calculating their worth based on their stock quotes. Yes, you stopped working with these publications, and you don’t confirm the validity of their data. But you were aware of these statistics. Why, then, have not you corrected them and told them that you have “gone poor” and do not “weigh” that much anymore, contrary to what they claim by inertia?

Simply because I don’t think I have “gone poor,” George. My capital is free from private ownership by one Georgian to serve all of Georgia, each Georgian, and my family and I are, after all, co-owners of everything that the foundation has created or saved, aren’t we? If so, how can I “go poor”? What I have given away has never been more “mine” than it is now, because now no-one - not even I - can embezzle it or waste it. Thus, only what you give to others is ultimately yours, and that’s the wisdom and greatness of Rustaveli. At least, that’s how I, one Georgian, and my wife and children, read it.

Do you feel uncomfortable about your passive stance possibly encouraging authoritative publications to publish incorrect information for years?

I may feel somewhat uncomfortable, but it never really mattered to me much. I believe that giving to assist one’s country and people, and their future, is the best investment one can make. But I also understand that Forbes or Bloomberg will probably beg to differ.

You have said repeatedly that doing business in Georgia is not your goal, meaning not only business projects focusing on social aspects more than on fast returns on investment—such as the large infrastructural initiatives in Shekvetili, Abastumani, or Ganmukhuri, for example—but also Cartu Bank, now property of the charity foundation.

Yes, indeed. Speaking of the bank, Cartu Bank has never attempted aggressive efforts and campaigns in the Georgian market, never sought to monopolize the market, and never agreed to serve state accounts, instead always working toward a healthier banking system in Georgia. Suffice to say, in 2001, we bought out the liabilities of Absolute Bank and this way actually saved the then banking system.

I, though a shareholder, have never received dividends from Cartu Bank. And the bank, over the years, has given 55 million USD from its profits to charity.

As for Elita Burji LLC, an unprofitable company for years, I had to subsidize it because I simply had no time personally to manage it. And the company, because of heavy investments in construction technologies, was unable to make a fast return on investment on its own. But for me, as mentioned earlier, introducing modern technologies and improving the country’s business environment is far more important than doing business.

I still feel that way, and this is exactly why, on my wife’s initiative, we have been investing heavily in tourism infrastructure for several years now. Hotel infrastructure of this level may not be necessary today or even tomorrow, but it will benefit the country years from now, when high-spending tourists, including year-round visitors, will flock to Georgia as it grows capable of hosting events of global importance independently.

I understand that, given heavy investments and the scarcity of the market, such projects will not bring in proportional commercial revenues. But I also understand that this is what Tbilisi and the country need, which is why, to me, these are far more than standard commercial projects. The same is true of Cartu Bank, Elita Burji, and other businesses.

So, despite your years-long business management experience, you did not establish profitable businesses in Georgia. But profitability is one of the key criteria for success in business.

I agree with you and admit that I am not happy when it comes to the profitability criterion. Of course, it would be better for businesses to generate higher profits. In the case of the bank, it would have been better to attract greater investments, but unfortunately, it never happened, and I am not happy about it, of course. Apparently, I did not pay due attention to it, especially after entering politics.

Yet, besides the lack of attention, the poor effectiveness of my business companies was also due to the fact that I have never tried to use excess financial resources to create any type of obstacles for Georgian business. On the contrary, I always wanted to help the market and improve the economic environment as much as possible, which is why I never focused only on business profitability…. I honestly wanted to help the country and choose a business activity not based on its profitability, but on its usefulness to the country.

That’s exactly why our magazine praises the completed and ongoing large-scale projects implemented by the Tourism Development Fund in Shekvetili, Abastumani, and downtown Tbilisi as the best examples of social entrepreneurship and refers to you personally as a social entrepreneur.

As mentioned above, this term best describes projects aiming not to do business and seeking fast returns, but to do something new in the country, to help the country, and motivate others. And that is the goal of social entrepreneurship, after all. This has been my attitude, and I don’t regret it, because in Shekvetili, for example, we already have several small and medium-sized hotels that sprang up after the construction of top-notch tourism infrastructure around Paragraph. As a businessman who has not received profits proportional to his investments, and who has failed to create a profitable business, I am not happy, of course, because a business should pursue commercialization and bring in profits. But as a son of this country, I am surely happy because the Black Sea Region of Guria, Tbilisi and Abastumani, and prospectively Tskaltubo, now have a new opportunity to develop.

