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Prosecutorís Office questions Presidentís former advisor as he said he received surveillance video

By Tea Mariamidze
Thursday, March 31
President Giorgi Margvelashviliís former advisor, Vano Machavariani, a political expert and current member of the foundation established by Georgian opera star Paata Burchuladze, has been questioned by Georgiaís Chief Prosecutorís Office for his statements that he received an illegal surveillance video.

Vano Machavariani, who is the brother of one of the leading figures of the previous government of United National Movement (UNM) Mikheil Machavariani, said on March 18 he received a link of a video reflecting private lives and said it could be widely spread soon.

However, he added that he did not watch the video, because it might be a virus. Moreover, he believes that it is not ethical to watch secret videos reflecting private life of certain individuals.

ďTwo weeks ago I criticized the government in one of the TV programs very harshly. Three days later I received this secret video but did not open them,Ē Machavariani said, adding that his Facebook page was now blocked.

After Machavariani was questioned, the Prosecutorís Office released a statement saying he was not sent any secret videos and his recent statements were based on his own assumptions.

"He has not seen the footage and therefore does not know the content of this recording. He also does not have information about private life recordings` alleged spread and the statements made by him are based only on his own assumptions," the statement of the Prosecutorís Office reads.

Machavariani criticized the Prosecutorís Office, claiming that they are politicized. He believes that if the Government wanted to investigate the secret recordings they would have done it already.

ďInstead of criticizing me for not watching this recording, the Prosecutorís Office should concentrate more on the investigation,Ē stated the expert.

Due to the recent spread of secret recordings, the government plans to tighten punishment for recording and spreading private life videos, recorded and stored under the previous state leadership to blackmail people.

The civil sector believes that solely tightening legislative regulations will not prevent such incidents, and it is necessary to create an independent investigative body which will operate in this field.

Commenting on Machavarianiís statements, several analysts said Machavarianiís action was provocative and triggered suspicion that the previous ruling party, the United National Movement (UNM), stood behind the recent leak of private life videos.

Analyst Zaal Anjaparidze said that allegedly UNM representatives wanted to attack the current Government with the videos, as the current Government was responsible for the ongoing situation.

Hundreds of videos were recorded and stored by the previous state leadership to use them for the purpose of blackmail.

Videos reflecting sexual abuse in prisons were released prior to the 2012 parliamentary elections and played a decisive role in the current Georgian Dream (GD) coalition's victory over the incumbent UNM government.

In 2013, the vast majority of the videos, seized by the law enforcement bodies and depicting private lives, were publicly burnt. However, some were kept as they were said to depict criminal activity and could help future investigations.

Since then, several sex tapes still managed to appear on the Internet. The most recent releases took place on March 11-14, allegedly showing the sex lives of Georgian political figures.

The United States Ambassador to Georgia, Ian Kelly, said the current Government asked for help from the FBI to investigate the leak.