Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Victor Bout, Weapons Trafficking in Georgia

Georgia - "Green Light" for the "Merchant of Death" Victor Bout and his partner Temur Alasania

June 26, 2010

 Victor Anatolii Bout and Temur Alasania

In a previous edition of "Georgia and the World" the newspaper version of the "Special Report" prepared by TV Company "Maestro", they naturally evoked special interest in the larger public. Even for those who never doubted the anti-government actions of the present government and a ruining of the reputation of this country, the reality approved by the facts was unexpected, the actuality of which shall be felt very soon by influential persons from the government involved into weapons smuggling or the people close to them, or the people having less influence.
Unfortunately, these facts create an unattractive image to the Georgian state and equate a prospective of its development to less than zero, which, probably bothers very little the uncle of the Georgian President- Temur Alasania, for whom the position of President  to  his sister's son became a source of a good deal of income under the umbrella of his nephew.
In the newspaper version of "Special Report" you will clearly see what kinds of deals were concluded with the "Merchant of Death."

Victor Anatolii Bout was born on January 13, 1967, in Soviet Socialist Republic of Tajikistan, in Dushanbe. The very first business he founded was for air and sea cargo transportation; the main direction of the business involved the near East and Africa. He was the contractor of the President of Liberia- Charles Taylor; he also provided service to the United Nations in Sudan, and also to the United States of America in its military operations in Iraq.

As far back as the beginning of the 1990s weapon deliveries were being made to Africa, for all the different sides in the on-going civil wars. Soon thereafter Bout was named the "weapon's baron" and he is now positioned as the most powerful weapon seller on the Earth. Shortly thereafter the British government blames him for opening a weapons corridor from East Europe, Bulgaria, Moldova and Ukraine with deliveries for the benefit of Liberia and Angola.  

The "Merchant of Death Hollywood production comes out with a movie that was done which reflected the story of the Russian weapon seller, Victor Bout.

Even before shooting this movie, the relationship between Bout and the United States became tense, as Bout is openly charged with trafficking of weapons to the terrorists and the partisans, both "Al Qaeda" and "Taliban" are named as being amongst his clients.

Because of the impact to the hindrance of democracy in Congo, the United States opened a case against Bout.  In 2008, he was arrested in Bangkok Thailand, where he was checked into "Sofitel Seylamroad" hotel. Although the first case against him was dismissed he was discharged in 2009 by the Thailand Court but new charges were filed on February 17, 2010 where he faced new allegations as passed down by a US Federal Court.
Based on open sources, the crossroads of Victor Bout, the infamous Merchant of Death and Georgia, intersected one year ago, based on information provided by the Georgian Human Rights Center and an American investigative reporter.

Thailand. Bangkok. December 12, 2009. Airplane "Il-76" was seized with a cargo of 40 tons of military equipment, including mortars, antitank and portable zenith-rocket propelled systems were found. It was learned from sources in the mass media that the airplane was registered in Batumi Georgia and had flown to South Korea.

The special operation was jointly carried out by the special services of the United States of America and Thailand. One of the versions of the flight path had the plane transporting the weapons to Sri-Lanka but soon afterwards other details of the case were disclosed.

"New Your Times" edition from December 14, 2009:
"As the crew arrested in Bangkok tells, the airplane flew to Bangkok from where they were then to fly to the UAE and later return to Ukraine. But now the Ministry of Transport of that country announces that the Ukrainians didn't know anything about the seized plane and that it had been leased to a Ukrainian outfit.  But based on information from the arrested pilot- Abdullaev, was a Kazakh but  who had worked in Georgia. The flag and the emblem were Georgian and belonged to the Georgian airline "Air West", and registered in Georgia, Batumi.

Nodar Kakabadze, the Director of the Georgian based company also tells that the airplane was leased to Ukraine one month before this incident. It has now been announced by The Kazakhstan Ministry of Transport that the airplane was purchased by Georgia a short time prior from the Kazakhs, However, in the interview given to the "New York Times" - the Director of the Analytical Department of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Georgia tells that the seized "Il-76" was inherited by independent Georgia from the former Soviet Georgia, and it wasn't suitable for passenger transport.  This is why the airplane was leased to the Ukrainian company, which, according to Kakabadze, is affiliated with the company SP Trading, and is located in Thailand. Here again we run across none other than our familiar Victor Bout.  Based on Internet sources, SP Trading is named as one of the airlines managed by Victor Bout.

