On 24 and 31 August 2020, the investigative reporting platform, Dossier, which tracks the Kremlin’s criminal networks, published two reports on connections and financial relations between the Kremlin and the Alliance of Patriots of Georgia. According to Dossier, the reports are based on documents collected from the secretariat of Vladimir Chernov, Head of the Presidential Administration’s Directorate for Interregional Relations and Cultural Contacts with Foreign Countries, unmasking the Kremlin-associated network handling relations with the Alliance of Patriots of Georgia.
On top of other important information, Dossier’s reports shed light on circumstances indicating possible signs of crime (Article 194 [illicit income legalisation] and 319 [assistance to a foreign country, foreign or a foreign-controlled organisation for hostile activities] of the Criminal Code of Georgia):
• The Russian Federation’s Presidential Administration provides coordination to the election campaign of the Alliance of Patriots of Georgia. According to Dossier’s reports, former employees of security services occupy key positions in Vladimir Chernov’s directorate. The Alliance of Patriots of Georgia requested a large sum of money (USD 8,430,625) from Moscow for a political campaign. Chernov’s office reportedly hired Sergey Mikheev, a Kremlin-affiliated election expert, to promote the Alliance of Patriots of Georgia’s election campaign. The report says Sergey Mikheev is supervised by Valeri Chernishov, Chernov’s immediate subordinate and the Main Intelligence Directorate’s officer as well as by Colonel Valeri Maximov of the Federal Security Service.
• Russian political strategists requested Georgian voters’ personal data (including identification numbers, addresses and numbers of communal hallways and floors in their housing blocks) from the Alliance of Patriots of Georgia and were promised by the party to provide this information.
Georgia’s investigative and security bodies have not released an official statement on the aforementioned reports, let alone launching an investigation. The Prosecutor’s Office alone provided a formal notification on the request filled by Elene Khoshtaria, European Georgia MP, demanding the launch of an investigation into alleged Russian funding of the Alliance of Patriots of Georgia. According to the response of the Prosecutor’s Office, the application was sent to the State Audit Office which is responsible for financial issues pertaining to political parties.
We believe that sending Dossier’s reports to the State Audit Office and considering the matter as solely political party funding issue is insufficient, since according to report documents, there could be possible incidents of various crimes committed by the Alliance of Patriots of Georgia.
Therefore, we address all responsible institutions and bodies to demonstrate greater attention and responsibility in regard to the aforementioned reports.
We call on the:
Prosecutor’s Office and State Security Service: Publicly available information and published reports give ground to Georgia’s law enforcement bodies (according to Article 101 of the Criminal Procedure Code of Georgia, “the grounds for initiating an investigation shall be the information provided to an investigator or a prosecutor, or information revealed during criminal proceedings, or information published in the mass media”) to carry out relevant investigative activities. Since Dossier’s reports contain possible criminal episodes, we call on the Prosecutor’s Office and the State Security Service to carry out their functions as prescribed by the law, launch a probe to determine the authenticity of the published facts and investigate possible crimes against the state.
Parliament of Georgia: In addition to legislative authority, the Parliament of Georgia also has oversight and control functions and instruments. When it comes to national security or hybrid threats, the Parliament of Georgia should be an institution supervising the activities of other bodies. According to the report produced by the Thematic Inquiry Group on Disinformation and Propaganda of the Parliament of Georgia, Georgia’s legislative body should hold discussions on topics pertaining to hybrid threats with the involvement of government and non-government institutions. Given the magnitude and relevance of an issue, discussions may be transformed into an investigation commission for deeper insight. Therefore, in light of the lack of response from Georgia’s investigative and security bodies, we urge the Parliament of Georgia to exercise its oversight function and make use of available parliamentary mechanisms for inquiry.
State Audit Office: In light of the upcoming parliamentary elections, it is important that the State Audit Office prioritise an inquiry over the Alliance of Patriots of Georgia’s funding and unveil the results of the investigation prior to the elections. On the one hand, this will allow a timely imposition of relevant penalties and, on the other hand, this will help voters make an informed choice.
Georgia’s Reform Associates (GRASS)
Georgian Young Lawyers’ Association (GYLA)
Institute for Development of Freedom of Information (IDFI)
Media Development Foundation (MDF)
Economic Policy Research Centre (EPRC)
Georgian Foundation for Strategic and International Studies (GFSIS)
Open Society Foundation (OSGF)
Atlantic Council of Georgia
International Society for Fair Elections and Democracy (ISFED)
Georgian Democracy Initiative (GDI)
Democracy Research Institute (DRI)
Transparency International – Georgia (TI)
Human Rights Centre (HRDIC)
Tolerance and Diversity Institute (TDI)
The Human Rights Education and Monitoring Center (EMC)