The man discussing a plot to kill business tycoon and presidential candidate Badri Patarkatsishvili with an alleged Chechen warlord has been former Interior Ministry official Gia Dgebuadze, a.k.a. Mastera, Tbilisi-based Rustavi 2 TV reported on December 23.
Nika Gvaramia, the Georgian deputy chief prosecutor, said he was unable to “either confirm or deny the information.” “We can give more details only after the tape is examined,” he told Rustavi 2 TV’s evening news.
Meanwhile, Shota Khizanishvili, an Interior Ministry spokesman, said that Dgebuadze had been dismissed from the ministry in April 2007.
The Sunday Times reported on December 23 that a covertly recorded audio-tape suggested that a plot to kill Patarkatsishvili had been plotted. The newspaper, which is owned by News Corporation – Patarkatsishvili’s partner in Imedi media holding – said that the tape (posted on the Times Online website), recorded last June, contained a conversation between Chechen warlord Uvais Akhmadov and an official from the Georgian Interior Ministry. Akhmadov, the Sunday Times reported, instead of going along with the plan, tipped off the tycoon’s allies about the tape.
Patarkatsishvili, who spends most of his time between London and Israel, has refused to return to Georgia, citing the absence of government security guarantees.
Meanwhile, the Georgian authorities have dismissed the allegations regarding Patarkatsishvili, saying they were an attempt to create the ground for “post-election destabilization.”
“Badri Patarkatsishvili’s allegation that his murder was plotted is not the first of this type and [these allegations] are part of a pattern,” Nika Gvaramia, the deputy chief prosecutor, said. “But not a single allegation made by Patarkatsishvili has been confirmed… This is only interesting for us in so far as a pattern is observable… So tomorrow at noon we will convene a press conference and inform the press about the detail of this pattern.”
Giorgi Baramidze, the state minister for Euro-Atlantic integration issues, said the speculation regarding Patarkatsishvili was more than a pre-election stunt. “This is aimed at preparing the ground for post-election destabilization,” Baramidze said in comments aired by Rustavi 2 TV.
MP Pavle Kublashvili of the ruling party said that “disinformation” of this type was aimed at “increasing the political temperature in the country” and at distracting attention from the election campaign.
“This in turn is directly linked to January 6 [an allusion to allegations that the opposition is preparing not for the January 5 presidential elections, but for post-election protest rallies],” Kublashvili said.
MP Givi Targamadze said previous Patarkatsishvili allegations reminded him of statements made by ex-Adjarian leader Aslan Abashidze, who was always claiming that terrorist acts were being plotted against him. “And we again see the very same people, including Valery Gelbakhiani [an Abashidze associate in the past and now head of the Patarkatsishvili campaign headquarters] and Giorgi Targamadze [director of political shows at Patarkatsishvili’s co-owned Imedi TV and a former Abashidze associate],” he added.
The latest allegation surrounding Patarkatsishvili followed the release a few days ago by the Patarkatsishvili campaign of a video tape, wherein a retired Georgian colonel alleged that he had been forced to give false evidence against Patarkatsishvili. It was claimed that Georgian prosecutors were trying to build a case against the oligarch, based on forced false statements.