The theme of our story is the arrest of a GRU officer in the midst of the war in Abkhazia. As a result of operation carried out on March 31st, 1993 by information and intelligence department of Abkhazia (former committee of security service of Abkhazia) criminal proceedings were taken against Alexander Sitnikov on charges of espionage. Thus, the Club of Experts fulfils a promise it made in "another letter to Aslan Kobakhia". Our Abkhazian addressee stubbornly insisted that Russia had no hand in the defeat of Georgians. The Club of Experts begins publication, within its format and capabilities, of materials that reveal participation of Russia in the fratricidal war of 1992-1993 on the side of Abkhazians.
The beginning of 1993. Intensive military actions are under way in Abkhazia. Two officers of the Russian border troops came into a house of a citizen of Georgia "Z" in the separatist-controlled territory of the Gudauta district. They gave the host regards from his sister who lived in Sukhumi. After a short conversation the militaries soon left. Approximately two weeks later "Z" was visited by representative of security services of the separatist regime Sergey Pygar who offered him to work for the Abkhazian side in Sukhumi, get intelligence information and give it to them. Sergey did not wait for an answer and with threats and pressure made him write the following: "I, "Z" (name and surname) voluntarily agree to cooperate with Abkhazian intelligence against Georgian fascism. I declare to keep secrets trusted to me. I choose "Kurd" as my alias". He was made to sign the text in consent. The next day from Sergey's visit Abkhazians settled a serviceman, certain Argun in the house of "Z". Argun lived there for a month.
Nobody told "Z" a reason for his living with his family but it was obvious from his actions and he did not even hide it that Argun carefully followed further actions of "Z". One of those Russian border officers that first came to his house used to visit him from time to time and at every visit used to warn him to prepare to go to Sukhumi. Around the middle of February two men in a Kamaz car came to the house of "Z". One of them who wore a military uniform presented himself as Akhuba and another one was ethnic Russian. Akhuba took a folded sheet out of his pocket, read out a surname of "Z" and said:"this is for you from Chistousov (chief of border detachment of Russia deployed in Abkhazia). He also added that he should immediately go to Abkhazian headquarters that were situated in Eshera and from there he would be sent to Sukhumi at the disposal of Chistorusov. "Z" did not comply with their order but nobody even expressed displeasure with him and nobody bothered him with visits for quite a long time. After some time Sergey Pygor again visited him and brought him an instruction and one part of a five-ruble banknote that was torn in the middle.
According to the construction after moving to Sukhumi every Thursday and Sunday between 11 and 12 he should come to a bus stop before School N14 situated near Sanatorium of Moscow Military District. He should hold a rolled newspaper in his left hand. He should stand there for the indicated period of time. A person that approached him should have said to him a password "hello Kurd" and if he showed another part of the torn five-ruble banknote he should have compared them. And if they correspond with each other only after that he was to enter into contact with him and follow all his instructions. If "Z' had any important urgent information during other days he should have come to Colonel Sayganov in the border detachment deployed in the "Shukura" district (deputy chief of border detachment of Russia deployed in Abkhazia)."Z" was to tell him that he was from Pygar and to give information to him. If Abkhazians were to capture Sukhumi he should have gone to the same Sayganov and the latter would guarantee security for him and family of his sister.
At the end of the conversation Pygar warned "Z" that he were to betray them his brother who was stranded in New Athos would have been shot. He also gave him the following task. "Z" should have found out how many battalions were deployed on the territory of so-called "Grechko dacha", how many military personnel was there in the Georgina battalion, how many military technologies were in possession of the Georgian side and where were they deployed, and where were their military headquarters in Sukhumi. Sergey Pygar added that this was his first task. Next day at 10am "Z" was taken to the direction of Sochi in UAZ car which belonged to Russian border guards. Head of the checkpoint was also in this car with him. They accompanied by a operative car. In the city of Adler "Z" was put on a plane and he arrived in Sukhumi where he settled in his sister's house.
As we know on March 16th 1993 there was a united large-scale attack of Abkhazian separatists and Russian armed forces on Sukhumi which failed spectacularly. Supposedly security service of the separatists and GRU representatives were planning to use "Z" in the framework of the said attack. But it seems that they either could not organize it or something got mixed up. The fact is that "Z" was taken to Sukhumi just days before the attack.
It should be definitely noted that this case was not an exception from the GRU tradition which implies that fulfillment of the task that is put before a certain intelligence subdivision, its quality and dates depends how high is the rank of military authority that issues the task. And implementation of "Z" into Georgian armed forces was not an exception and they started to fulfill an urgent task of the high-rank military authorities with gross violation of set of rules. No personal relations were established with a recruitment candidate with a purpose of revealing his abilities. Grossly was violated very complex process of preparation for recruitment which implies getting voluntary consent on secret cooperation from a recruitment candidate whatever the motive of this recruitment. And finally, not one day was spent for teaching elementary things of intelligence activity to "Z" even in a sphere where they intended to use him... And unsurprisingly, the result was relevant.
