07TBILISI2272, REGIONAL GOVERNORS – WHO ARE THEY?

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
07TBILISI2272 2007-09-07 13:18 2011-08-30 01:44 UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY Embassy Tbilisi

VZCZCXRO4018
RR RUEHAG RUEHAST RUEHDA RUEHDBU RUEHDF RUEHFL RUEHIK RUEHKW RUEHLA
RUEHLN RUEHLZ RUEHPOD RUEHROV RUEHSR RUEHVK RUEHYG
DE RUEHSI #2272/01 2501318
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 071318Z SEP 07
FM AMEMBASSY TBILISI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 7540
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 05 TBILISI 002272 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SENSITIVE 
 
SIPDIS 
 
WEBGRAM EXCLUDED ONLY 
 
E.O. 12958: N/A 
TAGS: PGOV ECON PINR GG
SUBJECT: REGIONAL GOVERNORS - WHO ARE THEY? 
 
 
TBILISI 00002272  001.2 OF 005 
 
 
1. (U) Sensitive but unclassified.  Not for public Internet. 
 
2. (SBU) Summary: Following a series of scandals involving the 
misuse of public funds by newly elected local officials, the 
Georgian Parliament recently passed two laws that strengthen the 
powers of regional Governors, who are appointed by the President, to 
exercise "state supervision" and ensure compliance of local 
self-government bodies with the "interests, goals and policy" of the 
state.  Increasing the authority of the Governors may help with the 
formulation and subsequent implementation of economic development of 
Georgia's undeveloped regions.  However, this will need to be done 
carefully as some may claim that these new powers are counter to the 
goal of decentralizing power from federal to local structures.  This 
cable contains a brief summary of the current regional Governors of 
Georgia, whose personalities - some of which tend toward that of a 
local prince, rather than an institutional manager of local 
self-governance - may prove decisive in the development of Qorgia's 
regions.  End Summary. 
 
Promising steps towards local self-government 
--------------------------------------------- 
 
3. (U) The ratification of the European Charter on Local 
Self-governance and subsequent adoption of the Law on Local 
Self-governance by the Georgian parliament in 2005 created the 
political and legal environment required for the development of 
full-fledged self-government institutions.  The new legislation 
envisaged the termination of the existing subordination of local 
bodies to the central authorities, primarily through ensuring the 
separation of powers of state and local governments, bolstering the 
independence of local government bodies, and encouraging the 
participation of citizens in the exercise of self-governance.   This 
marked an entirely new approach to local governance in the top-down 
world of the former Soviet Union.  The legislation and subsequent 
local elections in 2006 were assessed by experts as the most 
promising advance towards local self-governance in Georgian history. 
 
 
Links to the non-transparent past 
--------------------------------- 
 
4. (U) According to the new legislation, the main entities of local 
self-government are, "a settlement (a self-governing city) or an 
amalgamation of settlements (municipality), which have local 
self-government representative and executive bodies."  The law does 
not provide for the institution of the President's Representative in 
the regions or a Regional Governor, though it stipulates state 
supervision over local self-government bodies, which has been in 
practice since the Shevardnadze era.  At that time, the rationale 
for the state supervision by the President's Representative was the 
difficult period of transition towards democracy, which necessitated 
presence of a "strong presidential hand" in the regions. 
Shevardnadze also established a Governor's Special Fund to 
"implement targeted programs of regional development."  Lacking 
transparency, this fund has been invalidated by the current 
government, though the institution of the Representative is being 
retained.   Currently, Georgia has nine regions with respective 
entities of locally elected governments.  However, in addition, each 
region is also governed by the superimposed authority of the 
President's Representative. 
 
