06TBILISI2590, GEORGIA ARRESTS RUSSIANS FOR SPYING, PLANNING

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
06TBILISI2590 2006-09-28 12:26 2011-08-30 01:44 SECRET//NOFORN Embassy Tbilisi

VZCZCXRO3117
OO RUEHDBU RUEHFL RUEHKW RUEHLA RUEHROV
DE RUEHSI #2590 2711226
ZNY SSSSS ZZH
O 281226Z SEP 06
FM AMEMBASSY TBILISI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 4188
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE IMMEDIATE

S E C R E T TBILISI 002590 
 
SIPDIS 
 
NOFORN 
SIPDIS 
 
DEPT FOR EUR DAS BRYZA, EUR/CARC 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 09/28/2016 
TAGS: PREL PGOV GG
SUBJECT: GEORGIA ARRESTS RUSSIANS FOR SPYING, PLANNING 
PROVOCATION 
 
 
Classified By: Ambassador John F. Tefft for reasons 1.4(b) & (d). 
 
Summary 
------- 
1. (S/NF) The Georgian government announced the arrests of 
four Russians and eleven Georgians on September 27, in 
connection with an alleged espionage ring.  One Russian 
suspect remains inside a diplomatically protected Russian 
military building in Tbilisi.  The Georgians tell us the 
arrests are the result of a careful, long-term 
counterintelligence operation, with substantial filmed 
evidence of transactions and other proof.  They have accused 
one Russian suspect of involvement in a deadly 2005 bombing 
in Gori, and publicly suggested the group was planning 
another "serious provocation."  End Summary. 
 
Georgians Move In 
----------------- 
2. (C) The Georgian government gave the Embassy advance 
warning on the evening of September 27 that they were about 
to arrest individuals they allege are Russian military 
intelligence (GRU) agents involved in espionage in Georgia. 
Shortly thereafter, the press reported that Georgian police 
had surrounded a Russian building in Tbilisi -- the 
headquarters of the Russian Forces in the Transcaucasus 
(GRVZ) -- to apprehend one Russian suspect who had apparently 
taken refuge there.  Post was informed that four Russians and 
twelve Georgians were arrested in connection with the case, 
and the Georgians were attempting to negotiate the surrender 
of one Russian remaining in the building. 
 
3. (U) In a news conference late September 27, Minister of 
Internal Affairs Vano Merabishvili publicly confirmed this 
information and provided additional detail.  He announced 
that four Russian GRU operatives had been taken into custody, 
GRU Colonel Aleksandr Sava and Dmitry Kazantsev, both 
arrested in Tbilisi, and Aleksandr Zavgorodny and Aleksandr 
Baranov, arrested in Batumi.  He said eleven Georgian 
citizens had also been arrested for cooperating with the GRU 
to conduct espionage, collecting information on such matters 
as Georgia's armed forces, NATO integration, energy security, 
opposition parties, and Georgian troops in the conflict 
zones.  Merabishvili said the arrests were prompted by 
information that the group was planning a "serious 
provocation."  He said the alleged ringleader of the group -- 
one Anatoly Sinitsin working from Yerevan -- was the 
mastermind of a bombing in Gori on February 1, 2005 that 
killed three Georgian police officers. 
 
4. (SBU) Merabishvili said another GRU officer, Konstantin 
Piguchin, was sought by the Georgians and believed to be 
inside the GRVZ building.  He said Georgian police could not 
enter the building because it was protected by diplomatic 
immunity, but they were demanding that Piguchin be turned 
over.  He said the Georgians were also looking for one 
additional Georgian suspect.  On the night of September 27, 
the Ambassador observed a police cordon around the GRVZ 
building, although the level of tension did not seem to be 
elevated.  Piguchin was believed to still be inside on the 
morning of September 28.  The Russian MFA issued a statement 
claiming that the four arrested Russians were in charge of 
the withdrawal of Russian forces from the Akhalkalaki and 
Batumi bases.  The statement called their arrest groundless 
and "one more outrageous attack" by Georgia. 
 
Product of a Long Investigation 
------------------------------- 
5. (S/NF) The Georgian government has informed us that it has 
film and recordings of the GRU officers meeting the Georgian 
agents and exchanging documents and money.  We understand the 
arrests were triggered by the unexpected decision of the 
senior GRU officer to depart Tbilisi; the Georgians feared 
that if allowed to depart he would not return.  The GOG has 
told us that there were no "big fish" among the Georgians 
arrested; some were retired MOD officials and others were 
employed at the bases.  The Georgians report that none of the 
arrested Russians have diplomatic immunity, and add that they 
have provided the Russian Embassy the required consular 
access. 
 
TEFFT

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