The messenger logo

MIA fighting intelligence battle with Russia

By Salome Modebadze
Friday, July 8
Echo Moskvy radio station interviewed Vano Merabishvili, the Minister of Internal Affairs of Georgia (MIA), about the ongoing reforms implemented in the police structures. The “Spy scandals” which reporter Tatiana Felgenhauer found “important s and serious”, Minister Merabishvili simply characterized as “disclosures.” Praising the effectiveness of the Georgian intelligence services, the Minister said that among the 12 people recently detained in Batumi several were Russian citizens. Stressing that he has been personally controlling all the terrorist or spy-related issues, Merabishvili said the MIA continues watching over the plans and actions of the rest of the Russian agents who are not yet detained.

Merabishvili welcomed the successful cooperation of Georgian public bodies and secret services that made the workers of Russian Intelligence Service voluntarily cooperate with the Georgian law enforcement agencies thereby reducing Russia’s influence on Georgia to a minimum. As the Minister told Felgenhauer the Georgian side has blocked the important channels of information from Russian intelligence services. “Russia was used to considering CIS as its own controllable territory but they have failed in assessing the abilities of the Georgian intelligence properly. They did not think that we could technically and physiologically cut the sources of information to Russian intelligence on such a high level,” he stated.

The Minister explained that the tangible results in the system have been achieved after the implementation of the Georgian agent in the GRU last year. “With the help of this person we were able to get not only the plan of action, but the codes for disclosure of transmitted files. This has helped us to disclose a very large working network and to achieve further success,” the Minister said stressing that around 20 people were detained or came under investigation under such technologies. This process according to the Georgian Minister continues and will not end.

Felgenhauer made parallels between Georgia and Russia in “brutal suppressions” of mass oppositional rallies. “Is it not cruel when such rallies have human victims?” she asked Merabishvili referring to the events of May 26 night at Rustaveli Avenue. The Minister still accused the escort of oppositional leader Nino Burjanadze in killing police and protesters. Stressing that the protesters who were offered to move to another place on the Independence Day were carrying sticks, shields, batons Merabishvili said they were smashing police cars and beating cops and ordinary citizens. Denying any particular crackdowns from the MIA Georgian Minister stressed that the Georgian policemen have been following international standards of behavior minimizing the casualties.

Georgian analyst Irakli Sesiashvili worried of the lack of objective information about the reforms in the law enforcement bodies to The Messenger. Accusing MIA of wasting much of the state budget on new buildings all around the country Sesiashvili encouraged the law enforcers to be more accountable to the civil society and stop protecting the political interests of the ruling United National Movement (UNM). “We, the citizens actually listen to the self-praising comments from the officials but have no real chance to watch over the reforms in details, while MIA and the Ministry of Defense should have the most transparent systems in the country,” Sesiashvili told us worrying of the lack of access of information, non-transparency and political dependence of MIA on the ruling party’s interests.

The spy-related issue according to the analyst is a part of a Governmental PR campaign which along with the May 26 “bloody massacre” is aimed at raising the Russian issue. Expressing his mistrust towards the video footage creating the negative feeling among the people before the May 26 attack Sesiashvili supposed that this all was only aimed at accusing the oppositional leaders in an anti-state and pro-Russian campaign. “But this footage was unconvincing just because people have lost confidence in MIA. How can I trust this office when so many people have been terribly beaten [at Rustaveli Avenue], some of them imprisoned with unclear sentences” the analyst suggested.

Officials meanwhile promise to fairly investigate the cases.