Georgia 'gay sex tape blackmail' exposed

2013-01-15 20:48
President Mikheil Saakashvili (Michal Cizek: AFP)

President Mikheil Saakashvili (Michal Cizek: AFP)

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Tbilisi - Georgian prosecutors on Tuesday accused top former defence ministry officials of organising the secret filming of gay sex videos allegedly involving high-ranking figures to blackmail them into co-operating with the security services.

Three unnamed defence ministry officials were arrested and released on bail, in the latest investigation into alleged wrongdoing under the former government of President Mikheil Saakashvili.

Prosecutors have opened a swathe of probes into ex-Saakashvili loyalists after his government was ousted following the victory of Georgia's new prime minister, the billionaire Bidzina Ivanishvili, in October parliamentary elections.

The prosecutor's office accused the former government officials of making dozens of secret video recordings of "publicly well-known" men having gay sex and using those videotapes to blackmail them.

"With this, we wanted to show that the method of state government was systemically outside of the legal framework and outside of the values that the society should be based on," Georgia's chief prosecutor Archil Kbilashvili told reporters.

The men filmed in the videos were not identified.

The prosecutor's office said the scheme was created by the former head of military police department of the defence ministry, Megis Kardava.

Kardava considered a close ally of the ex-defence minister and Saakashvili loyalist Bacho Akhalaia, is believed to have fled the country after the 1 October elections.

Intimidation

The videotapes were later used for intimidating victims and forcing them into co-operation with special agencies and "voicing their support for the political regime", the prosecutors said.

The prosecutors have found several such videos but say there are at least a dozen in existence. Several local media outlets have now published the videos.

Gay rights organisations were quick to express their deep concern over publicising the videos, saying that this was a serious breach of privacy on the part of the prosecutor's office.

"Despite promises of systemic change, it is clear that the condition of rights and dignity of lesbian and homosexual people has not changed at all," gay rights group Identity said in a statement.

Homosexuality is still highly stigmatised in Georgia, a deeply socially conservative ex-Soviet state in the Caucasus whose Orthodox church retains a huge influence.

'Dirty methods'

Two days prior to the release of the videos, Saakashvili appeared to launch a pre-emptive riposte by accusing Ivanishvili's government of using "dirty methods" to pressure local officials and judges.

Saakashvili alleged two such recent cases in which, he said, security services tried to pressure a local official and a judge.

In one case, a district police chief was threatened that secret agents would reveal to his son that he had been adopted, he said. In another, one of the female judges was filmed having sex with her boyfriend and was later blackmailed into co-operating with security services.

But Saakashvili, who is currently working in a strained "cohabitation" with Ivanishvili, also denied his government ever used such methods.

"Of course we had special services which were carrying out operations against foreign agents, but there was a very strict condition - never to touch in any way a private life of a person.

"There has never been a case of releasing compromising materials of private life," said Saakashvili.

Read more on:    mikheil saakashvili  |  georgia  |  gay rights
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