On December 17th, 2022, the program “Man and Law” of the First Channel of Russia concerned the Maidan events that took place in Ukraine in 2013-2014. One party of the story alleges that at the end of February 2014, Georgian snipers appeared in Kyiv and together with the Ukrainian opposition leaders, they have been shooting people from the roofs. The story contains the comments of Georgian snipers – Aleksandre Revazishvili and Giorgi Bezhitashvili, saying that according to the order, they had to shoot at the protesters and cause chaos. Revazishvili says that the orders were given by the former MP of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine, Serhiy Pashynskyi, and the plan was to organize a coup d’état.
The claim that Georgian snipers opened fire on the protesters at the Euromaidan has been voiced and amplified by the Kremlin propaganda media and other related actors for years now. The information disseminated by them contains a number of factual inaccuracies and contradicts both the data of official agencies and the versions of other respondents.
‘Georgian Snipers’ mentioned in the story were not in Ukraine during the events of February 2014.
Kremlin propaganda has claimed for years that Georgian snipers opened fire on protesters during the 2014 Ukrainian Maidan events. The Georgian respondents of the story aired on the Channel One of Russia on December 17th were used as witnesses in the past as well. At different times, in films and stories, Russian media relied on the comments of Zalogi Kvaratskhelia, Koba Nergadze and Aleksandre Revazishvili. The statement issued by the Prosecutor’s Office of Ukraine in 2018 stresses that these people, including the respondent of the Channel One story – Alexander Revazishvili, did not cross the border of Ukraine and were not in Ukraine during the events of February 2014.
On November 21st, 2017, a similar announcement was published on the Facebook page of the General Prosecutor’s Office of Ukraine.
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 20th. He said that there were no data that would confirm that on February 20th, 2014, fire was opened on the protesters from Hotel Ukraine. Gorbatyuk also noted that according to the results of forensic expertise and investigation, the fire was opened from the place where Berkut’s Black Unit had been deployed.
Disinformation voiced by Aleksandre Revazishvili in an Italian movie
Aleksandre Revazishvili also appears in the Italian film “Ukraine: The Hidden Truth”. To prove that Georgian snipers were shooting at peaceful demonstrators on the Maidan, Revazishvili points to the old footage of the Maidan. According to him, one of the three persons depicted in the picture is himself.
BBC Monitoring tracked down the source of the mentioned footage, which belongs to the Russian TV company Life. Life published this footage with an article on December 1st, 2016 (the footage is no longer available). Revazishvili’s name is not mentioned in the footage at all. According to Life, the person whom Revazishvili claims to be is Giorgi Svaridze, a veteran of the Abkhaz war.
Aleksandre Revazishvili Giorgi Svaridze
3. The information that Giorgi Bezhitashvili went through sniper trainings under the guidance of Mamuka Mamulashvili, was denied by Mamulashvili himself.
In addition to Aleksandre Revazishvili, Russia’s Channel One also uses Giorgi Bezhitashvili’s comment, who notes that civilians were also shot and the goal was to overthrow the government. This comment is a fragment from Anna Stefan’s film – «Площадь разбитых надежд» Кто виноват в расстрелах на майдане. In the film, Bezhitashvili stresses that he met Mamuka Mamulashvili in Ukraine and went through sniper training under his guidance.
“Myth Detector” contacted Mamuka Mamulashvili, the commander of the Georgian Legion in Ukraine. He denies the information and notes that he was not in Ukraine at that time. He arrived in Ukraine in April 2014. According to Mamulashvili, it is possible to confirm the date of crossing the Ukrainian border by him, both in the relevant agencies of Georgia and Ukraine.
The US Solder, who, according to Bezhitashvili, was involved in the Maidan events, arrived in Ukraine only in 2015
Giorgi Bezhitashvili is also one of the respondents in the documentary of the American far-right TV company OAN called “The Ukraine Hoax: Impeachment, Biden Cash, Mass Murder.” One of the main topics covered in the film involves the 2014 developments on Kyiv’s Maidan square. The film offers interviews with several Georgian witnesses. Giorgi Bezhitashvili, Tsezar Bajaladze and Zurab Inashvili claim that they were hired as snipers to participate in the Maidan developments and that they were receiving instructions from Georgia’s ex-President Mikheil Saakashvili and leader of Georgian Legion, Mamuka Mamulashvili.
Bezhitashvili states in the film that once the ex-president of Georgia was accompanied to a meeting by American soldier Brian Christopher Boinger. Filmmaker Caputo also recorded an interview with Boinger, in which he presented Caputo with his passport. The passport confirms that Boinger arrived in Ukraine in 2015, just one year after the Maidan events, and trained Ukrainian volunteers. He joined the “Georgian Legion” on February 24, 2016, and took part in combat operations in Donbas with them. Maidan events, about which the so-called “Georgian snipers” are speaking, it happened on February 20, 2014; therefore, Brian Christopher Boinger could not train Georgian snipers at that time; Tax receipts submitted by Boinger also indicate that he was working in North Carolina at the time of the tragic events in Kyiv. Nevertheless, Caputo is still skeptical and based on the Georgian snipers; he says that they used fake passports.
