07TBILISI623, BAGAPSH ALLIES WIN ABKHAZ DE FACTO PARLIAMENTARY

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
07TBILISI623 2007-03-23 12:30 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Tbilisi

VZCZCXRO3763
OO RUEHDBU RUEHFL RUEHKW RUEHLA RUEHROV RUEHSR
DE RUEHSI #0623/01 0821230
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
O 231230Z MAR 07
FM AMEMBASSY TBILISI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 5799
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE IMMEDIATE

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 TBILISI 000623 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SIPDIS 
 
DEPT FOR EUR DAS BRYZA AND EUR/CARC 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 03/22/2017 
TAGS: PGOV GG
SUBJECT: BAGAPSH ALLIES WIN ABKHAZ DE FACTO PARLIAMENTARY 
ELECTIONS 
 
REF: TBILISI 0489 
 
Classified By: Ambassador John F. Tefft for reasons 1.4(b)&(d). 
 
Summary 
------- 
1. (C) After a poor showing in the first round (reftel), 
candidates aligned with de facto Abkhaz president Sergey 
Bagapsh rallied in the parliamentary run-offs March 18 
(likely with the help of "administrative resources") to win 
an outright majority.  According to a UN official, Bagapsh 
supporters won 20 to 21 of the 35 seats in the de facto 
parliament, while the hardline opposition won 7 to 9, and 
independents won the remaining seats.  This result appears to 
strengthen Bagapsh politically.  Despite several incidents 
during the campaign, UN military observers saw no unusual 
tensions in the ethnically Georgian Gali district during the 
voting.  End Summary. 
 
Recovery after a Stumbling Start 
-------------------------------- 
2. (C) UN Observer Mission in Georgia (UNOMIG) Senior 
Political Advisor Atanas Baltov told us March 22 that while 
the Abkhaz had made a conscious and largely successful effort 
during the campaign to conceal the division in society that 
had erupted in the 2004 presidential election, the split came 
into the open with one event that crystallized the race. 
Faced with hostile questions from voters during a February 23 
television appearance, Bagapsh accused one parliamentary 
candidate, de facto general Vladimir Arshba, of plotting a 
coup.  This charge, which Baltov said even members of 
Bagapsh's camp did not support, provided an opening for 
opposition candidates to make their anti-Bagapsh position 
public by signing a letter asking for an explanation.  Out of 
the total 35 parliamentary districts, 18 produced winners in 
the first round March 4.  Baltov said that of these 18, 11 
were pro-Bagapsh, 5 were opposition, and 2 were independents. 
 With most pro-Bagapsh candidates failing to win majorities 
in the first round, Baltov said that at that stage the 
picture did not look good for the de facto government. 
 
3. (C) But things changed in the two weeks between the first 
round and the run-offs March 18.  Baltov said "administrative 
resources" were "apparently used quite a lot," with the 
result that several second-place finishers in the first round 
gained enough votes to win in the second.  One victim of this 
was Arshba himself, an opposition candidate who had led in 
the first round by a large margin, only to lose in the second 
round to a pro-Bagapsh candidate by 29 votes.  Another was an 
opposition journalist who led in the first round only to lose 
in the runoff when every single vote in one distant village 
went to her opponent.  The wife of former de facto president 
Ardzinba, herself a candidate affiliated with the opposition 
(although she had offered words of support for Bagapsh when 
he was criticized for saying he was following Ardzinba's 
policy in not attacking the Georgian-controlled Upper Kodori 
Gorge) lost by 45 votes to an independent after leading in 
the first round.  After all the dust had settled, Baltov 
said, Bagapsh allies had won 20 or 21 of the 35 seats in the 
new parliament, the opposition had won 7 (although they 
claimed 2 independent winners would join them), and 
independents had won the rest. 
 
4. (C) Baltov said that it was not possible to compare the 
results directly with the previous parliamentary election, 
which occurred 5 years ago, before the contentious 2004 
presidential election between Bagapsh and current de facto 
vice-president Raul Khajimba established the current 
political alliances.  Nevertheless, he said the result 
strengthened the hand of pro-government forces in parliament. 
 He said the opposition faction, though small, consisted of 
"die-hard" opponents of Bagapsh who would be unlikely to 
switch sides.  He said the main dividing issues in the 
campaign were economic, including Bagapsh's privatization 
push.  Another was the old issue of rehabilitating the 
Georgia-Russia railway running through Abkhazia, with the 
opposition claiming Bagapsh could not be trusted to protect 
full rights for the Abkhaz if the railway proposal is 
revived.  Khajimba's party newspaper, Forum, had raised 
during the campaign the possibility of de facto prime 
minister Ankvab resigning because of a lack of transparency 
on economic matters, suggesting that he was allowing Georgia 
to become an economic stakeholder in Abkhazia.  Baltov 
stressed that all candidates, whatever their allegiances, 
favored Abkhaz independence and enhanced relations with 
Russia. 
 
