"Members of the CANVAS organization conducted training on overthrowing the government in Georgia" - Security Service
CANVAS and coup d’état in Georgia
The Georgian State Security Service has released details of the case against the organization CANVAS (Center for Applied Nonviolent Action and Strategies). According to the Georgian SSG, Serbian citizens Sinisa Sikman, Jelena Stojsic and Slobodan Djinovic, conducted trainings for representatives of non-governmental organizations for four days at the Ibis Hotel in Tbilisi on “how to overthrow the government, how to resist the police and organize a coup d’état”.
According to the Georgian State Security Service, the Serbian citizens arrived in Georgia on September 25, 2023, at the invitation of the East-West Governance Institute under the USAID (United States Agency for International Development) program. According to the State Security Service, Sikman, Stojsic and Djinovic are linked to the organization of coups d’état in Serbia, Ukraine and other states, and according to their own statement, they were related to the “Rose Revolution”.
Response of the U.S. Embassy
The U.S. Embassy calls the Georgian State Security Service’s accusations false and says the embassy is ready to discuss any concerns with the Georgian government.
“The allegations made today against one of our support projects are false and fundamentally misrepresent the purpose of our assistance to Georgia. USAID has been providing support to the people of Georgia since 1992. As always, this support is open and transparent, and we welcome every opportunity to discuss any concerns the government may have.
The right of citizens to freely express their opinions and aspirations is the foundation of any democracy and a value that we, both countries, share. For more than two years, USAID has partnered with CANVAS to help people voice their opinions on issues that are important to their families and communities. Together, CANVAS has conducted trainings for mothers demanding better treatment for pediatric cancer and individuals advocating for the rights of the elderly.
Despite unfounded attacks, we will continue to support those Georgian organizations that help people protect the future they deserve, as well as the basic rights guaranteed to them by the Georgian constitution,” the statement reads.
CANVAS calls the statement pressure and appeals to international organizations
In response to a successful civil society campaign against the foreign agents law in February-March, top state officials issued threats against Canvas Georgia director Giorgi Meladze, calling him an “extremist lecturer”.
The threats continued on September 18, when a representative of the Georgian State Security Service stated at a press conference that Canvas Georgia was involved in an organized conspiracy to overthrow the current government.
Ten days after the statement was published, on September 29, the Security Service summoned for questioning Serbian citizens Sikman and Djinovic, who had arrived in Tbilisi, as well as Jelena Tancic, an employee of the Belgrade office of Canvas. After the interrogation, all three left Georgia a few hours later without making an official comment, as everything that was said during the interrogation was classified as a state secret and the participants were obliged not to disclose this information.
“Canvas Georgia regards these cases as pressure on the head of the organization, on activists who cooperate with the organization, receive education and spread knowledge about strategic nonviolent campaigns,” the statement reads.
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On the morning of September 18, the Georgian Security Service issued a statement saying that the country wants to repeat the Ukrainian Euromaidan scenario and forcibly change the government.
The authors of the coup plan are named as Giorgi Lortkipanidze, deputy head of Ukraine’s military intelligence service, who was deputy interior minister Vano Merabishvili under Saakashvili’s government; former security guard of ex-president Mikheil Saakashvili, Mikhail Baturin; and Mamuka Mamulashvili, a member of Saakashvili’s inner circle.
Mamuka Mamulashvili, a member of Saakashvili’s inner circle and commander of the Georgian Legion operating in Ukraine.
According to the Georgian SGB, the CANVAS organization, the core of which is the Serbian organization Otpor, is used to train youth groups.
On October 29, the government media resource TV Imedi reported that Serbian citizens were summoned to the Georgian State Security Service as part of the investigation into the coup d’état case. It is also reported that these people are members of the CANVAS organization.
CANVAS and coup d’état in Georgia