a curious tale of arms smuggling and undercover US agents in georgia

US journalist blames Georgia for supply
of Syrian rebels with weapons

Maia Chubinishvili, Georgia & the world, Nov 14 2012

Georgia has long been recognised as a transit point for illegal trade and illegal arms trafficking between Central Asia and Europe, and more recently the rest of the world. It should be in the direct interest of the law enforcement and intelligence services to curb this trade. The links with these networks can however provide deeply important information regarding the activities of certain “groups of interests”, including terrorist networks and governments, who should be interested in curbing rather than fuelling this trade. Jeffrey Silverman, an investigative journalist who has now lived 20 years in Georgia, here provides close up insight from a local perspective, much of it from firsthand experience, as a former professional soldier as well as an  investigative journalist.

How was Georgia armed and who participated in this process?
The US, Serbia, Jordan, Ukraine and Israel were involved; much is official, much is not. The arming process really started with the collapse of the Soviet Union and Georgia being used as a transit country for weapons, especially through its ports and rail networks. The next massive influx came after the $64m US Train and Equip Program began. This was said to be designed to fight international terrorism, but this was not its main motivation. A variety of weapons bearing German labels v have also been found in Georgia; there have also been Serbian-made weapons, delivered under contract from the state arms exporting agency of Jordan, KADDB, and Melvale Corporation, an offshore company based in the Seycelles. I have the end user certificates for these deliveries and have offered them to the US Embassy, but they are not interested. Israeli-made M-85 cluster bombs and even Chinese-produced assault rifles, AK47s, are other items which have found their way into Georgia, officially and unofficially. Georgia and the Russian army have also sold weapons to Chechen fighters, especially back when there were still military bases in Georgia proper. Georgia is one big arms market. The list goes on, and Georgia plays an important role in the international arms trade, not only in terms of its territory and ports but its banking system. I also have documentation of efforts to ship US made weapons to Turkmenistan.
What’s the link between the cases of the crashed airplane in the Congo, depriving Kodua of the opportunity to transport arms, and Georgian sailors?
The Georgian connection, the links to the above and Georgian-based companies, shell companies and Russian and Slovak arms dealers. I can even give the names of some, such as Ruslan Gilchenko and Victor Dobregaiev, who are now in a US Federal Prison thanks to an undercover investigation involving attempted weapons transfers via Georgia. It is based on this investigation that I can supply a detailed insight into arms trafficking. A US District Judge attempted to stop this investigation by issuing a protective order dated Jul 18 2012. However, he failed to follow Federal Rules regarding Service of Process and Justification. The Judge’s efforts to protect US gun dealers have thus far been unsuccessful, other than getting some undercover clips pulled off Youtube and the internet and Tim Brynes, who was working with me, fired from his job in Australia. The Illyushin-76 was registered in Georgia, and the same is true of many of the planes contracted to the UN in Africa. When they are not flying UN peacekeeping missions, carrying food, aid workers, etc, they are engaged in the illicit transport of weapons. Based on my information, the aircraft was operated by the Batumi-based Air West, and used documents from New Zealand and Hong Kong (Union Top Management) which were part of the mechanism to supply arms to various countries. This and other planes are linked to US front companies in California and Armenia, and go back to a private company which was registered in Swaziland, though ownership was transferred years later to Air West in Batumi, Georgia. As for the crashed airplane in Congo, the several Georgian citizens killed and the arrested sailors you mentioned, these were  all part of the same mechanism set up by the foreign intelligence services. The motivation should be clear, and Georgia is a main transit point for weapons and weapons for drug swaps. Profits from this are used for covert operations related to ongoing events in Syria.
What can you say about the Krialashvili and Otanadze cases and artwork brought from Iraq?
I know nothing of these things; however, I am not surprised, as someone close to a former Iranian Air force general, his son in his early 20s, lived for some years in Georgia. He worked as a contract employee for Bechtel. I was told that Georgian soldiers were involved in bringing back “keepsakes” from Iraq.
Is there any chance that in the period of the “Arab Spring”, some of the combatants, especially those in Syria and Libya, were armed from Georgia?  
Very likely, and this is a subject I am working on. I know for sure that representatives of the so-called Syrian opposition were in Georgia before the parliamentary elections and had meetings with Georgian government representatives, most likely with the support and facilitation of foreign intelligence services. My sources tell me that weapons and other materials are being supplied to Georgia via Jordan and other sources and retransported to Turkey via the regional airport in Kutaisi and other means. Basically, foreign governments, including those countries close to NATO, are still using Georgia as a transportation corridor to third countries, and this has been the case for many years. This conclusion is not only based on this end user document I have access to, or my investigative work, but international reports of plane crashes in Africa and the ownership and registration of various shell companies used in this mechanism. I am convinced that Georgia is a main transport route for weapons to the third countries. I can explain to you in detail how these mechanisms work by citing not only the paperwork but undercover tapes, as in the case of one weapons deal negotiated with US Customs agents and Dillon Aero, an arms manufacturer in Arizona:

