Why INTERPOL Refused to Catch Givi Targamadze

May 14, 2013
Givi Targamadze Source: RIA Novosti. Alexander Imedashvil

On Saturday, Givi Targamadze returned to Georgia from Lithuania. This usually normal event turned out to be a sensation for the Russian state-controlled media, which featured headlines such as: “Disorders on Bolotnaya: Givi Targamadze Hides Out in Georgia.” But where should he be? He has a family and a job in Georgia. What is the sub-text here – “Be a man – return to Russia red-handed”?

Let us recall that on 21 February, the Basmanny Court satisfied the request of the investigation for the arrest in absentia of Georgian citizen Givi Targamadze, who was accused of organizing mass disorders throughout the Russian Federation (Art. 30, part 1, Art. 212, Part 1 of the Russian Federation Criminal Code). This court decision enabled Targamadze to be put on the international wanted list.

At that time, the “official representative” of the Investigative Committee, Vladimir Markin, expressed complete confidence that INTERPOL would help Russia search for the Georgian politician, and that there was no political context in the case at all:

“We are soberly assessing the situation which has formed around the extradition of Targamadze by the Georgian government. But in any event, Mr. Targamadze […] in planning foreign tours, carefully selected countries that are not members of INTERPOL. By the way, I could suggest the choice of Palau, Solomon Islands, Federated States of Micronesia or Tuvalu. But if, due to a lack of knowledge of geography or other reasons he winds up in one of 189 countries who participate in INTERPOL, we are confident that he will be detained and handed over to the Russian government to be brought up on criminal charges and detained in custody. As for the statements from certain Georgian politicians that the criminal case and prosecution of Targamadze has some political context, I will state once again that the Investigative Committee is outside politics.”

But “certain Georgian politicians” did not trust Markin’s word, and on 25 March, Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili sent a request to INTERPOL concerning the handing over of the Georgian Member of Parliament to the Russian authorities. And on 5 April, Ronald Kenneth Noble, General Secretary of INTERPOL, sent a reply to Saakashvili:

“I should like to inform you that, while no request has been made for an INTERPOL Red Notice to be published for Mr. Targamadze, INTERPOL’s Office of Legal Affairs has recently reviewed “diffusion” messages concerning Mr. Targamadze, which were circulated by the Russian National Central Bureau (NCB) of INTERPOL in Moscow. Having reviewed the case, INTERPOL’s Office of Legal Affairs concluded that the circulation of those diffusions did not comply with INTERPOL’s rules, notable Article 3 of INTERPOL’s Constitution.  Accordingly, the Russian NCB was informed that the information concerning Mr. Targamadze would be removed from INTERPOL’s databases and that no cooperation via INTERPOL’s channels may take place in this matter.”

A “Red Notice” means an order for arrest with possible further extradition. INTERPOL considers the search for persons on whom there are “Red Notices” to be a top priority. But the decision to publish a “Red Notice” is made at the headquarters in Lyons by the General Secretary. Yet he refused, due to the violation by the Russian government of Art. 3 of the Constitution, which states:  “It is strictly forbidden for the Organization to undertake any intervention or activities of a political, military, religious or racial character.” That is, INTERPOL saw a political element in the case, and refused to get involved.

Meanwhile, Givi Targamadze was in Lithuania. Russia demanded his extradition and received a refusal. The reason is clear from a decision issued on 26 April by Laurea Ulbiena, Judge of the Division of Criminal Cases of the Vilnius Regional Court. She studied the documents provided by the Russian Prosecutor General’s Office to their Lithuanian colleagues, namely:  the request for extradition, the indictment and the order for arrest as a measure of restraint issued by the Basmanny Court.

Here are the relevant passages from the documents provided to the court by the investigation:

“At the beginning of 2012, Givi Targamadze, Head of the Defence and Security Committee of the Georgian Parliament, and other unidentified persons developed a criminal intent to organise the mass riots in various cities of the Russian Federation involving the use of violence, pogroms, arsons, destruction of property, use of firearms, explosives or explosive devices, including an armed resistance against the representatives of the authorities. [….] in January – March 2012, the exact time was not established, at the unidentified place, Givi Targamadze together with other unidentified persons addressed S.S. Udaltsov, Coordinator of the Movement “Left Front” (“Levyj front”), also K.V. Lebedev and L.M. Razvozzhaev, by offering to organise the mass riots on the territory of the Russian Federation and promising the financial support for the commission of that crime.

