An agreement of cooperation between the Georgian State Security Service (SSG), the country’s chief domestic intelligence agency and the State Security Committee (KGB) of Belarus entered into force on August 1, the SSG confirmed to Civil.ge.
The deal, which was signed in August 2016, envisages the parties to exchange information in the field of state security, as well as to cooperate on fighting the crime against the constitutional order, sovereignty and territorial integrity, transnational organized crime, terrorism, cyber terrorism, and illegal circulation of weapons.
The agreement stipulates in its final Article 14, that it enters into force on the first day of month following the exchange of the official diplomatic notes. This implies that the exchange of notes happened in July 2021.
The agreement also foresees the exchange of information on terrorism, extremist and separatist organizations, and specific individuals that are preparing terrorism or other actions posing threat to the state security of either states.
In addition, the parties may send security representatives / attachés to the territory of another signatory state.
According to the document, the two security agencies will hold working meetings, study visits, and conferences, and implement joint programs and trainings, and assist one another with technical means and equipment.
The accord also allows the parties to refuse the request from another signatory, if the request contradicts human rights, national legislation and international obligations of the requested party, or that poses threat to its national interests.
The accord enters into force as the U.S., Georgia’s main strategic partner, is expanding sanctions against Belarusian authorities over their roles in disputed August 2020 presidential elections and the subsequent crackdown on opposition protesters. On June 21, Washington designated Belarusian KGB for being responsible or its participation in undermining democratic process in Belarus.
As the relations between Minsk and the West worsened, the Belarus KGB ramped up cooperation with the Russian intelligence agencies.
Earlier in June, in the aftermath of Ryanair flight diversion incident, the Russian Foreign Intelligence (SVR) Chief Sergey Narishkin met with Ivan Tertel, Belarusian KGB chief, with the SVR noting that the two agencies “in the spirit of traditionally fraternal relations, agreed to work jointly to counter the destructive activities of the West, aimed at destabilizing political and socio-economic situation in the space of the [Russo-Belarusian] Union State.”
BELSAT TV, Poland-based broadcaster aimed at Belarus, raised concerns yesterday what the accord could mean for Belarusians who fled to Georgia in fear of persecution by the government of Alexander Lukashenko. The channel cited Belarusian activist, Raman Kislyak as expressing cautious optimism:
“There is no cause for panic, because the agreement contains a regulation allowing not to comply with the cooperation requests in cases when human rights are at stake,” BELSAT TV quoted Kislyak, who added that the Belarus security services conclude similar framework deals with many countries.
Lukashenka’s KGB and the State Security Service of Georgia signed the shameful agreement on collaboration, it was published yesterday. Many Belarusian journalists and human rights defenders found a safe space in Georgia. Really hope 🇬🇪 won't extradite them to Lukashenka. pic.twitter.com/bBDGLu3ZQs
— Franak Viačorka (@franakviacorka) August 14, 2021
Franak Viačorka, senior advisor to Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, an exiled opposition leader and Lukashenko’s key challenger in 2020 elections, dubbed the agreement as “shameful,” and expressed hopes Georgia will not extradite Belarusian journalists and activists to the authorities in Minsk.