'Humanitarian and democratic goals only' - State Department responds to Georgia's security allegations
State Department and Georgian state security service
The U.S. State Department has issued a denial of accusations of USAID’s alleged involvement in a preparation for a coup in Georgia made by the Georgian State Security Service (SNB).
“Activities in Georgia are conducted solely for humanitarian and democratic purposes,” State Department spokesman Matthew Miller said.
The SSS opened a criminal case against the Canvas-Georgia organization. It is alleged that as part of the USAID program, representatives of the Serbian office, Serbian citizens Sinisa Sikman, Jelena Stoisic and Slobodan Djinovic arrived in Georgia on September 25, 2023 and for four days held classes in Tbilisi for representatives of non-governmental organizations on “how to overthrow the government, how to resist the police and organize a coup d’état”.
The SSS said that Sikman and Djinovic were linked to the organization of coups d’état in Serbia, Ukraine and other states, “and according to their own statement, they were also related to the ‘Rose Revolution’ in Georgia.” All three activists left Georgia immediately after being interrogated by the SSS.
The U.S. Embassy called the allegations false and said it was “prepared to discuss any concerns with the government.”
The Canvas-Georgia organization called the accusations “pressure on civil society” and appealed for support from international organizations.
“We regard what is happening as pressure on the head of the organization, on activists who receive education and spread knowledge about strategic non-violent campaigns,” the organization said in a statement.
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On the morning of September 18, the Georgian State Security Service issued a statement saying that “the country wants to repeat the scenario of the Ukrainian Euromaidan and forcibly change the government”.
The authors of the coup plan were named:
- Giorgi Lortkipanidze, deputy head of Ukraine’s military intelligence service, who was deputy interior minister under Saakashvili’s government;
- Mikhail Baturin, a former security guard of ex-president Mikheil Saakashvili;
- Mamuka Mamulashvili, commander of the Georgian Legion fighting in Ukraine. During Saakashvili’s presidency, Mamulashvili was a member of his inner circle.
The Georgian SSS claims that Canvas-Georgia is being used to prepare anti-government protests in Georgia, with the Serbian organization Otpor at the center of the whole process.