Georgia’s State Security Service Head Presents 2016 Report to Parliament
Terrorism, corrupt civil servants and the difficult humanitarian situation in Georgia’s Russian-occupied regions were the main topics of the annual report presented to the parliament by State Security Service (SSS) Head Vakhtang Gomelauri on Wednesday.
Gomelauri said that the occupied territories, with the Russian military contingent located there, is the top threat to the State.
He added that the serious criminogenic situation in these regions, discrimination of the ethnic Georgian population, illegal arrest of citizens, the borderization process, restriction of free movement and access to education and intensive military exercises are serious challenges for Georgia.
The SSS Head also touched upon terrorism, saying the country is not at high risk for terrorist attacks, but still there are some challenges.
He said that throughout 2016, the State Security Service uncovered several individuals in Georgia connected with ISIS.
“Investigations were launched into nine different criminal cases in Georgia in 2016 for funding, supporting or being a member of a terrorist group,” he said.
Moreover, Gomelauri claimed that corrupt public servants are potential targets of criminal groups and foreign intelligence services.
He said that the Anti-Corruption Agency launched investigations into 47 alleged cases of corruption from 1 January to 31 December 2016. These included 22 cases of bribe-taking, 2 cases of offering a bribe, 8 cases of fraud, 5 cases of commercial bribery, 4 cases of abuse of authority, 2 cases of misappropriation or embezzlement, 2 cases of negligence, and more. Criminal charges were filed against 59 people.
“Corruption in public services results in the loss of trust of the citizens in the state, prevents democratic development of the state and the proper functioning of its institutions. At the same time, corrupt public officials are potential targets of criminal groups and foreign intelligence services,” he stressed.
Gomelauri added that the State Security Service has uncovered foreign citizens who had alleged ties with foreign security services. The agency also learned of their connections with Georgian citizens and permanently monitored them in order to prevent any illegal activities. According to him, currently such actions are being carried out regarding 99 people, both Georgian and foreign citizens.
After the presentation of the report, the MPs asked the SSS Head questions. The presentation of the report was open to media, but the parliament session closed to journalists once the question-answer format began.
The opposition parties say that Gomelauri did not fully answer their questions.
Giga Bokeria, member of the parliamentary minority European Georgia party, said that SSS merely eavesdrops on its citizens and so fails in fulfilment of its duties.
“We do not have a security service that protects the interests of citizens,” Bokeria stressed.
However, the ruling party Georgian Dream (GD) believes the report covered all the important issues.
By Thea Morrison