South Ossetian KGB alleges detained Tbilisi doctor connected to Georgian special services
The KGB of South Ossetia has published audio recordings and transcripts of three conversations from the mobile phone of Tbilisi doctor Vazha Gaprindashvili, who was arrested on November 9 while crossing the administrative border with South Ossetia [ed. state border in the terminology of South Ossetia].
Based on these conversations, the South Ossetian KGB concluded that Gaprindashvili is connected with Georgian special services and was carrying out an assignment.
Tbilisi has called Tskhinvali’s statement “trumped-up charges and deliberate misinformation.”
Georgian trauma doctor Vazha Gaprindashvili has been in a detention center in Tskhinvali for more than 10 days. Russian servicemen detained him in the conflict zone when he was trying to cross over. The Ossetian side accused him of illegally crossing the so-called state border; a criminal case was brought against him for this under Article 322 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation.”
On November 19, the South Ossetian security service issued a statement saying that Gaprindashvili was involved in hostilities in August 2008 as a military doctor and captain of the military medical service of the Georgian armed forces. The Georgian side, including the family and colleagues of Gaprindashvili, called this information false.
Vazha Gaprindashvili is the president of the Georgian Society of Orthopedic Traumatologists
The audio recordings and their transcripts of three conversations of the mobile phone have been published.
JAMnews cannot verify that these recordings real and below only conveys what is heard on them.
The first two conversations took place on November 8 (the day before his detention in South Ossetia). Vazha Gaprindashvili tells his interlocutors there that he will not be in Tbilisi on November 9 – this message was probably the reason that the KGB of South Ossetia published these audio messages.
JAMnews phoned both interlocutors of Gaprindashvili and they confirmed that they spoke with the doctor on November 8, and the content of the conversation was similar to what is heard in the audio.
The third conversation is more interesting.
As stated by South Ossetian news agency RES, on November 9 (that is, on the day of arrest), at about 10 in the morning, Gaprindashvili met in Tbilisi near a Wendy’s restaurant with his colleague Irakli Kartozia. Then they got in a taxi together and drove to the village of Sakorintlo in the Kaspi region [ed. quite close to the zone of the Georgian-Ossetian conflict].
Within an hour or two – “between 11 a.m. to 11:40 a.m. Tbilisi time” – Vazha Gaprindashvili (already alone) crossed the line of separation and moved to the village of Monaster in South Ossetia [ed. Leningor district in the terminology of the Ossetian side, Akhalgori district in Georgian terminology].
At 11:40 he called the same Kartozia, the conversation sounded like this (transcript published by RES):
“V. Gaprindashvili is moving quickly and talking on the phone.
Vazha: I’m already in the village.
Irakli: Are you already there? Inaudible: Will we go? (or will I go?) Vazha: Yes, yes, I am already in the village. Irakli: Is everything calm there?
Vazha: Yes, as long as no one pays attention to me. So there are people in the village, now I’ll go to the center, find a cafe and drink coffee.
Irakli: Yes, well, be in touch.
V. Gaprindashvili’s panting heard in the background.”
According to the KGB of South Ossetia, right after the conversation, Vazha Gaprindashvili was detained by a Russian border guard.
Another interesting fact, which, according to the South Ossetian KGB, is relevant to this story – on November 6, 21,000 lari [about $7,000] was received on a Bank of Georgia account that belongs to Vazha Gaprindashvili.
The KGB of South Ossetia called the whole story with the doctor Gaprindashvili a provocation.
“The information and objective control data at the disposal of the State Security Committee of the Republic of South Ossetia indicates that the fact that on November 9, 2019, Georgian citizen Gaprindashvili, Vazha Dzhondoevich (born July 26, 1961) violated the state border of the Republic with Georgia was well prepared and had a planned character,” the KGB of South Ossetia said in its statement.
The KGB of South Ossetia directly connects the event with the mass protests in Georgia.
“Attempts by the Georgian opposition, its Western curators, and official Tbilisi to gain political points with Gaprinadashvili, as well as exerting pressure on the authorities of South Ossetia to improve their internal rating, are futile,” the statement said.
New facts from Vazha Gaprindashvili’s interrogation
The same report by RES provides new data referring to the interrogation of Vazha Gaprindashvili.
“During the interrogation, Gaprindashvili explained that he crossed the border on purpose, because he wanted to”, visited the church in the village of Monaster, “but he could not clearly speak about his religious views and beliefs.”
Gaprindashvili also refused to answer questions about his party affiliation and stated that he was a supporter of Georgia’s joining NATO as soon as possible, and considered his violation of the state border of South Ossetia and Georgia as “the legitimate exercise of the right of a Georgian citizen to free movement,” said that he considers South Ossetia “Georgian territory, occupied by Russia” and that Russia is the main enemy of the Georgian state.
“At the same time, according to Gaprindashvili, he, as a citizen of Georgia, reserves the right to criticize any political leadership of Georgia and, by legal methods, demand changes in certain regulatory acts,” the KGB of South Ossetia said.
Representatives of the Georgian state security service in an interview with the Georgian news agency InterpressNews called the reports of the South Ossetian KGB “trumped-up charges and deliberate misinformation.”
“Any actions taken by the occupying forces against Vazha Gaprindashvili are illegal and have no legal basis. Vazha Gaprindashvili should be immediately released to ensure a safe situation in the occupied territories and along the line of occupation.
“The central government of Georgia is actively working on the release of Vazha Gaprindashvili, the monitoring mission of the European Union and the co-chairs of the Geneva international discussions are included in this process,” the Georgian State Security Service said.
“I’ve been working in this field for 30 years, but I don’t remember such a unique case” – expert, former Minister Paata Zakareishvili
Former Minister of State for Reconciliation and Civil Equality of Georgia Paata Zakareishvili commented on the new information in an interview with JAMnews.
Zakareishvili suggests that the Ossetian side listened to phone records after Gaprindashvili was arrested and his phone was confiscated:
“I am amazed at how easily they got these records. This is the work of Russian services, only they can have such serious equipment.
“Of course, I am not competent in this matter, but I believe that after they took possession of Gaprindashvili’s phone, they were able to access these records through some software. All this speaks of equipment and qualifications of a very high level, I would doubt that Tskhinvali possesses this. This is a trace of the Russian special services,” Zakareishvili said.
As for the content of the telephone records – they, in his opinion, do not answer any questions. Rather, on the contrary, they raise even more questions:
“There is nothing in these recordings that, for example, disproved the previous version that this person was going to visit patients. Also, in the recordigs, it does not say anything about whether he was going to visit the church, as the Ossetian KGB says.
“In fact, we don’t know anything, we don’t know at all how this person was guided. We have information only from third parties.
“Therefore, I can’t give a conclusion about why this person went over to the Ossetian side,” Zakareishvili said.
“I can only say that for 30 years of work in this area I have never heard of such a unique and strange case,” said Paata Zakareishvili.