Georgian paramilitaries posed as election observers, say Ukrainians

Viktor Yanukovych

V. Yanukovych

Ukraine’s largest political party has accused the nearby nation of Georgia of sending to Ukraine a team of paramilitary operatives disguised as international election monitors. Vladyslav Lukianov, who represents Ukraine’s Party of Regions in the country’s parliament, has given to the press ten names of Georgian paramilitary agents who allegedly performed “law enforcement operations” in Ukraine, while supposedly monitoring last Sunday’s Ukrainian elections. It appears that three more Georgians, who were arrested on Saturday in Donetsk, reportedly did not possess identity papers or travel documentation, and are so far refusing to speak to Ukrainian security officials. To further complicate the issue, an allegedly wiretapped conversation between Georgian President, Mikheil Saakashvili, and an unidentified woman surfaced in the Ukrainian news media last week. In the taped conversation, Georgia’s pro-Western leader is heard pledging logistical support for Yulia Tymoshenko’s All-Ukrainian Union “Fatherland” party.  But the pro-Russian Party of Regions, led by the country’s former Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych, ended up over 10 percentage points ahead of Tymoshenko, who is Yanukovych’s nearest rival. Georgia is considered a staunch US ally, whereas Ukraine, which in 2004 underwent what has become known as a pro-Western Orange Revolution, appears to be shifting toward a political alliance with Russia, as signified by Sunday’s national election. The second round of the election will be held in two weeks’ time.

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Expert news and commentary on intelligence, espionage, spies and spying, by Dr. Joseph Fitsanakis and Ian Allen.

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