After the imposition of sanctions over the mineral water company “Borjomi” over its holder – the Russian “Alpha Group” and its founder, Mikhail Fridman, opposition discrediting and anti-liberal Facebook accounts have started disseminating the information that the company was sold to Russians by Mamuka Khazaradze, the leader of the opposition party “Lelo.”
The information was disseminated by the following pro-governmental and anti-opposition Facebook pages:
- The Facebook page “Mikheil Ukrainologi” posted a video, claiming that Khazaradze sold “Borjomi” to the Russians. The same assertion is repeated by Lado Sadghobelashvili, a former member of the Georgian March. An identical video was posted on the Facebook page of Political Satire (3:34) and “Sekta” [Sect] (3:39) about half an hour later, and in the next half hour the video was published by the page “Simartlis Droa” [Time for Truth] (4:06). It is also noteworthy that the post of “Political Satire” was sponsored.
- A post with identical content and the photos of Khazaradze and Borjomi was published by the page “Political Satire” with the following description: “If it was for sale, he would’ve sold the poetry of Galaktioni (famous Georgian poet) to Russians.
Posts against Khazaradze were also published by the following anti-liberal/anti-vaxx Facebook pages:
- The video disseminated by the pro-governmental Facebook accounts against Khazaradze was posted by Temo Bokelavadze, a participant in the violent rally on July 5th, and shared it with the group “Temur Bokelavadze and Society.”
- The same video was uploaded on the YouTube channel of the chairman of the Iberian-Caucasian movement, conspiracy theorist Beso Mikava.
- The Facebook account “Fantina Georgian,” which frequently publishes anti-Ukrainian and pro-Russian posts in addition to anti-vaxx posts, noted that the man who sold Borjomi to the Russian company “Alpha Group” was now demanding ransom from the authorities.
Lado Sadghobelashvili also talked about the sale of “Borjomi” to the Russian company by Mamuka Khazaradze in 2020 as well.
Before the dissemination of the information on social media, on April 29th, the members of the Georgian Dream, Gia Volski and Giorgi Kadagishvili proclaimed that Khazaradze sold “Borjomi” to Fridman.
The disseminated claim that the company “Borjomi” was sold to the Russian “Alpha Group” by Mamuka Khazaradze is false. In fact, “Borjomi” was redeemed from Khazaradze by Badri Patarkatsishvili’s foundation in 2002, and in 2013 Patarkatsishvili’s widow, Ina Gudavadze confirmed that a deal had been made to sell the controlling stake of “Borjomi” to the “Alpha Group.”
On April 29, IDS Borjomi issued a statement saying that the company was temporarily suspending production due to sanctions. Sanctions over Russia’s intervention in Ukraine have affected Borjomi over its Russian controlling stake in the Alpha Group and its founder, Mikhail Fridman, who has been listed as a sanctioned oligarch.
On April 30th, Mamuka Khazaradze and Badri Japaridze, leaders of the Lelo party, made a joint statement on the allegations. According to the statement, the company was modernized and revived just when it was headed by Khazaradze and Japaridze. The statement stressed that in 2002 the company was bought out of the initial investors by the investment fund Salford, one of the founders of which was Badri Patarkatsishvili. According to the statement, it was Salford who sold the controlling stake of Borjomi to Alpha Capital in 2013.
On December 24th, 2012, Russian media “Kommersant” reported, citing its own source, that a controlling stake of the mineral water company “IDS Borjomi” had been bought by the Russian “Alpha Group”, although information about the agreement was not confirmed by Alpha Group and the Salford Foundation.
On January 27th, 2013, Russian media bfm.ru reported that Badri Patarkatsishvili’s successors had reached an agreement with Alpha Group to sell a controlling stake of Borjomi. The information was confirmed by Badri Patarkatsishvili’s widow, Ina Gudavadze. She said the terms of the contract were confidential.
Notably, Mamuka Khazaradze, who founded IDS Borjomi Georgia in 1995, served as its president until 2004, and Badri Japaridze, who is the co-founder of the Georgian Glass and Mineral Water Company (later renamed IDS Borjomi) served as its vice-president from 1995-2003, and was a member of the Board of Directors from 2004-2010.
IDS Borjomi International was founded by Salford Capital Partners, a company owned by Badri Patarkatsishvili, Boris Abramovich and Boris Berezovsky. According to a report by the Institute for Development of Freedom of Information (IDFI), a lawsuit was filed between Patarkatsishvili’s heirs and Berezovsky over the company’s assets in 2008-2012. The dispute ended in an agreement and Berezovsky’s assets were transferred to Patarkatsishvili’s family, who sold the company’s controlling stake in 2013 to the Alpha Group owned by Mikhail Fridman for USD 300 million.
About the Sources
“Dzala Simartleshia,” “Mikheil Ukrainologi” and “Political Satire” are pro-governmental Facebook pages that often discredit the opposition, have been campaigning against Mamuka Khazaradze in the past as well. The Facebook page “Sect” is also a pro-governmental, aimed to discredit the opposition. For more on these pages, see the “Myth Detector” material:
- Sponsored Posts, 14 Trolls and Governmental and Pro-Kremlin Actors against Khazaradze-Japaridze
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