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Gogashvili Links Ivanishvili to ex-Deputy Interior Minister Assault, Mukhtarli Kidnapping

Ioseb (Soso) Gogashvili, former deputy head of the State Security Service of Georgia (SSG) who was arrested on July 16, released a statement yesterday alleging the 2017 assault on ex-Deputy Interior Minister Gela Khvedelidze is linked to ex-PM and ruling Georgian Dream party founder Bidzina Ivanishvili, and that he also ordered the kidnapping of Azerbaijani journalist Afgan Mukhtarli.

Mukhtarli went missing in Tbilisi on May 29, 2017. The journalist somehow ended up in Baku, Azerbaijan soon after, where authorities sentenced him to six years in prison on charges of illegal border crossing, smuggling money, and police disobedience. He was released after spending some two years in jail and claimed in 2021 that not only had Ivanishvili known about plans to kidnap him but that Tbilisi received a bribe of USD 3 million from the Azeri government for the abduction to take place.

In the July 26 letter, Gogashvili alleged that Khvedelidze had been beaten for “insulting Bidzina [Ivanishvili] on the phone,” while Mukhtarli was kidnapped by SSG “thugs.” He also claimed that evidence of both incidents was promptly deleted.

The former deputy head of the SSG said that his own arrest was an example of “another illegal command of Bidzina Ivanishvili performed blindly” by the current Minister of Internal Affairs Vakhtang Gomelauri, and the Head of the SSG, Grigol Liluashvili. Gogashvili faces charges of exceeding official powers, obtaining, storing, and distributing personal data by using one’s official position, and the illegal purchase and storage of firearms and ammunition.

Mukhtarli responded to Gogashvili’s statement in a Facebook post the same day and said he would urge the Prosecutor’s Office of Georgia to question Gogashvili in relation to his kidnapping.

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