“[…]  Givi Targamadze and other unidentified persons consulted S. Udaltsov, K.V. Lebedev and L.M. Razvozzhaev on the tactics of the organisation of mass riots on the territory of the Russian Federation  […] and gave them monetary funds in U.S. dollars for the organisation of mass riots. The total amount of the funds given to S.S. Udaltsov, KI.V. Lebedev and L.M. Razvozzhaev by Givi Targamadze comprised approximately 200 thousand U.S.D.

“In the second half of July 2012, in an unidentified place in the city of Minsk in the Republic of Belarus, Givi Targamadze, together with S.S. Udaltsov, K.V. Lebedev, L. M. Razvozzhaev and other unidentified persons, planned the actions for the purpose of organising the riots on the territories of Moscow, Kaliningrad, Vladivostok and other cities of the Russian Federation and in prisons, for blocking the railroads and performing unlawful acts there […]

“[…] At the same time, Givi Targamadze, K.V. Lebedev. S.S. Udaltsov and L.M. Razvozzhaev, while they were acting together with other unidentified persons, planned arrangement of the riots in various cities of the Russian Federation  no earlier than in autumn 2012 […] in summer-autumn 2012, K.V. Lebedev, S.S. Udaltsov and L.M. Razvozzhajev went to different cities of the Russian Federation on a number of occasions, arranging training camps there and enlisted the persons who would later take part in the planned riots […]

“Thus, Givi Targamadze, together with S.S. Udaltosv, K.V. Lebedev, I.M. Razvozzhaev and other unidentified persons, intentionally created the conditions for the organisation of the riots, but their criminal intent to organise the riots was not completed by reason of the circumstances beyond their control because their activities became known to the law enforcement authorities of the Russian Federation.”

Basically, the Prosecutor General’s office sent their Lithuanian colleagues a brief re-telling of the NTV film “Anatomy of Protest – 2.” This is even more surprising, because by that time the investigation had obtained the confessions of Konstantin Lebedev, which formed the basis of his conviction. The version of events outlined in that official document sharply differs from those sent to Lithuania. For example, the conviction states that Razvozzhaev, Lebedev and Targamadze discussed the mass disorders for the first time in Lithuania, where a training camp was organized:

“At the end of February 2012, Lebedev, the first accomplice (Targamadze) and also another unidentified persons […] organized for citizens of the Russian Federation travel, housing and a seminar at the Aerodream Hotel near the city of Trakay in the Lithuanian Republic to study the methodology of organizing and participating in mass disorders.”

The extradition documents do not contain a word about this, although the investigation was supposed to petition for cooperation. After all, the place of the crime was established, and it was Lithuania.

And there is yet another discrepancy. The Russian government assures Lithuania that the mass disorders were being prepared no later than the autumn of 2012. Thanks to the work of the investigators, the criminal intent was not carried out. But from Lebedev’s conviction it follows that the mass disorders on Bolotnaya Square were the work of Targamadze and his accomplices. Twenty-eight persons have been subject to criminal prosecution, but in the extradition documents, this fact is missing; there remains only the “preparation”. What happened to the disorders of 6 May? Or, on the contrary, where did they come from in Lebedev’s sentence:

“Lebedev, the second (Udaltsov) and third accomplices (Razvozzhaev), acting together with the first accomplice (Targamadze) and unidentified persons wishing to organize mass disorders, developed a plan for unlawful actions at the approved event of 6 May 2012 on Bolotnaya Square in the city of Moscow. Furthermore, Lebedev, his accomplices and unidentified persons planned to organize a breakthrough of a cordon of police officials and soldiers of the Russian Federation Interior Ministry internal forces.”

In modestly “remaining silent” about the presumed participation of Targamadze in the events of 6 May, the Russian Federation Prosecutor General did itself a disservice: the Lithuanians replied with a refusal, because under their laws, actions of this nature are not subject to criminal punishment. Thus, the judge from the Vilnius district court maintained that Targamadze could be persecuted in Russia for political reasons:

“This has been confirmed by the data that the international search after Givi Targamadze announced by the INTERPOL National Bureau of the Russian Federation in relation to the abovementioned crimes was cancelled after the Interpol General Secretariat had acknowledged that the said search was for political reasons […]

“On the same grounds, the search after Givi Targamadze was also cancelled by the Board of International Relations of the Lithuanian Criminal Police Bureau….”

Thus, the recognition by INTERPOL of the political nature of the prosecution of Targamadze has already become a precedent for the making of a decision by a court in a country that is a member of the European Union. And that gives hope to everyone who has fallen under the  roller of the “Bolotnaya Case” – the lawyers of the accused are already preparing to submit documents to the European Court, and even hope that they will increase the basis of proof for the defense in Russia.