Former Cartu Group Official Talks Ivanishvili’s Past

Pro-opposition Mtavari Arkhi TV aired a lengthy interview with Eldar Gogoladze, allegedly the former Vice-President of the Cartu Group, who discussed various alleged details of the past of Bidzina Ivanishvili, ruling Georgian Dream chairman and former Prime Minister, the founder of Cartu Group. 

In the words of Eldar Gogoladze, he worked at Soviet Georgia’s Interior Ministry, and afterwards, following the restoration of Georgia’s independence in 1991, he joined the State Security Ministry’s Security Service charged with protecting state officials. After retiring in the end of 1990s, he joined Cartu Group, where he supposedly supervised company security, various international and media projects, before leaving the job in the summer of 2004.

Ivanishvili’s Background, Health

In the October 25 interview, aired some 6 days before October 31 general election, Gogoladze recalled alleged reports of Ivanishvili’s possible involvement with the illegal arms trade during the Angolan civil war. He stated that despite the UN Security Council’s arms embargo on Angola, Russian officials, with Ivanishvili’s involvement, illegally exported arms to the African country. “He viewed it as a regular business… most likely he handled the financial side of it, transactions,” Gogoladze said. 

He then touched upon the mental health of the GD chairperson, claiming that Ivanishvili was previously admitted to a psychiatric hospital in Moscow and was allegedly diagnosed with a mental disorder afterwards.

“He [Ivanishvili] is immeasurably suspicious,” Gogoladze said and added that he would not be surprised if Ivanishvili placed his party members under surveillance. 

Entering politics

Gogoladze said Ivanishvili had already decided to get involved in politics following the Rose Revolution in 2003. Soon after, Vladislav Surkov, then Deputy Chief of the Russian Presidential Administration, tried to convince Ivanishvili that in case of participating in the Presidential elections he would “receive 80% of votes and Saakashvili only 20%,” Gogoladze stated.

“I told him to remain as a legend and a philanthropist in Georgian history… and it was after this [moment] that our relationship became strained… I told him that managing huge companies in Moscow and governing Georgia are two completely different stories,” noted Gogoladze, who supposedly left his job at Cartu Group due to the disagreement on the issue.

Gogoladze claimed that Ivanishvili was pursuing his charitable work intended to “buying [political supporters] and building his biography, getting ready for his next leap.”

He then questioned whether Ivanishvili had his Russian citizenship renounced, noting that “in a safe, his three Russian passports were being kept at all times… authentic Russian passports. I would be very surprised if he did, in fact, renounce his Russian citizenship.”

Anaklia Port

Gogoladze said he came to know of a preceding project to the Anaklia Port – worked by the American and British experts – and introduced the topic to Ivanishvili in 2001, who supposedly took a keen interest as a potential investor.

Gogoladze claimed Ivanishvili left for Moscow to receive greenlight for the project from Russian FSB director Nikolai Patrushev and failing to get Russian endorsement, returned from the Russian capital  “saying that [the project] would not be carried out.” Gogoladze speculated that the GD chairman, being already denied Russian endorsement to Anaklia port in early 2000s, would not allow construction of the port in late 2010s.

Relations with Orthodox Church Leader

Gogoladze also discussed Ivanishvili’s relations with Ilia II, the Patriarch of the Georgian Orthodox Church, noting that “generally, Bidzina does not like people with authority… he is not a religious person either.”

He also claimed that the ruling party benefactor sought to compile a compromising dossier of the Patriarch, stating that “there was an attempt to get a hold of compromising materials… that it would be good if we compiled something like a dossier.”

Georgian Dream Responds

MP Irakli Kobakhidze, Executive Secretary of the Georgian Dream slammed the controversial interview, accusing Mtavari Arkhi TV of “using Russian assets” ahead of the elections. Senior GD lawmaker claimed that Gogoladze served a “notorious, high-ranking KGB agent.”

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