Special Uncover Agent: It will be a legal shipment from the US, but an illegal entry into the territory of Turkmenistan, so approximately that’s how it is. Where the weapons are to go is another question, such mechanisms are part of a shell game involving Germany and various fake documents and certificates, transit is via Georgia and Azerbaijan.
Arms Dealer: OK, so, this is sort of illegal or partially legal, illegal delivery to Turkmenistan, how will we make the contract?
Special Uncover Agent: We’re going to make a contact on the basis of this not being illegal. What we’re going to do is, Dillon will not do this deal unless I have paperwork for them that checks out. That being said, Dillon’s gonna look at it, he’s not even gonna pay attention who it’s going to, he selling me this deal that I’ve put together. So, there’s a few ways we can do it and I’ll let you decide which is easiest. If I could get an export license, can’t happen. Number two, next easiest, do you guys have the ability to get me your end-user certificate from Turkmenistan. It’s worth nothing to me, because I can’t get that part there. This is where the vehicle you want is, so the ways that we have to do it is, can you come up with an end-user from a different country? Is that something you can do? Or do you need me to falsify documents to get it to where I need to go?
Arms Dealer: I think we need you.
Special Agent: You need me to do it?
Arms Dealer: So in those documents which must be entered, the end-user must be clearly stated because he is the payer for us. And we need these documents. We must appear because that document which is included must be accurately drawn up in that regard, because not only did we pay, but so we would be paid also. Customs procedures into Turkmenistan are different, you should understand that. They will only pay us money in two cases: if the final destination and the end-user of the goods will be Ministry of National Security of Turkmenistan. This definitely should be in shipment documents which we’ll provide to the customs. And the second: MGCZ, which is now our company and who is a contractor of the Ministry of National Security, should be in these shipment documents. So this is how they always prefer.

