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Destruction of illegal video-audio archive delayed

By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Monday, June 24

The archive of audio and video recordings found in the Samegrelo region several days ago caused a delay in the destruction of all the materials stored during the leadership of the previous government and detected under the governance of the current authorities. There are controversies on who might see the video footage. Former leaders of the country claim that the videos "do not reflect systemic crime", when acting state heads and NGOs speak on large-scaled systemic wrongdoings.

Interior Minister, Irakli Gharibashvi, stressed that the public should be aware of the scale of illegal state surveillance, including the gathering of “compromising materials”, which has been carried out since 2004 by the previous authorities.

The interior minister states that he will wait for the concussion of the investigation. However, according to him, such large-scale crime would not have been committed without the permission of former state officials.

Georgian Dream MP, Tina Khidasheli, will show the materials to the members of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe.

"I am taking these videos for reporters on Georgia, they should know about the latest events of the country," Khidasheli said.

Khidasheli believes that the videos should be shown to the Georgian Parliament members in a closed format. "These materials carry with them high public interest and important political responsibility," Khidasheli suggested.

Presidential candidate of the coalition Georgian Dream, Giorgi Margvelashvili, thinks that showing the materials to a wide spectrum of people, as well as their destruction, are unacceptable. "We should ensure the safety of the materials until they are worthy for investigation," Margvelashvili said.

Minister of Justice, Thea Tsulukiani, states that the President Mikheil Saakashvili and former Interior Minister, Vano Merasbishvili, should watch the videos.

President of Georgia, and former interior minister, Merabishvili, excluded any systemic crime and emphasized that the video materials had been stored by certain figures.

According to Saakashvili, there were two officials of the Constitutional Security Department "Someone named Chkhartishvili and Levan Kardava" who headed the illegal actions.

"Chkhartishvili was a member of Shevardnadze’s aadministration and unfortunately became a member of our administration as well. As for Kardava, he was especially assisted by the current Georgian leadership," Saakashvili stated, adding that the two individuals are collaborating with the coalition Georgian Dream. Saakashvili underscored that the initiators and executors of the terrible crimes must be strictly punished.

The oppositional United National Movement thinks that a united investigation commission should be formed inside the parliament that will investigate these "horrible facts" transparently.

US Ambassador to Georgia, Richard Norland, stated that the US government shares the attitude that only part of the video materials can be destroyed.

Head of Elections and Political Technologies Research Centre, Kakha Kakhishvili, states that the President should testify based on his own will to the Prosecutor's office over the issue.

Political Analyst, Ramaz Sakvarelidze, considers that such large-scale crime in the country will not be carried out without permission of high-ranking officials.

Head of Georgian Young Lawyers' Association, Kakha Kozhoridze, stressed that the crimes were the doing of the previous government's policy and speaking on the responsibility of two or three men is wrong.

Various NGOs addressed the MIA, on the one hand to ensure a fair investigation and punishment of criminals and on the other hand, the protection of the interests of those reflected on the videos.

Based on MIA, 12, 888 computer files were detected in Samegrelo region. A large portion of this data includes audio and video recordings gathered through the surveillance of political parties and politicians. Some of the other data was made up of recordings of private lives, among them secretly recorded sex videos, of broad range of individuals and public figures.