Sex Tape Scandal Rocks Georgian Society

TBILISI – Georgian journalists on Monday morning received a second video from an anonymous source depicting the intimate sex lives of prominent public figures and a new round of threats aimed at sitting politicians and working journalists.

The sender threatened to release more videos if those in the video refuse to publicly resign from their respective duties by 31 March.

"By not publishing this stuff, you (the government) have opted out of the restoration of justice and cover up the bloody regime of the former ruling party (former President Mikheil Saakashvili's United National Movement). If you do not resign by 31 March, new footage will be released to clean the political arena," a voice on the video says.

A nation-wide hysteria involving similar videos has gripped the public in recent days as explicit illegally-made videos depicting the private sexual habits of several public figures were released via the Internet.

On 11 March, a compromising video depicting an opposition politician having extramarital sex with an unidentified partner was released via YouTube and later privately emailed to several Georgian journalists.

Local media outlets publicly disclosed the name of the individual in the video, but later apologized.

YouTube was later briefly blocked to some Georgian users, before the video was eventually deleted from the site.

It remains unclear as to who was responsible for disabling YouTube, but Georgia’s Justice Minister Thea Tsulukiani wrote on her Facebook page that the security services had tried for more than 40 minutes to remove the video.

Parliament Speaker Davit Usupashvili has filed a motion offering a GEL 1 million reward for assistance in helping to find those responsible for filming and releasing the videos. He also proposed that the government reach out to international anti-terror networks for assistance with the investigation.

The Prosecutor General’s Office announced Monday that it has launched a formal investigation into the illegal distribution of material depicting the private lives of Georgian citizens.

The leader of the opposition Free Democrats, Irakli Alasania, accused the current (Georgian Dream) government of being behind the smear campaign.

"Only the authorities could have access to such materials," he said.

Hundreds of people gathered Friday evening outside government offices to protest the video’s release.

Shouting, “Sex is not a crime” and “Get out of my bedroom,” the crowd demanded that the government conduct an immediate and thorough investigation into the incident.

Georgia’s Prime Minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili has ordered the nation’s security services to treat the investigation as a deliberate attack on the state.

The scandal comes only months ahead of October's parliamentary elections, which many predict will be a highly contested affair.

By Tamar Svanidze

Edited by Nicholas Waller

14 March 2016 18:15
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