(UPDATE: adds last paragraph about a secretly recorded video showing a conversation between Georgian Dream majoritarian MP candidate and a local official in Lagodekhi municipality)
The Interior Ministry released on September 26, what it said was, secretly taped conversations incriminating two senior opposition figures from the Georgian Dream coalition of having links with criminal authorities, ‘thieves-in-law’.
Recordings purportedly involve Georgian Dream’s majoritarian MP candidate in Samtredia and top MP candidate in the party list, Kakha Kaladze, and majoritarian MP candidate in Kutaisi, Gubaz Sanikidze. The both have said that the recordings were “fabricated”.
In one audio recording, which lasts for 28 seconds a man, whom the Interior Ministry identified as Kaladze, tells unidentified interlocutors that eight ‘thieves-in-law’ met him warmly and encouraged him.
Another recording involves a conversation between two men, identified by the Interior Ministry as Gubaz Sanikidze and Valeri Khaburdzania, who was Georgia’s state security minister in Nov.2001-Feb.2004. The one, purportedly Sanikidze, tells the interlocutor to help arrange release of a Georgian ‘thief-in-law’ jailed in Russia.
“It’s foolishness; these are all fabrications by untalented Saakashvili, [PM Vano] Merabishvili and [Justice Minister Zurab] Adeishvili. I have no links with criminals,” Kaladze said after the recordings were released by the Interior Ministry.
“These are complete fabrications,” Gubaz Sanikidze told Maestro TV via phone. “I have never had any ties with ‘thieves-in-law’… Valeri Khaburdzania is my friend… I was speaking to him once in a month via Skype, but I have not spoken with him for last four weeks as far as I remember.”
“Its complete fabrication,” Irakli Alasania one of the leaders of the Georgian Dream and a majoritarian MP candidate in Zugdidi said. “I want everyone to understand that Saakashvili, [Tbilisi Mayor Gigi] Ugulava, Merabishvili and the employees from the Constitutional Security Department sat down to edit all those materials which they had recorded illegally. They failed to make anything else. It’s all over for them; October 1 will put a seal on will of the people.”
Meanwhile, PM Vano Merabishvili said on September 26 while addressing supporters at ruling party’s campaign meeting in the Racha region that ‘thieves-in-law’ “want to return back to Georgia” with the help of the Georgian Dream coalition.
“‘Thieves-in-law’ want to return back to Georgia… From their point of view, can you imagine how many things can be stolen in Georgia and how many families with revenues can be robbed? These thieves are dreaming about stealing and robbing [in Georgia],” PM Merabishvili said.
“I guarantee you that not a single ‘thief-[in-law’] will return to Georgia,” he continued. “We will defend those people too who are now in the offices of the Georgian Dream, because those thieves will rob everyone, including supporters of this party [Georgian Dream], despite of the fact that leaders of this party contribute to the return of these thieves back to Georgia.”
President Saakashvili also said on September 26 during his address to supporters at a campaign rally in the center of the town of Gori: “We should not let return of ‘thieves-in-law’.”
In a separate development, a video with English subtitles emerged showing Georgian Dream majoritarian MP candidate in Lagodekhi, Luka Kurtanidze, warning a local official from one of the villages in the Lagodekhi municipality against supporting and agitating for the ruling party. A video, recorded secretly with what seems to be a body-worn covert camera, shows Kurtanidze, telling the official: “If you still start talking about this rat Saakashvili after seeing footage [of prison torture], you will have to take care of yourself… You can file for resignation from your office in Sakrebulo if you want to be called a human being tomorrow.” When the official, to whom covert camera was apparently attached, tells Kurtanidze that he worked in school for many years, the MP candidate says: “What were you teaching? That being pederast [term used in Georgia as a derogative form for gays] is good?.. Is it me who wants to hold [gay] parade?.. Your President is making propaganda for it and I do not want such Georgia.”