An interview of Droni Ge newspaper with president of the Club of Experts and ex-minister of security General Levan Kiknadze.
- It is interesting to know what do you think about how dangerous Moscow trips and agreement between Nogaideli party and Edynaya Rossia are for Georgia?
- State security should be considered as a state when national interests of a state are protected. The main function of the state is to provide protection of those very interests. Today situation in the country is very grave and that mainly is caused by Russian occupation of our territories and also due to various forms and methods of constant pressure of Russian security services that took obviously challenging and brazen face, warrants us to conclude that at the modern stage of development it is difficult for Georgia as an independent state and its state institutions to completely realize vital state interests and provide its protection from outside dangers. And we see undermining activities of Russian security services and organizations connected to them. It is necessary for Georgian security services to consolidate their main forces and resources to disclose illegal actions of those very foreign security services and persons connected to them. Given that these very actions and signing of the agreement with Russia's ruling party, policy of which is directed against Georgian statehood should be considered in the very framework that I mentioned in the beginning.
- What concrete examples do we have to illustrate this?
- What more examples do you need? We are witnessing undermining activities of the occupant country against our statehood and people who are involved in this.
- Let's once more touch upon a security issue. How capable Georgian security services are to prevent any anti-statehood actions whoever is responsible for this?
- Security services are actively working today. They have both ability and power to do so. I am sure that they will not allow development of the events in the direction that Russian security services want them to develop. They need destabilization and confrontation among people and to change situation in the way that it would make easier for them to be in charge. Today they cannot do this.
- Can we protect our population in the occupied territories or there are no Georgians left there?
- So far the Geneva format is the only way left where we can express our position towards illegal actions carried out by the occupants and their puppet regimes in the occupied territories. Georgian government does not have another mechanism as what happens there is outside our control.
- What do you think caused such aggravated situation between Georgia and Russia?
- As soon as Georgia declared independence Russia started to act in order to bring Georgians back under its influence. The Kremlin did not shy away from any methods in order to achieve this. It was using every possible means. Conflicts that were instigated by Russia and armed confrontation in Abkhazia exactly fitted into plans of the Russian security services. A campaign against Georgian statehood became even more active after Putin's coming to power while Georgia was more and more leaning towards the west. So Russia that was irritated by this was trying its best not to allow leverage against Georgia slip through its hands, the most important of which were conflict regions. Given that any actions by Russia regarding Georgian-Abkhazian and Georgian-Ossetian conflicts served the only purpose – not to allow settlement of the conflicts, to send them into "sleeping mode" in order to retain full control and influence over the conflict sides. Armed with UN and OSCE mandates Russia along with mediator also adopted a role of the peacekeeper and for 15 years had been purposely blocking every initiative directed at regulation of the conflicts. There were times when conflict sides were reaching consensus on a series of issues but as soon as Russia felt "a danger' appropriate reaction used to follow. Through security services it was easy for them to provoke one or the other side after which reached agreements were violated and negotiations entered a dead-end for a long time. At that time Russia was purposely preparing for annexation of the conflict regions which caused events of August 2008. This was a reality that the world was made to witness - Russia made them see how it completely occupied the conflict zones by grossly violating all international norms, reached agreements and resolutions of the UN Security Council and unilaterally recognized breakaway regions as independent republics, established so-called diplomatic relations with them, drew up military agreements and carried out full occupation of these Georgian regions.
- The agreement between Nogaideli and Edynaya Rossia and especially its first clause which refers to exchange of information is rousing great interest in the population. What you, as a professional, think about as to what is behind this clause?
- We published our analysis on this agreement on the website of the Club of Experts. This is a plan of the Russian security services that was given to Nogaideli for fulfillment. Moscow trips of Nogaideli to visit representatives of Russia's high authorities and especially Putin, highly publicized materials of these meetings is a part of the plan of Russian security services. Burjanadze's trip to Moscow was also a part of this plan and served a purpose of the Kremlin making a psychological pressure on the Georgian population. Additionally, we should expect visits of certain representatives of opposition parties, Georgian intelligentsia and representatives of culture to Moscow with whom there are also appropriately publicized meetings if not on the highest level on the middle level at least.
