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Georgian Billionaire Seeks Citizenship Ruling in Rights Court

Sept. 20 (Bloomberg) -- Billionaire Bidzina Ivanishvili asked the European Court of Human Rights to rule on the loss of his Georgian citizenship as he prepares to challenge the ruling party at Oct. 1 parliamentary elections.

Ivanishvili, whose wealth Forbes magazine puts at $6.4 billion, filed a suit against the Black Sea nation’s government today, according to an e-mailed statement from his Georgian Dream party.

“Georgian Dream believes the Georgian government action was part of a deliberate effort to maintain its grip on power and undermine the democratic choice of the people of Georgia,” according to the statement.

Ivanishvili’s citizenship was revoked last year after he entered politics to take on President Mikheil Saakashvili’s United National Movement in a bid to become prime minister.

While Georgia allows dual citizenship, the billionaire, who was already a Georgian and Russian subject, forfeited his right to Georgian citizenship when he obtained a third, French, passport, the Justice Ministry ruled. He has renounced his Russian citizenship.

Ivanishvili may be able to reclaim his citizenship by directly petitioning the president, but he hasn’t done so, Manana Manjgaladze, a spokeswoman for Saakashvili, said last year.

To contact the reporter on this story: Helena Bedwell in Tbilisi at hbedwell@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Balazs Penz at bpenz@bloomberg.net

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