In 2011, Sayhan Muzayev arrived in Tbilisi after studying at the Islamic University of Imam Muhammad ibn Saud in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia and asked the Georgian authorities to grant political asylum. The relatives of Sayhan, a native of Chechnya, feared that a theological education could attract the attention of Chechen security officials. Graduates of Islamic universities of Saudi Arabia and Egypt are considered unreliable in Chechnya.
Two years later, Muzayev received a Georgian passport, and in 2012 he settled down as an Arabic translator in the Ministry of Refugees and Accommodation of Georgia. In October 2013 he was summoned to the counterintelligence department of the Ministry of Internal Affairs.
According to him, the Georgian intelligence officers threatened him with giving false testimony about the involvement in the special operation in Lapankuri in 2012 of former high-ranking officers of the Georgian Ministry of Internal Affairs, where as a result of the armed conflict 11 members of the Chechen group and three Georgian Special Forces were killed. Muzayev told a correspondent of Front News International in the Austrian capital, Vienna.
Front News International: What really happened in Lapankuri? What is the reason and purpose of this special operation on the border? What were Russia's plans?
Sayhan Muzayev: Initially, we were not aware of. Only after that I became an involuntary witness of all events. As it became clear later, it was a provocation by the Russian special services to show what "bad" Saakashvili. This was the goal of the Russian special services, which, by the way, successfully held it before the elections.
FNI: Was it just a plan to throw off Saakashvili? Or was there something else?
SM: Just on the eve of those events there on the border, these hard-to-reach places in the mountains of Dagestan allegedly carried out some sort of exercises. This now we already know that when some exercises are held, all of this is followed by other actions. And most likely this special operation was conducted so that some group crossed the border, and already for this group could cross the Russian troops, allegedly in pursuit of this group.
FNI: The special operation of the Russian special services was aimed at discrediting Saakashvili's power and then changing it?
SM: I'm inclined to say this. There was a direct connection, as Russian special services do not sleep. It was one of the options that they played out and on the whole they got into the "top ten". It was just before the election. Misha before the election, no operation was needed. And today after all events, who was the leader at some level ... Zumbadze, who personally threatened me that he would kill me and "lose" with which I tried to sue, but could not bring him to court. Valery Zumbadze being at that time some kind of petty official, after this operation became the head of the department for especially important cases of counterintelligence. A person rises only after performing some task.
FNI: Zumbadze could work for the FSS?
SM: Straight Georgian special services do not work with the FSS, but they can do services on some exchange channel. I know that for sure.
FNI: The details of how the armed group was in the Lopota gorge are still unknown. Can you tell us the details?
SM: I do not know the details, I was not in the investigation team. I was an interpreter. Twice during the elections, this topic was raised in the media and emphasis was placed on the fact that this is all the party "National Movement". And thanks to such anti-advertising, the party lost the elections twice because of all this.
FNI: Maybe you've heard some rumors, an unofficial version of how this group got to the gorge of Lopota?
SM: Officially, they stopped by like tourists in the summer, but I do not know how they got weapons. And they were armed to the teeth. After three or four years, you can already analyze. Most likely this is the second party, which was preparing this special operation, they provided weapons, but I cannot confirm this because no one has investigated this thoroughly. They know exactly, but they do not disclose the information.
FNI: As is known, a Chechen terrorist Magomed Ibrahimov, detained later in Austria, detained a Chechen terrorist in Georgia in 2012, confessed during a trial in Vienna that he was an agent of the FSS and personally received assignments from Ramzan Kadyrov. Can you tell what tasks you received and from whom?
SM: I did not get any assignments. In this situation I was dragged against my own will. Being an interpreter on the spot, I worked as an official translator of the Arabic language. Here a year and a half after these events, the Georgian intelligence services on an equal footing offered me to cooperate and say something in court, although I had nothing to do either before or after. And he did not intend to contact special services.
FNI: Did Georgian secret services want you to announce their version and allegedly took on some kind of responsibility?
SM: At the end of 2013, when more than a year passed after those events, I was summoned. I did not immediately understand who it was. There was a "conversation", informal. Nobody introduced himself. They told me something about me, although I know everything about myself perfectly. They said that we can work well. And somewhere for five hours a conversation. In my respect, it was a forced conversation. They inclined me to give false testimony about the former deputy minister Lorkipanidze.
FNI: What exactly did you want me to say?
SM: They said directly: "Tell me that you know and say that Gia Lorkipanidze organized the whole operation from beginning to end." I replied that I do not know this and I've never seen anything in my life like them either. And I do not want to communicate with anyone. Then I asked if there were any claims to me personally, that I should be charged. He asked what they were driving at. And then they started threatening me. They began to talk very "beautiful." They offered an apartment. Promised the golden mountains. I categorically refused, because I know what the special services are, and even more so in Georgia, I'm not at home. I was a refugee there. He moved there to live and raise children peacefully. But it was in that Georgia. Now there's a mess. After I refused, they began to threaten that they would kill me, that they would "lose" me. By the way, they are specialists in this. These were not empty threats. They have "lost" a few, I personally know.
FNI: Who exactly did they "lose"?
SM: Magomed Magomedov was lost. I worked in the Ministry for Refugees and met him there several times. He was a refugee from Dagestan. He got the status. He was "lost". Until now, nothing is known about him. Before that, one Azerbaijanian was lost, another Chechen, a representative of Ichkeria "lost".
FNI: For what reason did they disappear?
SM: I do not know. I can tell for Magomed Magomedov. He participated, as he himself admitted, in different things. He is a narrow-minded person. He received refugee status and was supposed to be protected, but he was simply "lost". So far no one can say where he is
FNI: Then the information spread that the members of the group were Russian Islamists. Then, it was said that they were from the republics of the North Caucasus. Who were they in reality? Did they carry out the assignments of the Russian side?
SM: I cannot say that they were connected with special services, but the organizers are two people, at least: Ahmed Chatayev and Ibragimov, they talked me out. Especially Ibragimov. I was twice at his trial in Vienna. He said a lot, and for some reason Georgian special services let go of Chatayev. This is the new power they released.
FNI: If you have information that high-ranking officials of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Georgia kept in touch with members of this grouping? As you know, then statements were made that people who survived the Lapankoursky special operation and managed to escape from the persecution were able to leave the territory of Georgia with the help of officials from the Ministry of Internal Affairs. Is it true? What connection did the members of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Georgia have with the participants of this group on the border?
SM: I can only say that the people who were there, later mysteriously found themselves in Europe, who are in Turkey. It is a fact. But after he was put in charge of Chataev, his new government had already released him. The new authorities claimed that his predecessors had let him go.
Front News International, Vienna, Austria