Of course, the agreement signed with Edyanaya Rossia at the first glance seems an ordinary agreement between two political parties. But in reality it is a part of the above-mentioned plan and we can easily be convinced if we look at it in the light of agent and operational plan characteristic of security services. Therefore "historical document" of Nogaideli reads as follows:
1. Regular accounts on processes taking place in Georgia should be provided. Special attention should be paid to urgent issues. Also a policy drawn up by this plan should be pursued in the name of Georgia on the international stage; Structure and working principles of the political party should be made similar to structure and action policy of our party (Edinaya Rossia); Based on our political ideology preparation of young activists should be started and strengthened; In order to propagate our political goals into masses and with a purpose of influencing them in our favour publishing activities should be intensified; Aimed at following our policy and further lobbying it there should be an open as well as secret implanting of like-minded persons inside executive and legislative bodies of Georgia, sphere of international relations and youth sector, especially among students;
2. Aimed at legalization of receiving of information party delegations should arrive in Russia regularly (it's unlikely that representatives of Edinaya Rossia will be allowed into Georgia – "Club of Experts"); Additionally, for this very purpose expert conferences and other events should be organized;
3. Under the aegis of development of inter-party connections practice of sending representatives of regional party departments to regions of Russia should be established and pursued. For this purpose people possessing relevant characteristics should be chosen on the spot that will be considered perspective for executing our goals.
4. With a purpose to find desirable people thematic "round tables", conferences and seminars in public circles and especially among specialists of various spheres should be arranged. Aimed at establishing and further deepening of relations the chosen contingent should be provided with opportunity to take part in similar events on the territory of Russia or any other country which is acceptable to us.
5. By adhering to norms of secrecy activities should be conducted with regards to creation of non-governmental and public organizations which together with similar organizations created by us in Russia and outside it will strengthen our positions.
But to say the truth if Russia was not sure of reliable forces inside Georgia and among Georgians living outside the country who consciously or unconsciously are dragging Georgia towards Soviet mire it's hard to imagine that the Kremlin would have been able to carry out everything that it did in Georgia since the eighties of the last century.
- It is interesting to know what kind of plan is being developed to regain the influence.
- They did manage and involved politicians in this and at the same time they were working in the direction of involving public figures and representative of cultural sphere. Lately Russian media again brought a topic of restoration of cultural ties between Russia and Georgia to the centre stage. At the first glance there is nothing bad in this. On the contrary, if meetings and tours of representatives of Georgian and Russian cultural spheres is conducted with consideration of country's interests which means that we are given opportunity to let population of Russia know our truth then it's ok. But when as one of the Russian publications noted " it was ordered not to spare money for this – in order to demonstrate their love towards Russia", when working groups are being created not only in the Ministry of Culture but also in Ministry of Internal Affairs and FSB and when in reality Russian television companies mainly serve advertising Putin and his imperial policies thus the above-mentioned measure can be of no advantage to us. It should be also noted that events of last year when "candidate for presidency of Georgia" Alexander Ebralidze got involved and was responsible for organizing various literary competitions was not as successful among Georgian population as the Kremlin would love it to be.
- But there are writers who have already received awards. What would you say about that?
Levan Kiknadze: Yes there are such people. But, fortunately, those who refused are still the majority. There was no first place, the second or the third. Whoever agreed to take part and whatever their number would have been they all would have received it. Is it not suspicious? What competition are we talking about? Here also we can see traces of the Russian security services.
We value works of the nominees and we are not going to evaluate their decision. But does not emergence and political activization of Ebralidze who had been virtually unknown to Georgian society until now (except criminal circles where he is well-known) indicates anything? So what's this fuss about Ebralidze? If a man earned money in Russia and wants to spend it for the good of Georgia why should that be something to judge? And also if a desire to help financially Georigan intelligentsia is perceived as something charitable for others why the same should not apply to Ebralidze? His fault is that he knows Georgian nature well and he knew that nobody in cultural sphere would have taken directly offered money. So the mentioned competition was a well-calculated trap that was set up by his masters and implemented by him.
