The State Security Service of Georgia (SSSG) announced on February 5 that it has seized special explosive devices and a large amount of explosive substances as a result of operational search and investigation activities.
At the special briefing the Head of the Counterterrorism Department, Bacha Mgeladze, said that two electric car batteries had been seized which has been used as containers to store a total of six special explosive devices. According to the SSSG, MIA forensic unit determined that the seized explosive devices contained C-4, a plastic explosive substance used in military combat units for demolition. It is activated by a special electronic detonator and a special timer. Both detonators and timers, six in all, were found in the containers.
“Based on the primary examination of the confiscated device it was determined that all six devices were manufactured by high-level specialist and were designed to cause damage with a large impact radius,” – said Mgeladze at the briefing, adding that the activation of such devices in crowded places would result in “significant damage to infrastructure and large-scale casualties”.
What is known at this point
The SSSG says that the explosives were shipped from the Ukrainian city of Odessa, then they were transported through Romania, Bulgaria and Turkey and were brought into Georgia on January 19. They were transported in car with Ukrainian license plates and were to be transferred in Russia, specifically in the city of Voronezh via the Dariali border crossing.
According to the SSSG one of the containers with three explosives was sent to the Georgian capital Tbilisi. Another container was seized as it was about to cross the Georgia-Russia border.
According to the SSSG, seven Georgian, three Ukrainian and two Armenian citizens have been charged with bringing in the explosives, transporting them within the country, and finally planting one of them in the capital and sending another one to Russia. The SSSG says that the process was organized by Andrei Sharashidze, a Ukrainian citizen and candidate for deputy of the Kyiv district of the local Rada of the Odesa district in 2020 from the party “Servant of the People”. Sharashidze is originally from the Georgian city of Batumi, according to the SSSG.
According to the SSSG, active investigation is underway to identify the persons involved in the criminal activities, the manufacture of special explosives, their itinerary, final destination, identification of targets of attack and to gather additional evidence.
The SSSG says it does not yet know exactly what the container left in Tbilisi was intended for. “However, the details of this case and the factual situation give rise to doubts that the use of Georgian territory and the high involvement of Georgian citizens in it served to create the impression that the terrorist acts, which would have been committed both in Georgia and outside its borders, would be blamed on Georgia in the planning as well as in the execution stages”, – said Mgeladze.
The investigation is being conducted under Part Three of Article 236 of the Criminal Code of Georgia, which provides for the illegal purchase or storage of a firearm, ammunition, explosive substance or explosive device, punishable by three to six years’ imprisonment. However, the SSSG representative emphasized that the case may be additionally qualified under Article 323, which provides for planning a terrorist act, punishable by ten to 15 years of imprisonment.