Defense Ministry Responds to “Spy Contract” Allegations

The Georgian Defense Ministry was forced to respond to media disclosure that supply contracts were awarded to companies belonging to an individual, who confessed to spying for Russia in 2010.

In a statement released on July 2, the Defense Ministry said it “has no information about previous activities of the companies and their founders participating in state tenders.”

The statement came after Tbilisi-based Studio Monitor aired a story in saying that the two companies – Margio Ltd and Global Trade Group Ltd – that have won the state tenders worth GEL 4 100 000 for supplying specialized gear over the past three years, were owned by Petre Devrishadze, who was charged with espionage in favor of Russia in 2010 and confessed of cooperating with Russia’s spy agencies.

The Defense Ministry explained that “the current law on procurement does not enable the state agency to impose any restrictions on a company participating in the tender, or to inquire about criminal record or previous life/activities of the director/founder of the company.”

Petre Devrishadze was arrested on suspicion of spying for Russia in 2010 along with 13 other persons. According to the story aired by Studio Monitor, Dervishadze was the only person who pleaded guilty.

According to the same story, the greatest amount of orders received by Dervishadze’s companies came to Levan Izoria’s tenure as Defense Minister; the Defense Ministry, however, denied these reports saying that it purchased only one computer video card worth GEL 3 200 from Dervishadze’s company since Minister Izoria’s appointment.

Commenting on the allegations, Petre Dervishadze said that his companies “win state tenders largely due to low, competitive prices” and blamed his competitors for defamation. He also said Studio Monitor was bribed by his competitors to air this report, and added that the media campaign also aims at discrediting the Defense Ministry and personally Minister Izoria.

The parliamentary and non-parliamentary opposition demanded the Defense and Interior Ministers (whose agency was also implicated in tenders who went to Dervishadze’s companies) to appear before the Parliament for explanations.

13 people, including four Russian citizens, were arrested on suspicion of spying for Russia in 2010. After the Georgian Dream coalition came to power in 2012, several persons who were convicted for espionage charges, were released under the amnesty bill as political prisoners.

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