“I don’t have enough on this but what you wrote before is what has motivated me to contact you. I will now put this in a word document. It looks like there’s a good basic outline here and you are free to copy and paste the entire thing.”
He added in off-the-record discussion, “as I work for Rustavi2 I have to be a bit careful, as my job and more (my life) depends on people not knowing who is sharing this information. I have provided a couple more useful links which have been posted on various sites; they are about how the Georgian security service is on the job, investigating this. They’re putting round-the-clock surveillance on the Rustavi2 building, and I’ll bet they’ll want to question one of the two gentlemen involved in the conversation. I’d guess they’ll get a lot of cooperation from the Turkish secret services too – as this implies that Turkey is one great big gangster’s hideout.”
As I wrote back in September, before this became mainstream news: “Now sit back and watch the fight, as if Rustavi2 is fully investigated there will be all kinds of thing surfacing, and who actually stands behind it will be one of the biggest surprises of all. Much more is involved than a lawsuit brought by three former owners to try and get back what the UNM stole to use as their media mouthpiece.”
I told you so, and wish I hadn’t
To make a long story short, it is all starting again in Georgia. The court case over the ownership of Rustavi2 has revealed that battle lines have been drawn. On the one side we have the original legal owners, the current Prime Minister and the Georgian public, who want their most popular TV station to become as independent as it claims to be. On the other are former president Mikheil Saakashvili, who has threatened a coup ever since he left office, current President Giorgi Margvelashvili, who was elected to destroy Saakashvili and all his works, and their US/EU/NGO sponsors, who have a known track record of trying to effect illegal regime change.
Rustavi2 was taken over by Saakashvili’s government when he was in power and its programming changed to reflect this. As soon as Saakashvili fell, the previous owners instigated the present court case, trying to get the station back.
They have subsequently been accused, by Saakashvili loyalists and the current Georgian president, of being government agents whose intention is to close the station down and destroy media pluralism in Georgia. The REAL deal is that Rustavi2 was wrestled away from the old owner illegally, like many other businesses in Georgia. Saakashvili and his gang have grown rich on the proceeds from this and other successful businesses they stole, in addition to their money laundering operations, drug and arms dealing, CIA backhanders etcetera.
The official owner of the station is some shady overseas shell company, but the guy who’s trying to get the station back has claimed in court that Saakashvili owns shares in it. Plenty of such shady shell companies were set up in the Saakashvili years to control businesses the government had closed down on trumped-up charges of tax evasion, etcetera. As you couldn’t go anywhere in Tbilisi in those days without encountering a business owned by a government minister it is inconceivable that they didn’t retain ownership of Rustavi2 as well.
The hoo-hah in certain sections of the Georgian press about the present government wanting to take control of the station or close it down is nonsense, and those who are spouting it know it. Rustavi 2 is 100% OWNED by the current opposition, Saakashvili’s UNM, and is aiding and abetting its anti-state activities, which include trying to destroy the economy (and people’s lives with it) in order to cause as much unrest here as possible and force early elections which they will try and pull every dirty trick imaginable to win.
Well they should know!
Every politician develops a different way of dealing with critics. Long serving Australian PM Robert Menzies used humour. Saakshvili’s preferred method of silencing the opposition and critical media outlets is rubber bullets and tear gas.
American journalist Jeffrey Silverman happened to be in the Imedi TV station a few years ago and ended up in hospital when the Saakashvili government ordered an armed raid on it to close it down. This action is well documented and remembered round these parts. It was conducted by the same people who are now saying that the Rustavi 2 court case is an attack on freedom of expression and media pluralism.
I’ve spoken to Jeffrey Silverman, who has previously worked with Georgian Public TV and was assaulted in front of another TV station when he was doing that job. He responded to the following questions:
What can you tell me about Rustavi2 and the legal case concerning it? What do you think about the attempt to regain ownership?
After the parliamentary election of 2012 and the change of government, Jarji Akimidze and Davit Dvali, who had founded the company in 1994 with Erosi Kitsmarishvili, the former Ambassador to Russia, declared that they intended to go to court to get it back.
This is the same Kitsmarishvili who was killed in a contract-style hit which showed all the signs of being a professional job. The reason he is dead is related to media ownership and insider knowledge of the 2008 Georgian-Russian war, specifically how that war was planned in advance, and the various illegal deals the Saakashvili regime made.
Keep in mind that most of the people who still support Saakashvili here do so out of fear or out of financial interest. The petitioner will get a positive result, at least in the courts. However the case will be dragged on and on, and the government may be changed by force before a decision is reached.
Is Rustavi 2 an independent TV Channel? Or does Saakashvili control it in some way?
Rustavi 2 is not independent and never has been. It is still a propaganda machine for the United National Movement and the United States, the UNM’s longtime sponsor. It is still working as it always has, and getting stronger and stronger, at least for now. Nevertheless, when the evidence is presented the court will decide against Rustavi 2 and its current owners. The public might then open their eyes, but it may be too late by then.
What can you tell me about Georgian President Margvelashvili’s recent speech about Rustavi 2, in which he intervened in the case in support of the current owners?
Georgians tell me that Margvelashvili is a Georgian version of Nikita Khrushchev, a nobody and a “nerdy” politician. They say he is really a bastard, and totally manipulated. How would you say it – “kinana gormy”? – He is very primitive and tries to play at being president.
