Various

Four Inaccuracies in Disinformation about Georgian Snipers Allegedly Opening Fire on Protesters Rallying on Maidan

23 February, 2018

Georgian tabloid Asaval-Dasavali released in its February 19-25, 2018 edition an interview with Tristan Tsitelashvili who was accused in Georgia of spying in favor of Russia, in which he reiterates that upon Mikheil Saakashvili’s instructions, Georgian snipers - Alexander Revazishvili, Koba Nergadze and Zalogi Kvaratskhelia opened fire on the protesters rallying on Ukraine’s Maidan square on February 20, 2014. Tsitelashvili voices the same message in the interview with Georgia and the World on February 13, saying that Saakashvili’s deportation to Poland was just linked to the investigation of the Maidan developments.

On February 14, 2018, Russian news agency RIA Novosti released an article “Shoot at Everybody on Maidan: Georgian Snipers Tell about Masterminds” prepared in partnership with Sputnik Georgia’s editorial board. The article involves interviews with Tristan Tsitelashvili, Koba Nergadze and Alexander Revazishvili. Nergadze and Revazishvili recollect the details of their arrival in Kiev, receiving firearms and instructions. They note that they opened fire on the protesters from Hotel Ukraine and Conservatoire upon the instructions of Mikheil Saakashvili, Mamuka Mamulashvili, as well as Chairman of the Verkhovna Rada, Andriy Parubiy and Chairman of the National Security and Defense Committee, Sergei Pashinski. They also claim in the interview that American instructor, Brian Christopher Boyenger also participated in the developments.

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RIA Novosti’s interviews with Koba Nergadze and Alexander Revazishvili contain manipulations and factual inaccuracies and contradict official reports.

1. According to the Ukrainian prosecutor’s office, Nergadze, Revazishvili and Zalogi Kvaratskhelia (who is featuring in the Italian documentary) did not cross the Ukrainian border.

The Ukrainian prosecutor’s office does not confirm reports disseminated by Nergadze, Revazishvili and Kvaratskhelia, saying that these persons did not cross the Ukrainian border and did not stay in Ukraine during the February 2014 developments.

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Moreover, Sergey Gorbatyuk, head of the Special Investigations Department of the Prosecutor’s Office, told the Ukrainian media that the testimonies given by the so called “Georgian snipers” were not confirmed by forensic, medical or ballistic examinations, as well as by the results of interrogation of those persons who sustained injuries on February 20. He said that there were no data that would confirm that on February 20, 2014, fire was opened on the protesters from Hotel Ukraine. Gorbatyuk also noted that according to the results of forensic expertise and investigation, fire was opened from the place where Berkut’s Black Unit had been deployed.

The prosecutor’s office also noted that it sent inquiries to Italy, Macedonia and Armenia seeking contacts with Nergadze, Revazishvili and Kvaratskhelia, but no response has been received so far.

2. Sergei Pashinski, whom so called Georgian snipers accuse of shooting at the protesters, claims that the anti-Maidan campaign has been staged by FSB.

Chairman of the National Security and Defense Committee, Sergei Pashinski responded to RIA Novosti’s February 14 article with a post on his Facebook page. He mainly focused on the accusations against Mikheil Saakashvili and Mamuka Mamulashvili in connection with the February 20 developments.

  1. Pashinski said that the claims that it was impossible to investigate the February 20 developments without interrogating Saakashvili were unclear to him, because, as he explained, Saakashvili played a minor role in staging the Revolution of Dignity.
  2. Pashinski also noted that Mamuka Mamulashvili was not in Ukraine during the February 20 developments and he arrived in the country only in April 2014 that is confirmed by the testimonies of Ukrainian border guards.

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3. Koba Nergadze claims that Mamuka Mamulashvili helped him get a job at the Defense Ministry. Mamulashvili himself does not confirm it.

In the interview with RIA Novosti, Koba Nergadze notes that soon after 2006, Mamuka Mamulashvili helped him get a job at the Defense Ministry. Earlier, Nergadze says in the documentary about Georgian snipers created by Italian journalist that he worked at “the Security Service of Defend” and to prove this, he shows a document in Georgian and English languages containing grammatical errors.

  • Speaking with the Myth Detector, Head of the Georgian Legion, Mamuka Mamulashvili denied Nergadze’s remarks and noted that the latter started to work at the Defense Ministry’s Council of Advisors in 2012 through an interview process. Thus, Mamulashvili could not have helped Nergadze get a job before 2012.
  • “The Security Service of Defend” indicated by Nergadze as his workplace does not exist at all. The document provided by him is fake.

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2. Alexander Revazishvili notes in the interview with RIA Novosti that he was an activist of Free Zone and that Koba Khabazi, the head of Free Zone, introduced him to Mamuka Mamulashvili.    

  • In a conversation with the Myth Detector, Koba Khabazi notes that Alexander Revazishvili has never been a member of Free Zone.
  • Mamuka Mamulashvili claims that he does not know Alexander Revazishvili personally. According to him, his joint photo with Koba Khabazi in social networks has inspired disinformation.

3. Nergadze claims that along with Mamulashvili, American instructor, Brian Christopher Boyenger also gave instructions to them in February 2014. It should be noted that Boyenger was not in Ukraine in that period.

  • Former American military, Brian Christopher Boyenger joined the Georgian Legion on February 24, 2016 and got involved in the Donbass hostilities. He arrived in Ukraine in 2015 to train Ukrainian volunteers. The Maidan developments discussed by the called Georgian snipers took place on February 20, 2014; thus, Brian Christopher Boyenger could not have trained Georgian snipers in that period.
  • Mamuka Mamulashvili told the Myth Detector that he firstly crossed the Ukrainian border in April 2014, two months after Maidan’s February developments. Thus, Nergadze and Revazishvili could not have received orders from Mamulashvili.

Discrepancy in  Figures

RIA Novosti says citing the interview with Nergadze that the so called Georgian snipers were offered USD 50 000 in exchange for arriving in Kiev and participating in the Maidan developments. This figure differs from the information provided by one more respondent, Zalogi Kvaratskhelia, who claims in the Italian documentary released in November 2017 that they were offered ten-fold lower amount - USD 5 000.

The documentary created by Italian journalist on Georgian snipers’ participation in the February developments was aired in November 2017 by Matrix TV, owned by the family of former Italian Prime Minister, Silvio Berlusconi. Reports about Georgian snipers allegedly opening fire on the protesters were later picked up by Russian media outlets. Tristan Tsitelashvili also underpinned the opinions voiced in the fake documentary.

Detailed information about verifying the reports is provided in the following publications prepared by the Myth Detector:

Fake Documentary on Georgian Snipers’ Participation in Maidan Developments

Tristan Tsitelashvili Underpins Fake Documentary on Georgian Snipers