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Self-Confessed Spy Warns Of New Russian-Georgian War


Vladimir Sanakoyev

Vladimir Sanakoyev

TBILISI -- A former member of the pro-Georgian South Ossetian leadership has warned that the Georgian leadership needs to embark immediately on talks with Russia to avert a new conflict, RFE/RL's Georgian Service reports.

Vladimir Sanakoyev told RFE/RL in an interview on January 12 that he believes a new Russian-Georgian war could erupt by the end of this year.

Russia recognized the breakaway Georgian regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia as independent states shortly after the August 2008 war, prompting Tbilisi to break off diplomatic relations with Moscow.

South Ossetia has a Moscow-backed separatist leadership under Eduard Kokoity. Sanakoyev was a member of the pro-Georgian alternative South Ossetian leadership.

But on January 9 Sanakoyev claimed that he was recruited by the KGB in 1989, prior to the collapse of the Soviet Union, and subsequently worked as an agent for Russia's Federal Security Service (FSB).

Sanakoyev said the FSB decided to "activate" him following the 2003 Rose Revolution that brought current Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili to power. He said he travelled on FSB orders to Tbilisi and established contact with Georgian Interior Minister Vano Merabishvili. He was granted Georgian citizenship in 2005.

Georgian experts have dismissed as implausible Sanakoyev's claims, made at a press conference in Vladikavkaz, the capital of North Ossetia, which is part of Russia.

Sanakoyev claimed credit in his interview with RFE/RL for having sidelined then Georgian Defense Minister Irakli Okruashvili, who had launched an unsuccessful military operation in 2004 to bring South Ossetia back under Tbilisi's control.

Sanakoyev said if Okruashvili had remained defense minister he would have succeeded in reimposing Tbilisi's control over South Ossetia, and Russia would have lost its bid to host the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi.

Sanakoyev said he realized in June 2008 that a war between Russia and Georgia
was imminent and began looking for a way to end his collaboration with the FSB. He resigned from his post in 2010.

Sanakoyev said he decided to go public with his confession after receiving on January 4 "100 percent reliable" information that the South Ossetian leadership had set in motion a plan to assassinate him.

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