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According to the statement of the member of the United National Movement, Giga Bokeria: "After this government came to power, instead of an improvement of the situation and the punishment of perpetrators, we see that nothing has changed. The private lives of others is still being recorded. We all know the Eka Mishveladze, Nika Gvaramia and Papuashvili cases. We also had the case of the Deputy Minister of Internal Affairs who was detained for the exposure of the private life of a journalist. That person was simply dismissed from his position and has never spent a single day in jail."

FactCheck

tried to verify the accuracy of the statement.

KHVEDELIDZE CASE

On 3 May 2013, a video tape depicting the private life of Giorgi Paresishvili, a journalist, was published on the internet. Mr Paresishvili himself declared those tapes to be falsified and said that the material was published because of his confrontation with high-ranking officials. The journalist stated: "Gela Khvedelidze committed this malicious act against me after I exposed the Prime Minister’s adviser, Gia Khukhashvili, the Deputy Minister of Internal Affairs, Gela Khvedelidze, and the Deputy Prosecutor General, Lasha Natsvlishvili, of lobbying for the import of low-quality production."

On 12 May 2013, the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Georgia detained Gela Khvedelidze for this issue. The then Minister of Internal Affairs, Irakli Gharibashvili, stated that the Deputy Minister of Internal Affairs, who was acting out of vengeance, personally uploaded the video recordings made under the previous government.

Notwithstanding the demand of the Prosecutor’s Office to use detention as a prevention measure, Tbilisi City Court released Gela Khvedelidze on GEL 5,000 bail. Later, the Prosecutor’s Office allowed

him to temporarily leave the country.

On 14 May 2014, at a closed trial, the court gave a one-year conditional sentence to the former First Deputy Minister of Internal Affairs, Gela Khvedelidze. According to the information of the Prosecutor’s Office, Mr Khvedelidze acknowledged his guilt whilst on trial. This information was neither confirmed nor denied by his lawyer.

The court’s decision had different responses. The Minister of Justice, Tea Tsulukiani, stated that presenting charges against Gela Khvedelidze was an exemplary act of the government. Ms Tsulukiani stated: "It would have been impossible under the previous government to have a Minister of Internal Affairs punishing his deputy in such an exemplary fashion." Giorgi Paresishvili believes that a one-year conditional sentence is far from being exemplary and is a mockery and something unacceptable for the public.

BUNTURIDZE CASE

On 6 May 2014, Rustavi 2 TV accused the Government of Georgia of illegal telephone eavesdropping and presented video materials provided by an anonymous source from the Ministry of Internal Affairs as proof. The conversation between Nika Gvaramia and his then Deputy, Nino Shubladze, are featured in the video recording.

On 9 May 2014, the Prosecutor’s Office published the interim results of the investigation and declared that the installation of illegal surveillance cameras at Rustavi 2 was related to the former President of Georgia, Mikheil Saakashvili. According to the statement of the Prosecutor’s Office, the video recording (

which was made on 21 December 2012) submitted by Rustavi 2’s Head of Security, Teimuraz Kovziashvili, features members of the President’s Protection Service who were carrying out technical work with special equipment (including a metal folding ladder) in the offices of both Nika Gvaramia and Nino Shubladze. This version, presented by the Prosecutor’s Office, was not confirmed by the General Director of Rustavi 2, Nika Gvaramia, who was under detention by the Investigative Service of the Ministry of Finance at that time. According to Mr Gvaramia’s statement, whilst detained, the founders of Rustavi 2 decided to make a check of the aforementioned offices. The aforementioned video recording includes these particular places. Additionally, Mr Gvaramia said that after the checking procedure was completed, no surveillance equipment was found which made him suspicious that the installation of surveillance cameras was carried out under the incumbent government. Mr Gvaramia stated: "This whole situation leads to Mr Bunturidze who was the head of Rustavi 2’s Protection Service and now occupies a high position in the Ministry of Corrections and Legal Assistance."

On 6 October 2014, Transparency International Georgia published a research

study in regard to security officers (so-called ODRs) in state institutions. The research illustrates that Vladimer Bunturidze was appointed as the Deputy Director of the Corrections Department of the Ministry of Corrections and Legal Assistance in 2013.

The Deputy Minister of Corrections and Legal Assistance, Besik Devdariani, commented upon the aforementioned research study. He confirmed the information about Vladimer Bunturidze’s appointment although he denied the existence of the so-called ODRs within the Ministry.

GOVERNOR OF GURIA CASE

In March 2015, the All Generations for Georgia NGO organised a film screening in Poti, Zugdidi and Khobi dedicated to the nine-year rule of the United National Movement. The film contained scenes depicting violence.

On 11 May 2015, the Head of All Generations for Georgia, Gia Salukvadze, was appointed as the Governor of Guria. FactCheck has previously written about this issue. On 29 December 2015, whilst presenting the government’s programme, Prime Minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili declared

that he did not have any information about the involvement of the Governor of Guria in showing the film with its scenes of torture. Mr Kvirikashvili stated: "If I find out that there was indeed that sort of involvement, I assure you that my decisions will be appropriate."

On 15 April 2016, at his meeting with journalists, the Prime Minister was reminded about his promise. Mr Kvirikashvili stated that the Governor of Guria was not involved in the screening of the film depicting scenes of torture.

Of note is that Gia Salukvadze himself confirmed the fact of organising the screening of the film showing the scenes of torture. However, he denied the fact about bringing in school pupils specifically for the film screening.

