Georgia thwarted a plot to assassinate a journalist who went on an expletive-laden tirade against Russian President Vladimir Putin on live TV last year, Georgian Prime Minister Giorgi Gakharia said on Wednesday.
“Georgian secret services have foiled a very serious crime,” Gakharia told journalists in response to allegations by Mtavari TV director Nika Gvaramia that a Russian national was sent to Georgia to assassinate journalist Giorgi Gabunia.
Gvaramia said that an anonymous source had claimed that a Russian man named Vasambeg Bokov had been dispatched to Georgia to carry out the killing.
The assassination had been ordered by Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov, Gvaramia added, citing his source.
The Georgian State Security Service on Monday announced that it had detained an “ethnic-Ingush Russian national V.B. for using fake identification documents.”
“The arrest was made within the framework of an investigation into plotting a murder,” a statement said.
Gabunia in July last year launched a live, expletive-laden tirade against Putin in Russian that sparked fury in Moscow.
The Georgian Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Wednesday said that “plotting to assassinate a journalist is absolutely unacceptable.”
Kremlin spokesman Dmitri Peskov responded by calling the allegations “absurd,” while Kadyrov denied the claims in a Telegram post.
“Believe me, if someone is acting on my orders, he will accomplish them, and if a mission is to be accomplished quietly, nobody ... will not learn about it,” Kadyrov wrote.
He said the journalist should kneel and apologize, “or else, I repeat that he will remain my enemy.”
Russia and Georgia have long been at loggerheads over Tbilisi’s drive to forge closer ties with the EU and NATO.
The confrontation culminated in a brief, bloody war in August 2008 over Georgia’s Moscow-backed separatist regions of South Ossetia and Abkhazia. Russian forces occupied swathes of Georgia’s territory, bombing both military and civilian targets.
Russian troops withdrew after an EU-mediated ceasefire.
After the war, Moscow recognized both separatist regions as independent states and stationed permanent military bases there. Georgia reacted by cutting diplomatic relations with Moscow.
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