The case of former Georgian Prime Minister Zurab Zhvania, who was found dead in a rented flat in suspicious circumstances back in February 2005, is finally being reexamined by the Georgian courts. No one has ever believed the official account of his death, and it is widely believed that former president Mikheil Saakashvili either ordered it or was directly involved.
Zhvania’s body was initially examined by Georgian forensic experts. When their conclusions did not fit the official story, they were silenced and US experts brought in to contradict them. Recently those original experts, and other witnesses, have been coming forward to tell what they know. Strangely enough, with members of the former government still employed in various parts of the state structure, many of them have then died, refused to speak further or gone missing, after promising to stick around and give their story to the courts.
One person Saakashvili’s friends have not silenced is Jeffrey K. Silverman, the Georgian Bureau Chief of Veterans Today, a US based military and intelligence journal. He recently gave Georgian newspaper Versia and others what is being described as “scandalous information” about the case.
According to Silverman, various pieces of evidence which were in the flat where Zhvania was found dead were destroyed on the orders of FBI agent Bryan Paarmann, who was leading the imported investigation team. Silverman maintains that Paarmann had been directed to destroy the evidence by his US paymasters because Zhvania was the only person able to normalise US relations with Russia. Another important reason for his demise was that Zhvania didn’t want Georgia to become the transit country for a wide range of illegal weapons, as the US subsequently succeeded in making it.Here we reprint a translated version of this interview; Judge for yourself.
Mr. Silverman, where did you meet FBI agent Bryan Paarman?
I met him in one of the bars in Tbilisi, Smugglers Bar, but before that [unpleasant experience] I had written many things about illegal weapons, the situation in Pankisi, etc. I was conducting various investigations, which, of course, many people did not like, especially the one about the mysterious murder of Zurab Zhvania, the former Georgian Prime Minister.
Once, when I was near my home in Didube, a suburb of Tbilisi, men dressed in civilian clothes who were from either the police or the security agencies grabbed me in the street in broad daylight and pushed me into a car. I was taken to the Interior Ministry building used by Georgian Counterintelligence, known as the “modular building”, where one of those men beat me severely and broke my teeth while five or six others watched but none of them said anything.
Then a woman came into the room. She was a representative of the US Embassy who monitored the activities of United States citizens in Georgia, Kim Richter. I had already been told by a friend working in the US Embassy that the US Ambassador did not like my critical articles and wanted to run me out of Georgia, and if I continued writing such articles that the Embassy would see to it that I was sent back to America in chains or killed.
I soon learned that former US Ambassador Richard Miles was aware of what had happened to me. I have some indirect acquaintance with him from the US, as one of his classmates at the Naval Academy was a former lecturer of mine, John Stempton of the University of Kentucky, Patterson School of Diplomacy. I learned from him, and from other sources, including my father’s best friend, who had served with him in the military during the Vietnam war and was also a graduate of the Naval Academy, what Miles’ true service record was—not only in the capacity of US Ambassador but as a regime hit man. I am very much aware that he is a spy, intelligence asset.
What connection does Bryan Paarmann have with the murder of PM Zhvania?
He was the one who ordered by the US government to destroy evidence. We never had the pleasure of knowing each other personally, but I knew who he was and he could smell me too, like two dogs who smell one another, as he we both were former US military, I enlisted and he a West Point Graduate. I knew that he had been ordered to have me beaten up. My friends, including those working in the US Embassy, had told me that Paarmann often went to various “meat markets” strip clubs and bars and had been compromised by Russian intelligence. The rest was easy, I tracked him down in one of these bar. I wanted to meet him in his natural environment and find out what he wanted in public, and draw the proverbial line.
Does that mean you wanted to provoke him?
I only wanted to talk to him and find out what his problem was, who ordered it. All was clear when he overacted when confronted in a public place in front of his Embassy groupies. When I approached him, he was sitting at the bar guzzling beer and was already drunk. He said: “I don’t like your fucking articles. However, I guess that’s your fucking Constitutional right; I know more about you than you know about yourself, at least you are not a pedophile.”
Suddenly he changed the topic, as intentional, and introduced his Slavic-looking girlfriend Victoria as a distraction, [a bombshell]. She was dressed as a cheap whore. However he presented her as his girlfriend, so I told him “jokingly” in Russian that “she was not only his girlfriend, but everybody’s girlfriend.”
