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Georgian oligarch’s thorny path2011-05-06 13:46
The rating of the richest people in the post-Soviet space has been published again. It contains only three Georgians: Bidzina Ivanishvili, Gia Jokhtaberidze and Alexander Japaridze. Two of these names have long since "settled" in various ratings, including rather respected ones. As for Gia Jokhtaberidze, it is the first time he is topping the list of the richest people of the former Soviet Union. However, he can hardly be characterized as a newcomer at the top of financial success. There is nothing new here - it's rather something old that has become new again.
If the circumstances had been different, the owner of Magticom Company, which is still the largest mobile operator in Georgia, could have become the richest man in the country. He could be richer than Bidzina Ivanishvili, the wealthiest Georgian on the planet. He was born to a well-to-do family in the year Stalin died; received education in Tbilisi and finished his postgraduate studies in Moscow. He took on IT-business, as we would put it today, in those far times when hardly any Georgian was capable of saying the world "computer". Jokhtaberidze's most lucky step was to marry Manana Shevardnadze - it is clear whose daughter she was. It was not difficult for such a son-in-law to found the MagtiCom Company and tackle mobile communications in
the troublous 1996 when the whole Georgia was plunged in darkness and roads were raided by plunderers.
But once the fate that had always been merciful to him did not justify his hopes. In 2004, the power in Georgia was seized by a team of young "revolutionists" who dethroned Jokhtaberidze's father-in-law. The almighty Shevardnadze the White Fox became nobody in an instant. Of course, his son-in-law still owned the most profitable business in Georgia and a fantastic sum of money. But the young revolutionists suddenly remembered that they had come to power with an empty treasury.
Gia Jokhtaberidze was late to buy tickets on a plane to Paris. The new governors already understood who would be the best person to be "asked" for money. As soon as he got off the plane he was accompanied by policemen under the cross fire of the TV cameras of all the Georgian TV channels. Jokhtaberidze was put in prison for non-payment of taxes and his wife had to pay fifteen and a half million dollars to release her husband. Naturally, the businessman drew a very useful lesson from the whole fuss. Anyway, today, Magti mobile operator is a prosperous and the largest one in the country and its owner got into the top hundred richest people in CIS with a billion dollars in his pocket.