Ruling party MP Beselia says she faces ‘blackmail’ as footage of her personal life goes viral

  • Georgian Dream party member Eka Beselia connects the leak of footage of her personal life to her negative attitude to a list of judges nominated for seats on the country’s supreme court., 29 Jan 2019 - 14:09, Tbilisi,Georgia

Georgia Dream ruling party member Eka Beselia, who left the post of the head of the Parliament’s Legal Affairs Committee at the end of December, says that she is facing a moral terror as footage of her personal life has gone viral.

She has called upon law enforcement agencies to immediately identify the people who stand behind the “dirty campaign”.

Beselia has connected the leak of the footage, which she says was recorded under the United National Movement leadership, to her critical attitude towards a list of ten judges presented for seats on the Supreme Court of Georgia.

Beselia stated on 26 December that she quit the post in the parliamentary committee as several judges on the list were unacceptable to her because of their past and “biased judiciary,” and added that Parliament Speaker Irakli Kobakhidze had lobbied for the judges, which was strongly dismissed by the latter.

In an open letter published on Facebook late yesterday, Beselia said that a number of individuals linked with United National Movement [former president Mikheil Saakashvili’s party] “criminal activities” had managed to get into the Georgian Dream party and now were trying to land ‘lifetime appointments to the judiciary’.

I would not have allowed this [to happen] and I opposed the process openly. I think that blackmail and the attempt to threaten me are part of the developments,” Beselia said.

Then Interior Ministry Irakli Garibashvili personally participated in the destruction process of 144 files (181 hour-long material) of personal life footages illegally recorded under the UNM government. Photo: Radio Liberty.

She stated that there were attempts to release footage of her personal life ahead of the 2012 parliamentary elections, when she joined the Georgian Dream team to defeat the nine-year rule of the United National Movement.

She says that eight people were detained under the Georgian Dream leadership for the offence.

Beselia said that she was against discussing the case in court as this “increased the likelihood of [further leaks]”. Instead, she wants the individuals behind the footage to sign a plea bargain.

The Ministry of Internal Affairs launched an investigation regarding the recent statements of Beselia immediately and MP David Tchitchinadze and his daughter-in-law have already been summoned for interrogation as they were the first to see the video on the internet, after Tchitchinadze’s daughter-in-law was sent the video on Facebook [the Georgian media outlets report].  

Opposition MP Tchitchinaadze says that it is very likely the Georgian Dream party stands behind the process. The same was stated by the European Georgia opposition leader Gigi Ugulava.

The top figures of the Georgian Dream party have strongly condemned the “immoral act” and urged for immediate investigation.

I am personally interested in the investigation of the immoral action,” Parliament Speaker Irakli Kobakhidze said.

Georgian President Salome Zurabishvili has stated that “manipulating with the personal data must end in Georgia.”

Zurabishvili said that a discussion must be launched immediately, with the involvement of public, on how to suspend the threat created by unidentified pages on the social network.

Sophio Kiladze, head of Parliament’s Human Rights Committee says that “if it is confirmed that such videos really went viral, I will demand the strongest punishment of those involved.”

Georgian Vice PM and the Minister of Regional Development Maia Tskitishvili called the incident “absolutely unacceptable” and urged the public not to encourage such illegalities by watching the video.

The Georgian Dream MP Roman Kakulia dismissed any connection of the ruling party with the video.

Personal Data Inspector Tamar Kaldani said that “everyone should know that the spread of personal footage is a criminal offence and [an end must be put to this]”.

The Georgian parliament approved a surveillance bill back in November 2014 to provide strong sanctions for illegal surveillance and leaking footage of an individual’s personal life.

Illegal surveillance and eavesdropping were widely used under the previous government. Hours of illegal footage obtained during the UNM administration was destroyed by the Georgian Dream government in 2013 and early in 2014.