Rustavi2 TV head and UNM leader approve authenticity of recorded talks with ex-president Saakashvili about “revolution”

“There must be beating, and kicking and punching, and if they shoot, so be it,” said former president Saakashvili on his vision of Rustavi 2 case final., 30 Oct 2015 - 01:33, Tbilisi,Georgia

The director of private broadcasting company Rustavi 2 Nika Gvaramia and the leader of opposition party United National Movement (UNM) Giga Bokeria approved the authenticity and content of recorded audio phone conversations with Georgia’s ex-president Mikheil Saakashvili, which was published today by Ukrainian website

The controversial conversation contained the words "revolutionary scenario", "barricades", "defence forces", "fortifications", "militants", "foreign idiots" and other phrases including: "There must be beating and kicking and punching, and if they shoot, so be it,” and "All this will be ended by shooting finally”.

In a special statement on Rustavi 2's main news program this evening Gvaramia said this conversation took place on October 19 after the trial into the Rustavi 2 ownership dispute launched.

"Saakashvili is my close friend [and] his opinion is always interesting for me but this does not mean that we always have the same position. Yes, I approve the authenticity of the conversation and I approve that Saakashvili’s position is that we should defend our free world with the means he named in the dialogue: iron barricades around the building, strong-muscled people in the yard and maintain resistance until the end," said Gvaramia. 

"But you see that 10 days passed after this conversation and there are no barricades in front of our building,” said head of private broadcasting TV company which has been embroiled in an ownership dispute for the past two months.

Gvaramia also accused the Chief Prosecutor’s Office of conducting illegal surveillance and underlined there should be no legal options to listen and record his private phone conversations.

In the four-minute phone conversation Saakashvili spoke to Gvaramia about a potential "revolution" scenario if the Judge made a decision in favour of the previous Rustavi 2 owner Qibar Khalvashi.

"You should [encourage] a revolution scenario, call on people to defend you, should build up fortification, construct barricades, real barricades though, not loose ones… [in Russian]- Literally heavily barricades until the very end. Get a supply of water... This, that… and simply there should be an ordinary multi-week "standoff”.

"They should not be light ones... You should arrange heavy barricades around. You should start preparing for it now… should bring iron constructions, bring those and put them here. Simply you should construct a real fortress. Arrange a defence line around it for a while, tents, this, that, that’s the only way. There is no other way there,” said Georgia’s former president in the recorded conversation.

I think, you should consider this scenario, find boeviks [Russian slang for 'armed people'] who will defend because all this will end with shooting,” underlined Saakashvili at the end of the dialogue. Saakashvili was the third president of Georgia and is currently the Governor of Ukraine's Odessa as he faces charges in his homeland.

Read the full version of the phone conversation between Saakashvili and Gvaramia.

In another phone conversation between Saakashvili and UNM leader Giga Bokeria, the former president discussed the same scenario in detail and also talked about the international feedback on the Rustavi 2 TV case. Bokeria also approved the authenticity of this recording to local media today.

"Saakashvili: What about those foreign idiots?

Bokeria: The State Department is making a big statement about it tomorrow.

Saakashvili: A real big one or just a statement? They will just ask the speaker so he can yelp once or twice, right?

Bokeria: Well, I don’t know. They had a meeting so they said they would have a statement ready to pick up. I don’t know. We’ll see. At any rate whatever is happening, we have no direct control over it… And no feedback."

At the end of the four-minute dialogue Saakashvili underlined what kind of outcome he wished to see.  

"We need a physical confrontation,” Saakashvili said. 

"There must be beating and kicking and punching, and if they shoot, so be it,” told he Bokeria before saying goodbye.

Read the full version of the conversation between Saakashvili and Bokeria.

Meanwhile Georgia's Ministry of Internal Affairs took additional security measures to prevent possible provocations after Gvaramia appealed to the audience on October 22 to "physically stand by the channel tomorrow, right from the morning” and stressed "he would not let court enforcers inside the TV station’s building” when forecasting court would make its verdict in favour of ex-owners of the private broadcaster.

CCTV cameras were installed all around the building by Georgian police, and the territory of Rustavi 2 is under the strict observation. The Rustavi 2 trial is set to resume tomorrow.

The ownership of Rustavi 2 has very controversial history.

"Between 2004 and 2012, Rustavi 2 changed owners approximately 20 times, often in controversial deals that had a political flavour involving people with close links to [then] president Mikheil Saakashvili and to officials of the United National Movement-led government,” read a survey published by non-governmental organisation Transparency International Georgia.