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Vano Merabishvili May Have Wished to Publish Secret Audio-Recording of Arveladze and Tsamalashvili’s Over-Phone Conversation

17.03.2010
Aleksi Bezhanishvili

Scandalous audio-recording of the over-phone conversation was published on one of the most popular website in Tbilisi, Forum.ge. In the audio-recording, head of Georgian Imedi Production Group Giorgi Arveladze and his deputy Eka Tsamalashvili were speaking about the simulated reportage. However, initially, the audio-recording was published on the Russian website – copoka.net.

According to the audio-recording, President Mikheil Saakashvili had requested Giorgi Arveladze not to put warning banners on the reportage and even not to make a warning before the reportage started.

“You know why I am calling you? You will guess and make conclusions yourself. Misha talked with me yesterday and asked me what we are doing. I said we are working on it. He asked whether we were going to air it as ordinary Chronicle and I agreed. I said we would make some warning before the reportage but he asked not to do it; he said it could lose the effect,” said Arveladze in the audio recording.

Eka Tsamalashvili replied to him that in accordance to the Article 13 of the Broadcasting Code of Conduct of Georgia an action of thins kind is illegal.

“Yesterday, I was reading the Broadcasting Code of Conduct and there is Article 13 there.  Breading panic in the society and similar activities may cause some problems in regard with the license. I warn you we should rather write the subtitle that it is a simulation and nobody will argue about it. Otherwise, certain people might sue us. There is article 13 in the code. Remember, Giorgi, people will sue us. NGOs will have reason for argument and you know they are looking for such reasons. People might start running away from the cities; there will be big traffic jams on the high-ways. If we do not warn people in advance, something might really happen. They will arrest me; they will enter and drag me out with hand-cuffs. Somebody might have a heart-attack! Can you imagine how many weak people are watching TV; how many sick people with poor nerves live in this country or lonely people; they might receive a serious shock watching this program. In this case, who will be responsible? Either you or I?” said Eka Tsamalashvili; though Arveladze told her not to write any subtitles to the reportage.

The voice of Arveladze added that the experts Zura Davitashvili and Gia Nodia are aware of the scenario. “Zura Davitashvili and Gia Nodia wrote a reply to my mail and said it is good. They have not seen the reportage, but I sent them the text and the scenario. I did not write the scenario of the News Program, but of the events. In short, everybody liked it. You can say that experts also participated in creation of the program and it is not only our product,” said Arveladze.

Giorgi Arveladze said the audio-recording published on the forum.ge is a fabrication.

Arveladze said in his phone-interview with Rustavi 2 that maybe Russian Special Forces selected texts from his various over-phone conversations and fabricated the new audio-recording.

“It is a provocation and the Russian Special Forces are standing behind it. I am stating it because it was first published on the websites cooperating with Russian Special Forces and the resonance of the reportage was profitable for them. They wanted to make more provocations. It is clear what is going on. The audio-recording is completely fabricated. They used the phrases selected from my different phone-conversations. In this way they could make conversations with Dalai Lama and Rome Pope,” said Arveladze and added that the Russian Special Forces had two days to make the fabrication which in fact has nothing to do with the reality.

He claims they had never had similar conversation. “It’s difficult for me to recognize my own voice; and I do not exclude the possibility that they have selected phrases from different conversations,” said Arveladze.
Eka Tsamalashvili also responded to the published phone-conversation. She said that the context of the conversation is absurd and false and clarifies that during her working experience in the TV-Imedi, Giorgi Arveladze had never mentioned the recommendations of governmental officials during their personal or over-phone conversations. “I came here under these guarantees,” said Tsamalashvili on TV-Imedi.

According to Eka Tsamalashvili, the conversation between her and Arveladze was about the context, form and technical sides of the reportage. “I think, it is the work of Russian Special Forces; they needed some time to prepare this material and to provide it to the society,” she said.

Tsamalashvili commented on the simulated Chronicle and as a responsible person she expressed her concern about their failure to inform the society about the simulation of the reportage.

“We had a serious disagreement and dispute how to air the reportage. Different groups worked on different parts of the reportage and the result was what we all saw,” said Tsamalashvili and added that she feels herself responsible for what happened and joins the apology of the TV-Imedi to the society.

Political scientist Gia Nodia confirmed that he knew the scenario of the simulated chronicle. He said during his phone-interview with the Maestro-TV that the journalists from Imedi called him and said they had some plan about the program; they asked him to review the scenario and to participate in the program.

“At that moment I was in Istanbul. I do not know who got in touch with me from Imedi; they just said they were from Imedi. Maybe they told me the name too but I do not remember. I saw the scenario, studied the context of what we later saw. I do not know who they planned to arrange the technical side of this reportage – whether they were going to hire actors or not. I did not evaluate the scenario positively or negatively. I did not have time to read it attentively; however, I had some comments about minor issues. In general I agreed with the authors,” said Nodia.

Head of Association of Investigative Journalists Beso Kurtanidze does not doubt about the validity of the scandalous audio-recordings.

“The conversation demonstrates that Giorgi Arveladze called Tsamalashvili; he even said he is calling for that purpose that means; Tsamalashvili could not hear the dial tone. When you are called, you cannot hear dial-tone; so Eka Tsamalashvili could not make the recording because the dial-tone is heard in it. Any clever person can be aware that nobody can montage the phone-conversations from a different time; neither KGB, nor Tarantino can do it; it is impossible. Either Geocell could do it because Arveladze is their subscriber, but the Company could not publish the recording and second; the Ministry of Internal Affairs could do it,” said Beso Kurtanidze in his interview with the Kakheti News Center.

There is an assumption that several factions within the National Movement, the ruling party, fight each other. It was printed in the press several times that Giorgi Arveladze resigned from the position of the Ministry of Economical Development with the support of Vano Merabishvili, the Minister of Internal Affairs. Similar information is mostly unconfirmed but a secret hearing of the phone-conversations between Arveladze and Tsamalashvili reinforce the doubts. Experts smile at the allegations of Arveladze and Tsamalashvili that the audio-recording was fabricated by Russian Special Forces. Even a dilettante can guess that the recording is valid and it has nothing to do with a montage or a simulation.

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