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Georgia's Political Tensions Escalate Amid Ongoing Disputes

By Malkhaz Matsaberidze
Monday, October 16, 2023
Last month, the State Security Service of Georgia issued a statement that certain forces inside and outside the country would try to destabilize Georgia in October-December of this year. Some considered this as an attempt to cover up other heated topics of discussion.

October-December 2023, mentioned in the statement of the Council of Europe, is a critical period as Georgia is to receive an answer from the European Union regarding the acceptance of the status of a candidate for membership. For this, the European Union asks the Georgian authorities to fulfill 12 requirements. The Georgian government claims that it has actually fulfilled all the conditions, while the European Union considers only three requirements fulfilled. Therefore, there is a high probability that the government of the Georgian Dream will not be granted the status of a candidate, which will result in dissatisfaction and protest in the society.

The statement of SSS is designed for this kind of development of events and announces a possible protest "as an attempt to organize a revolution" by the radical opposition in advance. According to the statement, some groups operating inside the country will try to overthrow the government, but they benefit from "the coordination and support of foreign countries."

Among these foreign countries are Ukraine and those Georgians fighting against Russia including Giorgi Lortkipanidze, the deputy head of the military intelligence of Ukraine, Mikheil Baturin, a former member of Saakashvili's bodyguard in Ukraine, and Mamuka Mamulashvili, the commander of the Georgian Legion operating in Ukraine, who were named as the "coup organizers".

According to the announcement, Georgia is planning to implement a scenario similar to the Euromaidan held in Ukraine in 2014. A "tent city" will be organized, barricades will be erected near central avenues and strategic objects, government buildings will be tried to be occupied, explosive devices will be placed in a pre-selected tent, the explosion of which will be used to incite anti-government protests, as per the SSS statement. On the one hand, the said statement is an accusation against the "radical opposition" if it calls on citizens to protest actions, and on the other hand, it is an intimidation of citizens to make sure they refrain from participating in protests.

If Georgia does not receive the status of a candidate for EU membership, the Georgian Dream has prepared a version that the Global War Party "treats the Georgian authorities unfairly" and punishes them for not opening a "second front" to Russia.

The self-defense plan has been prepared by the government long in advance and is being spread along with permanent anti-Western propaganda. However, the propaganda has not worked since a large majority of the population of Georgia still supports Georgia's accession to European structures. That is why the current government of Georgia is careful and tries to blame the possible refusal on "evil forces" inside and outside the country. How convincing this will be for the public is another matter.

The Georgian Dream immediately picked up on the statement of SSS and made relevant statements. According to the Speaker of the Parliament, Shalva Papuashvili, "These are the results of the investigation, which is based on relevant evidence." However, no evidence has been presented and therefore it is expected that some records will be released by the SSS.

The representatives of the opposition considered the statement of the SSS as a weak attempt to cover up the existing scandals, which all the post-Soviet authorities of Georgia applied to, and, in the end, did not bring the desired results for the authorities.

A lot has happened recently that could lead to sparking the protest movement. There were noisy scandals in which high-ranking officials of the government appeared, overshadowed by the scandal of Partskhaladze, who was included in the list of persons sanctioned by the USA as a "Russian-Georgian oligarch" and a person connected to the Russian "FSB". About ten years ago, Partskhaladze was also the general prosecutor for a while, he gained wealth promptly and as a person close to Bidzina Ivanishvili, he enjoyed great influence on the Georgian Dream government. It was also found out that this person received Russian citizenship about a year ago.

The Georgian Dream first separated from sanctioned Partskhaladze, but then started to protect him and tried to avoid sanctions as a "citizen of Georgia", thereby putting the country's banking system at risk of collapse. The protest was soon followed by the deprivation of Georgian citizenship for Partskhaladze, but it was preceded by a physical confrontation in the parliament between the representatives of the government and the opposition.

The opposition demanded that the SSS expose the many Russian agents hiding in the government instead of a mythical conspiracy. However, according to their own statement, the SSS itself is full of Russian agents. According to the head of the United National Movement Levan Khabeishvili, "In order to save Partskhaladze, Russian spies were put into action and confirmed that the State Security Service is also under the influence of Russian Facebook. The statement of the Security Council on the coup d'état is proof of Russian influence in state institutions."

One of the 12 recommendations of the European Union, "overcoming polarization", has not been resolved but increased. For the opposition, the current government is not simply "pro-Russian", but is considered controlled by the Russian security forces, and the opposition has long declared the current government to be an agent of the "Global War Party". There is a concern that the 2024 parliamentary elections in Georgia may not unfold in a peaceful manner.