Oct 8, 2009

Georgian TV Report on EU-Funded Mission’s Expert

One of Georgia’s largest national TV stations, Rustavi 2, claimed in its primetime, evening news program, Kurieri, on October 7 that one of the members of group of experts contracted by EU-funded fact-finding mission into the August war, received “fee” from Russia’s state gas monopoly, Gazprom.

“Fee”, the same report claimed, was given to Otto Luchterhandt, a law professor at the Hamburg University, in exchange of “lobbying for the Russian interests” in the EU-funded inquiry mission into the August war.

Below is a slightly truncated text of the report from Rustavi 2 TV’s news bulletin:

Presenter: Scandal over the Tagliavini commission may also draw the attention of law enforcement agencies. The matter concerns Otto Luchterhandt’s bank account where significant amount of money has been transferred.

The money originates from Russia, in particularly from Gazprom budget. Emergence of new compromising materials against the investigative team [EU-funded war fact-finding mission] is not ruled out. Despite the international scandal, findings of the commission will not be reviewed. But the commission members will probably have to answer to inconvenient questions.

It is interesting what the reaction in Moscow to the release of these compromising materials was.

Reporter: Russian experts say that this is a well-tried method of the Kremlin, as a special budget exists in the Kremlin through which this kind of politicians [referring to Otto Luchterhandt], who are lobbying for the Russian interests, are financed.

Bank account of one of the Tagliavini commission members, Otto Luchterhandt, may be probed by the law enforcement agencies. Compromising materials about him was released this morning by news agency Expressnews [a little-known Georgian news agency, which was established in January, 2009]; according to the agency’s source from Moscow, Gazprom transferred significant amount of money in Bonn on the expert’s bank account. The source suggests that it is a fee for those statements, which the member of the Tagliavini commission made in an interview with the Austrian newspaper Der Standard in which Otto Luchterhandt says that it is possible to defuse the current situation through recognition of Abkhazia’s independence.

Ruling party MP Petre Tsiskarishvili, leader of the parliamentary majority: Even this statement is enough to identify whom and what this person serves for and also to understand what a pressure was exerted by this kind of persons on other members of the commission in the process of writing this report, so to make the report biased in favor of Russia.

Ruling party MP Davit Darchiashvili, chairman of the parliamentary committee for European integration: All these naturally need to be responded by – I thing not particularly by this person – but by the commission leadership, because, I repeat, such action by the expert, contracted by the commission, taints the commission itself.

Reporter: Kurieri tried to contact with the member of Tagliavinai commission via e-mail. Otto Luchterhandt did not respond to the question whether the money was really transferred on his account or not.

Russian experts say that the Kremlin is using a well-tried method. A special budget exists in the Kremlin to buy loyalty of politicians and experts…

…The Kremlin has launched new information war and now the goal is to discredit the Tagliavini commission – that is a content of articles that have emerged in the Russian press. A Russian journalist, Oleg Panfilov [director of Center for Journalism in Extreme Situations], explains reasons:

Oleg Panfilov speaking in Russian through Georgian translation: The report is unacceptable for Russia as it contains official information, which the Kremlin has long been denying. On the grounds of this information Georgia can file a case to the International [Criminal] Court over ethnic cleansing in Georgia. Information war, as well as discrediting of the commission members will still continue for a long.