Acting director general of Georgia’s biggest opposition TV channel Mtavari Arkhi states that there is total illegal surveillance of journalists in the country “just like in Russia”. As proof of this, he cites an audio recording that was broadcast on Wednesday on a pro-government TV channel.

Giorgi Gabunia, Mtavari Arkhi news anchor who replaced Nika Gvaramia as the TV company’s director general after the latter was sentenced to lengthy prison term in May, confirmed the authenticity of the recording. However, he added that certain passages were edited in it. The meeting was illegaly recorded in November, 2021, in the newsroom of the TV Company, he said.

The people whose voices are heard on the recording are discussing material under the heading “Secret files directly from the computers of the State Security Service.” It contains a list of probationers who are released from jail by Georgian Dream and then used for their own political purposes. It follows from the conversation that the data was given to journalists by Soso Gogashvili, the former deputy head of the State Security Service (SUS). Colleagues from other opposition TV companies are also mentioned in the conversation, to whom Gogashvili also handed over materials.

“We were once again convinced the Georgian Dream has left no place in the country where we are not followed and where we are not eavesdropped,” Gabunia said at the special briefing at Mtavari Arkhi Thursday.

He believes there is no point in demanding a probe into wiretapping, since the authorities “will not investigate their own crimes.” In this regard, the journalist called on the Public Defender of Georgia Nino Lomjaria, NGOs, international partners and foreign diplomats to inquire about the fact of surveillance and respond appropriately.

“Our local, European and American friends! Look at the conditions under which critical media have to work in Georgia. Mtavari Arkhi General Director is in jail on absurd charges, journalists are being eavesdropped and followed in their offices – just like in Russia. On the street we are beaten, maimed and doomed to death – just like in Russia. And at the same time, laws are passed in the captured parliament that no longer allow us to exist, financially ruin us and force us to close. For the same purpose, businessmen are totally intimidated so that no one dares to cooperate with us,” Gabunia said.

Despite this, Gabunia promises that Mtavari Arkhi will keep on exposing “the internationally recognized oligarchic government that alienates Georgia from the West and promotes Putin’s interests.”