Wiretapped Recording of Rustavi 2 TV Head and Opposition Leader Leaked
Wiretapped recording of a phone conversation between Paata Burchuladze, leader of election bloc State for People, and Nika Gvaramia, head of Rustavi 2 TV, was leaked on the Internet on September 14, 2016.
In the recording Gvaramia complains about the remarks made by some members of new political center Girchi, who said that they were ready to form a coalition with Georgian Dream – Democratic Georgia party in the new parliament.
A video clip titled “Ника Гварамия контролирует "независимых" политиков” (Nika Gvaramia Controls “Independent” Politicians) was uploaded on YouTube on September 13, 2016 by Russian-language website Creative Georgia News. After rechecking through Amnesty International Data Viewer, it becomes clear that the material was uploaded on YouTube at 23:16:58 on September 13 that is 03:16:58 local time on September 14.
Reportiori news agency was the first to disseminate the recording (uploaded at 03:16:58 on September 14) at 11:07 on the same day. As the table below shows, the recording was disseminated almost during the same period of time by the following media outlets united in Palitra Holding (Palitratv.ge; Ambebi.ge; and Interpressnews) in the following sequence:
|Media outlets||Time recording was disseminated|
Noteworthy that Ambebi.ge posted a transcript of the audio recording in Georgian (12.05), whereas Ambebi.ge and Interpressnews also published Nika Gvaramia’s Facebook comments on the same issue.
As for Creative Georgia News’ YouTube channel, only one recording was uploaded on it, whereas the web portal with the same name also disseminates another audio recording of a phone conversation between Nika Gvaramia and ex-President Mikheil Saakashvili. The recording was posted in November, 2015. In its mission declared on the website, Creative Georgian News portal claims that it was set up on initiative of a group of journalists working in Russia and CIS and is designed for those people, who really care about the processes ongoing in Georgia.
It was found out as a result of rechecking that the website is owned by a private person, Zukhra Bolatchiyeva, registered in Russia, while the name of the country is covered up. Germany is indicated as a web location, but according to some suppositions, it may be located in Russia. The website uses an anonymous server that further complicates the process of identification of its real owner.
The Interior Ministry has already launched investigation into the fact of dissemination of wiretapped audio recording. In a statement released on September 14, the Interior Ministry said that its division on combating cybercrime at the Central Criminal Police Department has launched investigation into the fact of violation of secrecy of personal correspondence, phone conversations or other kinds of communication (parts 1 and 2 of article 159 of criminal code of Georgia).
The authenticity of the wiretapped recording has yet to be verified. Gvaramia, however, does not deny that the conversation with Paata Burchuladze really took place. In addition, Gvaramia accuses the State Security Service of leaking the recording. He said that he deliberately called with “an open” line and it did not take the State Security Service even three days to publicize the recording.