The Georgian Foreign Ministry has declared three Russian diplomats in Tbilisi persona non grata and said it wanted them to leave the country. Russia has said it would take “an appropriate response.”
President Saakashvili said in a televised address on November 7 that some diplomats in the Russian embassy were engaged in “subversive activities” against Georgia.
The Foreign Ministry said it was planning to expel the envoy extraordinary and plenipotentiary of the Russian embassy to Georgia, Ivan Volinkin, as well as Councilor Pavel Solomatin and the third secretary of the embassy, by the name of Kurenkov.
The Georgian Interior Ministry on November 7 released taped audio and video material purporting to show some opposition leaders – MP Levan Berdzenishvili of the Republican Party, Giorgi Khaindrava of opposition group Equality Institute, Konstantine Gamsakhurdia, the leader of the Freedom Party and Shalva Natelashvili, the leader of Labor Party – cooperating with the Russian counter-intelligence service during a meeting with three Russian diplomats.
The Russian Foreign Ministry dismissed the allegation as an “irresponsible [Georgian] provocation.” It said in a statement on November 7 that the Georgian authorities were trying “to blame everything on plots by ‘an external enemy’ and by accusing opponents of being [foreign] agents.”
The Russian Foreign Ministry has also called on “those who have direct influence on Tbilisi to warn the Georgian leadership from further destructive steps” – remarks apparently addressed to the United States.
Meanwhile, Sean McCormack, a U.S. Department of State spokesman, said on November 7 that he was unable to comment at this point about accusations that there might be “outsiders trying to stir up things in Georgia.”
“Of course, if that were true, that would be something of concern not only to us, but I would expect of special concern to the Georgian Government,” he added.