In an announcement made for the "Wall Street Journal" Nodar Kakabadze tells that he knows nothing about SP Trading and the "Wall Street Journal" only managed to find out from the Government of New Zealand that the company was established in 2009 and a Georgian airplane full of 40 tons of weapons was seized several months earlier. Western experts think that the weapons were intended for Sudan and Pakistan.

Georgian experts can recall the liaison between Victor Bout and Georgia upon his arrest.

An American journalist is more precise, Jeffrey K. Silverman, who has investigated the topic of weapon sales in Georgia for more than 7 years, recalls Bout and his activities and makes the links with Temur Alasania, the uncle of the President of Georgia and the larger network, including Iran and third world countries.

Jeffrey Silverman, investigative journalist:

"Victor Bout is a well-known international known criminal who has successfully worked with such clients as Russian intelligence, FSB, and American Special Services. Such an opportunity has given him a free hand on the part of the government to do as he pleases. Georgia provides the green light for all sorts of illegal activities, and these involve power players on the National level.  Georgia is for them him the traffic light on permanent green for "anything goes". From the Georgian side, Victor has collaborated with Temur Alasania, Jemal Inaishvili, former head of a Georgian port, and others when asked about Davit Kezerashvili, former Minister of Defense, 'this boy is but your run-of-the-mill drug addict.'  There is no doubt that he is a player in this business, but to put in simple terms, he is only a small fish – a lower ranking player.  A working investigative commission needs to be set up to stop this process. However, that is naïve – and to tell it like it is – everybody is interested in covering up these bloody tracks in the snow."

--Ucha Ninuashvili, Director of NGO "Center for Human Rights" GEORGIA:

"The United States still uses Georgia exactly for this kind of transport corridor just as the previous government of the US freely did. Not only based on this end user document, as supplied by Mr. Silverman, this document provides solid basis for such an announcement. However, we have other information as well that supports such claims, and we are working now in this direction. The other information which we have that Georgia has shows that Georgia been used for the transportation of the weapons to the third countries, and these are likely African and Asian contacts".

Kakha Katsitadze, military and NATO expert:

"If there was any reasonable explanation, the government would come and tell us. I would allow myself to tell as no one can provide a reasonable explanation and in fact no reasonable explanation has ever been provided".

In connection with the weapons sales, other than the Thailand episode, Georgia appeared several more times, though the ends of all these threads got thrown into the informational vacuum.

Africa. Congo. September 7, 2007. In the air crash of "An-12" – killed  8 persons, including two Georgian citizens, including the pilot, Zurab Mosia, 55 years old and also a mechanical worker, and Artur Bagdasarov. No specific information ever about the cargo on board and only it has been mentioned that the airplane registered in the name of "Transaviaservice" – there was no license for the flights, and no safety inspection, since 2007.

Philippines. August 17, 2009. A ship flying the Panama flag was seized with 13 Georgian sailors. All suspected of weapon smuggling but only an American captain accepts responsibility.

Azerbaijan. Baku. March 17, 2010. Information agencies of Azerbaijan notify us that the officers of the National Safety Ministry arrested 8 members of a radical religious group, among them- the locals of Dagestan and Chechnya, which were planning these terrorist acts. A large amount of the weapons have been transported to Azerbaijan from Georgia.

United States of America. Washington. May 5, 2010. According to American information sources, this case, on corruption including facts of weapons smuggling, where the main suspect is Daniel Alvares, he is also charged with corruption related to weapons sales for Georgian government members.

United States of America. Washington, DC. May 6, 2010. The General Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) of the USA Robert Muller is in Tbilisi.  Muller had a meeting with the Minister of Internal Affairs – Vano Merabishvili and Minister of Justice- Zurab Adeishvili. Both meetings were held behind closed doors. The visit of the General Director of FBI to Georgia lasted for several hours.

Jeffrey Silverman:

"The Russian side knows what the Americans are doing and the other way around too! Meanwhile everyone is making money off Georgia. This country is a free market for them, and they try to hide their bloody tracks. Let no one forget about August 8, 2008 when a large quantity of American supplied weapons were abandoned behind Russian lines. These ended up in the hands of the Russians. However, what is not told is that this equipment was not intended for use by the Georgians but had been pre-positioned for use against Iran.  This military equipment was not delivered for the Georgians. Georgia imports weapons not only from Israel but also from Jordan and Serbia. The Georgians are also purchasing weapons from the Russians".

