A far-right blogger and prominent supporter of the far-right Alt Info group has had his home searched and faced questioning by the Georgian State Security Services (SSG), over bomb threats apparently made earlier this year.
Beka Vardosanidze fronts a Facebook blog under his name with 41,000 followers as well as a Telegram channel, BekaNews. He frequently promotes conspiracy theories and posts racist and homophobic content, as well as promoting the activities of the far-right Alt Info group.
In a statement on Wednesday, the SSG said Vardosanidze’s house and garage were searched and that he was taken in for questioning as a witness as part of an investigation into false threats of terrorism.
They claimed that at different times, bomb threats were sent to various government agencies from an ‘e-mail used by a specific person’.
‘The mentioned user sent a threatening message of terrorist content to the official email of the State Security Service, the Tbilisi Police Department of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, and the TV station Imedi’.
They said the message indicated that explosives had been installed in the Bassiani nightclub, a bar, and along Rustaveli Avenue where a New Year’s event was taking place.
Imedi, a pro-government TV channel, confirmed that they had received a threatening message that claimed it was from Vardosanidze.
‘I, Beka Vardosanidze, have already mined Freedom Square, just like your TV vehicles, the European Union, and *** you, except for TNT, tonight people will not meet anything from Pankisi militants, the police ignores our needs [demands] because they think it’s a joke, let justice rise and the pro-Western media fall *****!’, they reported the message said.
Vardosanidze spent 11 hours in SSG before being released, which he said was because the internet was slow there. He denied that he had sent bomb threats, and his lawyer, Sergo Khurtsidze, said Vardosanidze would cooperate with the investigation.
While the government has in the past refrained from confronting far-right groups in Georgia, even when they have committed violent actions, just days before Vardosanidze was questioned, Alt Info said they had received a demand to immediately pay a ₾233,000 ($87,000) fine.
One of the leaders of the group, Shota Martinenko, said that Cartu Bank, the founder of which is also the founder of the ruling party, Bidzina Ivanishvili, blocked the personal account that he used to collect money for Alt Info.
[Read on OC Media: Georgian Government orders far-right group Alt Info to pay fine]