Even though we are having an apolitical interview, and our magazine focuses exclusively on economics and business, we still cannot avoid your political experience, especially political management. Is there a difference between business and political management? And how successful have you been in achieving your goals on the political front? You say that, in Georgia, you are less interested in profitability, the key measurement of a business. Do you feel the same about politics?

Yes, I have already mentioned that attention and focus are mandatory preconditions for a successful business. I had the same attitude toward politics. But while neglecting business, I was fully focused on politics, and results would not hesitate to follow, with positive and virtually irreversible achievements in every direction, one of the key factors influencing my decision to distance myself from politics once and for all.

So, wherever you give it your best and focus to the fullest, you have maximal results, don’t you? This is what happened in business and later after your coming into politics, though you were forced to neglect your business activities, which is why, as you say, you have been unable to expand Cartu Bank’s investment portfolio and to transform Elita Burji into a profitable company, right? In business terminology, it is called opportunity cost, or alternative cost, meaning that by giving priority to one alternative, we undermine other alternatives. However, the New Testament and Christianity teach us that what matters is not the result but intention and desire, sincere desire.

Exactly. The decision in favor of politics may have hurt my business - and using the interesting term suggested by you - I ended up paying high opportunity cost. But, deep inside, I always strove to give it my all on both fronts, to put to work my capabilities equally.

In politics, like in business, my worldviews and attitudes have been decisive: Doing what others could not do without me and staying as long as it is necessary.

Although I was forced to return to politics for two years when the team’s unity and idea were jeopardized, now that my decision to leave politics is final and irreversible, I feel much more at peace, because the team I’m leaving behind is ready to answer for its actions and, if need be, to hold others accountable.

Afterword: As I mentioned at the beginning of the publication, the conversation with Bidzina Ivanishvili took place on 9 January. I went to the interview with the intention of  talking about issues pertaining to “ordinary charity” but after a detailed conversation and, moreover, after perusing his extensive letter, I am left with the impression that the portrait of Bidzina Ivanishvili - a Georgian philanthropist of the largest scale - lacks a very important accent: If the essence of charity is the voluntary and selfless giving of goods, legally obtained through private initiative and personal effort, for public benefit, then we are dealing with a person who not only donated 95% of his material capital for public benefit and the common cause, but also used the trust of the people - that is, his own symbolic capital - first to free the country from dictatorship, then to prevent its recurrence; and today, he is giving up the power generated as a result of this trust through democratic procedure, once again - voluntarily and unselfishly, which, I strongly believe must be considered a truly unprecedented case of political charity, as evidenced by his every step in Georgian politics since October 2011. He entered politics not to seek power but to return to the people the power captured by others. He entered politics to pay his dues, and he has made a point of not using any benefit or privilege that comes with power, except the privilege of serving people. He came to apply his charity to this front too, and now is on his way back home victorious, with his dues paid in full.

 First published in the Georgian edition of Entrepreneur Magazine – www.entrepreneur.ge

Bidzina Ivanishvili: Politician, Philanthropist, Businessman

Bidzina Ivanishvili founded the Georgian Dream-Democratic Georgia political union in 2011 and united almost the entire opposition spectrum under its aegis. In the 2012 parliamentary elections, the Georgian Dream Coalition claimed a sweeping victory over the then ruling party, the National Movement, led by Mikheil Saakashvili. The Georgian Dream received full popular support and, despite the fear and terror raging at that time, an unprecedented number of voters declared support for Bidzina Ivanishvili and his political team, an event consequently recognized as a peaceful revolution at the ballot box.

The Georgian Dream’s victory in the 2012 parliamentary elections set the stage for the country’s fundamental democratic transformation to carry out the complex process of establishing law and order without institutional shifts - the architects of the violent system, whose culpability has never been questioned by international partners, were brought to justice, with the country’s state institutions and bureaucracy, freed from political pressure, growing far more effective in their operations. In particular, former Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili, who continues to evade justice as a fugitive, was repeatedly convicted of several serious felonies by Georgian courts of all three instances; the former Prime Minister was convicted on several criminal charges and served a seven-year prison sentence; the former Minister of Defense and Internal Affairs is serving a prison sentence for numerous violent crimes, including torture and inhuman treatment; the former justice minister and General Prosecutor, convicted of several grievous crimes, is an internationally wanted fugitive.

