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Georgian Court Rejects Ivanishvili Appeal To Restore Citizenship

Bidzina Ivanishvili at a rally in Kutaisi in June
TBILISI -- A Georgian court has rejected an appeal by a billionaire opposition leader to restore his Georgian citizenship.

New legal changes, however, mean Bidzina Ivanishvili can apparently still run for elected office in Georgia.

An appeals court in Tbilisi on June 29 upheld an earlier decision to strip Ivanishvili of his Georgian passport for violating the country's citizenship laws.

The ruling was issued after Ivanishvili acquired a French passport.

Ivanishvili says the ruling was politically motivated.

Since announcing his decision to challenge President Mikheil Saakashvili's governing party in elections set for autumn, Ivanishvili has been fined tens of millions of dollars for violating political fundraising laws.

On June 28, Georgia's parliament approved legislation allowing EU citizens like Ivanishvili who have been permanent residents of Georgia for the past five years to run for political office.

Based on reporting by AFP and RFE/RL's Georgian Service