Silverman documents the strange actions by the Ministry of Defense by end user certificates issued by the Ministry of Defense of Georgia.

Article one: The user and the address of the user – Ministry of Defense of Georgia. 20, General Kvinitadze Street, Tbilisi, Georgia, 0112.

Article two: Exporter and the address of the goods – KAADB, PO 927932. Oman, Jordan.

Article three: The mediator and the address: "Melvel Corporation Olayage" Trade center, Francis Rakel Street, city Victoria. Mahe, Seychelles Islands.

Article four: Importer of the goods and the address: Ministry of Defense of Georgia. 20,General Kvinitadze Street, Tbilisi, Georgia, 0112.

In the rest final documentation, the most part of the articles describe the purchase terms of Russian designed weapons. The document was signed by the Deputy Minister of Defense of Georgia, Mamuka Mujiri, who, by the way, was in the list of the escaped high ranked persons during the Russian-Georgian war from the 7th to the 14th of August, 2008. There was nothing strange in the document, except maybe these details:

First: the Georgian Ministry of Defense led the negotiations with the company founded in Jordan in the Russian language. This document concluded in Russian that Jordan had been counted as an official partner of the United States of America. According to the negotiation language, as a registered company in Jordan, a military partner country of America, which also has Russian management? Ironically, according to the list of the Directors on the KDDB official webpage we couldn't find the Russian surname.

"Melvel Corporation"- named as the mediating company in the document we have for the weapons importation, whose main activity is the sale of scrap metal. Though it is not a secret for anyone, especially for the media, that "Melvel" is busy in the weapons business, its' Director, Slobodan Teshic,  according to information spread by the media and internet means, the "Seychelles"  company "Melvel" is also in Belgrad. Teshic, according to the source, is in both legal and illegal sales of weapons. For example, the weapon transfers to Iraq are under his name. The company is very busy with sales of scrap metal, named by the Ministry of Defense of Georgia as the mediator, and he is charged in terrorist, anti-human activity in the process of weapons purchases by foreign sources.

Despite this announcement from respondents, that Russia and the United States of America use the territory of Georgia successfully for smuggling of weapons, the question has arisen – why didn't the tracks of the Georgian governmental personnel appear in the famous Alvires case?

A Chief Justice writes in his Judgment of the guilty:

"The Israel sales agent of Alvires contacted him on February 2008 and offered to sell him weapons "Em855" for 14 millions Dollars. It was known to Alvires, that the Israel agents, in order to fulfill this Contract, bribed the Georgian government. The weapons were received by agents from an anonymous company in the amount of 3 million 900 thousands Dollars, to Georgia, and it was sold for 4 million seven hundred thousand Dollars, and the end seller commission was 112,000 USD– paid to Alvires.

In July 2008 the same agent sold the weapons for 7 million USD to Georgia, from Israel. This time Alvires received a commission of 57,000 USD.  It is mentioned here, that during the military conflict of Georgia-Russia, 2008, the companies of Israel provided Georgia with the military equipment and also implemented military trainings, but it is interesting, that already after the war ended, in October 2008, Alvires was contacted not by Israel but by Miami agents who tried to reassure them to sell the ready to eat kits to Georgian government officials.

Alvires got 15 millions Dollars as the commission from this contract. It is interesting; the food for how many millions was purchased by the Georgian side at that time?

Giorgi Tavdgiridze, expert:

"Of course we buy the weapons from Israel and it is not a secret. But, even in this case the sphere of defense in Georgia is not transparent and a higher probability of corruption deals does exist, as a result. Therefore our supposed partners may be dubious. Even the "open" firms make attempts to gain certain advantages for some gift, but this has always been within permissible limits"

As it becomes clear, the US special services were aware of an existence of the illegal weapons business in Georgia several years ago, as confirmed by Vasil Gigolashvili – former officer of special services in the Special State Security Services, who have undergone several years long training course in the US special service schools.  

Gigolashvii declares that in 2005 his American friend from Central Intelligence Agency [CIA], visited Georgia. As he says a reason of such a visit was to conduct an investigation related to illegal weapons business in the country.

