TBILISI, DFWatch–A one and a half hour long secret audio recording aired by an opposition TV channel has caused an outcry in Georgia, two weeks ahead of the presidential election.
The situation has gone so far that the opposition has started talking about snap elections for parliament.
“In the first round [of the presidential elections] we must defeat the armed mafia groups, then hold snap parliamentary elections as soon as possible,” Grigol Vashadze, an opposition candidate from UNM and its allies, said on Monday.
Other opposition politicians joined him in calling for snap elections.
The secret recording aired by Rustavi 2 appears to be of former prosecutor Mirza Subeliani who speaks about crimes he allegedly was involved in or committed himself with a member of parliament.
Mirza Subeliani is behind bars charged with covering up information related to the murder of two teenagers last year, while he was acting prosecutor. Two schoolboys, both 16 years old, were killed during a gang fight in downtown Tbilisi in December. Subeliani, whose son was allegedly also implicated in the crime, but not charged, has been repeatedly accused of tampering the witnesses by Zaza Saralidze, the father of one of the victims.
He resigned soon after the crime and later was arrested and charged by his former colleagues.
In the recording, the authenticity of which hasn’t been challenged by officials, Subeliani speaks with two persons in Gldani prison on the outskirts of Tbilisi. One of them is MP Viktor Japaridze, who represent Georgian Dream in the parliament, while the second is Davit Tsukhishvili, a former official in the Ministry of Internally Displaced Persons and Subeliani’s friend.
During the lengthy conversation, Subeliani touches on numerous topics but the context is that he thinks he’s been betrayed by authorities which had struck a deal with him but then reneged.
Subeliani, who pretends to be a ‘fixer’ in the most delicate issues in several high profile cases, says he has ‘terabytes’ of information which are so important and dangerous for authorities that if he decides to flee to ‘Stockholm in Switzerland’ and give it to journalists, the streets of Tbilisi would be filled with angry people who would overthrow the current government.
He also speaks of torture of witnesses in different cases including the case of ex-president Saakashvili’s ally, former Minister of Defense Bacho Akhalaia. He says that he covered up wrongdoings of two unidentified high ranking officials in the Khorava street murder case and also about ‘many’ other crimes by politicians and officials.
For instance, he says that the prosecutor’s office had evidence of corruption in the pardon commission but the POG opted to cover it up. This is about a special pardon commission which was established soon after Georgian Dream won the 2012 parliamentary elections and seized power from then President Mikheil Saakashvili’s government. The commission set free thousands of inmates. Two key figures of the commission, Eka Beselia and Manana Kobakhidze, were accused of corruption in 2015 by opposition politician Alexander (Aleko) Elisashvili but the investigation carried out by the POG didn’t find any wrongdoing.
Possibly the most shocking part of the recording is that Mirza Subeliani brags he has a group of 50 men armed with automatic rifles.
He says former PM Irakli Garibashvili, Minister of Internally Displaced Persons Sozar Subari and Interior Minister Giorgi Gakharia, have also been involved in the unlawful or disgraceful activities.
The opposition demands an immediate investigation into the case and the resignation of the key figures involved. The government dismisses the allegations and stresses that the opposition is ‘blackmailing’ the government.
On Monday, the POG launched an investigation and questioned Viktor Japaridze and Davit Tsukhishvili.
Here’s a full transcript of the recording in Georgian.