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“Saakashvili killed Zhvania” says a video released on YouTube

By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Friday, March 21
The video titled “Saakashvili killed Zurab Zhvania” was uploaded on YouTube by a user under the name Hakim Pasha on March 19. A one-minute photo collage of 12 images, showing the corpses of the former Prime Minister Zurab Zhvania and Deputy Governor of Kvemo-Kartli region Raul Usupov has caused large-scale speculations, as there are questions among the public concerning the death of the former PM.

The Parliamentarian minority claims that the video was released by the Georgian Dream coalition to recover its “disability.” The Prosecutor’s Office stressed that the materials were preserved in the office of the former Chief-Prosecutor Murtaz Zodelava under the UNM government.

Zhvania was found dead in a rented apartment in the early morning of February 3, 2005. He was one of the main contributors to the 2003 Rose Revolution. The body of Usupov was also found at the scene. The official statement made then claimed that the death was caused due to gas intoxication.

The brother of the late Prime Minister, Gogla Zhvania, confirmed the photos were genuine and they were included in the case of his brother’s death.

"Unfortunately I cannot reveal anything else now,” Gogla Zhvania said. Raul Usupov’s father Iashir Usupov, stated that the investigation over the case is on the last stage. “We think that the investigation will conclude that it was murder, as we think. The injuries were on my son’s body, and those who saw his dead corpse can confirm it,” Usupov stated.

The Prosecutor’s Office states that after the elections in 2012, video and photo materials related to the death of Zhvania and Usupov were found in a safe placed in the work room of the former Chief Prosecutor Zodelava separate from the case, and this fact raises a lot of question marks. The Office believes that the publication of the above-mentioned materials serves a purpose – “to hinder the ongoing investigation of the case and planned investigative activities, as publication of the said materials at this point may result in the damage and complication of the process of gathering evidence on the case.”

“Currently the Prosecutor’s Office is facing the need to exhume the corpses of Zhvania and Usupov and to conduct a new examination, as the analysis of the case revealed that the conducted examinations are incomplete,” the Prosecutor’s Office stated, noting that the office has been intensively negotiating with expert institutions of various countries for the last few months in order to exhume the corpses and carry out a new, complete examination to establish the causes of death .

“The negotiations are in the final phase and the corpses will be exhumed in the near future in order to conduct a relevant examination,” the Prosecutor’s Office said. Zodelava has already been summoned for interrogation over the video.

After interrogation, Zodelava stressed that certain materials really were in his cabinet, as they were especially important and during his time at the Prosecutor’s Office the materials were not disseminated until now. He claims that the speculations from the Prosecutor’s Office concerning some question marks are absurd.

An expert who took part in the process of reviewing the corpses claimed the photos are not authentic. Levan Chichua said the examiners only saw damage around Zhvania’s lips and "no damage at all” to Usupov and noted this in the report. Independent judiciary-medical expert Maia Nikoleishvili stresses that she did not take part in the expert opinion. According to her, Georgian experts did not speak of any injuries in the report that was shown on the video. “The injuries raise question marks,” Nikoleishvili states.

Former Tbilisi Chief Prosecutor Maia Mtsariashvili states that such materials exist in Zhvania’s case and the investigation would have questions towards Chichua. Like Zodelava, Chichua has been summoned for interrogation.

Some members of the United National Movement, Tinatin Bokuchava and Mikheil Machavariani, state that the materials were available for investigation and the coalition would release them. According to them, the law-enforcers had all the materials necessary to conclude the investigation. However, the process was red-taped. Bokuchava stressed that the government used such materials to recover its failure in the economy and state administration. Machavariani refrained from commenting whether the materials changed its position towards the death or not and stated that the investigation should answer such questions.

Interior Minister Aleksandre Tchikaidze stated that it is unknown who spread the video. According to him, the Prosecutor’s Office is working on the issue.

A member of the Georgian Dream coalition, Giorgi Volski, stated that there is a presumable reason for leaking the video and that was hindering the investigation process. Ministers of Education and Finance called the video “shocking” and hoped that very soon the investigation will answer all questions.