How Saakashvili Was (not) Fighting Criminal Bosses
07 February, 2013
How Saakashvili Was (not) Fighting Criminal Bosses
Shakro Kalashov: after the assassinated criminal boss “Dad Hassan”

After the murder of notorious criminal boss Dad Hassan, the threat is looming on the part of Shakro Kalashov, who is serving his sentence in a Spanish prison. His term ends this summer and nothing seems to prevent his release. Provided that the Georgian police helps out its Spanish counterparts to aggravate the guilt of the criminal boss. In this case, Kalashov may find himself behind the bars for his entire
Back in 2009, the Georgian side promised the Spanish police to provide evidence of serious crimes organized and committed by Kalashov. What is more, they demanded his extradition under the red circular for his criminal world membership and kidnapping of American citizen Alexander Crain. After that something strange happened. Vano Merabishvili’s agency, specifically Erekle Kodua’s Department of Special Operations backed off in the last moment. They notified their Spanish colleagues in a written form about their fear of confronting criminals operating in Europe (?!). The story caused uproar in Spanish media. Until these days, law enforcers avoid commenting on the scandalous incident.

EL PAIS: “Spain prosecutes Russian Mafia”

Despite their pledge of attendance, Georgian MIA representatives did not turn up at the criminal court hearings brought against Kalashov in Madrid in 2009. Consequently, in the article “Spain prosecutes Russian Mafia” published in the 13 December issue of El Pais we read: “The Spanish court hearing did not touch Shakro Kalashov’s criminal past full of money extortions, killings, illegal arms trade, nor has it enquired about his control over major Moscow casinos or his investments in the companies such as Lukoil. Instead, at the Spanish court trial, Kalashov faced the charges of Lanndering over 7.5 million Euros! It is so obvious for anyone that Kalashov has been living a posh life without having a single property registered in his name. Formally, he owned nothing – no shares, no real estate, no bank accounts. That hard-to-override predicament drove the Spanish prosecutors to the dead end. Georgian MIA sent its explanations by email: “…Participation of our representatives in the court hearings in Spain may put the lives of our colleagues and their families both in Georgia and abroad in immediate danger...”
Thus, the Georgian side exonerated itself by alleging that the two officers of the Department of Special Operations who were to appear before the Spanish court as witnesses, were at that time engaged in special operations of State importance and therefore, their disengagement would have been catastrophic for the country. In the second part of the email message, the Georgian MIA countered with a rhetorical question as to how the Spanish side would ensure safety of two witnesses when Georgian criminals do whatever they want in Europe. That is why the Internet version of Spanish El Economista essentially made fun of the Department: “Georgian MIA sees sending of Georgian witnesses to Spain unjustified but is ready to help Spaniards in everything else.” The author talked with apparent irony there.
In order to find out the details of the aborted Georgian-Spanish affair, Kviris Palitra sent an official letter of enquiry to Jose Grinda, the Spain’s General Prosecutor of Extraordinary Cases and Head of Section of Mafia and Money Laundering, who is versed in the Kalashov’s case. Unfortunately, during the phone conversation with him, he confirmed his identity but declined to talk about specifics of the case.
It’s a pity that the Georgian side too refuses to disclose the Georgian-Spanish correspondence and identities of the two officials from the department, even though the case is not classified. They simply stated that they are ready for cooperation if need be again. By the way, the documentary “Criminal Bosses” made several years ago is still available from In the film the Minister of Internal Affairs Vano Merabishvili says that criminal bosses lost their influence in Georgia: “We started collaboration with our foreign colleagues, especially, countries of Eastern Europe, Ukraine, Austria, France and Spain to derail activities of the criminal bosses and their leverage over the criminal world in Georgia and other countries of their presence,” –Merabishvili declares in that film.

Kalashov absolved by Saakashvili’s Authorities for his support?!

