Former Member of Parliament Givi Targamadze announced at a special briefing yesterday that he conducted his own investigation into an attempted assassination on him last year. Targamadze gave three names of people he says were involved: Darcho Khechuashvili, Boris Chagunava, and Dimitri Abramishvili; the first two were already officially investigated by the Georgian Ministry of Internal Affairs.
On October 4, 2016, only four days before parliamentary elections, Targamadze - who was then an MP with the United National Movement (UNM) - survived an assassination attempt when his car exploded as he was leaving the UNM office near Freedom Square in Tbilisi. Targamadze and his driver suffered minor injuries, while five passers-by were hospitalized. Targamadze is now a member of the political party Movement for Liberty - European Georgia.
Targamadze explained his investigation into the attempted assassination at the briefing:
“Soon after the assassination attempt, the Ministry of Internal Affairs announced that Darcho Khechuashvili was behind the attack and confirmed that he had already left the country. State media has tried to connect Khechuashvili to Ukraine, despite Khechuasvhili’s father saying that his son has gone to Russia. Darcho Khechuashvili is a former member of the special forces and the godfather of Koba Otanadze, a leader of the Mukhrovani mutiny [an attempt by high-ranking ex-military officers to overthrow the government in 2009]. Khechuashvili was also involved [in the mutiny]. During the second mutiny, Khechuashvili was stationed in Mukhrovani while working for the Department of Constitutional Security.
After an official inquiry, the Ministry of Internal Affairs stated that no official documentation of Khechuashvili leaving the country exists. Two explanations for this remain: Khechuashvili was given another passport, or Khechuashvili escaped to the Tskhinvali region [South Ossetia]. Khechuashvili’s mother is from Akhalgori, a town located within South Ossetia.
Authorities began an investigation concerning Khechuashvili’s car which was parked near the UNM office before and during the time of the explosion. The car officially belongs to Khechuasvhili’s brother-in-law, Boris Chagunava, a former member of special forces who was previously accused of involvement in an assassination attempt on former President Eduard Shevardnadze, and in the Mukhrovani mutiny. In both cases, Chagunava was acquitted.
Authorities found large amounts of ammunition in Chagunava’s garage as well as explosives that were identical to the ones used in my explosion. They also discovered Khechuashvili’s notebook which included written details about my schedule, my family’s schedule, and the schedule of my close relatives. Chagunava has admitted to storing the weapons for Khechuashvili. Tbilisi City Court gave Chagunava a 6-year conditional sentence,” Targamadze said.
According to Targamadze, despite the investigation having obtained information concerning another individual, Dimitri Abramishvili, no investigative activities have begun and no record exists of Abramishvili leaving the country. Security cameras show Abramishvili, a former member of special forces who had served time in jail after being convicted for kidnapping, meeting with Khechuasvhili at the home of former Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili. On October 6, 2016, Abramishvili left for his house in Telavi in Kakheti and has since disappeared.
Russia’s Accusations Against Targamadze
In 2013, the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation named Givi Targamadze as the main organizer behind multiple protests in 2012 in Russia that called for a regime change and the resignation of President Vladimir Putin. The Investigative Committee and President Putin have accused Targamadze of attempting to overthrow the government. Russian TV stations have also dedicated special broadcasts to Targamadze and his activities.
Interpol regarded these accusations as political persecution of a foreign Member of Parliament and removed Targamadze from its Red Notice.
Cooperation between Russian and Georgian State Security Services Since 2012
The Movement for Liberty - European Georgia party has been discussing alleged cooperation between Russian and Georgian Security Services in the past five years. Targamadze says the following events point to a connection between the two security services:
- December 2012: Georgia’s Counterterrorism Center (a branch of the State Security Service of Georgia) kidnapped Mikail Kadiyev, a Daghestani who was wanted in Russia for an attempted terrorist attack. Kadiyev escaped by jumping out of the car and is still in Georgia. Russian Security Services (FSB) have continued to request his extradition for years; the Georgian side has yet to officially refuse his extradition.
- April 2013: The Counterterrorism Center kidnapped Magomed Magomedov of Dagestan, from Georgia. Russia had requested his extradition. According to representatives from the Red Cross, Magomedov lives in harsh conditions in a prison in Russia.
- May 2014: A bomb was installed at the house of former Deputy Minister of Internal Affairs Gia Lortkipanidze, in Akhmeta, Georgia. The person who planted the bomb, Kote Tsikhistavi, confessed that he was instructed directly by Georgia’s Counterterrorism Center.
- May 2015: There was an assassination attempt on Zelimkhan Khangoshvili in central Tbilisi during broad daylight, at Zhvania Square. According to Khangoshvili and former Deputy Minister of Internal Affairs Gia Lortkipanidze, members of the Georgian Security Services carried out the attempts on them, though they say the attack was ordered by Putin’s regime and the leader of Chechnya, Ramzan Kadyrov.
According to Targamadze’s account, the Georgian government is allowing the three alleged perpetrators of his assassination attempt to not be persecuted:
“Of the three men [involved in the assassination attempt], one they snuck out of the country; the second they let go; and the whereabouts of the third are unknown. The main perpetrator Darcho Khechuashvili has fled the country, the second, Boris Chagunava, the courts have freed with total disregard to judiciary logic, and they have purposefully concealed the guilt of the third, Dimitri Abramishvili, there exists unpublished authentic video evidence that he participated in the explosion attack. The facts of my independent investigation paint a clear picture that the Georgian government hid information at the expense of society and did not give the case proper attention,” Targamadze concluded