Links to the unclear future 
--------------------------- 
 
5. (U) In order to address the existing legislative uncertainties 
surrounding the President's Representative, Georgian Parliament 
recently adopted two laws: Amendments to the Law on Structure, 
Authority and the Rule of Activity of the Government of Georgia and 
Law on State Supervision over the Activities of Local 
Self-government Bodies.  The laws provide for the institution of 
President's Representative/Governor who "shall be the representative 
of the President and the Government of Georgia in territorial 
units".  As stipulated by the legislation, the Governor, appointed 
and dismissed by the President, shall control implementation of the 
laws of Georgia in territorial units, implement regional programs of 
social-economic development, provide recommendations on the 
suspension or termination of locals council activities, under 
circumstances threatening to the sovereignty of the country, or 
constitutional authority of state bodies.   Most importantly, 
Governors shall exercise "state supervision" to ensure "the legality 
and expediency of the activities of local self-government bodies and 
officials", and "legal supervision" to ensure "compliance of the 
normative acts issued by local self-government bodies and officials 
with Georgian legislation."  Beyond coordinating regional interests, 
goals and policy with those determined by the federal state, 
Governors shall also administer state budget resources in accordance 
"with public interests." 
 
6. (U) Critics of the legislatio
n fear that it will bestow too much 
 
TBILISI 00002272  002.2 OF 005 
 
 
authority to regional governors, who are not popularly elected and 
report directly to the president.  Furthermore, opponents believe 
the proposed laws will provide little oversight of the regional 
administrators from the federal government, and even fewer checks 
and balances from the local government institutions.  Supporters 
contend that the locally elected officials, most of whom grew up and 
prospered in the era of rampant corruption of the Shevardnadze 
period, need additional oversight in order to ensure that federal 
funds given to local authorities are spent on constituent needs. 
Indeed, the ruling party forced a group of local officials to resign 
after they spent most of the local funds from the poor area of 
Kutaisi on new Mercedes vehicles and the refurbishment of their 
offices. 
 
Personalities Gallery 
--------------------- 
 
7. (SBU) At present, the governors who will be given the above 
leverages to exercise the presidential power in the regions are the 
following: 
 
Giorgi Natsvlishvili - Kakheti region 
------------------------------------- 
 
Kakheti - a wine region of Georgia - comprises eight districts with 
the total population of approximately 407,182.  Kakheti borders on 
Azerbaijan and North Caucasus and provides shelter to a sizable 
community of refugees from Chechnya.  Gia Natsvlishvili was 
appointed Governor of Kakheti region on November 27, 2006. 
 
Natsvlishvili was born on July 4, 1963, in Tbilisi. In 1985, he 
graduated from the Technical University of Georgia faculty of 
hydro-technical facilities. Natsvlishvili also graduated from the 
secondary faculty with a major in English technical translation. 
In 1997, he was awarded a PhD in technical science, and in 2003 the 
rank of Doctor.  He is a member of the International Association of 
Hydraulic Specialists, author of 30 scientific papers, a member of 
the International Association of American Scientists "Sigma XI". 
From 1988 to 2003, Natsvlishvili headed various businesses. 
 
From 1987, Natsvlishvili became involved in the National Liberation 
Movement and was one of the founders of the Christian-Democratic 
Union of Georgia.  In 1992, he took part in the military actions in 
Abkhazia and is a veteran of the Abkhazian war. He participated 
actively in the foundation of the National Movement and was its 
Executive Secretary until 2004.  In 2004, Natsvlishvili became 
member of the Tbilisi Sakrebulo, and was a Member of Georgian 
Parliament from April 22, 2004, as the Deputy Chairman of the 
Parliamentary Committee on Branch Economy and Economic Reforms. 
 
According to a local NGO source, the majority of Kakheti residents 
think very highly of Natsvlishvili as a young and energetic leader, 
and he has a positive reputation among civil society actors in 
Kakheti. 
 
 
Vasil Maghlaperidze - Mtskheta- Mtianeti 
---------------------------------------- 
 
Mtskheta- Mtianeti is rich in hydro-resources and forest parks, and 
has good prospects for livestock, grain harvesting and beer 
production.   The region of Georgia's ancient capital Mtskheta also 
has a significant potential for tourism development.  It comprises 
five districts with the total population of approximately 125,443. 
Vasil Maglaperidze was appointed Governor of Mtskheta- Mtianeti on 
March 1, 2005. 
 
