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Georgia: Controversy Swirls Over State’s Use of Informants at University

Students at Tbilisi State Medical University listen to a lecture by a visiting professor in mid-December 2015. Georgia’s security service claims that no informants have been dispatched to public universities since parliament overhauled the intelligence system last August. (Photo: Tbilisi State Medical University)

A claim that Georgian authorities snooped on students at the country’s oldest and most prestigious higher educational institution is stirring controversy over the depth of the government’s commitment to citizens’ right to privacy. 
 
The controversy erupted in early March after a group of students at Tbilisi State University (TSU) demanded the removal of so-called “odeerebi” – the plural Georgian rendition of the Russian acronym ОДР or “офицер действующего резерва” (Active Reserve Officer). Aside from individuals in the university administration, the student protesters also targeted a doctoral student at another university as an alleged collaborator.
 
During the Soviet era, ODRs acted as informants for the KGB, and were an integral part of the communist system’s efforts to keep tabs on citizens’ thoughts and activities. Planted in various bodies, they spied on co-workers and others to track opinions and neutralize any potential opposition to government policies.
 

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Georgia: Controversy Swirls Over State’s Use of Informants at University

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