Serbian activists “invited to train NGOs, individuals” for “planned unrest” in Tbilisi - State Security Service

  • The Georgian State Security Service on Monday released a statement as part of its ongoing investigation over potential, planned unrest in the country. Photo: State Security Service, 2 Oct 2023 - 12:03, Tbilisi,Georgia

The Georgian State Security Service on Monday claimed “top managerial representatives” from the Belgrade-based Centre for Applied Nonviolent Action and Strategies had been invited to Georgia by the East-West Management Institute of the United States Agency for International Development programme last month to “train domestic civil groups and individuals for a planned unrest” in Tbilisi this fall.

The statement followed the agency’s claims on September 18 in which it said it had uncovered a plan by former officials of the previous United National Movement Government to cause “civil unrest” and overthrow the country’s Government using a “Euromaidan scenario” in November and December, through use of public fallout of the potentially negative decision by the European Union bodies on granting Georgia the bloc’s membership candidate status later this year. 

The body said it had been monitoring the group, which it said involved Giorgi Lortkipanidze, the former UNM Deputy Minister of Internal Affairs and currently the Deputy Head of the Ukrainian military intelligence, Mikheil Baturin, a former member of the security detail of the former Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili, and Mamuka Mamulashvili, the commander of the Georgian Legion fighting in the ongoing Ukraine war, and alleged the efforts had been “coordination and financed” from abroad. 

Video material released by SSS. 

In its latest claims, the agency said Sinisa Sikman, Jelena Stojsic and Slobodan Djinovic from Canvas - an NGO founded in 2005 in Serbia to “advocate for the use of nonviolent resistance in the promotion of human rights and democracy”, had arrived in Tbilisi with the stated goal to “train culture sector representatives” in "strategic, non-violent struggle". 

However, it said the “genuine reason” of the visit was to train Georgian organisations and individuals for the “planned protests and unrest” this fall, and added a “large group” had been trained in a Tbilisi-based hotel between September 26-29. 

The body also noted the participants had been trained in “acting against target groups”, namely the Government, the Orthodox Church, the State Security Service and other agencies, as well the “techniques of blocking buildings and creating artificial traffic jams”, and setting up tents in front of administrative buildings. 

The training also involved “creating tensions in the law enforcement structures” and alleged violence towards police, as well as financial matters related to protests, the agency added. 

The SSS claimed the invited facilitators - who it said were interviewed at the agency around the purpose of their work on September 29 where they denied the allegations before departing on the following day - were “connected with revolutionary scenarios” in Tbilisi prior to the Rose Revolution in 2003, and similar developments in Serbia, Ukraine and “other states”. 

They were actively teaching methods of creating emotional conditions for protest and tactics of conducting violent actions. Sikman and Djinovic were former members of Otpor organisation [formed in Belgrade in 1998 in response to a controversial piece of legislation in Serbia], an analogue of the Georgian organisation Kmara [a civil, youth resistance movement in Georgia before and during the Rose Revolution]”, the SSS said. 

The body also released a piece of alleged video evidence it said had been obtained as a result of a confidential investigation with a judge ruling, before it was declassified by a prosecutor due to “growing public interest in the case”.