Georgia

Kakha Kaladze: From football legend to Political Powerhouse

For football fans around the world and Italian fans specifically, Kakha Kaladze is a revered figure in the history of AC Milan. The legendary Italian club saw success in two campaigns and brought the Champions League home twice with Kaladze as a central figure in their defense. Known for his positional versatility and the ability to use his athleticism to overcome the best of attackers, Kaladze is fondly remembered by the Milan faithful even two decades after his iconic Champions League campaigns.

 

A lesser-known aspect of the retired footballer’s life is his political career back home in Georgia. Having served as the Minister of Energy of Georgia (2016-17) and as the First Deputy Prime Minister of Georgia (2012-2017), Kaladze then went on to take up the role of Mayor of Tblisi, the capital city of the nation. He represents the ‘Dream Party’ or the ‘Georgian Dream’. Kaladze is known for his ties to former Prime Minister and billionaire Bidzina Ivanishvili, popularly known as the richest man in Georgia. Ivanishvili made his fortune in post-soviet Russia as a banker and dealer in metals. He is often credited with the swift rise of Kakha Kaladze among the political ranks of Georgia.

 

Considering the geopolitical situation that Georgia finds itself in due to the Russia-Ukraine conflict, the political establishment of Georgia is now in a precarious position. With the European Parliament trying it’s best to bring Georgia and its neighbors onside against Russia, the nation now has massive support in it’s bid to become a member of the European alliances. This decision though, is one that is sure to irk Russian premier Vladimir Putin. Since Georgia shares its largest border with Russia, the current uncertainties have left Georgian politicians with a difficult decision. While most would like to see Georgia joining the European alliance, some hardliners in the nation see a different approach to be the fittest and stand against the conventional notion.

 

With the prospect of an escalation in the current conflict engulfing neighboring nations like Georgia, picking a side has become an essential task for the nation. Whether they will seek the support and protection of NATO against the Russian state or will bow down to Russian pressure and skirt away from the rest of Europe is yet to be seen. What we do know for a fact is that popular figures like Kakha Kaladze will play an important role in this venture, not just with their decisions but also with their ability to influence public opinion on the matter. With the future of Georgia at stake, it would be interesting to see what Kakha Kaladze and his party decide to do at this pivotal juncture.

Zurab Kvaratskhelia

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