The Prosecutor’s Office of Georgia (POG) said today it started a probe into recently-aired stories by Mtavari Arkhi TV and TV Pirveli.
Mtavari Arkhi TV featured now-imprisoned Ivane Gulashvili, allegedly a former intelligence officer, revealing controversial orders he received from then Deputy Interior Minister Kakhaber Sabanadze during June 20 unrest in 2019, as well as exposing high-ranking officials of conducting covert surveillance. TV Pirveli’s story on the other hand, also touched upon Sabanadze, and alleged he was being spied on by other security officers. The channel said Gulashvili was imprisoned, among others, for having disclosed confidential files.
According to the Prosecutor’s Office, a criminal investigation has been launched under Article 158, involving violating the secrecy of private communication, and Article 333, involving exceeding official powers.
Sabanadze today announced his resignation from the First Deputy Interior Minister post, citing the need for “thorough and impartial investigation,” following the controversial TV stories.
After the two stories were aired, the Public Defender of Georgia, as well as the Georgian Young Lawyers’ Association (GYLA), a key local watchdog, condemned the practice of illegal encroachment on private life by the Georgian authorities and called for a timely and effective reaction to the allegations.
Highlighting that female politicians are predominantly the victims of blackmail and persecution using covert recordings, the Ombudsperson and GYLA expressed support for Ana Dolidze, Deputy Defense Minister in 2015 – 2016. Gulashvili during the interview said he had installed surveillance cameras in Dolidze’s residence after being given instructions to do so by Nikoloz Sharadze, the current Head of the Interior Ministry’s Border Police.