How do you assess the involvement of Western instructors in the period of the war of 2008?
Basically they were party to war crimes, training Georgian soldiers to kill unarmed civilians in South Ossetia, and their behaviour on a moral level was totally unacceptable, and not only in their capacity as soldiers. I have pictures  I can show you. The quality of the training they gave was perhaps good enough for National Guard members but did not come close to what is required to train soldiers for the kind of war they could face with a superior and better motivated force such as Russia; they were only trained for support roles for the NATO/US mission in Afghanistan, and the other illegal war the US was fighting in Iraq. It takes years to train a soldier on a professional level, and to arm and send poorly trained and equipped soldiers to the front is a crime, as they will be slaughtered. It would be better to get Chechens to instruct Georgian soldiers in how to fight a war against the Russians with some success. I am a US Army veteran and know what is a trained solider and what is not.
Is it true that things which in Iran it is prohibited to buy were transported there through Georgia? Was Georgia being used as transit route for these items previously and is it now?
I can say that in terms of financial mechanisms and oil shipments, Iran is using Georgian banks and road networks to conduct illicit trade. Oil is being shipped by truck through Georgia to Azerbaijan in violation of Western sanctions. Basically the GoG has been supporting Iran for profit. It is a very risky game Saakashvili is playing between Iran, the US and Russia. It is not wise to let the Iranians set up home in Georgia as a way of getting around sanctions and helping them make illegal oil exports. The oil is even being sold back to US-owned companies and flowing via the BTC to Western markets, with the help of Azerbaijan.
Are the US and White House informed of what is happening and what you are talking about?
They know everything, as they are part of it. I even provided some reports to non-official contacts working with the US government within the intelligence services of a major ally of the US, and this information was used to get rid of Aslan Abashidze, the former ruler of Adjara, and shut down his weapons and drug dealing networks, at least for a while.
What was the main reason Russian soldiers and arms won the war against US arms and soldiers and instructors?
It was not a real war. The average Georgian soldier fought well, and the war was basically won, however, winning the war had never been the intention of those who gave the order to start it. It was intended to test Russian command and control mechanisms, see how they  coordinated their air, land and sea forces, the unified control, what weapons they would deploy. This is called in intelligence terms “game theory”: to see what the enemy’s next move would be under semi-battlefield conditions. The Georgian air defense systems were turned off, the electronic warfare unit of the Georgian Army shut down weeks before, and people decommissioned so that Russia would have command of the air. They wanted to see how the Georgians would fight. Much to the surprise of US DoD observers, the officers of the Georgian Army ran away and left the soldiers to fight and die. The top level in the Ministry of Defense clearly lost complete control. Only thanks to Turkey and the conditions of the “Treaty of Kars” was the war brought to a halt. I give no credit whatsoever to the French President or French diplomacy. This time the real credit went to an old treaty that most Georgians don’t even know still exists.
You are working on Adjara issues and you know that there are problems with religion.  Citizens of Georgia understand the words of a US Ambassador as the position of the White House, and Mr John Bass had a different point of view on this topic to most Georgians, so Georgians thought that all the religious-issue projects were US projects. What can you say about this?
Georgia has many religions, and this is not a problem. Religion only becomes a problem when manipulated by outsiders or insiders for short-term gain. I know John Bass’s nasty history only too well, his connections with Bechtel and KBR and his expertise in logistics. He was appointed here based on that expertise, through his connections with Chaney, not as an ambassador of goodwill. He is here to manage the “Northern Distribution Route” and lay  plans for US expansion here in Georgia, through creating more military bases, improving logistics and fulfilling plans for a possible war with Iran.
Have you talked to the new government of Georgia about the cases you have investigated?
Yes, I have told the new government, the top people. On the night of the exit polls I told them that I now feel safe enough to take my Georgian citizenship back and get the passport I was first issued in 1993 for service to the Georgian government renewed as a fully-fledged citizen. I have files and other information to share, in addition to what I have already shared with some of the top advisors, concerning what is actually going on here now and what has happened in recent years, since the 2003 Rose Revolution. I look forward to sharing investigative materials about the murder of Zurab Zhvania and the cover-up of it, and the direct involvement of one FBI agent in the cover-up.
How do you assess the case of Bacho Akhalaia and the recordings from the prisons?
This has been going on for years, human rights organisations and everybody else knew about it, including foreign embassies. I have spoken to those with personal knowledge of Bacho Akhalia who say he is a very sick person; he would torture people for fun. Bacho’s brother Dato and father Rolanda are the backbone of Saakashvili’s inner circle, and controlled the west of Georgia, together with other names I have mentioned. Saakashvili can do nothing without such people, as they took real control many years ago; they have more to lose from reform and rule of law than him. Sooner or later, with the new government taking power, all such things will be investigated. The prison riot of several years ago was organised in order to provide a cover to kill an Azeri drug dealer who had been caught with some highly-processed heroin, several kilos, so this would never be used as evidence in court, and the heroin was subsequently sold for a profit. I understand from those who were in the prison at the time that this dealer was summarily executed on the day of the riot, during the fog of confusion. Some who were there have even told me that the prison riot was pre-planned by Bacho with this one purpose in mind.


  1. John Bradford
    Posted November 18, 2012 at 7:42 pm | Permalink

    I beleive this is what they are talking about here. I understand that this is a well organized system of weapons trafficking, and this was part of the Viktor Bout network.

  2. John Bradford
    Posted December 1, 2012 at 12:49 am | Permalink

    What is interesting is how alleged Iranian agents get another treatment, tortured – threatened they will never see their wives again – take for instance the ordeal of Amir Ardebili – back in 2008, used as a PR poster boy and illegally arrested and hauled to the US “rendition” – and lost in the system and tortured into pleading guilty. Whereas American agents, Ruslin Gilchenko and VIctor Dobrogaiev, apparently middlemen for larger international networks get caught in the act, the slapped on the hand – and let go after serving a token sentence. Even a Federal Order, CR-10-00233-PHX-FJM, is sent out ex parti of massive cover up of smuggling from the US and Mexico – and “upon sipulation of the paraties, and good cause appearing, IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that”

    Pursurant to Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 16 (d), a protective order issued directing the parties in this matter not to disseminate to any other person or entity copies of the undercover recordings referenced [herein]

    DATED this 18th day of July, 2012

    Frederik J. Martone, United States District Judge, United States District Court, District of Arizona

    United States of America,


    Ruslan Gilchenko, and Victor Dobrogaiev,

    Case 2:10-cr-00233-FJM Document 141 Filed 07/19/12 Page 1 of 3

  3. John Bradford
    Posted December 1, 2012 at 4:04 am | Permalink

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