07TBILISI2290, REGIONAL GOVERNORS – WHO ARE THEY?

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
07TBILISI2290 2007-09-11 12:50 2011-08-30 01:44 UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY Embassy Tbilisi

VZCZCXRO4053
RR RUEHAG RUEHAST RUEHDA RUEHDBU RUEHDF RUEHFL RUEHIK RUEHKW RUEHLA
RUEHLN RUEHLZ RUEHPOD RUEHROV RUEHSR RUEHVK RUEHYG
DE RUEHSI #2290/01 2541250
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 111250Z SEP 07
FM AMEMBASSY TBILISI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 7564
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 06 TBILISI 002290 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SENSITIVE 
 
SIPDIS 
 
WEBGRAM EXCLUDED ONLY 
 
E.O. 12958: N/A 
TAGS: PGOV ECON PINR GG
SUBJECT: REGIONAL GOVERNORS - WHO ARE THEY? 
 
 
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 Georgia'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 PresidentQs 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 PresidentQs 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 
 
TBILISI 00002290  002 OF 006 
 
 
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 "w
ith public interests." 
 
6. (U) Critics of the legislation fear that it will bestow 
too much 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 
 
SIPDIS 
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 
 
TBILISI 00002290  003 OF 006 
 
 
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 
ParliamentQs 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 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 protigi 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 GeorgiaQs 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 Presi
dentQs 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 
 
TBILISI 00002290  004 OF 006 
 
 
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 GovernorQs position stemmed from a 
scandal involving BobokhidzeQs 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 largest portion of GeorgiaQs 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 SamegreloQZemo 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 HallQs Healthcare 
and Social Services.  He is currently member of 
 
TBILISI 00002290  005 OF 006 
 
 
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. 
 
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 district
s 
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 GovernmentQs 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 Q 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 GeorgiaQs 
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 
 
TBILISI 00002290  006 OF 006 
 
 
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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