Is Georgia between 'Euromaidan' and 'green men'?

16.05.24 13:45

The current situation in Georgia bears striking similarities to the events that unfolded in Ukraine in 2013–2014. In both instances, the "pro-European" opposition engaged in demonstrations against the authorities, which in Kyiv were collectively referred to as "Euromaidan." These demonstrations were accompanied by the display of national and European flags.


While those who hoped for the European future of their country were maintaining a presence in the centre of Kyiv, other forces were not wasting time. It is already known today that Russian special services began preparing the annexation of Crimea and the eastern regions of Ukraine long before the victory of the Euromaidan and the overthrow of Yanukovych. Moreover, information about such preparations surfaced from time to time in open sources, and it was necessary to understand it correctly.


Thus, on April 28, 2013, more than six months before the start of the Euromaidan, the Russian TV channel Russia 24 broadcast a story about the special operations forces of the Russian Federation, which said that these units are designed "to achieve political and economic goals anywhere in the world." The report indicated that these forces, which are deployed in peacetime, are prepared to intervene when "diplomatic methods no longer work," "distract the forces of certain countries from external problems, creating internal problems for them," "sway the political system of these states," and "destabilise the situation in them." It was also reported that "special operations forces train, create, and lead foreign guerrilla movements." The New Times journalists observed that at the time this report was published, it was not possible to anticipate that in a year's time these forces, operating on Ukrainian territory, would become world-famous under the euphemism "green men.".


At the same time, even before the Euromaidan and at its very beginning, those with a keen eye observed a dramatic increase in the number of specific "guests" from the Russian Federation in Crimea and eastern Ukraine. These individuals were often either retired or active members and officers of the special services and the Russian army. They were observed to "rest" and "stay" for very long periods of time, often not only in "resort" areas. They organised "seminars,"  met with local separatist-minded "activists,"  and so forth. At that time, there was little attention paid to such "guests" in Ukraine.


The fact that recently retired officers of the FSB and Russian security services have also started visiting Georgia and holding "seminars" and similar events here was recently stated by Georgian political scientist Vakhtang Maisaya in an interview with Israeli ITON TV channel. Political scientist Vakhtang Maisaya notes that Russian "law enforcers" have started to visit Georgia in great numbers, both as tourists and as "seminarians.". This is reminiscent of the events in Ukraine in 2013–2014, when it became clear that such entities were also visiting and that their presence was not in the interests of the pro-Russian Yanukovych.  Furthermore, they exploited the situation that arose in connection with his overthrow, which, to all appearances, the Russian security services had no intention of preventing.


Following the victory of the Euromaidan movement in Kyiv, President Yanukovych fled the capital and a change of power was implemented. This resulted in the emergence of information regarding the specific activities of the "guests" in Crimea and eastern Ukraine. In Crimea, the so-called "green men" – military personnel in camouflage without identifying insignia – began to appear in key locations. Furthermore, they began to occupy key facilities. Concurrently, the "little men" were fully supported by local separatists (analogous to the "uprising of workers and peasants in Lori" during the occupation of Georgia in 1921). It was evident that the separatist leaders and the "green men" had established a clear and coherent coordination in advance, as evidenced by the seamless and effective manner in which they operated. It is evident that the separatists sought to portray themselves as guests. The capture of the strategically important Simferopol airport by separatists and "green men" was facilitated by the actions of Armen Martoyan, nicknamed "Samvel". Initially, Armen Martoyan, better known as "Samvel," emerged as one of the most prominent representatives of the Armenian community of Crimea, participating in the activities of the separatist so-called "people's militia." On 23 February 2014, ten companies were established in the vicinity of the Supreme Council of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea, as part of the separatist forces engaged in conflict with Crimean Tatars, who were in favour of maintaining the unity of Ukraine.  Martoyan was appointed commander of the 4th company of the 1st consolidated regiment of the separatists.

On 27 February 2014, the company under Martoyan's command, in conjunction with the special forces of the Russian Black Sea Fleet's marines, the so-called "green men," stormed Simferopol International Airport and compelled Ukrainian servicemen to evacuate the premises. Subsequently, Martoyan himself, as depicted in the Russian propaganda film "Crimea: In the film "The Way to the Motherland," Martoyan describes his preparations for a sabotage on the runway of Simferopol airport. He states, "We put barrels—we were ready to set fire to them." He then describes the actions of the other participants, noting that they lit torches and that he called Aksyonov. He recalls, "I said, Valeryevich, I am on the runway and ready to set fire." Aksyonov's response was to request a delay, stating, "Wait, Samvel, for the command." In point of fact, within 30 seconds, he issues the command, "Samvel, we have completed our task. We have informed Kiev that the runway has been taken over."


The question arises as to whether such individuals will not appear in the vicinity of Georgia's strategic facilities in the event that the appearance of "green men" becomes a reality. It is worth recalling that in 2020, local "Javakheti" separatists staged a rally (which was actually blocked for some time) near a military unit of the Georgian army in Akhalkalaki, demanding that the Georgian military "not close the road". The greater the instability in the political situation in Georgia, the greater the probability that separatists and "green men" will exploit this instability.


Varden Tsulukidze


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