EKA MISHVELADZE CASE

On 8 September 2015, on air on Rustavi 2, former Public Broadcaster journalist, Eka Mishveladze, talked about surveillance carried out against her and her husband, Aleksi Petriashvili. Ms Mishveladze stated: "Before the Public Broadcaster’s advisor knew that Alexi Petriashvili and I got married, certain services were given this information long beforehand." This fact was commented upon by the Head of the Defence and Security Committee of the Parliament of Georgia, Irakli Sesiashvili, who stated: "This will not remain without reaction, of course. However, everything should be given its appropriate name. This might be a suspicion or this might be a specific fact. Therefore, we have to act in a manner in which to make sure there are no unanswered questions." On 12 March 2016, on air on Rustavi 2, Irakli Sesiashvili underlined that Eka Mishveladze refused to cooperate with the investigation which was confirmed by Ms Mishveladze herself. She stated: "A lot of things have been changed after I did not talk about this case because I did not want to talk about it. Therefore, because I’m making comments upon this case today, it means that I’m now ready to cooperate with the investigation."

On 16 March 2016, Eka Mishveladze gave the Prosecutor’s Office the name of the individual who presented her with the recorded conversation between herself and Alexi Petriashvili. However, the Prosecutor’s Office did not launch an investigation but the case was delegated to the Ministry of Internal Affairs instead. Ms Mishveladze and the Georgian Young Lawyers’ Association (GYLA), the non-governmental organisation which was involved in the protection of her rights, expressed distrust toward the Ministry of Internal Affairs.

GYLA stated

that the transferring of Eka Mishveladze’s case to the Ministry of Internal Affairs for investigation, whilst the culpability of an employee of the Ministry was indicated in the minutes of her interview with the Prosecutor’s Office, creates reasonable doubts in regard to the independence and efficiency of the investigation.

On 6 May 2015, GYLA’s demand was satisfied and Eka Mishveladze’s case was transferred from the Ministry of Internal Affairs to the Prosecutor’s Office. Ms Mishveladze stated: "This process started to resemble an absurdity. It was clear from the beginning that this case should be investigated by the Prosecutor’s Office. I would like to say that I do not have hope that this case will be investigated because this is a case which concerns this government."

GVARAMIA CASE

On 21 October 2015, the Executive Director of Rustavi 2, Nika Gvaramia, made a special statement in regard to the existence of recordings of his private life and attempts of the government to blackmail him through using these recordings. He disclosed the contents of the recordings – a telephone conversation between him and Mikheil Saakashvili. The Prosecutor’s Office reacted to that statement and summoned Mr Gvaramia as a witness for testimony. The Prosecutor’s Office is still carrying out the investigation under Article 150 (coercion) of the Criminal Code of Georgia. The results of the investigation are still unknown to the public.

Of note is that Ukrainian new agencies started to circulate the recordings of the telephone conversation between Nika Gvaramia and Mikheil Saakashvili a few days after Mr Gvaramia’s statement.

On 31 October 2015, the Deputy Head of the State Security Service of Georgia stated that based upon the transcript of a dialogue between Mikheil Saakashvili and the International Secretary of the United National Movement, Giga Bokeria, published on 24 October 2015 on the Ukrainian blog wikileaks.center, Georgia’s State Security Service had launched an investigation upon the basis of Article 315 of the Criminal Code of Georgia.

On 3 November 2015, the Public Defender of Georgia called upon the Prosecutor’s Office of Georgia to study the legality of obtaining and circulating the aforementioned audio recordings. The Public Defender stated that even though the recordings were uploaded on a Ukrainian blog site, the high interest of the public should not be ignored.

PAPUASHVILI CASE On 5 March 2016, on air on Rustavi 2, the President of the Constitutional Court of Georgia, Giorgi Papuashvili, talked about the existence of photo and video materials depicting his private life and attempts to exert pressure upon him by using these materials. Mr Papuashvili stated: "A confidential source informed me yesterday that the publication of an indecent photo and video materials about me is being planned. Madame Minister [Tea Tsulukiani] is all for it but several members of the political leadership are against it. This would constitute public pressure upon me." The Administration of the President of Georgia commented upon this statement and highlighted the necessity for a transparent investigation of the fact. However, the details of the case are still unknown to the public. Of note is that Giorgi Papuashvili himself is unaware about the investigation process. In his interview with FactCheck,

he stated that no one has contacted him in this regard.

The Minister of Justice has also commented upon Giorgi Papuashvili’s statement. Tea Tsulukiani stated: "I have already published all that I had to publish about Giorgi Papuashvili – those were his extremely low marks. Neither me nor any other member of the Government of Georgia has any other documentation to publish." On 11 March 2016, the Constitutional Court of Georgia published a statement which says that after the Minister of Justice’s comment, family members of the President of the Constitutional Court received threatening and abusive telephone calls from an anonymous person. An investigation upon the basis of a statement by Mr Papuashvili’s spouse was launched but later was halted for the reason that the person who had made the threatening call had dialled a wrong number.

Conclusion

From the cases of alleged surveillance and eavesdropping committed under the incumbent government, only the case of Gela Khvedelidze has been finalised with his one-year conditional sentence for disclosing information about the private lives of individuals. The results of the investigation concerning every one of the other aforementioned cases remain unknown to the public.

Therefore, FactCheck concludes that Giga Bokeria’s statement is TRUE.