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Georgian intelligence warns of Russian plot

By Temuri Kiguradze
Monday, March 23
Moscow will try to overthrow the current Georgian regime “from inside” warned head of the Georgian Intelligence Service Gela Bezhuashvili in the Georgian Parliament on March 20.

The Kremlin “doesn’t seem” to want to use military aggression against Georgia, considers Bezhuashvili, but he states that Russia has another plan to change the Government of the country. “Today Moscow is considering mounting pressure on Georgia by other means – a plan is being shaped to remove the Georgian authorities through creating internal disorder and destabilization,” he said. He did note however that the danger of open military action “still exists” despite its low possibility at present. “This scenario has quite a strong and influential lobby within Russian Governmental circles,” said Bezhuashvili, quoting information gathered by his service as the source of his pronouncements.

“The goal of Russia in Georgia is unchanged; it’s to change the elected Government, weaken the state, restrict its sovereignty and implement its own policy in our country,” stated the head of the Intelligence Service. We can rely on our information as Russia has an interest in provoking destabilization in Georgia, because it will be easier to rule an unstable Georgia,” he continued. “There also is an action plan of how they [the Russian authorities] will act in the case of destabilization and internal disorder. I am sure that the money has already been allocated, people are already working and a special headquarters has already been established [in Russia]. Even if I knew whom they will rely on, I would not have said it today; but we are watching the process and some things are emerging,” Bezhuashvili added. He also mentioned that various facts supporting this case are listed in a special report delivered by his service to Georgian President Saakashvili.

Bezhuashvili‘s statement is not the first warning of “plans” by Russia to overthrow the Georgian Government through waves of protest. Speaking in early March, President Saakashvili stated that some Georgian politicians who are “not from the National Movement” “have lots of money.” “I’m monitoring this – but lots of money has become available in Georgian politics from some sources, and not for good deeds, and this needs to be tackled,” Saakashvili stated. This idea was elaborated on by MP Gia Tortladze, who announced that the mass protest rallies that the opposition plans to start on April 9 are going to be “financed by Russian money.” He even mentioned a sum of “GEL 2,000-3,000” which he said would be paid to opposition activists.

MP Givi Targamazde from the Parliamentary majority, who attended the session, stated that he agrees with the main points made by the intelligence chief and it’s “obvious that Russia is interested in seeing internal instability in Georgia,” however he demanded more facts before accusing any opposition politician of participation in a Russian “plot.”

The Georgian opposition has made several statements denying any kind of accusation from the Government, which they say just wants to improve its image in society or seek a reason to use force against the planned actions. “That’s exactly the same allegation the opposition heard before the November, 2007 protest rallies,” stated Kakha Kukava, leader of the Georgian Conservative party, referring to the previous mass protest in Tbilisi broken up violently by police on November 7, 2007.

“Gela Bezhuashvili has much more information on this issue than most of the rest of Georgian society and what he alleges [Russian sponsorship of the opposition] might be true, but it is completely possible that such accusations are once again just a part of Government PR, as they are afraid of the opposition movement. Even more likely, they can be a combination of these two factors,” stated independent political expert Shalva Pichkhadze, speaking to The Messenger on March 22.