He did not understand anything I had said in Russian or English for that matter, his imbibed state of mind—already too drunk. However his big bodyguard approached, whispered something in his ear and then proceeded to take a swing at me, hitting the beer bottle in my hand, splashing beer into my face and chipping my two upper front teeth. I reacted by swinging the beer bottle back at him and it smashed over his head. Both of us were left bloody as a result, and lots of blood, his blood, and beer and glass were splattered on the floor and wall.
I then left step over the junior agent in training and went home. I heard later, from the security staff at the bar and others how the police had been summered there to investigate, but the Americans, especially Bryan and bodyguard, had refused to tell them anything, as both were on the payroll of the FBI and to say anything might hurt their careers. Instead the Americans wanted Georgians to tell them everything that had happened in the bar, but everything happened the way I am saying. Few actually know the facts apart from the people who were in the bar at the time and the Georgian National Security Council, who were asked to tossed me out of the country but instead they refused to get involved, and told “let these crazy American beat each other to death.”
Now we know why, “it is related to the murder of the Georgian Prime Minister, Zurab Zhvania.””
What happened after the fight in the bar? Did you try to find out more about Paarmann?
The bar fight motivated me to investigate him deeper and deeper; that’s how I found out more about his direct involvement in the Zurab Zhvania murder case. I know that when I want to find the truth I have to speak to all kind of people. In this case I met Paarmann’s former fiancée in Bakuriani, a mountain ski resort. Eka told me many incriminating things: that he had all kinds of influence over the investigation into Zhvania’s murder, that he had destroyed evidence and that he was using his position to convince the Georgian people that it was just an accidental death, gas poisoning, and that this happened frequently, gas poisoning, in the United States. He went on Georgian TV to tell this story again and again.
Eka told me, that “when Zurab Zhvania died Americans arrived at the place where he was found and made sure that incriminating evidence disappeared, was destroyed, or tainted.” Bryan Paarmann was one of these people, and he cleaned the place of all actionable evidence: he made sure that unnecessary fingerprints and hair samples from people that could not be part of his story were removed, for instance, those of Zhvania’s bodyguard’s girlfriends and others, who often used the flat as a “fuck pad.”
Apparently Zhvania did not actually die in that flat but died and was killed somewhere else, and the body was moved, probably several times as part of the crime and cover-up. It is interesting how his bodyguards, who are now being accused of criminal negligence, said that Zhvania was really at home.
You don’t believe that, do you? Again go back to the FBI agent. It is a serious charge to accuse him of destroying evidence, are you sure that this is what happened?
In my opinion, Zhvania’s bodyguards were not there. When you protect the prime minister, it is your life and you are responsible for providing a 24 hour service. You are responsible not only for him, but for the whole country. I think that somebody in a high position ordered them not to be there with Zhvania for a reason.
I want everyone to know that Bryan is a liar. One of my sources, Eka, was raised in a traditional Georgian family. Paarmann said he was going to marry to her, but then he exchanged her for that Russian, Victoria, who he now lives with in America as man and wife. He destroyed Eka’s reputation in front of her family, spoiled her as a Georgian woman, and let’s not forget that Victoria’s first husband is claimed to have been working for Russian intelligence, the GRU, Russian Military Intelligence, and it is questionable that they were even divorced.
Why exactly was the FBI ordered to clean the place?
Because it was a dirty job, but not in the literal sense, and he was a professional. I cannot prove it, as too much time has passed and there are other political reasons, but in my personal opinion, Zhvania died elsewhere and was brought there only after his death.
I know Zurab Zhvania was a very intelligent man, too clever for his own good. He was creating a Georgian state within a state. He was the only one able to regulate the situation with the Russian Federation, to compromise, maneouvre and do good things for the country, in the interests of Georgia’s own national value-based decision-making. He had good relations with Aslan Abashidze, the former head of the Adjara region, and the other breakaway regions.
Another very important fact is that Zhvania knew about the various forms of illegal business going on in Georgia. We are talking about the weapons which entered Georgia from Arizona, via Turkmenistan, and were then distributed around the world, including in Asia. Zhvania was the man who did not want Georgia to become a transit country for illegal weapons. He knew it would cause problems, would put Georgia and its statehood under threat. We know this trade is a tool now being used by the Islamic State and other terrorist groups to destabilize the entire region.
At the press conference [announcing the findings of the investigation] Paarmann said that Zhvania really was poisoned and seemed so natural, so everybody believed this story….