According to the Spanish sources, the message sent to the Spanish law enforcers from Georgia was written in the Department of Special Operations. In other words, the head of the Department Erekle Kodua was aware of everything. Without him, the witnesses could not have made any decision about going or not going to Spain. Although the story did not leave the MIA walls, the transfer of Kodua to the post of Criminal Police Chief generated a lot of hype as the public saw it as the career regress for Kodua. It is hard to say what led Merabishvili to punish Kodua: the latter’s possible ties with Kalashov or negligence of the popular organizer of special operations in an incident unbeknownst to us? And was it a punishment at all? In any case, Kodua had to find a substantive excuse to whitewash the MIA reputation in the eyes of Spaniards. Rumors have it that even if Vano Merabishvili had turned blind eye on the Kodua’s misdoing, Minister of Justice Zurab Adeishvili would not have missed noticing the shameful letter sent to Spain by the MIA’s Department of Special Operations because such letters routinely have to pass through the prosecutor’s office.
How could Kodua exonerate himself sufficiently to make his bosses rebuke him with a laughable punishment of minor career demotion? And was it a punishment anyway? It is rather his family, which has borne the brunt of it, being forced to pay a fortune in retribution. It was exactly this period when Davit Kodua (Erekle Kodua’s brother) was made to purchase the territory of tennis courts only to completely forego them a bit later in favor of the State, who built the House of Justice on it. Let us recall that the story about Kalashov and MIA coincided with the period when opposition transformed Tbilisi into a city of cells. At the time, some people would say that Dad Hassan promised money to the Governmental opponents but was confronted by Kalashov who sent him a clear message that no part of “obshchiak” or common funds should go to this cause. What happened then - Saakashvili’s Authorities rewarded Kalashov for his support? The fact is that the two police officers did not go to Spain as witnesses, breaking the promise. Nor has anybody done anything to help Spaniards bring the criminal boss to full justice.

Undesirable witness

In the film Criminal Bosses, Colonel Levan Gurgenidze, Head of Main Division for Fighting against Organized Crime, mentions Zakaria Kalashov. Therefore, it struck me that one of the two witnesses who were to be sent to Spain was indeed Levan Gurgenidze, known as the right hand of Erekle Kodua. It was Levan Gurgenidze, who guided journalists on excursions around Kalashov’s palace premises in Tskneti. Gurgenidze led all the infamous cases and occasionally acted even as the press speaker of the Department of Special Operations. Nevertheless there is no information about Gurgenidze in the Internet anymore! Neither parents, nor the former colleagues are aware of Gurgenidze’s whereabouts. The parents only say that their son is abroad since 2010. The fact of Gurgenidze’s disappearance is confirmed by his neighbors who are more eloquent in private talk than the parents. They claim that Gurgenidze was forced by his bosses to leave Georgia and was denied the return. Also, I got a hold of a photo where one sees Gurgenidze, the disappeared MIA officer, with Spanish colleagues allegedly on his work visit to Spain. Now, suspicions mount that Gurgenidze was indeed one of the would-be witnesses against Kalashov. If he had voluntarily chose not to act as a witness, i.e. disobeyed the order of State importance, it means as a minimum he had been extremely negligent. This is certainly food for investigation by General Inspection.
P.S. Kalashov completes his 7-year Spanish imprisonment term this summer. Then he will be at large, full of energy to continue his old business. Spaniards think that there is no one out in their country more dangerous than Kalashov. This is why Farodevigo publication wrote one year ago: “Kalashov is unprecedentedly most guarded prisoner in Spain. They move him from prison to prison every seven months to lower a risk of runaway, internal criminal group formation or bribing of a prison officer. During the prison swapping, they resort to such extreme security measures that were not applied to any prisoner in the past, even members of terrorist ETA.”
Despite so much security, in February of 2010, guards found a telephone installed in Kalashov’s wrist watch. Moreover, he tried to bribe a prison officer who complained about it.
P.P.S Some two months ago, Shakro Kalashov was identified in the United States as one of the most dangerous representatives of international criminal network. It is easy to imagine the consequence for Saakashvili’s former Administration if it emerges that Kalashov, a persona non grata in America, somehow managed to sweeten them into a sort of collaboration. Let us also recall that the criminal case against Kalashov is still not closed in Georgia. He has been recognized as a criminal and sentenced to imprisonment in his absence. Since 2009, Georgia has been requesting Kalashov’s extradition once he completes his prison term in Spain. For now, it can be said that after the death of Dad Hassan by a professional killer, Shakro Kalashov has become the most influential leader in the criminal world (which nicknamed him “Count Monte Cristo”). This summer, Europe will witnesses gathering of all sorts of criminal bosses for a council.
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