The Georgian secret services are still investigating potential Russian spy networks following the recent detection of a spy group in the country, Interior Minister Ivane Merabishbili said on Thursday.
The Georgian Foreign Ministry announced on November 5 that it had arrested 15 people, allegedly linked to the Russian security services. Two of them were released, while the others remain in custody. Four of the detainees are assumed to be Russian nationals.
"This was not the only operation being carried out by the counterintelligence department as other [spy] networks are also operating in Georgia," Merabishbili said in an interview with the Georgian Imedi TV channel.
"Three Russian special services work in Georgia - the so-called GRU [Main Intelligence Directorate)], the FSB [Federal Security Service] and the SVR [Foreign Intelligence Service]...GRU is not the only network that we keep under surveillance," he said.
Before the collapse of the Soviet Union, Merabishbili said, there were more KGB (Committee of State Security) agents in Georgia than in any other Soviet republic, not only because it was fighting for independence, but also because it was the only republic that bordered NATO territory.
All documents concerning Russian spy networks in Georgia were taken to Russia in 1989, hampering the work of the Georgian secret services and helping Russia to create an "agent network," he added.
Relations between Russia and Georgia have been sour since a brief war in August 2008 over the former Georgian republic of South Ossetia, which was attacked by Georgian forces in an attempt to bring it back under central control.
Russia recognized South Ossetia and another former Georgian republic, Abkhazia, as independent states two weeks after the conflict. Georgia considers the two regions part of its sovereign territory.
TBILISI, November 11 (RIA Novosti)