Vasil Maglaperidze was born in Tbilisi, on September 5, 1958.  In 
1980, he graduated from the Tbilisi State University faculty of 
philology. In 1989, Maglaperidze was awarded a PhD in philology. 
From 1988, he worked as a researcher at the Tbilisi State University 
department of ancient Georgian literature, and from 1984 to 1999 was 
a teacher of Georgian language and literature at a secondary school 
in Tbilisi.  In 1999, and again in 2004, Maglaperidze was elected as 
a member of Parliament.  In 2004, he was elected Chairman of the 
Georgian Parliament's temporary Commission on restoration of 
territorial integrity of Georgia. 
 
Maglaperidze is generally perceived as an obedient and decent public 
servant who will neither do any damage, nor be proactive to achieve 
independent results. 
 
 
Mikheil Kareli - Shida Kartli 
----------------------------- 
 
Shida Kartli has a strong potential for fruit and vegetable 
processing industry development.  The region actually encompasses 
the conflict zone in South Ossetia and comprises four districts 
 
TBILISI 00002272  003.3 OF 005 
 
 
under Georgian jurisdiction, with a total population of 
approximately 314,039. Mikheil Kareli was appointed Governor of 
Shida Kartli in January 2004. 
 
Kareli was born on September 3, 1975, in the city of Gori.  He 
graduated from the Gori State Economic Institute's economic records 
faculty with a major in accounting and economic analysis.  He also 
graduated from the Tbilisi State University faculty of law, majoring 
in jurisprudence, and was awarded the qualification of a lawyer. 
Kareli worked from 1998 to 2001 as the Sakrebulo Chairman of the 
Tkviavi community of Gori district.  Between 2002 and 2003, he was 
the Board Chairman of the NGO "Union of Fighting Against 
Corruption".  From 2003 to 2004, Kareli was the executive secretary 
of the Gori branch of the United National Movement. 
 
Kareli, said to be protg of the former Minister of Defense Irakli 
Okruashvili, is also known for his autocratic ways of management. 
Some believe he rules as a prince of a fiefdom, rather than as a 
high executive. However, his position, which is owed to an earlier 
promotion by Okruashvili, has become quite precarious recently. 
 
 
Zurab Melikishvili - Kvemo Kartli 
--------------------------------- 
 
 
Kvemo Kartli borders Armenia and Azerbaijan and comprises a major 
portion of Georgia's ethnic Azeri Muslim population.  The region is 
rich in arable land and pastures for livestock breeding.  It 
consists of six districts with the total population of approximately 
497,530. Zurab Melikishvili was appointed Governor of Kvemo Kartli 
in December 2004. 
 
Melikishvili was born on February 15, 1971, in Tbilisi.  In 1993, 
Melikishvili graduated from the Javakhishvili Tbilisi State 
University faculty of chemistry, and later in 1997 from the faculty 
of jurisprudence of the Nutsubidze Institute "Ritorika".  Between 
1993 and 1996, Melikishvili worked as the chairman of the Georgian 
International Red Cross Society organization in Vake district; 
vice-president of the youth organization of the IRCS.  From 1999 to 
2000, he served as an invited specialist at the Georgian Parliament. 
 Between 2000 and 2001, Melikishvili worked at the Ministry of 
Justice of Georgia, Head of the Minister's office.  Melikishvili was 
one of the founders of National Movement, as a coordinator of 
organizational issues.  From December 2003 to January 2004, 
Melikishvili was Governor of Kvemo Kartli.  In early 2004, he was 
appointed First Deputy Head of the President's Office, and served 
later that year as the State Minister on Regional Issues. 
 
Melikishvili, though a good "apparatchik", makes very rare public
 
appearances and his role in the region is nearly invisible. 
 
 
Aaki Bobokhidze - Imereti 
------------------------- 
 
Imereti is rich in coal, manganese, limestone, mineral waters and 
hydro resources.  The region of Georgia's second largest city of 
Kutaisi comprises eleven districts with the total population of 
approximately 699,666.  Akaki Bobokhidze was appointed Governor of 
Imereti in November 2006. 
 
