Wiretap of convo between Ivanishvili’s son, new Georgian PM gives rise to scandal
Top leaders of the Georgian government may have been engaged in the threatening and harassment of individuals including underage schoolchildren on the instructions of Bera Ivanishvili, the son of the de facto ruler of the country, Bidzina Ivanishvili.
This is evidenced by audio recordings of wiretapped conversations broadcast on Saturday evening by TV channel Pirveli.
The authenticity of the recordings has not been confirmed – the TV company claims that the recordings were provided by an unknown person.
According to the TV company, the current Prime Minister of Georgia Irakli Garibashvili, the head of the special state security service Anzor Chubinidze and the third participant, Bera Ivanishvili, a musician and rap artist, son of the leader of the ruling party of billionaire Bidzina Ivanishvili, are participants in the conversations.
In the recordings of the telephone conversations, people with voices similar to those of Ivanishvili, Garibashivli and Chubinidze describe in detail how a schoolboy was intimidated and punished for using obscene language against Bera Ivanishvili on social media.
“Today he is going to be ** ed to school” – what they say on the recording
In the recording, Bera Ivanishvili tells Irakli Garibashvili that certain people, on behalf of Anzor Chubinidze, came to a minor’s house on his direction and intimidated, humiliated the victim and forced him to apologize in the presence of his family and neighbors:
“Today he is going to go to school,” says Bera Ivanishvili.
“It is unlikely that he could go to school,” replies Irakli Garibashvili.
According to the recording, Bera Ivanishvili repeatedly checked whether Anzor Chubinidze fulfilled his task and punished a minor who posted an unwanted comment on social media.
After that, Garibashvili and Ivanishvili discuss the case of punishing another person for the same reason – this person also wrote something on Facebook that Bere Ivanishvili did not like.
As a result, Anzor Chubinidze also forced him to apologize.
The conversation contains rude and obscene language. The participants in the conversation laugh at the victims.
The entry mentions a certain ‘Vakho’, who also took part in punitive measures. According to Pirveli TV, the matter concerns the Minister of Internal Affairs Vakhtang Gomelauri.
Did Bidzina Ivanishvili know?
According to the recording, Bera Ivanishvili tells Garibashvili that his father, Bidzina Ivanishvili, is aware of the case of his planned reprisals.
Bera Ivanishvili mentions that the people who insulted him must apologize in writing, and “my father (Bidzina Ivanishvili) also says that this must be done.”
Irakli Garibashvili replies that this is a good idea.
When the audio recording was made, journalists do not know.
Who submitted the recording and when was it made?
These recordings were transmitted to the TV channel by an anonymous source.
Several versions of the alleged distributor of the recordings have spoken out on media and social media.
According to some accounts, the recording was allegedly transmitted by former Prime Minister Giorgi Gakharia, or former Deputy Head of the State Security Service Soso Gogashvili, or other former high-ranking officials who left their posts for various reasons and at different times due to disagreements within the ruling team.
The exact date of the recording is unknown. Journalists assume that it was made in 2015-2016.
The reaction of the authorities and the opposition
The authorities began to react even before the story went on the air, as soon as the program was announced – special programs and stories were prepared in the pro-government media in which former President Mikheil Saakashvili and the opposition were accused of fabricating wiretaps.
After the material was aired, a meeting of the party’s political council took place in the office of the ruling Georgian Dream party. Commenting on the recordings, one of the leaders of the party, Mamuka Mdinaradze, said that it was a “fiction”.
According to Mdinaradze, the recording consists of individual phrases taken out of context.
Another argument by the authorities is that Bera Ivanishvili’s telephone conversations were recorded in 2011, when Saakashvili was still in power and Bera was still a minor.
The authorities also said the recordings were released by the opposition to disrupt negotiations between the government and the opposition to resolve the political crisis through the mediation of European Council President Charles Michel.
The opposition unanimously declares that after the last entries, Georgian Dream has only one way out – the resignation of the Prime Minister and the appointment of early parliamentary elections.
“It’s elementary. Only a completely bankrupt and intimidated government cannot see in this situation that it has no legitimacy, and any of its steps will only aggravate the crisis, ”said Sergi Kapanadze, leader of the European Georgia party.
On March 8, the opposition plans to get together and make a joint statement on their future plans.
Immediately after the broadcast of the scandalous material, despite the curfew, activists and politicians gathered outside the headquarters of the Georgian Dream.
The banners read: “Bera + Irakli = violence!”, “Mafia Ivanishvili”.
The protesters demanded to start an investigation of the facts, which were mentioned in the materials.
They also call for early parliamentary elections and the release of people detained for political reasons.
Public Defender of Georgia Nino Lomjaria also demands an investigation. She condemned the long-term practice of distributing hidden audio and video recordings in Georgia.
“Only after an effective investigation will it be possible to assess the authenticity and reliability of the records – whether they contain information about alleged criminal acts, which should be the subject of a separate investigation,” Lomjaria said.