Businessman and owner of Channel 14, Michael Mirilashvili, sent warning letters today (Thursday) prior to filing defamation lawsuits against a line of tweeters on social networks accusing him, among other things, of being "an affiliate of Georgian criminal organizations" and of being allegedly connected to Yevgeniy Prigozhin and his militia "Wagner force".
Among the tweeters standing at the center of Mirilashvili's letters are advisor Lior Horev, PR professional Ilan Shiloach, and tech entrepreneur Ami Dror. The common thread among them is their involvement in the protest against the judicial reform, and thus their recurring and outdated attacks on Michael Mirilashvili Sr., whom they mistakenly identify as the owner of Channel 14 – which is actually owned by his son, Yitzhak Mirilashvili.
According to the tweets that were written, false statements have been attributed to Mirilashvili, such as his alleged connection with Yevgeniy Prigozhin and the Wagner Group, close ties with Vladimir Putin, allegations of bribery deals with Netanyahu, and influence over Channel 14 broadcasts. Mirilashvili's legal representatives emphasize in the letters that these are lies and fabrications. For instance, Prigozhin worked for Mirilashvili in the 1990s as a young guy in several restaurants that were owned by him in St. Petersburg. Since then, approximately 25 years have passed, during which Mirilashvili has not encountered him and has no connection to him.
Furthermore, according to the legal representatives, Mirilashvili does not personally know Putin and has never had a meeting or conversation with him, except for participating in several conferences related to the Jewish community in Russia or related to the State of Israel, in which Mirilashvili took part as a contributor, alongside many other donors. As for Channel 14, Mirilashvili is not the owner of the channel and has never visited it or had any contact with anyone from the channel, which, as mentioned, is owned by his son.
In the warning letters, another significant issue is mentioned, according to him. From the "false publications," it is the imprisonment of Mirilashvili in Russia in 2001. In some of the publications, the Twitter users falsely accuse him of involvement in murder – an act that even the Russian court did not attribute to him in its judgment.
However, surprisingly, the protesters opposing the so-called "dictatorship," who are active against it, express full confidence in the Russian judicial system in their tweets. They do not bother to mention that during his time in prison, Mirilashvili successfully fought against the Russian verdict in the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, France. The European Court of Human Rights determined that the collection and examination of evidence in the Russian court were conducted unlawfully and did not meet the basic standards of a fair legal process.
"To stop the journey of slander"
Mirilashvili notes that "since immigrating to Israel in 2009 and fulfilling the Zionist dream, he and his family have been subjected to orchestrated attacks lacking any basis on social media and in some media outlets. Due to recent events in Israel, these lies and attacks have escalated, leaving me no choice but to engage in a battle against these keyboard criminals and the like. Unfortunately, there are individuals in Israel who lack restraint in using any means to promote their own interests and agendas, including spreading falsehoods."
"For some reason, these individuals believe that they have the right to lie about my past, disregard decisions of the European Court of Human Rights, and sometimes even use expressions that carry a strong scent of blatant racism. I hope that my case will serve as a lesson to them and prevent further good people, regardless of their status, origin, and political views, from becoming victims of these keyboard criminals."
The attorneys Shlomi Weinberg and Arkadi Eligulashvili, who represent Michael Mirilashvili, state that "today warning letters were sent in the name of our client, Mr. Michael Mirilashvili, regarding severe and defamatory language that has been published against him on social media platforms, causing significant harm to his good name. The time has come to stop the campaign of slander and poisoning conducted on social networks, including the publication of baseless fabrications, deliberate distortion of the truth presented as an absolute truth, groundless accusations presented as factual – where, between them and the truth, there is nothing but a distortion of facts. We hope that the publishers will retract from the defamatory publications. Otherwise, comprehensive defamation lawsuits will be filed against them. Freedom of speech does not grant the freedom to humiliate."