Gali Tense but No Major Incidents on Election Day 
--------------------------------------------- ---- 
5. (C) The Gali district, the one area of Abkhazia in which 
 
TBILISI 00000623  002 OF 003 
 
 
ethnic Georgians have been allowed to return in significant 
numbers, was a flashpoint for several incidents during the 
campaign, including the February 2 disappearance of Gali's de 
facto district election commission chair David Sigua (still 
unexplained) and the March 1 detention of three Georgian 
student protesters (who remain in Abkhaz custody).  Georgian 
media has claimed that voter turnout in Gali was very low, &
#x000A;while the Abkhaz dispute this.  A number of Embassy sources 
have told us that flyers urging ethnic Georgians to boycott 
the vote were circulating throughout Gali during the 
campaign.  Despite these tensions, Baltov said UN military 
observers did not observe anything unusual on the voting 
days, and saw no evidence to back up claims heard in Tbilisi 
that the Abkhaz authorities had closed the bridge or mined 
the riverside to prevent the population from avoiding the 
election by traveling to the Georgian government-controlled 
side.  Baltov said the Abkhaz had beefed up their security 
presence in Gali for the voting, but the UN believed it had 
remained below the agreed threshold of 600 personnel. 
Bagapsh-backed candidates won in all three parliamentary 
districts in Gali. 
 
List of Winners 
--------------- 
6. (U) (district number, location, name of winner, political 
affiliation, ethnicity) 
 
1) Sukhumi, Talikh Khvatysh, independent, Abkhaz from Turkey 
 
2) Sukhumi, Sener Gogua, pro-Bagapsh, Abkhaz from Turkey 
 
3) Sukhumi, Rita Lolua, opposition, Abkhaz  (Note: Lolua 
defeated prominent pro-Bagapsh MP Emma Gamasonia.) 
 
4) Sukhumi, Batal Kobakhia, independent, Abkhaz (Note: 
Kobakhia heads an NGO, the Center for Humanitarian Programs.) 
 
5) Sukhumi, Lev Shamba, independent, Abkhaz 
 
6) Sukhumi, Irina Agrba, pro-Bagapsh, Abkhaz 
 
7) Sukhumi, Pavel Leshchuk, pro-Bagapsh, Russian (Note: 
Leshchuk defeated general Arshba.) 
 
8) Pitsunda, Roman Benia, pro-Bagapsh, Abkhaz 
 
9) Bzipi. Valery Bganba, opposition, Abkhaz (Note: It is 
rumored Bganba may be offered a deputy speakership.) 
 
10) Gagra, Amra Agrba, independent, Abkhaz 
 
11) Gagra, Valery Kondakov, pro-Bagapsh, Russian 
 
12) Tsandripshi, Valery Mayromyan, pro-Bagapsh, Armenian 
 
13) Otkhara, Garik Samamba, pro-Bagapsh, Abkhaz 
 
14) Duripshi, Guram Gumba, pro-Bagapsh, Abkhaz 
 
15) Likhni, Mikhail Sangulia, opposition, Abkhaz 
 
16) Gudauta, Vladimir Nachach-ogly, pro-Bagapsh, Turkish 
 
17) Aatsa, Vyacheslav Tsugba, pro-Bagapsh, Abkhaz 
 
18) Novy Afon, Vitaly Smyr, independent, Abkhaz 
 
19) Eshera, Lev Avidzba, independent, Abkhaz (Note: Avidzba 
defeated Svetlana Dzhergenia, wife of Ardzinba.) 
 
20) Gumista, Albert Ovsepyan, pro-Bagapsh, Armenian 
 
21) Besleti, Valery Kvarchia, opposition, Abkhaz 
 
22) Pshapi, Sergey Matosyan, opposition, Armenian 
 
23) Machara, Viktor Vasilyev, pro-Bagapsh, Russian 
 
24) Dranda, Adgur Kharazia, opposition, Abkhaz 
 
25) Beslakhuba, Yuri Zukhba, pro-Bagapsh, Abkhaz 
 
26) Chlou, Zaur Adleyba, pro-Bagapsh, Abkhaz (Note; Adleyba 
beat independent incumbent Beslan Butba, who is preparing to 
launch a new independent television station.) 
 
27) Kutoli, Nugzar Ashuba, pro-Bagapsh, Abkhaz 
 
28) Atara, Temur Kvitisinia, pro-Bagapsh, Abkhaz 
 
 
TBILISI 00000623  003 OF 003 
 
 
29) Ochamchira, Beslan Dzhopua, pro-Bagapsh, Abkhaz 
 
30) Tkvarcheli, Daur Arshba, opposition, Abkhaz 
 
31) Tkvarcheli, Aleksandr Chengelia, opposition, Abkhaz 
 
32) Okumi, Omari Kvarchia, pro-Bagapsh, Abkhaz 
 
33) Chuburhinje (in Gali district), Yury Kereselidze, 
pro-Bagapsh, Georgian 
 
34) Gali, Vyacheslav Vardania, pro-Bagapsh, Abkhaz 
 
35) Shashikvari (in Gali district), Bezhan Ubiria, 
pro-Bagapsh, Georgian 
 
TEFFT

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