07TBILISI2574, OKRUASHVILI FADES FOR NOW, PATARKATSISHVILI

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
07TBILISI2574 2007-10-12 13:01 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Tbilisi

VZCZCXRO8226
PP RUEHDBU RUEHFL RUEHKW RUEHLA RUEHROV RUEHSR
DE RUEHSI #2574/01 2851301
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 121301Z OCT 07
FM AMEMBASSY TBILISI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 7906
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 TBILISI 002574 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SIPDIS 
 
DEPT FOR EUR DAS BRYZA AND EUR/CARC 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 10/12/2017 
TAGS: PREL PGOV PHUM GG
SUBJECT: OKRUASHVILI FADES FOR NOW, PATARKATSISHVILI 
DISTRACTS 
 
REF: A. TBILISI 2542 
 
     B. TBILISI 2559 
     C. TBILISI 2558 
 
Classified By: Ambassador John F. Tefft for reasons 1.4 (b) and (d). 
 
1. (U) Summary: Irakli Okruashvili has secluded himself in 
his Tbilisi apartment following two weeks of ups and downs in 
his political fortunes.  In an October 11 press conference, 
Okruashvili's Movement for a United Georgia party secretary, 
MP Koka Guntsadze, announced that the former Defense Minister 
is quitting politics (ref A).  Guntsadze told the press that 
Okruashvili feels unwell physically and mentally, but that he 
"has done his job" by galvanizing the opposition.  Following 
Okruashvili's release from jail on October 9, businessman 
Badri Patarkatsishvili has become more outspoken and is 
dropping hints he may take a more active role in politics 
himself.  Accused of political intrigue by Saakashvili's 
National Movement, he was forced out of his position as 
Chairman of the Georgian National Olympic Committee (GNOC) on 
October 9.  On October 10, he voluntarily resigned as 
President of the Federation of Georgian Businessmen, as he 
said, to spare its members the pressure that was levied on 
the GNOC board.  Members of the united opposition (ref B) 
intend to visit Europe and the U.S. in the coming weeks to 
rally support for a "democratic alternative to the 
Saakashvili regime."  The daily newspaper 24 Saati 
editorialized that the unified opposition is destroying the 
"normal political process."  The Conservative Party issued a 
statement criticizing the nomination of Levan Tarkhnishvili 
as the new head of the Central Election Commission (CEC). 
Finally, the radical ideas of a so-called parliamentary 
republic ("Georgia without a President") and the 
establishment of a constitutional monarchy (ref C) lost 
traction in the press.  End Summary. 
 
------------------------ 
Okruashvili in Seclusion 
------------------------ 
 
2. (U) In a press conference October 11 Irakli Okruashvili's 
Movement for a United Georgia party secretary, MP Koka 
Guntsadze, announced that the former Defense Minister is 
quitting politics.  After meeting with Okruashvili privately 
in his Tbilisi apartment, Guntsadze announced that 
Okruashvili feels unwell physically and mentally.  He 
concluded that Okruashvili "has done his job" by galvanizing 
the opposition, and that "we, his friends and partners, want 
to state that we fully understand him and we have no 
complaints against him."  Guntsadze said that he and the 
other members of the new party will "continue to fulfill our 
goals and we will respond to the authorities appropriately on 
November 2," referring to the protest planned by the united 
opposition.  Okruashvili has not made any public statement or 
appearance since his release on bail. 
 
--------------------------------------------- -- 
Will Patarkatsishvili Openly Contend for Power? 
--------------------------------------------- -- 
 
3. (U) After Okruashvili's release, National Movement members 
attacked businessman Badri Patarkatsishvili from various 
angles in public and the media.  MP Giga Bokeria denounced 
Patarkatsishvili, based on Okruashvili's statement that he 
made his false allegations to gain "political dividends" for 
himself and Patarkatsishvili.  Bokeria reminded 
Patarkatsishvili that the GOG receives frequent requests from 
Russia for his extradition to Russia.  The National Movement 
chairman, Davit Kirkitadze, circulated political cartoons 
depicting Patarkatsishvili sheltering opposition politicians. 
 On October 9, Patarkatsishvili was ousted from his position 
as Chairman of the GNOC, by a 26 to 3 vote of its board 
members.  In a live interview on pro-government television 
station, Rustavi-2, Minister of Economic Development Giorgi 
Arveladze said that the fevered response to Okruashvili's 
arrest was inspired by Patarkatsishvili, "according to 
scenarios written somewhere in Moscow."  He accused 
Patarkatsishvili of using his competing Imedi TV to make the 
public "hopeless" and "hysterical." 
 
4. (U) On October 10 Patarkatsishvili denounced his ouster 
from the GNOC as contrary to the organization's charter.  He 
said that several board members told him they had been 
pressured by the National Movement to suspend him.  He 
rejected Bokeria's and Arveladze's claims and said that he 
has never supported any conspiracy against the government. 
Despite rumors that he would sell Imedi TV, he said he could 
never be pressured to sell the company.  However, the 
following day he announced he would resign as President of 
the Federation of Georgian Businessmen, in order to spare its 
 
TBILISI 00002574  002 OF 003 
 
 
members the pressure that was levied on the GNOC board. 
 
