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Utiashvili: “Kurtsikidze Is a Well-Experienced Spy; He Has Won Those Two People Over”

12.07.2011

Tribuna.ge published the full text of the interview of the head of the Analytic Department of the MIA Shota Utiashvili with the Russian magazine Commersant.

Shota Utiashvili, head of Analyze and Information Department of the Georgian MIA, tried to explain to Olga Alyonova, special reporter of the "Ъ"  why spy scandals often occur in Georgia.

-To tell the truth, the detention of the four journalists casts serious doubts. Detention of one journalist was somehow acceptable for everybody; but four journalists together – they are clever, educated and smart people, who had good salary and good position in the society; they really have to lose something with this detention; it is incredible.

-First of all, we detained three and not four journalists…

-Yes, it is true; the woman was released but she was detained for two days; and what about other journalists?

-Why do you call them journalists? One of them was personal photographer of the Georgian President; second worked for the Foreign Ministry of Georgia; they were public servants.

-No, they are photographers…

-No, they are public servants. They worked for the state agency. Their purpose was to shoot photos for press-centers. Instead, they were spreading secret information.

-What kind of information?

-Did you see the video-materials spread by our ministry?

-I could not see anything suspicious in those materials. People are speaking on the phone about the transfer of the honoraries for photos by bank accounts.

-No, I do not mean phone-conversation; I am speaking about the documents which they sent [to Special Forces]. Those documents are Top Secret and everybody could guess that it is secret information and nobody could spread them.

-What scheme are you speaking about?

-For example, scheme of the president’s residence – why an ordinary photographer needed it if not sending it to interested people? Why an ordinary photographer needed the list of Georgian citizens working for the UN office – and they sent all these documents to the person, whose intentions in regard with our country is clear.

-You know, I am a journalist and cannot believe that a photographer of Putin or Medvedev could see or shoot the scheme of the residence and send photos to somebody. Simply, he would never have access to similar documents. How an ordinary journalist could have access to similar materials? It means, the state security service worked badly and did not protect similar information. Journalist could shoot the document quite automatically.

-I would like to remind you again that they are not journalists, they are public servants. And they had access to similar information. However, the investigation will find out how they obtained similar information. Gedenidze was personal photographer of the president. He spends half of his working day with the president. For example, Peskov, can he have similar information?

-But it is completely different case. We are speaking about ordinary photographer now.

-Yes it is a bit different case but despite that a police photographer, who receives operative information, is not a journalist – he is an operative servant and the law entitles him/her to keep the received information in secret. The same happened in the case of these photo-reporters.

I fully understand your astonishment. But believe me, we do not like similar situation either. I cannot see why we should like to discredit ourselves and imprison the personal photographer of the president for no reason. Kurtsikidze is a well-experienced spy. He has won those two people over. Gedenidze could choose – he could either appeal to the MIA and inform them that he was blackmailed, or to continue his cooperation with him; he chose the second variant.

-And what will happen with them?

-I cannot say anything in advance. But it is very serious accusation. They should have known what it means when a foreign agency requests you to send the photos of politicians with their signature.

-But many photographers do it

-These photographers where public servants and they could not do it. Just imagine, photographer of the "Ъ" sends photos to”Ведомости”; will he have problems?

-What is the problem here – the fact that he breached corporative statute or he committed crime by publishing state secret?

-Initially, he breached only corporative statute and it became a trap for him. If he had come and reported about his mistake, the law enforcement officials would have told him: ok, it is good that you have informed us and now go and continue your working.

The same situation was about Maisaia (military expert, convicted for espionage for Russia); initially he was invited to a conference, then to a seminar and then they asked him to send some materials. Then they requested him to cross the line for what he could have been punished; and then he started sharing information about the location of our military formations.

-I have the same question; how could expert spread state secret?

-He is a military expert; he worked in our delegation in the NATO and had good connections.

-People gossip in Tbilisi that in fact the scandal about photographers is not connected with their espionage but with some photos they shot about private life of the president. They shot something that they did not have to shoot; consequently they were arrested; I have heard this version of the fact several times.

