21 Feb 2020 16:08

Cyberattack on Georgian sites was carried out from Russia - Georgian PM

TBILISI. Feb 21 (Interfax) - The cyberattack on government sites in late October was carried out from Russia, Georgian Prime Minister Giorgi Gakharia told reporters in Tbilisi.

"On the basis of an investigation conducted jointly with our strategic partners we can say that the cyberattack was in fact carried out from Russia," Gakharia said.

"I want to emphasize that cyberspace poses risks and problems not only to Georgia. It is a global challenge and we should have corresponding responsibility, and therefore we are acting calmly, as a good member of the family of our Western partners should do," he said.

The Georgian Foreign Ministry earlier accused the Russian General Staff of waging a large-scale cyberattack on Georgian websites in October 2019.

"On October 28, 2019, Georgia saw a massive cyberattack on the web pages of the presidential office, the judicial system, city councils (sakrebulebi), various municipalities, government and business organizations, and media outlets," Foreign Ministry spokesperson Vladimir Konstantinidi said at a news briefing on Thursday.

Citing intelligence Georgia obtained owing to cooperation with its international partners, Konstantinidi said, "The said cyberattack was planned and accomplished by the main [intelligence] directorate of the General Staff of the Russian Armed Forces."

Georgia denounces the Russian cyberattack, which goes against norms and principles of international law, infringes Georgia's sovereignty, and is targeted against its European and Euro-Atlantic integration and democratic development, he said.

U.S. and UK officials have also issued statements condemning the cyberattack.

"On October 28, 2019, the Russian General Staff Main Intelligence Directorate (GRU) Main Center for Special Technologies (GTsST, also known as Unit 74455 and Sandworm) carried out a widespread disruptive cyberattack against the country of Georgia," U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a statement cited by the U.S. embassy to Georgia on Thursday.

"This action contradicts Russia's attempts to claim it is a responsible actor in cyberspace," Pompeo said.

"The United States calls on Russia to cease this behavior in Georgia and elsewhere," as such operations "aim to sow division, create insecurity, and undermine democratic institutions," he said.

UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Rabb also criticized Russia over a series of cyberattacks on Georgia, which London blamed on Moscow.

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Andrei Rudenko, in turn, said that Russia had nothing to do with the cyberattacks on the Georgian government websites.

"Russia has no relation to this. We have not interfered and are not going to interfere anywhere," Rudenko said in reply to a relevant question from Interfax.

The Russian Foreign Ministry earlier issued a statement saying that there were no indications and could be no indications of the involvement of Russian official structures in the cyberattacks on websites in Georgia.

"The absence of proof and the presence of political motives behind this clearly orchestrated false news story are obvious. There is not and there cannot be any evidence of Russian official structures' involvement in this harmful activity in Georgia's electronic networks," the ministry's information and press department said in a commentary, which was published on the ministry's website on Thursday.