Georgian spies in South Ossetia
A bill on ‘the criminal liability for cooperating with Georgian special services, security agencies or intelligence agency’ has been submitted to the South Ossetian Parliament.
The bill envisages punishment for those who intentionally or unconsciously provided Georgian special services with data does not contain a state secret, but which posing a risk to South Ossetian security. A person found guilty will be subjected to a 50,000 RUB [about $800] fine or will be deprived of his liberty for a period of up to 2 years.
The bill has been introduced by the Government of South Ossetia.
Zita Besaeva, the Head of Legal Affairs and the Compliance Department of the Parliament of South Ossetia, thinks that:
‘From a legal point of view, it contradicts the international standards, under which any person has the right to receive and impart information unless it is related to a state secret and is protected under its laws.
“The bill provides for criminal liability for the dissemination of information not related to a state secret. It turns out that even in the absence of elements of a crime, a person may still face criminal charges. This is a direct violation of human and civil rights and freedoms.
“In accordance with the Law “On State Secrets”, each organization should approve a list of the data defined as state secret and classify it by assigning it a secrecy label. This initiative will result in the criminal prosecution of any citizen of South Ossetia who has no access to classified information.
“In my opinion, this provision has no right to exist.’
A public servant in Tskhinvali, who refused to introduce himself, termed the bill as ‘harmful’:
‘The bill is not straight forward. In my opinion, to pass such a vague law means creating a loophole for unscrupulous officials, who then can use it against undesirable individuals. For example, I am surprised that there is a ban on video recording the Roki tunnel, though thousands of vehicles with dashboard cameras pass through it daily.
And also, why is only Georgia indicated in the law when the matter at stake is the security of the republic? Does it mean that such information can be shared with Americans?’
Alan Dzhusoev, a political analyst, gave the following assessment to the government’s initiative on the air of ‘Ekho Kavkaza’ (Echo of the Caucasus) radio station:
‘This bill does not make it clear what, where and with whom one may or may not discuss, irrespective of the subject-be it the weather or cookery. Many people here have relatives in Georgia and they certainly communicate with them on the phone; many travel to Georgia for medical treatment.
It turns out that this law will apply to at least 2/3 of the adult population. It means that 3,000 people will pay 50,000 RUB as a fine for each phone conversation or travel for treatment.
That means the entire population of Leningor district, as well as that of the Znaur district and a portion of the Dzaus district – I mean the areas on the border, should be put in prison.’
Speaking anonymously on the air of “Ekho Kavkaza, the same program, another South Ossetian expert noted:
‘If this law is passed…it would be necessary to release a Georgian spies’ catalogue that will be available to all residents of the republic.’
Social media users were also unequivocal in their assessments:
‘This will allow charges to be made under this article against anyone – those who travel to Georgia for treatment, those who are going to visit their relatives or participate in some international events and, most importantly, the participants in Geneva Discussions and IPRM (Incident Prevention and Response Mechanism) meetings, all journalists, who are covering these problems and all web-based media. Any undesirable person could be brought up on charges under this article in order to keep his/her mouth shut.’
The opinions expressed in the article convey the author’s terminology and views and do not necessarily reflect the position of the editorial staff