Bobokhidze was born on September 14, 1964, in the village Gord, 
Khoni district.  In 1986, he graduated from the Tbilisi 
Javakhishvili State University faculty of mechanics and mathematics. 
 From 1986 to 1990,  Bobokhidze worked at the Kutaisi Polytechnics 
Institute. In 1990, Bobokhidze became a member of the Supreme 
Council of Georgia, and later in 1992, a member of the State Council 
of Georgia.  From 1992 to 1995, he served in the Georgian 
Parliament.  Between 1998 and 2001, Bobokhidze was the Ombudsman's 
Trustee on Political Issues.  From 2001 to 2004, Bobokhidze served a 
second term in Parliament.  In 2005, he was appointed Governor of 
Imereti.  One year later, he resigned from the post to become Head 
of the National Guard Department.  On November 10, 2006, he was 
re-appointed Governor of Imereti. 
 
At various times, Bobokhidze was a member of both the Republican 
Party and People's Party, finally joining the National Movement 
later in his career.  His resignation from the Governor's position 
stemmed from a scandal involving Bobokhidze's assault of a 
journalist following a television interview.  The episode further 
damaged Bobokhidze's public reputation, which was already held in 
low esteem due to  endeavors seen as opportunistic and 
self-serving. 
 
 
Giorgi Khachidze - Samtskhe- Javakheti 
-------------------------------------- 
Samtskhe-Javakheti borders Turkey and Armenia and comprises the 
 
TBILISI 00002272  004.2 OF 005 
 
 
largest portion of Georgia's ethnic Armenians.   The region has a 
strong potential for meat and dairy-products development.   It 
consists of six districts with the total population of approximately 
207,598.  Giorgi Khachidze was appointed governor of 
Samtskhe-Javakheti in March 2005. 
 
Khachidze was born on February 9, 1974.  In 1997, Khachidze 
graduated from the Tbilisi State University, majoring in biology and 
journalism.  Between 1994 and 2000, he worked for state-run Channels 
I and II on Georgian Television, as well as for the television 
companies "Ibervizia", "Rustavi-2", "202".  During this time, 
Khachidze also worked in the press-service of the Ministry of 
Defense, as well as for radio station "105", radio "Rezonansi", and 
newspaper "Rezonansi".  In November 2002, he founded the Khashuri 
office of the "United Democrats" party.  From November 2003 to March 
2004, he was the Deputy Gamgebeli of Khashuri rayon.  From March to 
October, 2004, he was a Member of Georgian Parliament, elected 
through National Movement party lists.  From October, 2004 to March, 
2005 he was appointed Governor in Mtskheta-Mtianeti region. 
 
Khachidze was also a relatively popular pop-singer and managed to 
transfer his personable qualities to his managerial work as well. 
Khachidze is quite liked by the local NGO community, which stresses 
his regular work with civil society organizations and his focus on 
concrete achievements.  Khachidze's strongest asset is said to be 
his ability to work with people, despite their religion or 
ethnicity. 
 
 
Zaza Gorozia - Samegrelo and Upper Svaneti 
------------------------------------------ 
 
Samegrelo and Upper Svaneti border on the conflict zone in Abkhazia, 
and is presently home to the largest share of Georgia's IDPs from 
Abkhazia.  The region is rich in hydro-resources, non-ferrous 
metals, and arable land for citrus cultivation.    It comprises 
eight districts, including the industrial port town of Poti, with 
the total population of approximately 466,100.  Zaza Gorozia was 
appointed Governor of Samegrelo-Zemo Svaneti in July 2005. 
 
Gorozia was born in Martvili district, Samegrelo on February 11, 
1975.  In 1999, he graduated from the Medical Academy of Tbilisi, 
and later continued post-graduate studies with the major in 
healthcare management.  From 2000 to 2001, Gorozia worked as an 
intern at the healthcare department of the Ministry of Justice of 
Georgia.  In 2003, Gorozia served on the Central Elections 
Commission.  From 2003 to 2005, he was appointed as Deputy, and 
later promoted as Head of the Tbilisi City Hall's Healthcare and 
Social Services.  He is currently member of the United National 
Movement. 
 
