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Security Service Accused of Spying on School, Kindergarten Principals

TV Pirveli, a channel critical to the Georgian Dream Government has aired supposed memos of the State Security Service (SSG), Georgia’s domestic intelligence agency, sent to the ruling Georgian Dream party, allegedly containing information on surveillance of public school and kindergarten employees, including principals.

The television report, aired on September 11, claimed that SSG agents collected information about the employees on their political views, family ties, personal relationships and social media activities, and relayed the details to the GD party, which allegedly tasked city halls, ministries or other government agencies to dismiss opposition-minded or affiliated people.

According to the report, at least five dismissals were ordered on these grounds. TV Pirveli claimed it received from an anonymous person hundreds of pages of documents supposedly kept by the ruling party, which allegedly maintains a “black list” of such public employees. 

The channel interviewed Maia Grigolia, a former director of Tbilisi 186 Public School, one of the employees allegedly dismissed. Grigolia said she was let go because she did not “openly support” the government. She also claimed there are people employed under municipal agencies to collect said details.

Footage aired by TV Pirveli also showed another public school principal being described in the supposed memos as “unstable, unreliable person,” and that the person had liked the Facebook pages of ex-President Mikheil Saakashvili, United National Movement chair Nika Melia, Droa party’s Elene Khoshtaria and other opposition figures.

Alternatively, the TV Pirveli report said the documents also included a supposed list of 175 public school principals that were supporters of the ruling party.

Approached by the channel’s journalists, in the same report, Georgian Dream lawmakers denied these allegations. GD chair Irakli Kobakhidze told the journalists that the party is “not interested” in gathering this type of information. Meanwhile, MP Nino Tsilosani expressed distrust in the authenticity of the documents, noting they could be “assembled” by TV Pirveli.

A recent monitoring report by the International Society for Fair Elections and Democracy, an election watchdog, highlighted the cases of “people employed in educational institutions being coerced directly and/or indirectly by their employers to participate in the GD campaign.”

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