07TBILISI2532, SAAKASHVILI QUESTIONS INTERIOR MINISTER ON MOD

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
07TBILISI2532 2007-10-05 12:38 2011-08-30 01:44 UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY Embassy Tbilisi

VZCZCXRO8075
PP RUEHAG RUEHAST RUEHDA RUEHDBU RUEHDF RUEHFL RUEHIK RUEHKW RUEHLA
RUEHLN RUEHLZ RUEHPOD RUEHROV RUEHSR RUEHVK RUEHYG
DE RUEHSI #2532 2781238
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 051238Z OCT 07
FM AMEMBASSY TBILISI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 7860
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE

UNCLAS TBILISI 002532 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SENSITIVE 
SIPDIS 
 
DEPT FOR EUR DAS BRYZA AND EUR/CARC 
 
E.O. 12958: N/A 
TAGS: PREL PGOV PHUM GG
SUBJECT: SAAKASHVILI QUESTIONS INTERIOR MINISTER ON MOD 
OFFICIAL'S ESCAPE, OPPOSITION RESPONDS TO BURJANADZE 
 
REF: TBILISI 2483 
 
1. (U) Summary: During a televised government session with 
his cabinet, President Saakashvili criticized Interior 
Minister Vano Merabishvili for allowing the former Head of 
Procurements at the MOD, Iason Chikhladze, to escape to 
Russia.  Merabishvili said Chikhladze traveled to Turkey with 
Okruashvili before traveling on to Russia with a fake 
passport.  During the session, Saakashvili also pledged to 
re-launch an employment program and offered GEL 100 million 
for one-time social benefits for teachers and pensioners to 
compensate for the increased cost of gas and electricity. 
The opposition parties called Burjanadze's statement belated, 
and offered dialogue on early parliamentary elections only. 
End Summary. 
 
--------------------------------------------- --- 
Saakashvili: How did Chikhladze Escape to Russia? 
--------------------------------------------- --- 
 
2. (U) On October 4 in a televised session with the cabinet, 
Saakashvili grilled Interior Minister Vano Merabishvili 
about the whereabouts of Iason Chikhladze, former chief of 
procurements at the MOD, who is wanted on corruption charges. 
 Merabishvili told the President that Chikhladze traveled to 
Turkey with Okruashvili in mid-September and then fled from 
there to Russia with a fake passport.  Whereabouts are also 
unknown for Alexander Sukhitashvili, ex-deputy defense 
minister who resigned in July and also traveled to Turkey 
with Okruashvili. 
 
3. (U) Saakashvili went on to bemoan the escape of 
Chikhladze, a man with access to secret information from the 
MOD, He said Chikhladze is now in Russia, with the Russian 
Federal Security Service, and Georgia might as well "open our 
doors and let every intelligence service here now as they 
already know everything."  Saakashvili stressed to the 
cabinet that his comments were not a "personal reprimand," 
but instead a "bitter lesson for us all." 
 
--------------------------------------------- -------------- 
Saakashvili Promises Social Benefits and Employment Program 
--------------------------------------------- -------------- 
 
4. (U) Saakashvili offered at least GEL 100 million for 
social benefits for teachers and pensioners in the form of 
compensation packages to cover higher tariffs for electricity 
and gas, and wheat in some provinces.  He also said the state 
should re-launch last year's state-funded employment program 
offering paid internships to the unemployed.  Saakashvili 
claimed that despite its flaws, the program was generally 
successful.  He said 50,000 people participated.  The 
Ministry of Healthcare, Labor and Social Welfare puts the 
total closer to 35,000. 
 
--------------------------------------------- ------ 
Opposition responds to Speaker Burjanadze Statement 
--------------------------------------------- ------ 
 
5. (U) On October 3, Speaker of Parliament Nino Burjanadze 
gave an interview in which she called for dialogue between 
the government and the opposition.  MP Kahka Kukava from the 
Conservative Party and Tina Khidasheli from the Republicans 
separately called Burjanadze's statement belated, empty 
words.  They offered a dialogue on early parliamentary 
elections only.  They also did not accept Burjanadze's 
assessment that Okruashvili's appointment was nothing more 
than a personnel mistake.  Manana Nachkepia, leader of the 
New Rightists, said the party is ready for dialogue but 
criticized Burjanadze for not calling for talks earlier.  In 
an interview on Imedi TV, Georgian Labor Party leader Shalva 
Natelashvili offered Saakashvili a friendly piece of advice: 
he should dissolve Parliament and name a date for new 
elections, thereby leaving office without bloodshed. 
 
TEFFT

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