TBILISI, DFWatch–Tbilisi City Court on Tuesday held its second hearing in a lawsuit filed by a former Georgian politician turned Kremlin ally against DFWatch for an article published in 2016.
The claimant, Igor Giorgadze, served as Minister of State Security in 1993-1995, until he fled to Russia in the wake of the failed assassination attempt on then President Eduard Shevardnadze, in which Giorgadze was charged as its mastermind.
The latter has always denied any involvement and, in turn, accused the Shevardnadze government of political prosecution. However, he is still wanted by Georgia.
In his lawsuit, Giorgadze challenges the headline in a news article published by DFWatch in 2016, in which he is described as ‘public enemy number one’, and a sentence which said that he has been convicted to 17 years’ prison by a Georgian court.
Giorgadze’s lawyers again proposed an agreement, as during the first court hearing, but that was rejected by DFWatch Editor-in-Chief Lasha Tughushi.
The judge announced that the next hearing will be held on November 29.
Tughushi is confident that Giorgadze has no chances of winning the case and suspects that he wants to return to Georgian politics and needs these hearings as a means to bring himself back into the spotlight. Giorgadze remains instrumental to Russia’s aggressive policies toward Georgia, he said.
“What Igor Giorgadze’s real intentions are, was made clear when he effectively put [Georgia] under direct threat by alleging that the Lugar Lab is working on biological weapons here,” Tughushi said.
“The news contains a clear mistake,” Mamuka Kapanadze, one of Giorgadze’s two lawyers said. Interpol halted the search for Igor Giorgadze but Georgian authorities stubbornly carry on with it, he said, adding that their main goal is to protect Giorgadze’s presumption of innocence.
Giorgadze returned to the media spotlight September 11, when he told reporters at a press conference in Moscow that he had evidence that the Richard Lugar Public Health Research Center near Tbilisi international airport has carried out dangerous experiments. He called on US President Donald Trump to investigate the laboratory’s activity. Giorgadze claimed that US military and private contractors might be engaging in secret experiments on humans there.
This was followed by a barrage from Russia’s top officials, including President Vladimir Putin.
“I’m familiar with this statement by the former Minister of State Security of Georgia. Of course, it is alarming,” Putin said at Valdai Discussion Club on October 18.
“These developments, if real, are very dangerous,” he said.