Ex-PM Ivanishvili to Guest Host New TV Project

Georgia’s oligarch former Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili has announced that he plans to appear on a question-and-answer show that will air on his GDS TV channel.

Ivanishvili previously appeared on an analytical launched in March, but soon quit without explanation.

The new show’s co-producer, Mikheil Peikrishvili, denied allegations that the program will be used as a political platform for Ivanishvili.

“It will be part of GDS’ election campaign programming. The former prime minister (Ivanishvili) will simply be one of many participants,” Peikrishvili said.

Mirroring the marathon call-in shows of Russian President Vladimir Putin and Venezuela’s late President Hugo Chavez, Ivanishvili will answer questions from journalists and viewers, while serving as a guest-host of the new TV program.

“The TV show will start on September 1 and be broadcast once a week from different regions of the country. We will invite local journalists who will be able to ask questions. The final show will be in Tbilisi,” said Peikrishvili, who added that the first show would take place in the Adjara Region on the Black Sea.

A wildly eccentric Georgian businessman who made his fortune in Russia in the volatile post-Soviet privatization period of the 1990s, Ivanishvili briefly served as prime minister from October 2012 to November 2013.

He founded and later led the Georgian Dream coalition to victory in the 2012 parliamentary elections, ousting the government of staunchly pro-Western former President Mikheil Saakashvili.

Ivanishvili voluntarily stepped down from his position after his hand-picked nominee for the presidency won the 2013 elections.

In March 2012, Ivanishvili was ranked at number 153 in Forbes magazine's annual list of the world's richest billionaires, with an estimated net worth of 6.4 billion. He has since fallen to 298th place on Forbes’ list but remains Georgia’s richest person, worth USD 4.8 billion.

Thea Morrison and Nicholas Waller

25 August 2016 20:08