Discrepancy in Figures
On February 14th, 2018, RIA Novosti, in partnership with Sputnik Georgia, published an article entitled “Shoot everyone on the Maidan: Georgian snipers tell about the Orchestrators”, which was based on the interviews of Tristan Tsitelashvili, Koba Nergadze and Aleksandre Revazishvili. Nergadze and Revazishvili recalled the details of their arrival in Kyiv, as well as the details of receiving weapons and tasks, noting that they opened fire by the orders of Mikheil Saakashvili, Mamuka Mamulashvili, as well as the speaker of the Verkhovna Rada, Andriy Parubiy, and the chairman of the Security and Defense Committee, Serhiy Pashynskyi from the hotel “Ukraine.”
Citing the interview with Nergadze, RIA Novosti claimed that the so-called Georgian snipers were offered USD 50 000 in exchange for arriving in Kyiv 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 a ten-fold lower amount – USD 5 000.
The documentary created by an 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.
The certificate that allegedly proves Koba Nergadze’s cooperation with Georgian security services contains grammatical errors
Koba Nergadze, one of the respondents of the Italian documentary film “Ukraine: The Hidden Truth,” claims that he was an employee of the Georgian security service during the presidency of Mikheil Saakashvili. As an evidence, the film shows a document in Georgian and English, with grammatical errors. The document, on which the information is quite difficult to read, is marked in English with the inscription Security Service of Defend – which is an incorrect grammatical construction for the English language. In addition, the name of the document is Certifikate, instead of the correct form – Certificate.
According to the analytical portal “The Insider Russia,” the documentary is fake, as the stories told by the “Georgian Snipers” contain factual inaccuracies and manipulative assertions.
In their comment, the Georgian snipers state that the orders to raid the Maidan demonstrators were given by the former deputy of the Rada – Serhiy Pashynskyi. Pashynskyi responded to this issue on his Facebook. He claims that the campaign against Maidan was staged by the FSB, and the respondents who were trained as snipers by the Kremlin were not in Kyiv at that time.
Serhiy Pashynskyi was a deputy of the Rada of Ukraine in 2012-2014. From March to June 2014, he was the acting head of the administration of the President of Ukraine.
Propaganda Films on the Maidan events and their authors
In 2013-2014, several propaganda films were made about the events in Ukraine and the Maidan protests. One of them is the Italian documentary “Ukraine: The Hidden Truth”, the author of which is military journalist Gian Micalessin. His articles are published on the websites “Русская весна”, inopressa.ru. In the 70s of the last century, Micalessin was a fighter of the Italian far-right group Trieste Youth Front. The documentary was broadcast in November 2017 by the TV company Matrix, owned by Silvio Berlusconi’s family. Matrix is owned by Mediaset, a media holding owned by the Berlusconi family. In September 2015, the Security Service of Ukraine banned Silvio Berlusconi from entering the territory of Ukraine for three years, because the former Italian Prime Minister visited Crimea illegally annexed by Russia in September 2015 and met Russian President Vladimir Putin.
The documentary about the hired Georgian snipers and their participation in the Maidan events features General Tristan Tsitelashvili, who is accused of espionage for Russia in Georgia and who blamed the “western residents” and Mikheil Saakashvili for the Maidan events.
The second film used by the Russian propaganda media to support the Russian version of the Maidan is “The Ukraine Hoax: Impeachment, Biden Cash, Mass Murder.” The film has the One America News (OAN) logo and premiered on the same channel. The author and narrator of the film is Trump’s 2016 election campaign adviser Michael Caputo, whose connection with the Kremlin’s information influence operations was studied by the Mueller Commission. One of Michael Caputo’s interviewees in this film is Tristan Tsitelashvili.
The so-called Mueller Commission probed into Caputo’s alleged links to Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. According to the commission’s report, in the spring of 2016, Michael Caputo learned through a Florida-based Russian business partner that another Florida-based Russian, Henry Oknyansky claimed to have information that could smear Hillary Clinton. Caputo notified Roger Stone and brokered communication between Stone and Oknyansky. Although the commission failed to obtain evidence establishing the links between the meeting and Russian interference in the U.S. presidential election, it noted that in their statements to investigators, Oknyansky and Caputo had contradictory recollections about the meeting. Oknyansky claimed that Caputo accompanied Stone to the meeting and provided an introduction, whereas Caputo did not tell the commission that he had attended and claimed that he was never told what information Oknyansky offered.
About One America News (OAN)
One America News is an American TV channel described as ultra-conservative and far-right by other American media outlets. The TV channel has been accused on multiple occasions of spreading fake news and conspiracy theories.
For example, in April 2018, OAN correspondent said after visiting the Syrian city of Douma that there was no evidence of chemical attack in the city.
Tom Rogan, analyst at Washington Examiner, an American conservative news website and weekly magazine, writes that OAN and Kremlin’s Sputnik outlet like to spread fake news relating to Syria. “At times they do so using the same Russian government front. This effort serves the Kremlin’s interests,” he says.
This is not the first time the TV channel spreads a myth about George Soros. Earlier, its correspondent, who simultaneously works for Sputnik, said that 14-year-old George Soros was cooperating with Nazi Germany.
For more information on the disinformation disseminated about the “Georgian Snipers,” see previous articles prepared by “Myth Detector:”
- Tristan Tsitelashvili Underpins Fake Documentary on Georgian Snipers
- Fake Documentary on Georgian Snipers’ Participation in Maidan Developments
- Four Inaccuracies in Disinformation about Georgian Snipers Allegedly Opening Fire on Protesters Rallying on Maidan
- Who Spreads Conspiratorial Film about Soros, Georgian Snipers and American Soldier?
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