Georgia arrests five in sex video case

By bne IntelliNews April 11, 2016

Vazha Leluashvili, the former deputy head of Georgia's Constitutional Security Department (CSD), a department operating under the Interior Ministry, has been arrested on charges related to the release of sex videos involving politicians, according to civil.ge. Four other former security and police officers have also been arrested in the case. A sixth former senior police officer is charged in the case, but has not been detained.

The release of intimate videos and of a threat to release more such material by anonymous sources between March 11 and March 14 caused an outcry in Georgia. The electorate perceives the vulgarity in Georgian politics to be symptomatic of schisms between the ruling coalition and the main opposition party, and among ruling parties, that cannot be bridged. A parliamentary election scheduled for October 8 will be a test for the increasingly polarised Georgian political scene.

Meanwhile, the recent arrests appear to be connected with the security officers' illegal surveillance activity rather than with the release of the videos or attempted blackmail. The videos are believed to have been recorded during the previous government of the United National Movement (UNM) party, which is now the largest opposition party.

One of the videos was recorded in May 2012 in an unspecified hotel in the Mtskheta-Mtianeti region, and the other in a private home in Tbilisi in June 2012, according to the Georgian prosecutor's office.  Leluashvili is believed to have ordered that cameras be installed and videos recorded. The videos, together with other material, is believed to have leaked from the Interior Ministry.

Leluashvili, who was also an MP between 1999 and 2004, is on trial for a separate case of illegal surveillance. It is believed that he has been collaborating with the ruling Georgian Dream party, which came to power in late 2012, in exchange for his freedom.

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