5. (U) On October 11 Tbilisi Mayor Gigi Ugulava suggested 
that Imedi TV's "independent editorial policy is being put at 
risk" by its co-owner, Patarkatsishvili.  The mayor used 
mocking word-play on Patarkatsishvili's first name, hintin
g 
that the businessman is a "weakling."  He also said that 
Imedi TV operates as the opposition's "headquarters," it 
"swears at the authorities, and is being used by 
Patarkatsishvili to create immunity for himself."  University 
students protested in front of Patarkatsishvili's residence, 
throwing out fake thousand-dollar bills with his picture on 
them.  Despite this, Bokeria denied that the government has 
plans to arrest or extradite Patarkatsishvili. 
Patarkatsishvili confirmed that he is not afraid of 
extradition, because the Georgian constitution prohibits the 
extradition of Georgian citizens.  He departed Georgia for 
London on October 12, but is expected to return. 
 
6. (C) Comment: Post has heard rumors that President 
Saakashvili is less inclined to attack Patarkatsishvili than 
his confidant Bokeria.  The attention paid to 
Patarkatsishvili has distracted nearly all media attention 
away from Okruashvili.  As a businessman and one of the 
country's largest taxpayers, Patarkatishvili should share an 
interest in stability with President Saakashvili.  As 
Patarkatsishvili hints that he may take Okruashvili's place 
at the head of the opposition to the Saakashvili government, 
the National Movement is ramping up the rhetoric.  End 
comment. 
 
-------------------------------------- 
Opposition Plans an Appeal to the West 
-------------------------------------- 
 
7. (U) Leaders of the united opposition intend to visit 
Europe and the U.S. in the coming weeks to rally support for 
a "democratic alternative to the Saakashvili regime."  Salome 
Zourabichvili of Georgia's Way will visit Berlin and Paris. 
David Usupashvili of the Republican Party and Konstantine 
Gamsakhurdia of the Freedom Party will visit Brussels and EU 
Foreign Policy Chief Javier Solana.  The Republican's Davit 
Usupashvili is visiting the U.S. in late October. 
 
8. (U) On October 3, the newspaper 24 Saati editorialized 
that the unified opposition is destroying the "normal 
political process."  The paper criticized the move, saying 
that the parties' united front absolves them of their 
individual responsibility and perpetuates the belief that 
power cannot change from one party to another by elections in 
Georgia.  The editorial suggested that all of Georgia's 
parties need to establish platforms that can win them power 
on their merits, rather than simply opposing every step by 
the current government.  In an interview 24 Saati published 
on October 12, Usupashvili said that the planned November 2 
protest is "not a goal in itself" and could be scrapped if 
the National Movement engaged in dialogue with the opposition 
over vital issues.  Meanwhile members of the National Council 
are campaigning in the regions for supporters to participate 
on November 2. 
 
9.  (U) On October 12 the Conservative Party issued a 
statement criticizing the nomination of Levan Tarkhnishvili 
as the new head of the Central Election Commission (CEC). The 
opposition believes he is too close to the National Movement. 
 The media largely ignored ideas for doing away with the 
Presidency entirely and installing a constitutional monarchy 
in Georgia during the latter part of the week.  A 
Parliamentary debate on the constitutional monarchy proposal 
is scheduled to be held on October 25, at the initiative of 
the New Rightist party.  The National Movement repeated that 
the idea "would be currently inappropriate for Georgia." 
 
------- 
Comment 
------- 
 
10. (C) As Okruashvili's star waned over the week, Badri 
Patarkatsishvili began to hint that he may take the 
government up on its challenge to come out from behind the 
scenes and take a more open political role in Georgian 
politics.  Patarkatsishvili has the advantage of nearly 
inexhaustible finances and a guaranteed supportive media 
outlet in Imedi TV, but he carries serious negative baggage 
from his days as a minor oligarch in the service of Boris 
Berezovsky in Russia.  The opposition touted their meetings 
with the EU and U.S. ambassadors (ref B), and want the public 
to think the U.S. and other western countries support them in 
their call for regime change.  They will want a large turnout 
for protests on November 2 to convince the public and western 
 
TBILISI 00002574  003 OF 003 
 
 
observers that they enjoy broad public support, 
notwithstanding Usupashvili's suggestion that they may be 
called off if the government opens a dialogue.  The clash of 
two major television stations controlled by opposing 
political forces will also have an important impact on the 
course of the political crisis and how it is perceived in 
Georgia and the West.  Patarkatsishvili told an Imedi 
interviewer that if he goes into politics he will turn the 
management of the station over to his partner, Rupert 
Murdoch's News Corp.  News Corp, he said, will be "above 
suspicion of interference in Georgian politics." 
TEFFT

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