07TBILISI2542, OKRUASHVILI PLEADS GUILTY AND RECANTS ALLEGATIONS

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
07TBILISI2542 2007-10-09 11:38 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Tbilisi

VZCZCXRO4424
OO RUEHDBU RUEHFL RUEHKW RUEHLA RUEHROV RUEHSR
DE RUEHSI #2542/01 2821138
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
O 091138Z OCT 07
FM AMEMBASSY TBILISI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 7865
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE PRIORITY

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 TBILISI 002542 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SIPDIS 
 
DEPT FOR EUR DAS BRYZA AND EUR/CARC 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 10/09/2017 
TAGS: PREL PGOV PHUM GG
SUBJECT: OKRUASHVILI PLEADS GUILTY AND RECANTS ALLEGATIONS 
 
REF: A. TBILISI 2532 
     B. TBILISI 2415 
 
Classified By: Ambassador John F. Tefft for reasons 1.4 (b) and (d). 
 
1. (C) Summary: A video-taped testimony by Irakli 
Okruashvili, confessing to charges of extortion and criminal 
negligence and recanting his accusations against President 
Saakashvili, was broadcast on Georgian television October 8. 
Presidential Advisor Giga Bokeria said Okruashvili may have 
realized there was substantial evidence against him on 
serious charges and therefore he testified in order to get 
out on bail and reduce the penalties.  Shortly after 
Okruashvili's television appearance, President Saakashvili 
told the Ambassador that Okruashvili testified of his own 
volition.  Nevertheless,  opposition leaders immediately 
raised suspicions that the statement was obtained by 
coercion.  The General Prosecutor's Office released 
Okruashvili early morning October 9 on GEL 10 million (USD 6 
million) bail, an unprecedented amount in Georgia.  The 
opposition released a joint statement vowing to continue 
their campaign for early parliamentary elections.  The ruling 
party challenged businessman and government critic Badri 
Patarkatsishvili, an Okruashvili supporter, to enter the 
political arena through normal means, not by "plotting 
intrigues."  End Summary. 
 
--------------------------------------------- --------------- 
Okruashvili Recants Charges Against President; Pleads Guilty 
--------------------------------------------- --------------- 
 
2. (C) In an October 8 conversation with the Ambassador, Giga 
Bokeria, an MP and Saakashvili insider, said that Okruashvili 
admitted guilt to several of the charges against him and 
recanted his allegations against the president entirely on 
his own initiative.  Bokeria said it was likely Okruashvili 
knew substantial evidence against him exists and that he 
faces the likelihood of a long imprisonment, and he hoped to 
get the penalties reduced.  President Saakashvili himself 
told the Ambassador on October 8 that Okruashvili recognized 
that many of his colleagues were likely to accept plea 
bargains and testify against him.  His best option left was 
to make a plea and get out of jail on bail.  Bokeria said 
Okruashvili, along with his new lawyer Giorgi Pauashvili (who 
has replaced Eka Beselia), negotiated the terms of bail and 
went through each charge individually, indicating how he 
would plead. 
 
3. (SBU) On October 8 the General Prosecutor's Office 
released a videotape of the confession which was broadcast on 
television, in which Okruashvili says the accusations he 
leveled at the President and other top level officials were 
not true.  He said they were made to "gain political 
dividends."  Okruashvili recanted all of his allegations 
against Saakashvili and in particular said that Saakashvili 
did not order him to "get rid of" Badri Patarkatsishvili. 
Okruashvili said he held meetings in Tbilisi and abroad with 
Badri Patarkatsishvili from time to time and the statement 
that the president ordered Patarkatsishvili "liquidated" was 
meant to help Patarkatsishvili "gain political dividends" as 
well.  Okruashvili said he kept Patarkatsishvili informed of 
his political plans and thought Patarkatsishvili-owned Imedi 
TV would support his political efforts.  He said he knew 
nothing about PM Zhvania's death except the official version. 
 He also said his allegation that Saakashvili ordered 
Interior Minister Merabishvili and the ex-chief of the 
Interior Ministry's Department for Constitutional Security 
Dato Akhalaia to obtain compromising material against the 
clergy "was not true."  Okruashvili said accusations of 
corruption against Merabishvili and Giga Bokeria were false. 
He recanted other accusations as well, saying he was trying 
to discredit the president and had no evidence Saakashvili 
secretly owns shares in the Georgian Railway, a local mobile 
 
SIPDIS 
phone company and Rustavi 2 TV as he had earlier alleged.  He 
also recanted an earlier allegation that while serving as 
Interior Minister in 2004, he had arrested Saakashvili's 
uncle, Temur Alasania, for extortion. 
 
