The messenger logo

Controversial video of Merabishvili surfaces on Youtube

By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Friday, January 31
“I need two men, two corpses… bring me these two corpses, that is it, the reward is going to be big,” these are the words the former Interior Minister Vano Merabishvili says in the video released via Youtube on January 29.

However, responding to the video the following day Merabishvili emphasized that he has not done anything illegal. Merabishvili said that the MIA was searching for two Russian advisors, who were killed for hiding Russian evidence in the mutiny.

“I was demanding that they find the corpses of the two Russian advisors in the video,” Merabishvili claimed.

This way or another, the video has become the subject of speculation. Some former officials and high-ranking military servants have confirmed that the video was filmed during the Mukhrovani mutiny in 2009.

The mutiny erupted on May 5,2009 after the Georgian Army tank battalion stationed in Mukhrovani, 30 kilometres from the Georgian capital Tbilisi, began to disobey the official orders.

According to the mutineers’ statement, circulated by the local media, they were not planning any military action, and urged for dialogue between the government and the opposition during the ongoing political crisis.

What happened in Mukhrovani?

Almost three dozen mutineers were arrested. However, according to the Ministry of Internal Affairs (MIA), three of the mutiny's organizers fled, sparking a manhunt. On May 21, the suspects were found by police leaving Tbilisi in a minivan. One of them, Gia Krialashvili, was shot dead, and two others, Koba Otanadze and Levan Amiridze, were wounded and arrested.

According to the Georgian authorities, the suspects ignored police orders to stop and began shooting, prompting the police officers to return the fire.

The last trials concluded on January 11, 2010. Colonel Koba Otanadze was given 29 years in prison, Rangers' Battalion Commander Levan Amiridze was given 28 years, and Tank Battalion Commander Shota Gorgiashvili was given 19 years. All of them were charged with attempting to overthrow the government. National Guard Commander Koba Kobaladze was sentenced to eight months and six days imprisonment for the illegal purchase and possession of weapons.

The Georgian opposition had expressed its doubts on the mutiny backgrounds and actual happening. One of the opposition leaders of that period, David Gamkrelidze, claimed that the event could have been an inside job of the Georgian authorities to draw attention away from the anti-government protests in Georgia that were planned on May 5. The military officials were released with the status of political prisoners after the coalition Georgian Dream came into power.

Koba Kobaladze stresses that the video material released on the internet was before the armed attack on Gia Krialashvili, Koba Otanadze and Levan Amiridze.“His ‘stooges’ brought three to Merabishvili, two were saved by God,” Kobaladze says. Otanadze emphasized that it is completely obvious now to the public that no mutiny took place and everything was staged by the former government of Georgia.

“Those who shot us were given 12,000 GEL [each] and now are taking high positions in MIA,” Amiridze says, stressing that Merabishvili wanted to see them dead. However, one of the high-ranking military figures saved them.

Doubting the validity of the video

The Prosecutor’s Office will study the video the office’s spokesperson Temur Dolidze said. Coalition MP Irakli Sesiashvili stated that it should be specified first whether the video is authentic or not. He states that in the video Merabishvili orders murder.

“In the case the video is not a fabrication, Merabishvili may face some new charges,” Sesiashvili said, noting that the Mukhrovani case has always raised questions, which have not been answered.

One of the leaders of the parliamentary minority Givi Targamadze admits that there is nothing to be investigated in the video.

“If we consider that these people were professionals and heavily armed, in case of resistance, adequate action by the law enforcement officers was absolutely well-grounded. Merabishvili says that the detention of two people is needed, and he meant that if the culprits resisted, deadly force on behalf of law enforcement officers would be needed. If the goal was the liquidation of both, nothing would have hindered this,” Targamadze said, adding that the people released under the new government of Georgia are traitors.

Fellow MP of the UNM Akaki Bobokidze states that if the video is authentic and if the words said by Merabishvili means directly what he says, the fact would be “horrible for the UNM and Merabishvili.”

Head of the Elections and Political Technologies Research Centre, Kakha Kakhishvili, believes that initial step would be clearing up whether the video is real or not. He said if there is evidence that the video is real, there would be need of a serious investigation and interrogation of all the individuals who are displayed in the video.