Imedi TV aired today an interview with Anzor Chubinidze, Head of the Special State Protection Service (SSPS), to discuss recently published covert audio recordings. The recordings implicate Chubinidze, as well as current PM Irakli Garibashvili being tasked by rapper Bera Ivanishvili, son of Georgian Dream founder Bidzina Ivanishvili, to humiliate and punish youngsters for insulting online posts.
Date of Recordings
In the interview with a pro-ruling Georgian Dream party channel, Chubinidze noted that the conversations between him and Bera Ivanishvili, as heard in the “modified” covert recordings, took place in “late 2010, early 2011,” well before Bidzina Ivanishvili announced about going into politics.
The SSPS Head denied that the recordings took place in 2016-2017, as alleged by TV Pirveli that aired them. He said these attempts aim to make false accusations against him and current Prime Minister Garibashvili, who is also heard encouraging Bera Ivanishvili in the tapes, of harassing youngsters.
Recalling that he served as the Ivanishvili family’s security service head at the time, Chubinidze said “provocative statements containing threats and insulting words were made against Bera during this period.” Chubinidze stated that he identified “a certain group of young people” behind these threats.
Approaching Children, Parents
Chubinidze said he then approached a parent of one of these children, “who understood well the grounds of our concern” and afterward also put him in touch with another friend of their child, “who was mostly disseminating these posts.”
The SSPS Head said he talked to the “young man” with neighbors in attendance so as not to intimidate him, as his parents were not at home, and left after ensuring that the child was not going to follow up on the threats he had made.
Chubinidze also stated that “illegal obtaining, storing, then modifying and disseminating” the recordings display “signs of crime.”
Moreover, he stressed that PM Garibashvili was chairperson of Ivanishvili’s Cartu Group when the tapes were recorded. “He has never participated in the types of meetings [with children, parents, neighbors],” Chubinidze remarked.
The authenticity and dates of the tapes have been disputed. Ruling party MP Mamuka Mdinaradze, speaking on behalf of the Georgian Dream, said immediately after the release that they were recorded in 2010, though were fabricated. TV Pirveli and other media suggested based on several details, the recordings could be made in 2016-2017.
In March 6 TV Pirveli story, that aired the recordings, Chubinidze appears to be not rejecting the authenticity of the tapes, rather saying he could not recall having such conversations.
The Prosecutor’s Office on March 9 launched a probe into the legality of obtaining and disseminating the tapes, however not into the authenticity of its contents.