On 12 January 2020 at 22:30 PM, Georgia’s Public Broadcaster’s TV programme, Tavisupali Khedva, aired an interview with Bidzina Ivanishvili. After his decision to quit politics and publish an open letter on this matter, public interest in Mr Ivanishvili’s plans surged following his statement that this was one of his last TV interviews.

Therefore, FactCheck took interest in the accuracy of Bidzina Ivanishvili’s statements made during the aforementioned TV interview and herein highlights some of the most important ones.

Statement 1: “The Georgian Dream succeeded in halting backsliding. In the course of the last eight years, we consistently and fundamentally have a better situation in every field.”

Verdict: FactCheck concludes that Bidzina Ivanishvili’s statement is FALSE.

FactCheck picked three parameters to verify Bidzina Ivanishvili’s statement: the economic growth rate, the national debt and the population’s well-being.

It is obvious that that the economic growth rate has slowed down. In 2014-2012, Georgia’s economic growth rate was 6.2% annually on average whilst the economy grew by 4.09% annually on average in 2013-2019. At the same time, the government debt measured in both nominal figures and the debt-to-the GDP ratio has also increased.

There has also not been a significant advancement in terms of the population’s well-being. Poverty still remains as one of the country’s biggest challenges whilst Georgia’s position in the Global Hunger Index has deteriorated.

Please see FactCheck’s article for a more detailed analysis (article 1, article 2, article 3).

Statement 2: “The Georgian Dream’s team is second to none in terms of the governments of other countries. Take a look at the rankings, whether on corruption or other aspects, and a very effective team remains in place.”

Verdict: FactCheck concludes that Bidzina Ivanishvili’s statement is FALSE.

Georgia has been backsliding in many fields under the latest period of the Georgian Dream’s rule. Of particular importance in this regard are the years 2018, 2019 and 2020. In this regard, the Corruption Perception Index, the Rule of Law Index and Freedom House’s reports are significant.

Please see FactCheck’s article for a more detailed analysis on the changes in various indicators.

Statement 3: “I am a controller of the government. If someone does not abide by the rules of the game, if there is excessive use of force or something similar, which is unacceptable for us and for the Georgian Dream which we founded, then certainly I will speak out.”

Verdict: FactCheck concludes that Bidzina Ivanishvili’s statement is a LIE.

The Public Defender of Georgia as well as international and local organisations stated that the authorities always used excessive force against manifestations in 2019. Nevertheless, Bidzina Ivanishvili has never criticised the government for using excessive force. The 20 June crackdown serves as the most vivid example. Multiple authoritative local or international organisations decried the crackdown of the rally, although the leader of the ruling party has not voiced criticism. Please see FactCheck’s article for a more detailed analysis.

Statement 4: “NATO’s many European member states do not even pay 2% of their GDP [meaning to the NATO standard – NATO member states have to commit at least 2% of their GDP for defence expenses] whilst we, a poor country, abide by this.”

Verdict: FactCheck concludes that Bidzina Ivanishvili’s statement is TRUE.

Bidzina Ivanishvili’s statement in regard to defence expenses does correspond to the truth vis-à-vis Georgia and NATO’s European member states. NATO’s European member states do not indeed abide by the NATO standard and spend less than 2% of their GDP on defence. In the case of Georgia, the country meets this criterion for each and every budget year and defence expenses range in the margins of 2% of Georgia’s GDP.

In the same context, Bidzina Ivanishvili emphasises that Georgia meets all of the other criteria for NATO membership, including functioning democratic institutions in the country. However, FactCheck refrains from discussing this part of Mr Ivanishvili’s statements and only provides a conclusion on Georgia’s fulfilling of NATO’s financial standard.

FactCheck will publish an analysis of Bidzina Ivanishvili’s other statements in the course of this week.