TBILISI, DFWatch–A former Tbilisi prosecutor claims that the military inspection at the Defense Ministry used to collect videos depicting intimate situations of gay men during Saakashvili’s presidency, to use for blackmail.
Maia Mtsariashvili, a former prosecutor, spoke on Imedi TV on Saturday about shocking revelations about the Saakashvili government’s use of secret surveillance to expose the sexual activities of individuals and use it for blackmail. She claimed that an investigation into one such case is the only one that was almost solved, but the investigation was halted after the leadership of the military inspection was sentenced. That put a stop to the investigation, and precluded the exposure of those who ordered the surveillance.
Mtsariashvili said that the case does not concern the so-called ‘barrel videos’, which is a collection of 144 video recordings dug up from an underground cache in the western Samegrelo region, depicting 181 hours of intimate scenes involving many different people and which the Ministry of Internal Affairs publicly destroyed in September.
She said that several persons who carried out one instance of torture depicted in one of those videos were punished, but those who ordered them to do it escaped scrutiny.
Mtsariashvili claimed that the military inspection of the Defense Ministry had worked out a system to film videos of intimate scenes of men who were gay.
“The roles were distributed. They had confidantes. With the help of confidantes they lured victims into apartments equipped with surveillance cameras and recorded them. Then they signed contracts with them. This is what we discovered during the investigation. This case went to court, which is why I cannot speak of it openly,” she said, adding that this case should have been the beginning of solving this form of systematic crime, including material which was publicly destroyed.
She believes it is possible that exists several copies of the compromising footage.
“I can tell you one example. At least five copies existed of the same recording. This particular case was solved unexpectedly. The interesting thing is that one person was blackmailed with this recording. This person spoke out about the blackmail, and during investigation it was discovered that the military police used to produce such videos. It must been part of a larger pattern which reached the leadership of the Defense Ministry,” she added.
Mtsariashvili thinks that the so-called ‘barrel videos’ was just the surface and that law enforcers should launch an investigation into massive violation of privacy rights. At least two ministries – defense and internal affairs – should be held responsible, in her view.
Commenting on the video published on Friday, the former prosecutor asked whether it was authentic or not and whether it comes from the same ‘collection’ as the other videos from the ‘barrels’ discovered in the northwest of Georgia.
She expects the case to be solved and answers to be found, as to who filmed the videos, what their goal was, etc., instead of telling people that some person from some country uploaded the video from a particular IP address.
“Four years have passed and we don’t know a thing about this massive systemic crime. At least, ministers should be punished.”