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Georgian Opposition Tycoon Denied Naturalized Citizenship

Georgian billionaire Bidzina Ivanishvili

Georgian billionaire Bidzina Ivanishvili

Georgia has turned down a request from billionaire businessman Bidzina Ivanishvili to have his Georgian citizenship reinstated through naturalization.

Ivanishvili's Georgian citizenship had previously been revoked on the grounds that he had taken on French citizenship.

He was stripped of his citizenship after he voiced plans in October 2011 to form an opposition party to challenge President Mikheil Saakashvili's allies in parliamentary elections.

Georgia's Justice Ministry says Ivanishvili can now only seek dual citizenship.

Last month, a bank owned by Ivanishvili was fined $500,000 for an alleged scheme to illegally fund his campaign group.

Saakashvili's allies have accused Ivanishvili of having loyalties to Russia, which fought a brief war against Georgia in 2008.

Ivanishvili reportedly made his fortune in Russia.

Based on reporting by GHN and AFP