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Merabishvili talks to Russian press

By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Tuesday, December 7
The Parliament of Georgia is going to acknowledge the genocide of the Circassians and that Operation Enveri was not an anti-Russian PR stunt, Interior Minister, Vano Merabishvili stated in an interview with the Russian newspaper, Komersant Vlast, on December 6.

The Georgian Minister spoke about President Saakashvili’s offer to Russia and revealed the details of the discovery of the Russian spy network. However he went on to say that nobody in Russia believed they were spies before today. “Why?” asked the journalist. The Minister replied that the son of Skrilnikov, a driver of the former Georgian Embassy in Russia said on a social networking site that his father has nothing in common with the special services.

According to the Merabishvili, the son worked as a driver for a Russian Security Officer officially attached to the Batumi Russian military base. It is impossible for a person to have worked there without any ties to the Russian security Services. “Can I have a driver not enrolled in Georgia’s MIA personnel? Skrilnikov’s brother worked in Tskhinvali peacekeeper headquarters. Two members of the family are Russian Security employees, so how can the father not be related to the Russian special services?” the Minister added.

According to Merabishvili, Georgian law enforcers commissioned a former officer working unofficially in Russian investigation in the USSR; he helped the Georgian MIA to identify other spies.

Enveri was the nickname of the person who supported them in uncovering the agent network.

“He was delivered to Russia via Ukraine by Russian security, was given instructions and a data decipher scheme, was introduced to allies to release the information to and was sent back to Georgia. This person gave us all the codes related to the transfer of information, which helped us find the rest of the spies. Some have been imprisoned by the Georgian police, while others have not yet been arrested.” Stated the Minister. He added the operation is mainly a preventive measure, “It was not an anti Russian PR stunt; our main aim was to have an affect on the thousands of people in Georgia spying for Russia and prevent them from committing similar acts in the future.”

To the question, why did the Georgian side not hand the spies to Russia, Merabishvili answered, “Georgia is an insignificant country, just a temporary point for Russia, which the Russians believe will sooner or later become part of Russia. Moscow does not consider Georgia as a full value country and a country with whom some kind of exchange is necessary.”

The Minister also mentioned that the Parliament of Georgia is going to acknowledge the genocide of the Circassians.

Analyst Irakli Sesiashvili told The Messenger, “No one in the country has the illusion that the number of Russian spies in Georgia is small. Their number and financing were significantly increased after the straining of Georgian – Russian relations in 2003-2004. In general, fighting against such a system is carried out by two means: first, to uncover those who are involved in the net and the second, undertake ideological influence on the public to restrain their links in this direction. I don’t know how our interior ministry acts in this field, but I welcome preventative measures and effective steps to suppress their actions. For me however, most important is how correctly Georgia will use this as a political event, as this operation has an influence on our police from an international viewpoint, as well as of course regarding Russia” He added, “Our president’s international statements that he is prepared for dialogue with Russia without preconditions and is ready to sign a non-use of force agreement is conceding too much to Russia, especially when that state has no desire for this. At the same time, when you say this and on the other hand call on Russians to train their spies better and the Russian state does not act accordingly and professionally, this irritates the opposing country. In the eyes of the international community you are ready to concede, however on the other hand make such steps and statements which irritate Russia.”

Sesiashvili explains the fact with one reason, “I think both Saakashvili and Medvedev are doing their best not to meet each other and their statements are targeted to avoid a meeting.” Finally the analyst also commented on the possible recognition by the Georgian Parliament of the genocide of the Circassians, “My personal attitude is that the genocide should be recognised, however when you are a state you should act according to the country’s interests as your decision might backfire. This is one more sign that one thing is said while another is done.”