Georgian president Eduard Shevardnadze yesterday created by decree a national intelligence agency, removing that function from the State Security Ministry. Shevardnadze appointed Lt. Gen. Avtandil Ioseliani as chief of the intelligence agency. The agency’s status and organization are to be defined by special legislation within a month. The measure forms part of the reform of Georgia’s security services (see Monitor, September 22), entailing inter alia the separation of intelligence from counterintelligence. The State Security Ministry had until now performed both functions. The new minister of that agency, Jemal Gahokidze, plans to create within the ministry an analytical department that would process information from open sources, which he described as a major modern form of intelligence collection. (Georgian and Russian agencies, September 22-23)
The new intelligence chief, Ioseliani, is 46, and since 1994 has served as first deputy minister of state security. He had headed the Abkhaz Autonomous Republic’s security service — subordinated to Tbilisi — before the 1992-93 war. More recently, Ioseliani has repeatedly justified acts of armed resistance to the Abkhaz authorities by small groups of Georgian expellees, such as the shadowy White Legion, who have infiltrated back into Abkhazia. Those statements, along with his past service in Abkhazia, have opened Ioseliani and the ministry to charges that they are behind those incursions — a charge strongly denied by Ioseliani and other Tbilisi officials.
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