07TBILISI2415, OKRUASHVILI THROWS DOWN THE GAUNTLET

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
07TBILISI2415 2007-09-26 13:50 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Tbilisi

VZCZCXRO8609
PP RUEHDBU RUEHFL RUEHKW RUEHLA RUEHROV RUEHSR
DE RUEHSI #2415/01 2691350
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 261350Z SEP 07
FM AMEMBASSY TBILISI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 7735
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE PRIORITY

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 TBILISI 002415 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SIPDIS 
 
DEPT FOR EUR DAS BRYZA AND EUR/CARC 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 09/27/2017 
TAGS: PREL PGOV PHUM GG
SUBJECT: OKRUASHVILI THROWS DOWN THE GAUNTLET 
 
REF: TBILISI 1370 
 
Classified By: Ambassador John F. Tefft for reasons 1.4 (b) and (d). 
 
1. (SBU) Summary: On September 25, former Defense Minister 
Irakli Okruashvili made the long-awaited announcement on the 
establishment of his political party - Movement for United 
Georgia.  In his announcement and a subsequent television 
interview, Okruashvili for the first time harshly attacked 
President Saakashvili, accusing him of ordering political 
assassinations, personal corruption, "cowardice" in missing 
opportunities to retake the separatist regions, and other 
sensational crimes.  End Summary. 
 
--------------------------------------- 
Five Directions of Okruashvili's Attack 
--------------------------------------- 
 
2. (U) In his most dramatic accusation, Okruashvili claimed 
that, when he was in the government, on many occasions he 
received personal instructions from the President to 
"liquidate" prominent figures in the society.  One such 
figure was allegedly businessman Badri Patarkatsishvili. 
Okruashvili claimed that instead of carrying out this 
instruction, he mentioned it to other individuals who were 
well-connected to the U.S. government, and that he believes 
U.S. intervention led Saakashvili to stop mentioning the 
idea.  Okruashvili also raised the controversial carbon 
monoxide poisoning death of Prime Minister Zhvania in 2005, 
saying he had information to the effect that Zhvania's dead 
body was taken to the apartment, where it was later found. 
 
3. (U) Okruashvili's second line of attack was corruption in 
Saakashvili's government.  Okruashvili claimed that as the 
Interior Minister he had briefly detained Saakashvili's 
uncle, Temur Alasania, for taking a bribe, but had to release 
him due to the "insistent request" of the President. 
Okruashvili claimed that Saakashvili's family had accumulated 
billions of dollars, stressing in particular that 
Saakashvili's cousin, Nick Alasania, was involved in the 
import of arms from Israel. 
 
4. (U) The third direction was Saakashvili's alleged hatred 
and fear of the Georgian Orthodox Church, which Okruashvili 
said the President viewed as his "competitor" overshadowing 
his glory.  Okruashvili accused Saakashvili of attempting to 
collect compromising information on church leaders in order 
to undermine their authority. 
 
5. (U) The fourth direction was aimed at social and economic 
hardships, as Okruashvili questioned the necessity of 
building posh hotels like the Hyatt, when an "ordinary man 
from Kutaisi" had no means of staying in it, or of 
constructing new highways when ordinary people could travel 
on them "only in trucks loaded with vegetables." 
 
6. (U) The fifth direction, which may well become 
Okruashvili's strongest campaign theme, was on Georgia's 
unresolved conflicts and lost territories.  Okruashvili 
stressed that in his period as Defense Minister, Georgia was 
only "one step away" from regaining South Ossetia, but 
because of the "cowardice and indecisiveness" of Saakashvili, 
Georgia lost this unique chance.  As Okruashvili described 
it, the army was waiting for the order to carry out a small 
but effective operation, but a fearful Saakashvili failed to 
make this "political and historic decision."  Okruashvili 
said Saakashvili also failed to make up his mind to denounce 
existing agreements on Peacekeeping Forces (PKFs), which 
"legitimize the presence of Russian peacekeepers today." 
According to Okruashvili, the only result attained so far by 
Saakashvili's efforts is the "caricature figure" of Dimitriy 
Sanakoyev in South Ossetia, who is "a bluff and a fiction of 
Georgia's unification."  Okruashvili concluded that under the 
current leadership, which "moved in zigzags and was unable to 
demonstrate a principled position either to the international 
community or to Russia," Georgia was losing its chance to 
regain Abkhazia and South Ossetia. 
 
--------------------------------------------- 
Okruashvili Appeals to the Public, Opposition 
--------------------------------------------- 
 
7. (U) In conclusion, Okruashvili appealed to the opposition 
to forget old differences and start a new cooperation "from a 
clean page."  Okruashvili also called on the Georgian public 
to join him in his "campaign against fear."  "Join us if you 
believe that the country is going in the wrong direction, 
join us if you believe that Georgia is in the first place, do 
not be afraid of Merabishvilis, Adeishvilis, Bokerias and the 
like, do not be afraid of Saakashvili," concluded Okruashvili. 
 
 
TBILISI 00002415  002 OF 002 
 
 
-------------------------------------------- 
Reaction is Both Sensationalist and Tempered 
-------------------------------------------- 
 
8. (SBU) Okruashvili's comments created a sensation among the 
public, media and experts, though the initial reaction of 
politicians, both of the majority and opposition, was 
relatively low-key.  Most
 opposition leaders refrained from 
embracing Okruashvili.  Ruling party representatives did not 
go very far beyond characterizing Okruashvili's statements as 
"laughable, staid, or degrading."  Majority MP Giga Bokeria 
said Okruashvili's statements sounded like those made by 
Shalva Natelashvili, Igor Giorgadze, Jondi Baghaturia, or 
some "other mixture of pro-Russian politicians."  Bokeria's 
comment implied that as the government started a crackdown on 
corruption among his associates, Okruashvili made a 
preemptive step to secure his political immunity.  President 
Saakashvili himself, currently at the UN General Assembly in 
New York, has not yet commented on Okruashvili or his 
statements. 
 
------- 
Comment 
------- 
 
9. (C) Okruashvili's emergence in opposition had long been 
expected (reftel) but the scope and visceral nature of his 
attacks on Saakashvili shocked even long-time observers of 
Georgia's hyperbole-saturated politics.  While we cannot 
comment on the truth of all of Okruashvili's charges -- we 
have no knowledge of any plan to kill Patarkatsishvili, for 
example -- we know for sure that some are false:  USG 
participation in the Zhvania investigation made clear his 
body was not moved.  Okruashvili's claim that Saakashvili 
refused to order the military to retake South Ossetia is 
particularly significant and represents Okruashvili's attempt 
to outflank Saakashvili on the right on the emotional issue 
of Georgia's territorial integrity.  We strongly believe 
Saakashvili is right that there can be no military solution 
to the conflicts, but Okruashvili is likely to continue to 
hammer away at this theme. 
TEFFT

Wikileaks

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