Despite blackmail and threats after he arrived in Sukhumi on March 18th 1993 "Z" addressed with a statement to information and intelligence department of Abkhazia where we offered him with a purpose of revealing an enemy group that acted against Georgia to cooperate with us and go to a meeting at the set time and to the set meeting. "Z" agreed. By order of heads of the department an operational investigative group was formed which consisted of experienced workers. That short period of time that was left before the meeting was given to carrying out relevant operative actions and intensive preparation of "Z". On the day of the meeting inner perimeter of Sanatorium of Moscow Military District and adjacent territories, as well as route of "Z" were carefully controlled by operative group of outside surveillance.
"Z" twice went to the meeting but nobody got in contact with him. The fact that the fist meeting with the agent was under a special control makes it clear how important implementation of "Z" in Georgian armed forces was for security service of other separatist regime and their allies GRU. During this period operative group of outside surveillance registered two middle-age ethnic Russian men who wore civilian clothes but had military appearance. They used to leave Sanatorium of Moscow Military District at the time of the meeting, went into different directions and were strolling for an hour so that they could keep "Z" in the zone of their surveillance. They also paid attention to the surrounding territory and people that were there. At first glance, there was nothing suspicious about their actions but an attentive person would have noticed that "Z" was being "examined", whether there was anybody "on tail" of "Z". And the place of the meeting was specifically chosen for strolls of holidaymakers not to raise suspicions.
On March 28th, at 11am "Z" again went to a bus stop where this time he was contacted by a Russian military serviceman. It should be noted that on the same day, before the meeting operative groups of outside surveillance registered around 15 athletic men who were dressed in civilian clothes and who were moving around on the territory of Sanatorium of Moscow Military District in groups of 3-4 persons. This indicated that they have a squad of Special Forces mobilized to prevent possible capture of a Russian spy.
After exchange of passwords and comparing parts of a five-ruble banknote "Z" gave them information that was agreed with Georgian security services. A Russian officer gave him a new task and appointed a new meeting next Wednesday near kiosk of juices that was situated near the Sukhumi market. In case the meeting was to fail he should have waited for him the next day in the same place at the same time.
And this was happening at the time when representatives of the Russian authorities that were engaged in resolution of the conflict maintained on every level that they had a neutral position. In reality they not only prevented resolution of the conflict but they secretly armed and assisted the separatist regime with manpower. And all this was once again confirmed by a large-scale attack on Sukhumi from the Gumista front that happened in March. Given this and in order to reveal real position and real actions of Russia before the international community heads of the information and intelligence department of Abkhazia abandoned an operative game with GRU and, having agreed with "Z", made a decision to arrest the spy.
On March 31st 1993 after the meeting with a Russian officer, workers of information-intelligence department of Abkhazia arrested the following persons on the territory of the market: military officer of Russian Armed Forces Alexander Nikolaevich Sitnikov and citizen of Georgia "Z". On the same day and on the basis of preliminary investigative materials, investigative division of information and intelligence department of Abkhazia instituted a criminal case in accordance to clause 66 of criminal code of Georgia (collection of military information) and Alexander Sitnikov was charged with espionage.
The story of Alexander Sitnikov, criminal case materials and official documents will be presented by the Club of experts soon in the second part of this story. In the meantime, we note that unprecedented, large-scale failure of agents of GRU that happened in November 2010 in Georgia makes it pretty clear what aims were really pursued and are still pursued by the Kremlin towards Georgia. Hereby it should be noted that the Kremlin did not have a neutral position at any stage of course of the Georgian-Abkhazian and Georgian-Ossetian conflicts thus, accordingly, it never acted as a mediator, a cloak a which it falsely and insidiously wore. Moreover, Russia, being a real party to the conflict and from the outset nurturing and manipulating with separatism in two historical regions of Georgia, managed to acquire status of "peacekeepers" for its troops and use a noble mission of establishment of peace in conflict zones as a fig leaf to cover them.
However, the Kremlin's attempts to cover up their crimes, including crimes against humanity in the form of horrific facts of ethnic cleansing that occurred not only in Georgia but also in the North Caucasus - have already lost value and nobody would believe them. Even superficial analysis of numerous UN resolutions that were agreed with Russia but which the latter still violated, not to mention other important documents, makes it clear that there is no need to make up something. True role of Russia in the events in the Caucasus and, in particular, in Georgia, has long been obvious for everybody.
To be continued...