-It is ridiculous. It is nonsense to deny unreal facts. This version is good for chatter-boxes. I am sure the accusations about publishing secret information are grounded enough.

- Perhaps the gossips were spread because of lack of information? Why is there such a little information?

- In such cases information is always little. Nobody will ever divulge the content of these documents. Supposedly, the investigation and trial will be conducted in the closed regime as the case concerns state secret.

- Why do you close the process when the public interest is so high? You can close the part of the hearings when the documents are disclosed. Closing this process will negatively affect these developments.

- This is not my competence.

- Why is it that lately in Georgia the espionage scandals are so frequent? I think that the public has developed mistrust towards these processes. It really looks like agent mania.

- I do not think anybody will develop mistrust towards these processes. Ask me who you are talking about and I will tell you.

- I just cannot understand why Russia’s agents wanted to blow the bombs in Gori at the US embassy, at the station…

- But the bombs did blow up.

- But why?

- Do not ask me that. The acts of terrorism started from May of last year and are continuing these days. We just know the facts and the chain of this network. They are not professionals. But we see that different people from different intelligence services arranged 12 terrorist acts during which two people died. It is not understandable why they do it. But the fact is that it is happening. The bombers did not even try to hide that they were in contact with FSB and GRU officers. We already detained 30 people. It is very easy to find out this. The contacts are direct.

- Who are these bombers?

- They are from Abkhazia and South Ossetia. All cases are identical. In terms of complete insecurity the military or military like people will offer money to the “subordinate” and will arrange their life and then you have to “pay” and bring bomb to Tbilisi.

- What does “terms of complete insecurity mean”?

- These people are Georgians – from Akhalgori or Gali. They are unprotected here. But they all have a passport of Georgian citizen and can freely move in Georgia. I can tell you about one fact that happened lately. A Russian officer talked to the lady from Gali and offered her to transfer a bomb for 5 thousand dollars. The officer promised that there would be no victim and it was just going to be an explosion. The lady thought that she would arrange her life this way. Her son is in the prison and she would help her family. There is one more case of a contrabandist for who it was very important to establish good relations with the chief of the customs service.

The chief said: “you can transfer whatever you want but you will help me afterwards when I ask you” and then asked her to take out the bomb. This also happened in Gali region.

- And they cannot refuse?

- Everybody can refuse. That is why we are making PR so it will be clear that if you swallowed the bait you should come to the police and tell us everything. And that it is very big risk to play these games.

-But why do Russian Special Services need all this?

- What do they lose this way? Explosions and protest rallies – everything comes from the same game. They want to bring out the people and create destabilization. Probably there will be a victim and a bad PR for Georgia. And it is not expensive. This project can win good money. This is a profitable business. I do not exclude that someone in Moscow thought Burjanadze’s protest rally was successful operation. The same happens with the bombs. There is an order from up above – work on Georgia, control the situation and do not refrain to pay money. So different people come with different sentences.

- You are saying that you are making PR so to tell people that espionage is illegal. Is this a mass event?

- This is a serious event. There were 22 000 KGB agents in Georgia during the Soviet Union and more GRU agents.

-Do not you think that it is too much?

- What are you talking about? You probably do not know what KGB and Soviet Union is. There were millions of agents in eastern Germany in Stasi. Georgia was filled with agents as it was a border between the Soviet Union and NATO.

- How did you find out about these agents? There probably are no archives anymore.
 
- After the disruption of Soviet Union KGB brought archives to Smolensk but a small cards of pseudonyms remained so we know their number exactly. They also have evidence on many Georgian citizens and can use against them. I know that they are trying to restore old ties. That is why we are purposely making PR on this topic – people should not be afraid of them and should address us. This is how we revealed the operation Enver. A person came and stated: “I was an agent. I was “recruited” in 90ies; they want to do the same now.” The theme of the film Enver that we made is that you should not be afraid – it is better to go to the police and confess your guilt. But many people are still afraid. This is hard. Many still have Soviet mentality.

The process of state establishment is always hard. Shevardnadze did not want to go through this either. He would rather negotiate. That is why we have to do it all.

Original

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