Zhvania had physical injures too. Can you actually believe that the American side did not know about these injuries? I have only one answer. Now the USA is a strategic partner of Georgia no one want to realise that the USA is not as good as it appears to be and if the US is bad for Russia Georgia has another choice. But the government doesn’t want Russia to be Georgia’s strategic partner.
What about the stories about the sexual orientation of Zhvania?
For me this makes no difference, but for the traditional Georgian family it does matter. It is more important to me what is hidden behind the manipulation of his alleged sexual orientation, the motivation some people have for using this unsubstantiated claim to distract people from solving the case. These ploys help to protect those really responsible for his murder, and the murder of the young ethnic Azeri, Raul Usupov, deputy governor of Georgia’s Kvemo Kartli region, who was found with him that dreadful day back in February 2005.
The case of the two bodyguards accused of criminal negligence is now before the Tbilisi City Court. The trial was scheduled to last at least three weeks. Silverman resolved to attend throughout, but in the third day the trial was suspended. Coincidence?
In the meantime Dutch Newspapers are picking up on the story.
Tiegrief [A nice little item for the Zeeuwse Courant] (1). Or Toine’s echoing well (2). The death of Zurab Zhvania. Assuming that Misha Saakashvili is still dwelling with his in-laws in Zeeland. Otherwise it will soon be seen as too expensive.]
What killed Zurab in February 2005? Was it a CO particle or something else? Obviously, the authorities in the USA were struggling with the same question at the time since they sent an FBI dude to Georgia to investigate the case, or rather to put it six feet under. One Bryan Paarmann. And Bryan came, saw and buried.
Zurab and his pal Raul Yusupov died of a Coverdose, Bryan said. Unfortunately for Misha and him, pictures of the two victims later popped up which showed serious injuries on their tangible wrapping. Sure, you can make a very unfortunate nosedive when you’re hit by CO, but these injuries suggest another cause of death. That’s the reason the former chief expert of the Georgian National Forensic Institute and Zurab’s bodyguard were taken into custody.
At the time of Paarmann’s “investigation” an American journalist had been wandering around Georgia for years. One Jeffrey K. Silverman. In 2005 he pursued a few American NGOs in the eastern part of the country who were involved in the American aid programme “Food for Peace”. Silverman discovered that part of the money they received from the US was being diverted to a slush fund for muslim rebels in Chechnya (!!!) and wrote about it in the regional magazine Azerbaijan Today.
Such writings don’t contribute to your popularity with the American government. So if you then also take an interest in the death of Zurab and Raul you’re seen as pretty audacious. It wasn’t at all strange when smurfs from Georgian Counterespionage shoved him in a car one day in Tbilisi and whisked him away. Contrary to what he expected he didn’t end up in jail. So he went back to the Smugglers Bar a few days letter to settle the score. This is a joint where beside the booze you can choose an attractive broad to pump the stress out of your body. Silverman was confronted there by Mr. Paarmann, who had read his articles and wasn’t amused.
After some intimidating growling he introduced the journalist to a lady sitting next to him. His future bride, so Bryan said. When Jeffrey made a too smart remark about the subject he was stretched his length by a blow from Bryan’s FBI-stooge. A few teeth passed away, of the FBI agent’s bodyguard, and his face was reconstructed with a broken beer bottle.
In the days after the incident people from the National Security Council sniffed at the case, but this interest looked strongly like window dressing, and so it was. You might think that a happening like this would draw the attention of Jeffrey’s colleagues from Georgian State Television, Public TV, where Jeffrey was working at the time. But Bryan appeared to have as many connections there as in the local meat shops, where his appetite was specifically for younger and younger girls.
In 2006 Bryan (his bride from the Smugglers Bar in tow) was called back to Washington DC and given a high position at FBI headquarters. Last year he repeated his claim that the death of Zurab and Raul, his friend, was caused by a malfunctioning Iranian (!!) gas-heater. His claim was supported by his little wife, who at the moment is considered partly responsible for the disappearance of evidence.
Now is this a nice little bite for the Zeeuwse Courant or is it not? Or for Toine’s echoing well? We think it is.
1 ) A daily in the Dutch region where Saakashvili’s wife was borne and raised.
2 ) A sneer in the direction of the Dutch television programme “Nieuwsuur” and its anchorman Toine Huys.
Henry Kamens, columnist, expert on Central Asia and Caucasus, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.