19-year-old Temirlan Machalikashvili, who was wounded in the Pankisi Special Operation in December and died in hospital on January 10th, was likely registered on Facebook as Temirlan Pankisskii. The Facebook profile contains Machalikashvili’s pictures and is tagged in posts by his friends. The Facebook Friends list of the profile includes Temirlan Machalikashvili’s sisters as well.
The person behind the “Temirlan Pankisskii” account posted and shared several ISIS propaganda videos throughout 2016-2017. In one of the videos he can be seen grieving the death of ISIS leader Tarkhan Batirashvili. Additionally, he posted images of other ISIS members and has a picture of Aslan Margoshvili, who was killed during the special operation in the Lopota Gorge in 2012, set as his Cover Image.
Tabula contacted the State Security Service of Georgia with the following questions:
• Does the State Security Service confirm that the Facebook profile Temirlan Pankisski belong to Temirlan Machalikashvili;
• If they do confirm the authenticity of the profile, why have they not spread the information;
• Does the State Security Service monitor all users spreading terrorist propaganda in social media;
The SSSG provided the following statement to answer Tabula’s questions:
“Out of the interests of the investigation we provide information to the public periodically. The investigation of this particular case is ongoing and we will be able to provide additional information after the appropriate examinations are complete. There is evidence not only for the Machalikashvili case, but also for the anti-terrorism special operation, which will all be presented in court.”
According to the SSSG, the investigation regarding the Facebook profile is still in progress as well and additional information can only be provided after it is complete.
19-year-old Machalikashvili died on January 10 of injuries which he sustained during a special operation carried out by the State Security Service of Georgia in the village of Duisi in the Pankisi Gorge, on December 26. The case has raised questions on abuse of power during the special operation.
Several Georgian political leaders have commented on Machalikashvili’s death. Prime Minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili said that the government is sparing no effort to counter the threats of terrorism, which is a challenge for the entire world. He noted that fighting terrorism is particularly sensitive when it concerns your own country and involves your citizens.
The Prime Minister added that carrying out an effective and objective investigation to answer all questions as soon as possible is, above all, in the interests of the government. Kvirikashvili also stated that making premature statements or conclusions would be harmful to the interests of the country.
PM Kvirikashvili expressed his condolences to the family of Temirlan Machalikashvili, regardless of the investigation outcome.
President Giorgi Margvelashvili’s parliamentary secretary Ana Natsvlishvili also commented on the case, stating that Machalikashvili’s death was a tragedy for the whole country. According to Natsvlishvili, the president and his administration are expecting the investigation to be objective and effective in answering all questions raised in the society.
Ana Natsvlishvili noted that the President has questions relating to the measures taken by the authorities to avoid this tragic result as well as to the efficiency of the government’s counter-terrorism activities.