Shalva Natelashvili, the leader of the opposition Labor Party, has been charged with espionage and conspiracy to overthrow the government, Nika Gvaramia, deputy chief prosecutor, said on November 8.
Charges have been brought, he said, based on evidence obtained through surveillance on employees of the Russian embassy in Tbilisi, whom the Georgian side has described as operatives of the Russian intelligence service.
Police have already searched the Labor Party headquarters and Natelashvili’s apartment and seized unspecified documents. His whereabouts remain unknown.
Similar charges have been brought against Tsotne Gamsakhurdia, brother of Konstantine Gamsakhurdia, who is the leader of the opposition Freedom Party.
The Georgian Interior Ministry issued video and audio tapes of Natelashvili and a separate video tape of Tsotne Gamsakhurdia, meeting and speaking with Russian embassy employees. In another taped phone conversation between Natelashvili and Gamsakhurdia, the latter is heard lamenting the opposition’s failure to politically capitalise on 150,000 people gathered outside Parliament on November 2. This, from the authorities’ perspective, somehow implicates both men in a Russian plot to destabalise the country.
The authorities have also produced a recording of MP Levan Berdzenishvili of the Republican Party and Giorgi Khaindrava of the Equality Institute opposition group speaking with a man in Russian on the phone. The man, an employee of the Russian embassy in Tbilisi, according to the Interior Ministry, was a Russian intelligence operative.
Another taped phone conversation, involving Konstantine Gamsakhurdia and Tsotne Gamsakhurdia, with the latter again complaining about the opposition’s failure to properly use the large-scale opposition rally, has also been unveiled by the authorities.
The General Prosecutor’s Office has brought no charges against these particular political figures, but they have suggested they would be questioned as witnesses.