The Ministry of Internal Affairs called in Rustavi 2 TV Director Nika Gvaramia for questioning today for 18:00. At a special briefing, Gvaramia said that he is not planning to go to the Ministry of Internal Affairs for questioning because he does not trust their investigation. Gvaramia demanded instead to be interviewed in front of a court.
The case concerns an alleged phone call leaked on October 3, 2016 between Gvaramia and former Chairman of Tbilisi City Court, Mamuka Akhvlediani. Gvaramia called on the Prosecutor’s Office to investigate the intrusion of privacy after the leak. In the leaked phone conversation, Gvaramia offers to pay Akhvlediani a large sum of money to step down from his position in Tbilisi City Court and to speak about the Rustavi 2 ownership dispute. Rustavi 2 TV has the highest ratings in Georgia, and is known for being critical of the Georgian Dream government. Since August 2015 it has been going through an ownership dispute which the broadcaster’s management and opposition parties are saying is a government attempt to take over the broadcaster.
Tabula has been told by the MIA that “the authenticity of the phone call has been proven with conclusive expertise. The recording is not a montage and follows the conversation without interruptions. The voices in the recording definitely belong to Akhvlediani and Gvaramia.”
Gvaramia commented in the briefing on the alleged October 3 phone call leak, and said that the conversation was between three people, and not just between him and the former Chairman of Tbilisi City Court. Gvaramia did not reveal the identity of the third person, but said that the person was government-affiliated and that the person “was talking about how the government is planning to ‘choke’ us [Rustavi 2], through different loans which already existed before my arrival in Rustavi 2.”
Gvaramia says the recording is not a phone call but a manufactured montage of recordings; that he has multiple witnesses who heard testify to it, but that no one has been called in for questioning.