TBILISI, DFWatch–For several days a video titled “Saakashvili murderer” has gone viral in social media in Georgia.
The video, which was first uploaded on Youtube, shows photos of the dead bodies of former Prime Minister Zurab Zhvania and Raul Usupov, who died with him. The video is a montage of various photos showing that there were suspicious injuries on their bodies.
The injuries are suspicious because the official cause of death for both of them was carbon monoxide poisoning, but Zhvania is shown to have a bruise on his lower lip, like if he was beaten.
The former PM and Raul Usupov were found dead on February 3, 2005, in a Tbilisi apartment which belonged to neither of them. Soon after the bodies were discovered, and before an autopsy had been conducted, then Interior Minister Vano Merabishvili said at a briefing that Zhvania died from carbon monoxide poisoning. The autopsy later confirmed this.
But few believed the official explanation of how Zhvania died. Most Georgians thought he was in fact murdered, and that the gas leak explanation was a cover-up. Many critics pointed out that the Saakashvili regime never showed the public the results of their own investigation, and that there are inconsistencies in witness accounts.
Goga Zhvania, the late PM’s brother and a member of parliament for Georgian Dream, believes as many others that Zurab Zhvania died at another location and that his dead body was moved to make it look like an accident.
In the 2012 election campaign, the Georgian Dream coalition promised to conduct a proper investigation, and reopened the case after coming to power. After one year, Goga Zhvania said new details had been found, but nothing new has so far been made public about the case.
There have been made several statements that new investigation into Zhvania’s death would finish soon.
Members of Mikheil Saakashvili’s party, the National Movement, claim that the promise to start a new investigation in the case was only an election promise and that there is nothing more to investigate.
After the video was posted on Youtube, Goga Zhvania said the photos which are in the video are part of the evidence in the investigation of Zurab Zhvania’s death.
He also said that the photos are real and they haven’t been edited, but he added that he cannot say anything else about them.
Maya Nikoleishvili, an independent forensic expert, says that according to the findings of Georgian experts, Zurab Zhvania had only a lip injury.
“Usupov didn’t have any injuries. This was the report of Georgian experts,” she said.
Levan Chachua, who participated in the autopsy of Zhvania’s body, claims the photos shown in the video have been falsified. He also said that Zhvania had just a lip injury.
“We only saw an injury on the lip and nothing else. The other body, of Raul Usupov, didn’t have any injuries at all,” he said, adding that he doesn’t know where these photos came from. “I only know that the prosecutor’s office was filming everything on video and I ask them to show the video which proves that Zhvania’s body didn’t have more than one injury.”
He also said that it is necessary to conduct a forensic examination of whether the photos in the video are authentic.
Natia Mezvrishvili from the Prosecutor’s Office said on Thursday that the footage which is posted on Youtube was discovered in the office of former Chief Prosecutor Murtaz Zodelava separately from the case material in the safe.
She also said that the Prosecutor’s Office is working to try to identify who posted the video.
Minister of Internal Affairs Alexandre Chikaidze said that he doesn’t know how these photos were released on the Internet and added that it would be good not to speculate about this case. He called on people to wait for the results of the investigation.
The controversial video (warning: disturbing images): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BFomTERGgsQ