4. (SBU) Addressing the criminal charges the government has 
brought against him, Okruashvili, said that in collusion with 
the President's ex-Parliamentary Secretary Dimitri 
Kitoshvili, he forced former lawmaker Jemal Svanidze into 
selling his shares in Geocell for USD 250,000.   This was 
significantly below the market price of the shares, which was 
at least USD 10 million, according to the General 
Prosecutor's Office.  Okruashvili also pleaded guilty to 
criminal negligence, saying he failed to properly control 
some agencies under his supervision while he was Defense 
Minister.  Okruashvili did not address the charges of money 
laundering and misuse of power related to the purchase of his 
party headquarters.  (Note:  A foreign advisor to the 
 
TBILISI 00002542  002 OF 002 
 
 
Ministry of Finance told us October 9 that the Financial 
Monitoring Service is claiming it has a clear chain of 

possession of the cash used to buy the property linked to 
Ministry of Defense procurements.)  Okruashvili was released 
overnight October 9 after the City Court ruled to release him 
on GEL 10 million (USD 6 million) bail (an unprecedented 
amount in Georgia), posted in cash and real estate. 
Industrialist MP Zurab Tkhemaladze commented that if 
Okruashvili could afford this amount, it was further 
confirmation he was involved in corruption. 
 
--------------------------------------------- ---------------- 
Opposition and Government Reaction to Okruashvili's Testimony 
--------------------------------------------- ---------------- 
 
5. (U) Opposition politicians immediately alleged 
Okruashvili's testimony was coerced.  David Zurabishvili, 
opposition lawmaker from the Democratic Front party, said the 
confession reminded him of those made by dissidents in Soviet 
times, in particular recalling the public about-face of 
former president Zviad Gamsakhurdia when he was a prominent 
dissident under the Soviet system.  Zviad Dzidziguri, 
Conservative Party leader, said "some people are unable to 
resist pressure exerted on them," referring to Okruashvili's 
testimony.  People's Party leader Koba Davitashvili said 
Okruashvili's political destruction was an act of "political 
murder" carried out by the president and "his gang." 
 
6. (C) On the other hand. National Movement MPs rejected 
allegations of coercion.  MP Levan Bezhashvili said 
Okruashvili is not the kind of person who yields to any kind 
of pressure.  MP Nino Kalandadze said Okruashvili's testimony 
came as a surprise, because "heroes do not look like this." 
Speaker of the Parliament Nino Burjanadze hailed the General 
Prosecutor's Office for debunking the "groundless 
accusations" leveled by Okruashvili at the President.  She 
also said it was an important decision to release Okruashvili 
on bail so he can "make the same statements outside of jail." 
 Bokeria told the Ambassador that allegations that the 
confession was coerced are preposterous.  He said Okruashvili 
will be at home and can freely change his story or recant his 
confession, but if he does, he will have to answer to 
everyone who saw the confession on television.  Bokeria added 
that despite uncertainties, the confession and bail show that 
the country abides by the rule of law. 
 
--------------------------------------------- ---------- 
Opposition Vows to Continue Campaign Against Government 
--------------------------------------------- ---------- 
 
7. (U) Following Okruashvili's recantation, a group of ten 
opposition parties said at a joint news conference they 
remain committed to their plans to persuade authorities to 
hold parliamentary elections in April.  MP Kakha Kukava from 
the Conservative Party said the latest turn of events does 
not mean an end to the campaign calling for early elections 
and culminating in a mass protest in Tbilisi on November 2. 
He added that resistance will continue and the goals and 
demands remain unchanged. 
 
8.  (U) Prior to the release of Okruashvili's statement on 
October 6, opposition leaders held an anti-government protest 
in Gurjaani, in eastern Kakheti.  They screened a film by 
investigative reporter Vakhtang Komakhidze questioning the 
official version of events surrounding PM Zhvania's death. 
The screening in downtown Tbilisi was attended by several 
thousand people.  The film was preceded by a brief protest 
rally where opposition leaders demanded authorities reveal 
"the truth" surrounding Zhvania's death. 
 
----------------------------------- 
Bokeria Challenges Patarkatsishvili 
----------------------------------- 
 
9. (U) National Movement Secretary General Davit Kirkitadze 
said October 8 there is sufficient evidence to prove the 
opposition is united by Patarkatsishvili, and claimed 
Patarkatsishvili is the one who "plotted this conspiracy." 
Following the release of Okruashvili's testimony, Giga 
Bokeria made a statement aimed at Patarkatsishvili, saying it 
is "unacceptable to plot intrigues and slander using others, 
and to hide behind their backs."  He then challenged 
Patarkatsishvili to come out and participate in political 
"competition" and openly gain support, if he has political 
ambitions.  Patarkatsishvili reportedly left Georgia for 
London immediately following the release of Okruashvili's 
testimony, but said in a public statement that he would 
return. 
TEFFT

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