Georgia’s New Russian Spy Mystery

by Giorgi Lomsadze

Nov 1 2010

Could Georgia be holding in custody an Anna Chapman of its own?

Suspense is building up around an October 29 Reuters report that
Georgia has arrested some 20 individuals on suspicion of espionage
for Russia. Georgian police so far have neither confirmed nor denied
the information.

When asked to confirm the news at a November 1 press conference,
the Foreign Ministry passed the buck to the Interior Ministry. “The
Foreign Affairs Ministry has no information about this. This case is
being handled entirely by the Interior Ministry,” said Deputy Foreign
Minister Nino Kalandze. The Interior Ministry is expected to unveil
the details of its case later this week.

Georgian news services reported on November 1 that the detainees
include Batumi hotel manager Ruslan Galogre and, allegedly, his
neighbor, a former Armenian Diaspora leader in Achara, the Black Sea
region for which Batumi is the seat. Galogre’s wife confirmed her
husband’s arrest to Interpessnews agency.

The spy alarm has raised recollections of a 2006 crackdown when
Georgia arrested and handed over to Moscow several Russian nationals.

Moscow then responded by severing postal, wire transfer and travel
ties with Tbilisi and deporting scores of Georgians.

This time, the Kremlin seems to be saving its fire until more details
surface. “As far as I know, this involves citizens of Georgia,” said
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov. “We do not know anything more
than this.”

From: A. Papazian

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