A weekly Rustavi 2 TV primetime show, P.S., aired on December 29 three separate stories - totally about 25 minutes - about the alleged foiled coup attempt by tycoon Badri Patarkatsishvili. Among other things, it was claimed that the nine-party opposition coalition was intended to serve as the tycoon’s political power base. Patarkatsishvili’s “notorious background” was also discussed.
The Georgian authorities recently released compromising video and audio tapes implicating Patarkatsishvili and his allies in an alleged coup plot. The audio tapes purport to show Patarkatsishvili offering USD 100 million to a top Interior Ministry official, Irakli Kodua, in exchange for staging post-election unrest and “neutralizing” Interior Minister Vano Merabishvili.
“Everything would have started with smuggling several million dollars into Georgia, which would have been used for a coup d’etat. The top Interior Ministry official would have used this money to fulfill Patarkatsishvili’s instructions and to recruit other ministry officials,” a journalist says in the report. “[After that] conspirators would have been ready to seize power.”
The story featured comments by Givi Targamadze, a ruling party lawmaker and chairman of the parliamentary committee for defense and security. “They had a plan to seize Parliament and the State Chancellery and then they would apparently have tried to capture the presidential residence in Shavnabada [outside Tbilisi, where presidential candidate Mikheil Saakashvili lives],” MP Targamadze said.
“After seizing strategic facilities the only problem would have been Saakashvili, who according to the plan should have fled Georgia,” the journalist says. Archive footage of destroyed downtown Tbilisi then follows. “This footage was shot on January 6, 1992 – the day when the first president, Zviad Gamsakhurdia, fled Georgia [after a military coup],” the journalist continues. “Although this coup has been foiled, Patarkatsishvili, according to himself, continues to fight, and so one must assume that he has a Plan B.”
Another report concentrates on Patarkatsishvili’s “political force, which would have legalized the planned January 6 unrest and would have come to power” if the coup had succeeded.
The report claims that Patarkatsishvili initially tried to use ex-Defense Minister Irakli Okruashvili as his political powerbase, but the former minister’s arrest stymied his plans. He then, the report goes on, placed his hopes in Irakli Kodua, who was in fact a government mole.
“Now his last powerbase is the opposition,” the report concludes. To make its point the program then plays comments made by Davit Usupashvili, leader of the Republican Party, and Zviad Dzidziguri, leader of the Conservative Party, both part of the nine-party opposition coalition backing Levan Gachechiladze’s presidential bid. The two men had just returned from London on December 8 where they met Patarkatsishvili. “We have talked about joint plans and the opposition’s strategy,” Usupashvili was quoted as saying. Gachechiladze’s December 24 remarks are then introduced. He would, he said at the time, use Patarkatsishvili’s money to beef-up “empty state coffers.”
Since the release of the compromising tapes, the report says, Patarkatsishvili’s allies have been quick to distance themselves from him.
The tapes, and Patarkatsishvili’s “withdrawal from the race,” the report warns, “do not mean the end of the political game.” “Patarkatsishvili still has an election campaign headquarters.”
The third report focused on Patarkatsishvili’s background. It opened with an extract from the covertly recorded audio tape in which Patarkatsishvili tells Kodua: “I’m the lovely grandpa in Georgia, but they should ask about my background in Russia, where they know me differently; I haven’t fired a shot yet.”
“There has rarely been a case in Russia, involving money and blood, in which Patarkatsishvili’s name has not been linked and more often than not his name is linked with the notorious adventurer, Boris Berezovsky,” the report says.