The State Security Service of Georgia (SSG) issued its annual report for the year of 2017, which focuses on the threats facing the country’s national security, and outlines the Service’s priorities and counter-measures.
The document, which was submitted to the Parliament last month, will be presented before lawmakers at the Parliament sitting in the upcoming week, tentatively by Vakhtang Gomelauri, head of the State Security Service.
The report lists several threats to Georgia, including those stemming from the occupied territories, foreign covert activities, corruption and abuse of power, possible spread of weapons and materials of mass destruction, etc.
Occupied Territories (Abkhazia, Tskhinvali Region/South Ossetia)
The Russian occupation and the presence of its military forces in the occupied regions is the “primary threat” to Georgia, according to the report.
“The presence of large Russian military forces in the occupied regions, increasing militarization of the occupied regions, and intensive military exercises amounts to a threat that harms the security environment not only of Georgia, but also of the entire South Caucasus region,” the report reads.
The SSG also lists the “ongoing informal annexation” of Abkhazia and Tskhinvali Region by the Russian Federation, as well as their “increasing” militarization, “intentional” isolation, illegal detentions and discrimination of ethnic Georgians as the “main challenge” for the State Security Service.
Foreign Covert Activities
The SSG describes extensive foreign intelligence efforts in Georgia. According to the Service, foreign intelligence services “constantly attempt to infiltrate into government agencies and security organizations,” with the “purpose of influencing the country’s political, social, military, and economic processes.”
Their main objectives, according to the Security service, are: “instigating anti-western sentiments in the Georgian society; undermining the image of Georgia as a reliable partner on the international arena; establishing distrust, uncertainty, hopelessness, and nihilism in the public; creating destabilization on ethnic and religious grounds in order to cause disintegration processes and polarize the Georgian society.”
To achieve their objectives, “the intelligence services of various countries actively employ the hybrid war tactic,” including “propagandistic media campaigns, disinformation, cyber-operations and cyber-attacks, destructive political groups and public organizations.”
The State Security Service reports “activities of members and supporters of international terrorist organizations in Georgia.” “Georgia faced a number of important, and in some cases, critical challenges,” it says, listing also cases of radicalization of Georgians and attempts to finance terrorist activities.
The SSG, however, notes that the number of Islamic State-sympathizers in Georgia, as well as their influence, has decreased in the reporting period.
The estimated number of Georgians fighting for various terrorist groups stands at 30 persons, according to the SSG, a decline compared to the 2015 figure. None of them have returned to Georgia in the reporting period, according to the document.
The Service touches upon the November 21-22 security forces’ operation, saying Ahmed Chatayev’s “well-organized” group plotted terrorist attacks in Georgia. Previously, the State Security Service had claimed the group planned attacks in Turkey as well.
The SSG also reports its activities against the use of the Georgian territory for transit. “Several thousand alleged suspects, who might try to transit Georgia, have been established through operative measures and international cooperation,” the Service says.