The Prosecutor’s Office of Georgia (POG) said on March 9 that it launched a probe into the legality of obtaining and disseminating of the recently aired covert audio conversations, implicating ruling Georgian Dream party founder Bidzina Ivanishvili’s son Bera Ivanishvili, current PM Irakli Garibashvili and Head of the Special State Protection Service (SSPS) Anzor Chubinidze.
The POG noted that the investigation has been launched under Article 158 (1,2), involving the unauthorized recording of private conversations, and unlawful use or dissemination of said recordings.
The Prosecutor’s Office also said they will schedule expertise to check the authenticity of the recordings.
Giorgi Mshvenieradze of the Georgian Democracy Initiative, local CSO, told Civil.ge that obtaining the recordings cannot be punished if it took place before 2014, as the offense has a statute of limitations of 6 years. The ruling party said “fabricated” recordings were made in 2010.
Regarding dissemination, Mshvenieradze said holding a TV company or a journalist liable “is certainly not the best solution or the best practice.” Moreover, the lawyer also underlined that the POG in the statement did not refer to the contents of the recordings, despite them implicating “possible crimes.”
Following the POG announcement, Georgian Dream MP and former Justice Minister Tea Tsulukiani said if she were Prosecutor, she would “investigate exactly who illegally recorded Bera Ivanishvili, a minor, and why” adding that she would also probe into the purpose behind fabricating the recordings, and how TV Pirveli, “some one-party television” obtained them.
The recorded conversations, aired on March 6, implicate Bera Ivanishvili, tasking current SSPS Head with humiliating and punishing youngsters for online posts insulting the Ivanishvili family. A separate conversation supposedly shows PM Garibashvili encouraging Bera Ivanishvili’s actions. The authenticity and dates of the recordings have been disputed.