Vasil Gigolashvili:

"As I remember, it was in 2005, when the American man told me in one of the meetings that a scandal may happen, because this fact has already "blown up" in America

Why the American parties, both Democrat and Republican, kept silent during this period, as they knew about the facts of illegal weapons business in Georgia, what is going on here?  A matter of political expediency arises - the news is to be "blown up" in their designated time and place  

Giorgi Tavgiridze:

"If anyone is involved in this business, it is because of private interests. I mean certain combination may exist for preserving the money flow or the stream of power.  Such activities are not "advertised" and, their organizers may work in the Administration, of course, of both USA and Georgia. Such a probability exists in any case and, it cannot be rejected, whether this or that president is involved or participating in it, is immaterial".  

Jeffrey Silverman:

"The FBI refused my request for receiving my documents by reason that it was not their business. Of course, here we cannot escape without providing due attention to the Russian factor. They all act together. This is not a little group of criminals. This is a real Mafia, hardcore organized crime. Presumably, they need somebody to be punished immediately for the media. Many people are involved in this. It is a very dangerous period now for the West and for everyone, in general.  Participants of this business may even remove president Saakashvili, without any problems, so not to lose their money".

The FBI Director - Robert Muller spent several hours in Georgia. He arrived here from Israel. "Georgians, just recently involved in the weapon business, proved to be dilettantes and, now it is high time to direct the case in a real way" – the respondents declare.

Giorgi Tavdgiridze:

"Georgia stands now at a very dangerous edge. Rather unfavorable processes may start in the country. Respectively, stability in Georgia is very important for the USA"

Kakha Katsitadze:

Are you sure the Georgian government conducts a unified policy? I mean the government is not controlled now. No need to talk about anything, yes?"

The US Embassy refused to make any comments and proposed to us to concentrate on an official statement made by the FBI Director:

"Cooperation between the Georgian and American law enforcement organs plays an essential role in our joint struggle against international criminal and terrorism. Muller indicated that a strong partnership and a history of successful cooperation between the FBI and the Georgian Law Enforcement structures is critical, and expressed his hope that a close cooperation between the FBI and the Ministries of Justice and Internal Affairs of Georgia will remain successful in future, too"

For the larger public, an opinion of the heads of the most transparent two administrations of Georgia seems to be interesting, but, both these administrations are "closed"

Kakha Katsitadze:

"As a rule, such countries, state powers, persons, finish badly with their activities, while the "bad" finish takes various forms . . ."

According to one of the respondents interviewed within "Maestro's" TV program, on August 11, 2008, in the Restaurant "Tsiskvili" where the president's uncle Temur Alasania had the memorable meeting 40 days after the death of Saakashvili's grandfather, Alasania was trying to assure Saakashvili by telephone that continuation of the war with Russia was senseless and that the American military forces were preparing for dislocation within Turkey. We have to use here the record of one of the participants to make the larger public sure that it is not a lie as in case of the doctored news.   Their voice has changed since then, of course


"It was a 40-day memorial meeting of grandfathers. About 100-150 persons gathered in the restaurant. Then came Alasania's mobile call. Suddenly he stood up quickly. He could not believe what he had just heard and announced: "Now Turkey is vacating airports for receiving the American bombers aircrafts, to help us. Their shipments are on the way, already. All of us gave a standing ovation. "

Giorgi Karkarashvili:       

"On August 11, when attempting to bring the General Staff's special operations troops into the town a second time, the special minister arrived on site. They were so "brave" during the war and, now also offered these boy troops to occupy the town on the 12th August, to demonstrate a resistance and a partisan movement, but 50 fighters of the Special Forces refused this offer. All of them were immediately dismissed"

President Saakashvili:  

"If it will become necessary, half a million people must take to their machineguns. We can't find such quantity of weapons so fast, and, we have much than enough military ammunition".

Nobody can say where Alasania controls president Saakashvili. When required, he appears himself, when he wishes so.

Irakli Okruashvili, former Minister of Defense, now exiled in France

That was a period when the US initiated this case scenario, when David Kezerashvili and Saakashvili's uncle and cousin failed to divide among them the "commission fees" from the weapons business. Let them regulate the case themselves; it is their problem, not mine"

Georgia has proved time and again to be deeply involved in the illegal weapon business. During the year 2007 and also in 2008 up to the war, as documented by Georgian top officials and their mediators from the weapons purchasing," they were directed either to cover the debts accumulated during Parliamentary and Presidential elections fraud or even to earn personal profits by them. It is not a strange thing for them here in the Caucasus."

NB this is a re translation of a documentary from June 2010 on Georgian TV


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