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‘Intervention from top’ secured release of Georgian minister’s brother, video shows

24 January 2020
Vakho Izoria. Photo: Mtavari.

The brother of Georgia’s National Security Council head, Levan Izoria, was released from police custody following intervention from higher-ups, new footage aired by opposition-leaning TV station Mtavari Arkhi on Thursday appears to show.

The footage, reportedly from 2014, shows Vakho Izoria being handcuffed and placed into the back of a police car. It shows Izoria cursing and warning officers that he is ‘Levan Izoria’s brother’. 

‘Do you know who I am? I strip off the uniform from those like you, you should sit at home.’ 

‘What have you done? Do you know what you deserve for this? Do you know what I’m going to do to you?’, he screams at police major Giorgi Dvalishvili, who was placing Izoria under administrative arrest for petty hooliganism near Tbilisi’s Varketili Metro Station.

The footage shows Izoria being released from the car after a driver working for his brother appears on the scene and briefly speaks with the detainee in the police car. 

According Mtavari Arkhi, he was released after ‘someone from the top’ intervenes via telephone.

At the time the incident allegedly took place, Levan Izoria was Deputy Interior Minister of Georgia. He later went on to become Deputy Head of the State Security Service and later Defence Minister from 2016-2019. In September he was appointed head of the National Security Council.

‘Pressure’ turns to ‘terror’

In an interview with Mtkvari Arkhi aired on Thursday, the arresting officer, police major Giorgi Dvalishvili, said the incident had shaped his career since.

‘He did not have a problem with me, he had a problem with the state, with the police uniform that I had served in for so many years with pride’, he told Mtavari Arkhi about the incident. 

Dvalishvili claimed that as a result of the incident, he was transferred off active duty to the police’s HR Department and had been ‘pressured by superiors’ ever since. 

He claimed that this pressure turned into ‘terror’ after he refused to share the footage, taken from a body-cam, with Kakha Bukhradze, who has headed the Patrol Police Department since February 2019.

According to Dvalishvili, he told Bukhradze, who asked him to share the footage with him through WhatsApp, that he would provide the video file ‘only to an investigation’. 

According to Mtavari Arkhi, before sharing the footage with them, Dvalishvili had notified the Chief Prosecutor’s Office and Georgia’s Public Defender of both the pressure and the original incident, providing both with the video file. 

He added that since 7 November, ‘Bukhradze has been under investigation for abuse of power’, but the probe has been ‘shelved’. 

Dvalishvili said he hoped the authorities would not prosecute his family now he had spoken with the media.

The Prosecutor’s Office informed OC Media that they had launched an investigation over Dvalishvili’s appeal to them on 7 November and that a ‘forensic examination’ of the video was underway. 

OC Media has reached out to the Interior Ministry for comment.