21 July, 2011


Interview with Editor-in-Chief of Rezonansi newspaper, who met with MIA Head

Despite the fact that many people did not expect any compromise on the part of the Minister of Internal Affairs regarding the case of the arrested photo reporters, the journalists still went ahead and met with MIA Head Vano Merabishvili.

During the meeting the latter was bursting with irony and jokes, but left no room for allowances and compromises. As the members of the delegation said, they returned from the transparent

building with a bag of unanswered questions. The Minister told them a story of bad boys who decided to betray their homeland and collaborated with Russian intelligence. We talked to Lasha Tughushi, Editor-in-Chief of Rezonansi newspaper, who participated in the meeting.



A: Unfortunately, all the questions were ignored, the main one among them. The Ministry did not tell us the real story about the photo reporters. What is more, he refused to meet our demand and release the arrested people on bail, as well as to declassify the case and make the case materials publicly available. He said that everythin will be transparent during the court. We asked him to publish the case materials before the court so that the public could understand everything as it should. Of course, lawyers should have been involved in anything that we demanded. The Minister’s face changed to that of a baffled man on hearing that all the case materials were classified (?!). Then a hectic discussion followed. We proposed to him to bring over all the case materials for its joint observation, if we were wrong and the case was not a secretive undertaking. He suddenly tried to change the subject by offering to continue the talk but leaving our proposition unanswered. It was strange. It was unbelievable that he did not know that all the case documents were classified. Neither did he know as to what documents were signed by the lawyers.

Q: What was new in the information supplied by the Minister?

A: It turns out that the investigation has phone conversations from as early as 2004. The conversations involved Okrokov and Sinitsin from Russian special services (so called GRU) - 24 calls to Okrokov and 13 calls to Sinitsin. However, after identifying the two Russians as spies, the photo reporters ceased phone conversations with them and switched to other GRU officers. The phone number was registered on the name of a certain woman born in Tskhinvali. The MIA Head mentioned a number of interesting facts but fell short of substantiating them with evidence. In addition, all details in his story lacked logical connections to each other. It was therefore hard to make sense of the story. I managed to deduce from this chaos that they don’t have any evidence and arguments. Yet, they need something to cling to. Where could they get them? From the confessions which are extracted one after another from the detainees.

Q: So, you say that the Minister was full of irony during the meeting?

A: Yes, he was in the joking mood. I heard from my colleagues that when we were entering his office room, he said he was going to meet the synod of journalists. Surely, the phrase was ironic. It is as if he was ignorant of Abdaladze’s hunger strike and learnt about it only from the media. One must be not of this world to believe in such nonsense.

Q: What did you hope for when you entered his office room and what did you bring out from there?

A: I suspected that they had nothing to consolidate the case. My suspicions hold on till today. I only hoped I would manage to have at least some of them released on bail. This would have been a decent compromise on their part, which could have embellished their image and amount to a correct and sensible move on their part. Unfortunately, the contrary happened. Again they chose the worst way. They obtained so called confessions using manipulations.

Now they may showcase video-taped confessions through television. Maybe somebody will believe in it. But I doubt there will be many of them because we know how some people have been induced to make fictitious confessions. It’s bad that nihilism in respect of law enforcers gains increasing momentum. What would be the end result? For sure, the gap in the public is going to widen further on. We will continue to lag behind the developed world more and more. The situation in the country will worsen.


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