American Bodyguards for Ivanishvili
21 June, 2012

“I would advise Ivanishvili to be careful when eating”

It’s a long time since security measures for Bidzina Ivanishvili were toughened, including bulletproof glasses in front of the stage during popular rallies and piercing looks of American bodyguards became the subject of hot discussion. Is there a real threat to the life of the billionaire-turned-oppositioner? Why American bodyguards specifically? These and other questions were the topics of the Kviris Palitra’s interview with Gia Khukhashvili:

A: I know that Ivanishvili was advised to hire bodyguards from America by one of the influential political groups. The threat of physical elimination threatening  Ivanishvili is real. You may remember journalist Vakhtang Komakhidze who spoke out about the plans of certain people to eliminate Ivanishvili. I think the rallies showed that the Authorities cannot eliminate Ivanishvili politically. So, the physical elimination could also be cherished by someone and hence should not be ruled out. The bodyguards were right to install bulletproof glasses around the stage before his appearance. Nobody knows what sort of other insane plans are  brewing in the heads of the powers that be.
Q: Mr Khukhashvili, wiretaps have been found in your flat. So, you are not all that safe either, are you?
A: Correct. This type of outdated device was used by KGB in the past. 21st century brought about much more sophisticated bugs. However, our Administration is tapping so many people that they’ve run out of the modern devices.
Kviris Palitra tried to find out about American security companies serving VIP clients. What is the difference between them and their Georgian colleagues?  Are professionals available in Georgia? Why do public officials hire bodyguards? We received interesting reflections on the questions from the former members of Saakashvili’s Administration. One of them is Gocha Vetriakov, who in the past fled to the United States. He used to hold high positions in intelligence and defense structures. Today he is a graduate of security and global studies of the American Military University.
Gocha Vetriakov: “Americans have everything what it takes to organize top level security in hot spots. The prominent US security firms employ former officers of the state agencies such as intelligence, police or army. It seems that Ivanishvili’s bodyguards are hired at one of those firms.”
Vasil Gigolashvili, former head of Saakashvili’s security planning and emergency response team, a graduate of the American secret service school (earlier he used to be the deputy head of Shevardnadze’s bodyguard service): “I have my opinion on the question of why Ivanishvili has contracted American bodyguards. In my view, you cannot force foreign citizens to act against the object of their service. American intelligence services provide only the general part of such training in Georgia. So, it is not enough to form a high-level bodyguard service. Well, there are indeed professionals in this country who are no less qualified compared to foreign specialists. They were trained in 1992-98 by CIA and Georgian state security services. The American intelligence services have a film featuring the training process. It is included in the training literature of American and other foreign special services. Later, only two men have been prepared in the entire Caucasian region. The center like the ones that operated in Egypt, Europe and the United States, should have been created under the American funding but they changed their mind after the Georgian side headed by Sulkhan Papashvili countered the Center’s Chief candidacy proposed by Americans with their own one. Americans aborted the project and its manager left Georgia. Indeed, the story reached the ears of Shevardnadze. Those two persons, trained at the Caucasus scale, were offered by the US to leave the country and receive all the assistance they may request. One of them took advantage of the offer. The other one chose to stay in Georgia.
Q: What would you advice to Ivanishvili?
A: Eduard Shevardnadze too was among those who warned that the life of Ivanishvili was in danger. His words certainly deserve attention. I would rather keep a close eye on food. I would advise Ivanishvili to be careful when eating. Also, I would pay attention to the information security.