TBILISI, DFWatch–A TV channel in Georgia has published footage apparently proving that the Georgian police allows friends of government officials to violate traffic rules if they can show a special permit.
The licences to drive dangerously were introduced during the presidency of Mikheil Saakashvili, but have until now remained a secret, it emerged Tuesday.
The scandal began September 27, when Rustavi 2 aired an interview with former police lieutenant Giorgi Babunashvili, who said that the police let the brother of a government official get away with a traffic offense after showing a permit called a narushilovka.
He said he stopped the brother of Levan Izoria, Deputy Director of the State Security Service, for crossing the centerline, but when shown this permit, was forced to let him go.
Babunashvili also said there have been cases when police have beat people, without being investigated for it. http://rustavi2.com/ka/video/9261?v=2
Before he left Georgia – according to Rustavi 2 in order to seek asylum in Europe – Babunashvili left footage showing some of the things he described, including the incident with Izoria’s brother. In the video footage, a narushilovka card can be spotted.
The next day, the Ministry of Internal Affairs said the General Inspection has started studying the case. The Prosecutor General’s Office has also launched an investigation for abuse of official powers by ministry officials, which is violation of the 332nd article of the Criminal Code.
Babunashvili’s footage also included an incident involving an official at the Prosecutor General’s Office, Natia Mezvrishvili, who heads the department of supervision and strategic development of prosecuting activities. Mezvrishvili wrote on her Facebook page that everything is fine and she will respond in due time.
The footage does not show whether she shows a narushilovka card. The Prosecutor General’s Office later stated that Mezvrishvili had never used such a card, neither while in her current position since December 2013, nor before.
The office explained that she in fact was stopped by the police several times because of her car’s tinted glasses, which requires a special document. The Prosecutor General’s Office argues that the footage showed this procedure and nothing more.
The office’s statement also says that none of their employees have had any advantages when breaking traffic rules.
Introduced during Saakashvili
Tuesday, it emerged that the free passes to drive dangerously were issued during the presidency of Mikheil Saakashvili, whose radical reforms of the police force have been hailed as an example for other post-Soviet countries to follow.
Minister of Internal Affairs Giorgi Mghebrishvili issued an order to abolish special permits, which were issued by a secret order in 2009. The minister said at a briefing that every person holding a narushilovka will have their card confiscated and destroyed.
“The new order will come into force in a few days and will put in order the regulation of issuing, using and controlling permits. The regulations will be stricter and we will have an effective monitoring system,” he added.
Levan Izoria responded briefly on Wednesday that the investigation is in progress and questions will soon be answered.
Vakhtang Gomelauri, who chairs the State Security Service, said that every law offender will be punished, including his deputies or heads of departments.