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Prosecutor's Office Probes Ex-State Minister's Alleged Links with Organized Crime
Civil Georgia, Tbilisi / 25 Sep.'12 / 19:41

The Georgian chief prosecutor’s office said on September 25 that it had summoned Giorgi (Goga) Khaindrava, former state minster, for questioning into his suspected links with organized crime groups.

Khaindrava was the state minister for conflict resolution issues in 2004-2006 and after that was with various opposition groups; in November, 2007 after the riot police broke up anti-government demonstrations Khaindrava was among those figures who were accused by the authorities of cooperating with the Russian intelligence, but no criminal charges were brought against him. In 2008 he was running for parliamentary seat on a joint ticket with then united opposition block; the last time he was more or less actively involved in political developments was in early 2010. A fierce critic of the authorities, Khaindrava has recently produced a documentary criticizing President Saakashvili’s more than eight years in power.

Georgia’s chief prosecutor, Murtaz Zodelava, announced on September 25 that the investigation was ongoing into the alleged links of Khaindrava, whom he described as “a representative of the Georgian opposition”, with French-based Georgian criminal authorities, ‘thieves-in-law’. 

“Several weeks ago we received information from the French National Gendarmerie concerning the issues which are of crucial importance for the security of Georgia’s national interests. Today, on September 25, based on the motion of the Georgian Justice Ministry and under the sanction of the French court, we were handed over this information,” Zodelava said. 

“According to the materials provided by the [French] National Gendarmerie, a deal was made between a representative of the Georgian opposition and thieves-in-law in top of international criminal network, which aimed at triggering destabilization and violent actions in Georgia, restoring the influence of thieves in law and setting up criminal groups similar to Mkhedrioni [a paramilitary group in early 1990s].”

“Naturally, law enforcement agencies are carrying out intensive investigation into this case,” Zodelava said.

The chief prosecutor’s office then distributed to media outlets information, which, Zodelava said, was “provided by the French National Gendarmerie” with “precise Georgian translation.” According to this information Khaindrava met in France with a Georgian “thieve-in-law” Revaz Lortkipanidze on November 9, 2011 to ask for criminal authorities’ help in parliamentary elections with finances and possibly with weapons too and in return Khaindrava promised to secure his return back to Georgia and “restoration of influence” of ‘thieves-in-law’ in Georgia.

Less than couple of hours after the announcement of the prosecutor’s office Khaindrava was in Tbilisi-based Maestro TV’s studio being interviewed about the allegations. He said it was “ridiculous and farce”; he said Lortkipanidze was his long-time friend, whom he met in France; he also said that he would appeal in a written form to the French embassy to request “explaining what these materials are all about.”

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