In accordance with widespread media reports, the informal and covert visit of Sergey Kirienko, Deputy Head of Russia’s Presidential Administration, to Georgia is planned. The leaders of the Georgian Dream dismissed these reports as fake news.
It was the Telegram channel GENERAL SVR that first reported about Sergey Kirienko’s plans to visit to Georgia. The description of the YouTube channel under the same name says that the published materials are prepared by several incumbent and retired intelligence officers of different countries who still have access to these issues.
GENERAL SVR has previously promoted multiple unconfirmed and unsubstantiated pieces of information. These include reports about Putin’s state of health alleging that the Russian President is suffering from cancer, Parkinson’s disease and mental issues. On 1 December 2022, GENERAL SVR made a publication that Putin slipped on some stairs which caused involuntary defecation. Of note is that none of these reports were confirmed. Several months ago, the Director of the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), William Burns, stated at Aspen Institute security forum that there were many rumours about Putin’s health although the CIA believed him to be “absolutely healthy.”
On 29 November 2022, GENERAL SVR made another publication about Georgia, highlighting that Russia’s President is having consultations with his security apparatus to consider possible military intervention in Georgia to achieve an easy victory in the case of his failure with the war in Ukraine. According to the Telegram channel, this scenario envisions that President Saakashvili’s death should spark protest movements and anti-Russian rallies in Georgia whilst the Russian army should deal with this swiftly and effectively.
It is unclear who really runs the GENERAL SVR channel. According to Olga Lautman, Senior Fellow at the Centre for European Policy Analysis (CEPA), the GENERAL SVR Telegram channel may belong to Russia’s special services. However, Russia’s pro-government TV channel REN-TV supposes that the Telegram channel may be linked with the special services of Ukraine or the West.
Therefore, reports on Sergey Kirienko’s planned visit to Georgia were disseminated by the anonymous Telegram channel whose reliability is questionable given its previously unfounded claims. This is the conclusion of American and German fact-checking organisations.
According to another claim, Sergey Kirienko has already paid a secret visit to Georgia. This was stated by Andrey Piontkovski, an anti-Putinist political commentator and journalist in his interview with Yulia Latinina. The interview was recorded on the evening of 27 December 2023 after the GENERAL SVR Telegram channel’s publication and Piontkovski does not name any other source of information.
Therefore, reports disseminated in the media, including in Georgia’s information space, about Sergey Kirienko’s secret visit to Georgia are not based on reliable sources and there is no sufficient ground to promote this information.
This article was produced as part of Facebook’s Fact-checking Programme. Given the rating, Facebook may impose different restrictions – click here for full information. For information on issuing a correction or to dispute a rating, please see here.