TBILISI, DFWatch–Audio recordings aired by an opposition TV channel in Georgia have caused outrage and demands for the prime minister’s resignation.
The recordings, aired Saturday on TV Pirveli, appear to show Georgia’s current PM Irakli Garibashvili and ruling party founder Bidzina Ivanishvili’s rapper son Bera discussing with Anzor Chubinidze, head of the Special State Protection Service how to intimidate and punish the authors of negative comments written about Bera Ivanishvili in social media.
The opposition is demanding the prime minister’s resignation and threatening to launch a new wave of rallies after the clips were aired.
Among the ranks of the ruling Georgian Dream party, on the other hand, there is great confusion, with some denying the tape’s authenticity.
The TV channel states that the audio tapes were provided by an anonymous respondent and they do not when the recordings were made. However, based on the content of the audio files, TV Pirveli suggests that the recordings reflect events that took place in 2016.
The authenticity of the recordings has not yet been established. The persons who were punished do not participate in the TV story.
In the recordings, Bera Ivanishvili is asking Anzor Chubinidze to punish several people, including a schoolboy, who had written obscene comments about him and get them to apologize publicly. In a different recording, a voice that sounds like Bera Ivanishvili can be heard discussing with current PM Garibashvili how to punish a specific person.
Anzor Chubinidze told pro-government TV channel Imedi that he categorically denies the veracity of the tapes and called the allegations “absurd”.
The audio tapes have caused major controversy in Georgia. Confusion and outrage were observed among politicians in the GD party while they were asked by journalists for comment. Shortly before the story aired, after TV Pirveli had announced the story, GD held a meeting of its political council to discuss the “political situation in the country”. Most interpreted this meeting as dedicated to the upcoming TV report about the secret recordings.
On Saturday night, after the TV channel broadcasted the story, opposition activists held a rally in front of the GD headquarters, demanding that the people involved take legal responsibility.
In addition, opposition youth activists on Sunday announced a protest rally in front of the government building under the slogan “Curse Bera”.
On Saturday, Mamuka Khazaradze, leader of the opposition Lelo party, demanded the resignation of Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili and Anzor Chubinidze, head of the SSPS. The same demand was voiced by other opposition politicians.