On November 9, 2019, occupation forces detained doctor and traumatologist Vazha Gaprindashvili in Akhalgori district. He moved to the occupied territory after a 60-year-old woman was trapped in swamp and needed a doctor’s help. She was unable to move to Tbilisi due to closure of crossing point. Vazha Gaprindashvili was accused of illegal crossing of the border and was sentenced 2-month pre-trial detention. According to the Radio Liberty, the court did not release the doctor on December 13, since he did not recognize the border crossing and claimed that he was on the territory of Georgia.
Public protest in relation to this topic intensified after Erekle Kukhianidze, Member of Tbilisi City Council from Georgian Dream party, accused Gaprindashvili of intentional provocation on Facebook.
Erekle Kukhianidze: „There is a very serious foul-smelling provocation in this story! I tell you straight - when you know the occupant is there and will arrest you, you still deliberately go... You also know that your country is unable to effectively resist the occupier and after that your family confronts the state - either your whole family are idiots, or f***ing provocateurs. “
Similar message was spread by other Kremlist actors, namely, Tskhinvali KGB, Sputnik Ossetia, pro-Russian Facebook user Sandro Jamaspishvili, Facebook page “Stalin”, Kremlist online edition – News Front.
Other messages in connection with Vazha Gaprindashvili look as follows:
- Vazha Gaprindashvili has not been requested to recognize the occupied regions
- Vazha Gaprindashvili is an opposition agent
Facebook page – Stalin News Front
Vazha Gaprindashvili acted in a pre-planned provocative scenario
Vazha Gaprindashvili has not been requested to recognize the occupied regions
Vazha Gaprindashvili is the agent of National Movement, Girchi party and Makarashvili comrades
Facebook page – Stalin
Message 1 – Vazha Gaprindashvili’s pre-planned provocation
Tskhinvali’s KGB has published audio recordings and information regarding Vazha Gaprindashvili. According to them, the doctor was in Estonia before crossing the “border”, and upon his return received a large amount of money to his account. The authenticity of the conversation recordings has not yet been established, though they do not prove anything significant.
Afterward, Facebook user Sandro Jamaspishvili spread a post, in which he called Vazha Gaprindashvili’s action a pre-planned provocation scenario and it should be noted that Georgian liberal press would not publish it. One should note that Sandro Jamaspishvili referred to the version spread by the KGB.
Sandro Jamaspishvili: „Tskhinvali’s other sources does not say what Vazha “grinded” or what his mission was. They just underlined that he was well prepared and was determined from the beginning! I publish this in order to stop artificial hullabaloo on Vazha’s “heroism” and to prevent using of this large pre-planned scenario for colored revolution!”
is noteworthy that Erekle Kukhianidze, Tbilisi City Council member from Georgian Dream also shared the Facebook post, which belongs to Sandro Jamaspishvili, known for his pro-Russian messages.
Although there was nothing serious in recordings disseminated by KGB, Georgian State Security Service yet made a statement on this matter:
“Statement made by the occupation regime is a part of false accusations and purposeful disinformation against Vazha Gaprindashvili”
Message 2 – Vazha Gaprindashvili has not been requested to recognize the occupied regions as independent states.
In addition to Georgian Dream deputy and supporters, pro-Russian pages also spread false information. On December 15, Kremlist online edition “News Front-Georgia” published an article titled “«Doctor Vazha» — new Nadezhda Savchenko?” Pro-Russian Facebook page “Stalin” shared the mentioned article.
The article states that Vazha Gaprindashvili’s case turned into artificial hysteria and his glorification in the liberal media is similar to Nadezhda Savchenko’s case. According to News Front-Georgia, signing the protocol is a simple formality and does not mean the recognition of anything:
“Does it mean that only Vazha Gaprindashvili is a patriot, when does not sign the protocol of «border violation»? Is it true that none of others cared about Georgia? — Of course, it is not the case. None of them went against their conscience since they signed a formality, protocol and nobody asked them for real recognition of Georgia’s partition.”
Vazha Gaprindashvili did not sign the prosecution documents since he considered that he was still on the territory of Georgia and he has not crossed any border. Since the so-called South Ossetia calls the dividing line a border, such signatures give them even more legitimacy. Although the News Front calls the particular protocol a formality rather than admitting something, the document itself means recognition of the dividing line as a border.
Message 3 – Vazha Gaprindashvili is National Movement’s, Girchi’s and Makarashvili comrades’ agent
Facebook user Sandro Jamaspishvili spread the mentioned messages after his previous status (upholding the version of Tskhinvali KGB) caused public criticism. Various pro-Russian Facebook pages and online editions, including, “Stalin”, News Front and TVM News, have shared his views.
Sandro Jamaspishvili’s Facebook activity is marked by various pro-Russian and anti-Western statements. His posts are aimed at praising Stalin and criticizing Ukraine’s autocephaly. Often this specific user publishes anti-NATO and anti-U.S. messages.
Prepared by Irakli Iagorashvili
Media Literacy Lab Regional Network