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Russian consul meets spy suspect

By Mzia Kupunia
Tuesday, November 16
The Russian consul met one of the Russian citizens detained in Tbilisi on espionage charges, reported the Georgian Foreign Ministry on November 15. The meeting followed a request by the Russian side to provide more information about the detainees in order to verify their actual citizenship, according to the Deputy Georgian Foreign Minister, Nino Kalandadze.

Georgian law enforcers detained 13 people suspected of spying for Russia earlier in October. According to information released by the Georgian Interior Ministry, four of the suspects are Russian citizens.

The Georgian Foreign Ministry handed the Moscow’s request to provide additional information about the detainees to the relevant bodies, Kalandadze told journalists at Monday regular press briefing. “We received the information about those citizens and their identity data, which where immediately sent to the Swiss Embassy. And we are sure that the information has been already handed to the Russian side,” the Deputy Foreign Minister added.

According to Kalandadze the Russian consul met one of the detainees. She said that the Georgian side will let Moscow’s representative meet other detainees [citizens of Russia] if the Russian side asks to do so. As for the speculations about possible negotiations between Tbilisi and Moscow over the case, the Deputy Minister said that no negotiations have been held so far. “The Russian side has not appealed to us with a request to hand over the detained Russian citizens to Moscow. At this stage the Georgian side is not interested in holding negotiations on this issue, as we are waiting for the court hearing,” Kalandadze noted.

Officials in Tbilisi have defused Moscow’s claims that a special operation on revealing an alleged spy ring in Georgia was aimed at provoking Russia. “The special operation was aimed at warning the Georgian public and not at irritating Russia,” Georgian Interior Minister, Vano Merabishvili said on November 14. “In conducting this operation we were interested in pressurising the people living in Georgia, who are somehow cooperating with Russian special agencies, so that they start cooperating with us,” Merabishvili told Imedi TV.

Meanwhile Russian daily newspaper Moskovsky Komsomolets reported that Petre Devrishadze, one of the Russian citizens detained on spying charges in Georgia, “in reality is the agent of Georgian special services.” The newspaper cited former Deputy Interior Minister of Ajara Autonomous Republic, Davit Bakuridze and former first Vice Premier of Ajara, Badri Meladze as sources of the information.

Bakuridze told the newspaper that Devrishadze started cooperating with the Georgian special agencies in 1999. “He was cooperating with us till 2004, until I was forced to flee Georgia. During all this time Devrishadze was working as an agent of the Ministry of State Security,” Moskovsky Komsomolets quoted Bakuridze as saying. The former Georgian official told the Russian newspaper he is “sure that Devrishadze is still serving in Georgian special agencies.” He said that the detainee is working for the Department of Constitutional Security at the Georgian Interior Ministry, adding that “Dervishadze was temporarily jailed; however he will be soon released.”

The Georgian Interior Ministry has denied Bakuridze’s allegation, calling it “total absurd”. “It will soon be clear if Devrishadze will actually be released or not,” Head of Interior Ministry Analytical Department, Shota Utiashvili said. “Every part of the story [published in MK], as well as the whole story, is total absurd. I don’t know what the interest of the people who spoke with the newspaper on this issue is. I don’t know who Bakuridze is. As for the second one [Meladze], I have heard his surname many times, and everyone knows who he is working for. Their words are not worth paying any attention,” the Interior Ministry Spokesman added.