First Deputy Interior Minister, Gela Khvedelidze, has been arrested and charged with breach of privacy in connection to the case involving leak of a secretly recorded threesome sex video, which purportedly featured a man who has recently been fiercely criticizing some senior officials, including Khvedelidze.
Announcement about Khvedelidze's arrest was made by Interior Minister Irakli Garibashvili on Sunday evening, who said that his former deputy, who was in charge of securing large cache of video files obtained through illegal surveillance by the previous authorities, leaked the sex video for the purpose of "revenge" against the man who had been recently leveling allegations against Khvedelidze.
The video in question was leaked on the internet in early May. One of the two men in the video was identified as the person previously affiliated to Tbilisi-based Obieqtivi media outlet, who has claimed for number of times recently that PM Ivanishvili’s close adviser Gia Khukhashvili, deputy interior minister Gela Khvedelidze and deputy chief prosecutor Lasha Natsvlishvili managed to take control over businesses, which previously were controlled by the previous government.
Interior Minister Garibashvili said that Khvedelidze leaked the video in retaliation to these allegations; Garibashvili said he believed these allegations were "groundless".
"My former deputy has been arrested," Garibashvili said. "This is my clear message to all the officials at any level and to all the citizens regardless of their political views."
"I do not want to be an interior minister who covers up own family members, friends and relatives... These times are over in Georgia and I am sure that these times will never be back again," he said. "I want to tell each and every Georgian citizen, my colleagues and co-workers that I am and will be their defender, but no one should ever be able to get away with committing the crime. That's exactly the way for Georgia to return back to its European family; all the other ways represent demagogy and populism."
He also said that the video in question was secretly and illegally recorded by the previous leadership of the Interior Ministry and was part of a large cache of such recordings, which was gathered through illegal surveillance under the previous authorities.
"In agreement with the prosecutor's office a decision has been made to immediately destroy this dirty archive of private lives, which was compiled by the previous authorities," Garibashvili said, adding that the process would be carried out under the monitoring of representatives from the civil society groups.
He, however, also said: "There is no guarantee that the previous authorities have no copies of these recordings."
Leak of the video was a blow for the current government as less then a week before this video emerged, PM Ivanishvili, Interior Minister Garibashvili and parliament speaker Davit Usupashvili met a large group of civil society representatives and pledged to cooperate with them in creating mechanisms both on legislative and executive level to provide tight public scrutiny in order to prevent illegal surveillance.
At that meeting Interior Minister Garibashvili said that a huge cache of audio and video recordings, obtained through illegal surveillance on political and other figures, which was gathered by the previous leadership of the Interior Ministry, was still stored in the ministry. Garibashvili said at the time that these files would only be destroyed after the investigation into these multiple cases of illegal surveillance were over.
The Interior Ministry said that the investigation into Khvedelidze's case was ongoing under second part of article 157 of the criminal code, which deals with "illegal use of private or family secrete and/or its distribution... which caused a serious damage." The charges carry either financial penalty, two years of "corrective work" or imprisonment for two years.
The Interior Ministry said in a statement that Khvedelidze "has pleaded guilty."
Khvedelidze, who is the highest ranking officials from the current government arrested since PM Ivanishvili took the office, was named by Interior Minister Irakli Garibashvili as his deputy on October 30, 2012; at the time Khvedelidze was newly elected lawmaker from Ivanishvili’s GDDG party. In 1993-2004 Khvedelidze served on various posts in law enforcement agencies, including in counter-terrorism center.