Gorozia is seen by many not only as a good party functionary, but 
also as a good manager enthusiastic about local projects and capable 
of delivering results.  At the same time, Gorozia still has to 
overcome another existing perception which holds him as a 'cocksure' 
young guy, 'having his fling' while he is still the ruler of 
Samegrelo region. 
 
 
Mikheil Svimonoshvili - Guria 
----------------------------- 
 
Guria holds strong potential for agricultural development of tea, 
citrus, hazel nuts, and mineral water.  The region comprises three 
districts with the total population of approximately 143,357. 
Mikheil Svimonishvili was appointed Governor of Guria in November 
2006. 
 
Svimonishvili was born on April 7, 1976, in Tbilisi.  In 1993, 
Svimonishvili attended technical college of the German city of 
Bruchsal, majoring in trade economy, and later pursued post-graduate 
studies at the Ivane Javakhishvili State University of Tbilisi, with 
the major in business-information technology.   Between 1997 and 
1999, he studied in Switzerland at the economic faculty of the 
Zurich University.  In 1998, he took a one-year qualification 
improvement course at the Swiss Banking School.  In 1997, together 
with Swiss partners, Svimonishvili founded the company "Tskali 
Margebeli", Ltd., which produces the mineral water Nabeghlavi.  At 
the same time, he is a founder of the Ltd. "Alami" and "Ali Georgian 
Motors".  Until December 2004, he worked as the Head of the Tbilisi 
City Hall Service of city planning. On December 17, 2004, he was 
appointed the Minister of Agriculture of Georgia. 
 
Svimonishvili is not perceived as a person wholeheartedly dedicated 
to the region, but rather as a temporary 'fixture' who was assigned 
to this position against his will and who would be looking for the 
first feasible opportunity to turn a "new leaf" in his career. 
 
 
 
TBILISI 00002272  005.2 OF 005 
 
 
Otar Siradze - Racha-Lechkhumi and Lower Svaneti 
--------------------------------------------- --- 
 
Racha-Lechkhumi and Lower Svaneti holds good prospects for tourism 
and recreational development.  Its rich mineral water resources 
holds strong potential for the bottled water industry .  It 
comprises four districts with the total population of approximately 
50,969.   Otar Siradze was appointed Governor of Racha-Lechkhumi and 
Lower Svaneti in March, 2005. 
 
Siradze was born in 1975 in the town of Ambrolauri, Racha region. 

In 1997, he graduated from the Humanities Institute of Georgia with 
the qualification of the manager of economic relations.  He later 
continued post-graduate studies in economics at the State University 
of Tbilisi.  Between 1995 and 2002, Siradze worked as the Deputy 
Director of company Laba, Ltd., and as Assistant Head of the Office 
of the Minister of State Property Management.  From 2003 to 2004, he 
was the Head of the Office of the Agency of Enterprise Management, a 
public legal entity.  In 2005, Siradze was appointed the Deputy Head 
of the Georgian Government's Department on Regional Policy. 
 
Siradze is probably the least known Governor of the regions of 
Georgia, apparently shunning any public appearances. 
Racha-Lechkhumi and Lower Svaneti, one of the most beautiful parts 
of Georgia, would benefit tremendously from having energetic 
leadership focused on intensive road development and local 
tourism/recreation development projects. 
 
Comment 
------- 
 
8. (SBU) Comment: Strengthening of the institution of regional 
governors - unelected officials appointed by and directly 
subordinate to the president - may help with the development and 
subsequent implementation of comprehensive strategies for the 
economic development of Georgia's regions.  It is also a way to 
provide oversight over the fledgling and inexperienced (at least in 
democracy) local officials.  Based on a review of qualifications, 
background, and performance in current and previous positions, there 
is some question as to whether the actual incumbents can be expected 
to perform their mandates effectively.  It will be important that 
implementation of these laws is done in a way which allows for the 
continued decentralization of federal structures, empowerment of 
locally elected officials, and deferral of decisions to the local 
level.  We will actively encourage such an approach.  End comment. 
TEFFT

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