Based on what those who worked with him at GIPA, Georgian Institute of Public Administration, have said, and I would have to agree with them. However, I don’t know him personally, unlike many others I have expressed strong opinions about.
Do you know anything more than has already been published about a possible coup attempt and a link with Rustavi 2?
The very latest is that Saakashvili, now the Governor of Odessa in Ukraine despite not being Ukrainian, met with Giga Bokeria, a former head of the Georgian National Security Council, in Istanbul a few days ago. A transcript of what they talked about (these guys are just too dumb and full of themselves to realise that there are plenty of ears following them) has appeared on the Ukrainian Wikileaks site. This clearly suggests that Saakashvili is preparing to conduct a coup in Georgia.
The “Nika” mentioned in the transcript is Nika Gvaramia, who is the director of Rustavi 2 and a Saakashvili loyalist his government installed. They talk about letting him get bloodied for the greater good, and if a woman or child gets killed in the process, then so much the better.
Here’s a snippet from this transcript:
Giga Bokeria: The guys are ready for everything, but the problem is that there might be casualties.
Mikheil Saakashvili: So what, it is even better! If Nika gets bloody without being heavily harmed, it will have more effect… and if a woman with a child is beaten, it will be exactly what is needed. Choose someone for this. We will blow this up like a bomb. The attack of the Penguin’s band [he’s referring to billionaire Bidzina Ivanishvili here] on a free media outlet will shock the whole world. Everything must be recorded. We will make Gvaramia a hero, while the killing of a young mother will shock the whole world. Your masked boys must disappear invisibly.
A lot of people have got Saakashvili’s back – his chief supporters include Senator John McCain and former Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt, though the European People’s Party (the largest voting bloc in the EU) is also going all out to support his attempts to blow the country up and kill a few innocent people along the way, just so that they (the BIG Western anti-democratic “they”) can regain control.
The EPP, Bildt, McCain, Saakashvili, and all their cohorts are truly vile creatures – torture and sodomy of prisoners, and murder of people they don’t like (e.g. former Georgian PM Zurab Zhvania and one of the former owners of Rustavi2) are among the methods they use to get their evil way.
Same office, same methods
Silverman added that the current Georgian Prime Minister, Irakli Gharibashvili is a good guy who tells it exactly as it is. However, President Giorgi Margvelashvili is a sneaky and pompous turncoat who never keeps his word, and seems, for the most part, to be providing covert support to Saakashvili’s people and their campaign to stifle the government’s attempts to get on with running the country.
Margvelashvili has had a number of big disputes with Gharibashvili which seem to blow up out of nowhere, for the sake of it. They are caused by trivial issues such as who chairs Security Council meetings and who appears at what function. Such issues could easily be resolved without paralyzing the government, but Margvelashvili has consistently tried to do this with his behaviour. He has also insisted on moving into Saakashvili’s presidential palace, a vanity project paid for with stolen money which Margvelashvili initially refused to go near on principle, working from an office in the Chancellery alongside the members of his government.
Georgia has many problems without the need to create more. Many of these have been caused by trying to readjust the country to act honestly, by keeping transparent books and kicking out the criminal elements who once dominated life here. But more problems are being manufactured by paid demonstrators from the ranks of certain NGOs, such as Free Zone, who are simply Saakashvili’s henchmen, and people within the corridors of power who are working for the other side.
Georgia has always had this problem when it tries to act properly. Strangely enough, it goes away whenever it doesn’t. Now we see that the president of the country is siding with the previous one while he is plotting a coup against his own government. It is so clear what’s going on, it should be on television.
Bokeria was questioned today but – surprise surprise – he has gone on a “business trip” to London tonight. It sounds like the kitchen was getting a bit too hot for him.
Giga Bokeria – alleged co-conspirator in Saakashvili’s murderous coup plot left Georgia immediately after being questioned
Let’s all hope that in his haste he doesn’t get his passports mixed up at the airport and pull out one of the fakes which the National Movement members seem to have about their person:
Bidzina Ivanishvili has spoken up on TV today:
“None of the media outlets are dangerous for me. Our society remembers what happened when one and the same person controlled all the media. It would be a real tragedy for me if the governmental TV companies emerged.”
He says Rustavi 2 and National Movement will anyway be able to express their opinion publicly, no matter how the Rustavi 2 case is solved. “They have a set of their publications, for example “Tabula”. There are no restrictions on TV frequencies and they can open five TV stations if they wish. They have plenty of money, as they have robbed people…”
He went on to say that the National Movement members continuously say that Rustavi 2 is being closed down but the issue has not been discussed at all.
“Khalvashi has never declared that the channel is to be closed down. National Movement wants to make everyone believe that media outlets are pressured in Georgia, but nothing really happens here [he means nothing happens in this regard]”
One thing you can noticed when looking at the various photos of Gvaramia is how stressed out he was looking in the more recent shots – like he’s figured out that he’s in way deeper than his comfort level, and that he might actually end up getting hurt or even killed… but that’s even BETTER, as far as Saakashvili is concerned.
Nika Gvaramia refused state protection and chose instead to hire his own security – or were they provided to him… by his friends, and does he really know who his friends are? Do his friends deliver messages to try and blackmail him and then turn around and publicly deny that they did?
What sort of friends are they whom he counts amongst his closest?
Henry Kamens, columnist, expert on Central Asia and Caucasus, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.