After winning the elections, Bidzina Ivanishvili served as Georgia’s prime minister for a year. In November of 2013, he resigned, keeping his promise made publicly before entering politics, though never fully distancing himself from politics and periodically assisting the Georgian Dream’s team with consultations.

In 2017-2018, the ruling party encountered problems threatening to affect the state’s proper functioning. The truth of the matter is that the winning coalition in the 2012 elections was, from the very outset, an eclectic multiparty unity of groups mechanically gathered around leaders with different political backgrounds and values. These parties—with the exception of the Georgian Dream—possessed virtually no electoral resources besides loud and eloquent names (the Republican Party of Georgia, Free Democrats, the National Forum, the Conservative Party of Georgia, Industry Will Save Georgia, the Social Democratic Party of Georgia, the Green Party of Georgia), instead relying on the supporters of the Georgian Dream party and consequently making a miniscule contribution to victory. Over time, most of these parties and leaders left the coalition, yet the Georgian Dream, until recently, could not transform into a value-based monolithic unity either, because it remained eclectic even within the scope of one party. This periodically served as the basis for intraparty crises and could have caused the team to face a real danger of dissolution, had the problems deepened. In May of 2018, Bidzina Ivanishvili was forced temporarily to return to politics as the party’s Chairman to solve precisely this systemic problem. Of course, he could have held the post of Prime Minister in parallel with the position of party leader, which would have made perfect sense in light of his political weight among the public and the laws of ordinary politics. However, for the second time in his biography, he deliberately refused this privilege, which constitutes living proof of the fact that Bidzina Ivanishvili has never yearned to take power, let alone tried to hold on to it. He always focused on neutralizing threats and solving problems of importance to the public. This is precisely what happened in this case as well: In the 30 months with Bidzina Ivanishvili at the helm of the party, every problem stemming from the coalitionary legacy was successfully overcome. Old-school leaders left the team, to be replaced with committed, qualified young members, significantly renewing, revitalizing, and strengthening the party, while molding it into a homogenous, modern political team. And success was soon to follow: In the free and democratic elections of October 31, 2020, the Georgian people put their trust in the Georgian Dream for the third time in a row. This was followed by Bidzina Ivanishvili’s decision to permanently leave politics and his resignation as the Party’s Chairman on January 11, 2021.

List of Property Transferred to International Charity Fund Cartu

List of Companies in the Tourism Development Fund of Georgia LLC and the Property in Their Ownership – Ownership Transferred


Land Area

Construction Area

Apartment / Commercial Area


Tbilisi City LLC (Tsekavshiri)






Sololaki Rise LLC (Project Sololaki)





Sololaki Hills LLC (extension of Sololaki, suspended)





Tabori Resorts LLC (Tabori, golf)





Georgian Eco Transport LLC (cableways)





Business Development LLC (Mtsvane Kontskhi)





Business Development LLC (Mtsvane Kontskhi)





Business Development LLC (Tsikhisdziri)





Seaside LLC (Chakvi)





Black Sea Resorts LLC (Shekvetili Hotel Paragraph)





Black Sea Riviera LLC (Ganmukhuri/Anaklia)





Tsisartkela LLC (51% share, Abastumani)




List of Additional Property – Ownership Transferred



Property Area

Land Plot Area


Business Center LLC

Tbilisi, Sololaki Alley, the area belonging to the Business Center




Cartu Group

Tbilisi, 300 Aragveli Street




Cartu Group

Tbilisi, 39a Ilia Chavchavadze Avenue




Cartu Group

Tbilisi, near Kakheti Highway




Cartu Group

Tbilisi, the hillside near Tskhvedadze Street




Burji LLC

Tbilisi (Production space)

Production space



Elita Burji LLC and the area belonging to Isani Cartu

Tbilisi, Beri Gabriel Salosi Avenue




Elita Burji LLC

Poti, Guria Street




The area belonging to Laguna Vere JSC and 69 Kostava LLC

Tbilisi, Kostava Avenue




Sea View Resort LLC

Batumi, Groboedovi Street




Bolnisi Tuff LLC

Bolnisi District, village of Talaveri

Production space



Land plots belonging to Didveli JSC

Borjomi District, Bakuriani, Didveli





Cartu Bank JSC





Cartu Insurance JSC




Ownership Being Transferred:

  1. Bakuriani complex – 7,625 (property area) – 88,801 (land plot area)
  2. Hotel in Sighnaghi LLC (70% share)


11 January 2021 21:28