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This opera star wants to be the Donald Trump of Eastern Europe

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This opera star wants to be the Donald Trump of Eastern Europe

WATCH  | Meet the opera star running for prime minister of Georgia.

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** CORRECTS SPELLING OF TCHAIKOVSKY ** Nikolai Putilin as Mazeppa, left, and Paata Burchuladze as Kochubey perform during the final dress rehearsal of Tchaikovsky's "Mazeppa," Friday, March 3, 2006 at the Metropolitan Opera in New York. The Metropolitan Opera has never before staged Tchaikovsky's "Mazeppa," although the Kirov Opera brought it to the stage here in 1998. "Mazeppa" finally made its Metropolitan Opera debut on Monday, March 6, 2006.(AP Photo/Stephen Chernin)

No, the other Georgia

Exactly one month before American voters decide whether to elect a political novice to the highest office of the land, Georgia will face a similar decision.

That's the Republic  of Georgia. 

I had a great opera career, you know, but now my country is in big trouble.
Paata Burchuladze

Last spring, internationally acclaimed opera star Paata Burchuladze quit his musical career, formed his own political party and announced his intention to run for prime minister. 

Paata Burchuladze. Don Basilio 1985

Opera star-turned-philanthropist-turned politician 

During his 40-year-long opera career, Burchuladze's "magnificent dark-toned voice" landed him roles at major opera houses around the world. 

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** CORRECTS SPELLING OF TCHAIKOVSKY ** Paata Burchuladze performs the role of Kochubey during the final dress rehearsal of Tchaikovsky's "Mazeppa," Friday, March 3, 2006 at the Metropolitan Opera in New York. The Metropolitan Opera has never before staged Tchaikovsky's "Mazeppa," although the Kirov Opera brought it to the stage here in 1998. "Mazeppa" finally made its Metropolitan Opera debut on Monday, March 6, 2006. (AP Photo/Stephen Chernin)

The 61-year-old is also known for his charity work.  In 2004, Burchuladze established Iavnana, an organization that helps Georgian orphans and families living in poverty. In 2010 he was named a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador.  


His view on the election

Burchuladze is promising Georgian voters who are tired of their current class of politicians that only an outsider like him can bring real change.

But he has his work cut out for him. Recent polling has his State for the People Party currently third, well behind the ruling Georgian Dream party and the main opposition party, the United National Movement.

We learned that with our friends we can stop all invasion in Georgia.
Paata Burchuladze

His view on the United States

Georgia, a country of just under four million, is one of America's strongest allies in Eastern Europe. Burchuladze would like to keep it that way. 

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Tourists walk in central part of Tbilisi with the Narikala, in the background, an ancient fortress overlooking Tbilisi, the capital of Georgia on Monday, July 18, 2016. (AP Photo/ Shakh Aivazov)

Since its independence from the Soviet Union in 1991, Georgia has gotten billions in aid from the United States over the years. In exchange, the United States has a pro-Western ally in the oil-rich, volatile region.

His view on Russia 

The Russia-Georgia relationship has gone through its fair share of rough patches. In 2008, the two countries went to war over a territory dispute involving the breakaway regions of South Ossetia and Abkhazia.

Part of Burchuladze's platform calls for greater relations with his country's Eastern European neighbor. 

"If we shall be strong and independent, this means that Russia will have a very good friend with a strong and independent Georgia," Burchuladze told Circa. 

If we talk to the United States, and the European Union, it doesn't mean we are against Russia.
Paata Burchuladze

At the same time, he wants to finally secure NATO and European membership for his country. Strengthening relations with both Russia and the West, he says, are not mutually exclusive. 

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