- With regards to this what is the situation in Georgian diaspora?
- To the credit of Georgian diaspora it should be said that it did not justify the Kremlin's hopes and , except several representatives of criminal world and public figures that were offended at Georgian authorities and found refuge in Russia or elsewhere, have not gotten involved in a campaign against Georgian statehood.
- A part of intelligentsia who during the presidency of Shevardnadze was known with their tight relations with Russia are also very active regarding restoration of relations with Russia and supports Nogaideli's trips to Moscow.
- let's not be so categorical. Let's not say that those who were for rapprochement with Russia during Shevardnadze's presidency are for this today as well. Let's not put everybody in one group that is involved in these processes and will agree to get accustomed to the annexation that was carried out by Russia. Their majority agrees that there should be rapprochement with Russia but does not agree that everything should be started from carte-blanche. I also am for restoration of relations with Russia and pretty sure that the majority of Georgian population thinks the same but not at the expense of independence and loss of territories.
- What do you think politicians who are talking to Putin, are intentionally acting like enemies to Georgia or are they patriots and think that this way they are gong to restore relations with Russia?
- Both politicians Burjanadze and Nogaideli were high-rank officials at the time. Their being on those high positions in the Georgian government coincided with the most difficult period between Georgian-Russian relations. It was a period when Putin made clear to the west that he was not going to relinquish leverage of influence over the post-Soviet space and openly started political, economic and military cooperation with the separatist regimes of the conflict regions. If Nogaideli had always been ordinary on the Georgian political stage and only became interested in problems of Abkhazia and Tskhinvali region when he moved to the opposition and started to work on his rating Nino Burjanadze had always been fully involved in all processes that were connected to the conflict regions. Moreover, her tough, often undiplomatic but objective statements were caused by Russia's aggressive policy towards Georgian statehood, were not they? Was Nino Burjanadze trying her best to somehow neutralize unimaginable pressure of Russia? At least she cannot say that she lacked information. We, security services, were providing detailed, often advance information on processes that were taking place in the conflict regions, about Russian reactionary forces that were connected to the separatist regimes and so on. Unprecedented facts of violations of rights of Georgians, pasportization, illegal action of peacekeeping forces in the conflict zones, concrete facts of transfer of heavy military equipment and armament by Russia to the separatist regimes, as well as facts of illegal disposal of real estate and resort facilities - this is an incomplete list of information that was regularly provided for Nino Burjanadze. Although her reactions were adequate but then, when she had the best opportunity and leverage to make "big politics" she could not manage to do that. So now when today's status and opportunities of both politicians as well as Russia's policy towards Georgia do not leave even a slight chance for improvement of the situation either Burjanadze and Nogaideli or other politicians that are following their steps. If not others Burjanadze at least knows perfectly well that Putin does not intend to withdraw their recognition of independence of these breakaway regions and neither is he planning their deoccupation. Given that Burjanadze and Nogaideli are driven only by their desire to regain power and they intend to do that with help of the enemy. But there is not a trace of demand for restoration of territorial integrity of Georgia in their plans.
Then what has happened to leaders of other political parties and what they are hoping for. From their statements, interviews and public speeches it seems as though they have been living in another galaxy for the past 20 years and know nothing about events that have taken place in Georgia. And they were not familiar with Russian actions directed against Georgia all this time. From the above small historical excursus it is also clear that the history is repeating. It is repeating and that unfortunately we are not making correct conclusions. As to Russia, it has not changed its traditional imperialistic attitude towards Georgia and it had no need to rack its brains to preserve it at any period of time. It followed the same tested scheme, the same scenario.
It's true that we were defeated in an uneven fight but it might be possible that we are dealing with a situation when little Georgia taught "super-power" Russia a lesson in fighting for independence. Therefore, let's not repeat mistakes made in the 20s of the last century and once and for all show Russia that we are a freedom-loving nation and we will fight till the end to protect our territorial integrity and independence.