07TBILISI2579, GEORGIA BI-WEEKLY UPDATE OCTOBER 12

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
07TBILISI2579 2007-10-15 10:46 2011-08-30 01:44 UNCLASSIFIED Embassy Tbilisi

VZCZCXRO9555
RR RUEHAG RUEHAST RUEHDA RUEHDBU RUEHDF RUEHFL RUEHIK RUEHKW RUEHLA
RUEHLN RUEHLZ RUEHPOD RUEHROV RUEHSR RUEHVK RUEHYG
DE RUEHSI #2579/01 2881046
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 151046Z OCT 07
FM AMEMBASSY TBILISI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 7915
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 TBILISI 002579 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O 12958: N/A 
TAGS: PREL PGOV PHUM ECON GG
SUBJECT: GEORGIA BI-WEEKLY UPDATE OCTOBER 12 
 
 
1. This cable contains current items of political, 
economic, and social interest concerning Georgia during the 
weeks of September 29-October 12. 
 
Opposition Rally Planned for November 2 
--------------------------------------- 
2. Several leading opposition parties which have rallied around the 
case of former Defense Minister Irakli Okruashvili and have called 
for early parliamentary elections in April 2008 are planning to 
punctuate their campaign with a mass protest rally in Tbilisi on 
November 2.  This coincides with an international conference 
scheduled at the same time, co-hosted by the Georgian government and 
the German Marshall Fund, to address Georgia's Euro-Atlantic 
integration.  According to ruling party representatives, a number of 
high-level guests, including presidents of several countries, are 
expected to attend.  The opposition has claimed it had no knowledge 
of the conference when it scheduled the demonstration, but the 
Republican Party's Tina Khidasheli described the timing as a "gift" 
that would allow the foreign visitors to see what is "really 
happening in this country."   In response, David Kirkitadze, MP and 
Secretary General of the ruling National Movement, suggested that 
 
SIPDIS 
the opposition chose the date on instructions from the Russian 
Embassy. 
 
Saakashvili Announces Aid for Vulnerable Population 
--------------------------------------------- ------ 
3. Speaking in a televised meeting with cabinet ministers on October 
4, President Saakashvili said "life is getting expensive" for 
Georgian citizens and it was essential that compensation for the 
vulnerable part of society should accompany Georgia's economic 
growth.  (Note: Overall inflation was about 9.7 percent in 
September.)  To achieve his aims, Saakashvili pledged at least GEL 
100 million (USD 60 million) in one-time allowances for teachers and 
pensioners, as well as for a state-funded employment program.  The 
one-time "compensation packages" would be designated for electricity 
and gas payments, or for electricity and wheat in rural areas, which 
in some cases have no gas supply. 
 
Georgian Radio Launched into Abkhazia 
------------------------------------- 
4. On October 5, the Georgian-backed Abkhaz Government-in-Exile 
launched a new radio station, Voice of Abkhazia.  Located in 
Zugdidi, in western Georgia, the station can reportedly cover the 
entire territory of Abkhazia.  Round-the-clock broadcasting will be 
mostly conducted in Russian, though part of the news and information 
will be also broadcast in Abkhaz.  The opening of the station was 
celebrated with a large concert of popular singers.  President 
Saakashvili delivered a strongly worded speech, declaring that a 
"countdown" has begun for Georgia to reclaim Abkhazia.  For its 
part, the de facto government of Abkhazia called the new station "an 
ideological instrument of the fascist regime of Tbilisi," and 
declared it would jam its frequency.  According to Georgian press 
reports, some residents of Abkhazia's ethnically Georgian Gali 
district were prevented from attending the concert by Abkhaz police, 
who allegedly detained and physically abused them. 
 
Cyber Security Cooperation with Estonia 
--------------------------------------- 
5. The Permanent Secretary General of Estonia's Ministry of Defense 
gave a lecture September 21 at the Georgian Foundation for Strategic 
and International Studies stressing the importance of international 
cooperation against cyber-attack, especially the type of coordinated 
and politically motivated attack recently suffered by Estonia.  As 
the Estonian DCM told INL Program Officer, an Estonian technical 
team plans to travel to Georgia to assess the country's IT 
infrastructure; the travel dates may be linked to an impending visit 
by the Estonian Minister of Defense within the next 3 months.  The 
Estonian DCM seemed eager to cooperate and promised to provide 
additional information about the Minister's visit and the team's 
plans. 
 
Mixed Signals on French NATO Views 
---------------------------------- 
6. Parliament Speaker Nino Burjanadze spoke out quickly in response 
to public comments by French Defense Minister Herve Morin that his 
country would support Georgia's NATO membership only if it would not 
be seen as a threat "with regards to Russia."  Burjanadze said the 
remarks sent "a very wrong message to Russia," essentially telling 
Russia that "you will succeed, if you continue to behave badly." 
President Saakashvili commented on the same issue on October 4 
during the visit of NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer, 
saying France is "extremely supportive" of Georgia's drive to join 
NATO.  Saakashvili said he based his judgments on two meetings with 
his French counterpart, Nicolas Sarkozy, in recent months - one 
during Saakashvili's official visit to Paris in June and another in 
Marseille on September 30 when two leaders attended the World Cup 
rugby match between Georgia and France. 
 
Georgian Soldier Commits Sui
cide in Iraq 
---------------------------------------- 
7. The Ministry of Defense has announced that Corporal Zurab 
Chighoshvili, who was serving in Wasit Province, Iraq, committed 
suicide September 30.  Officials said there was no connection 
 
TBILISI 00002579  002 OF 002 
 
 
between the corporal's military service and his suicide, which was 
the result of personal difficulties. 
 
Steps Forward in Kutaisi 
------------------------ 
8. During an October 5-6 visit to Kutaisi, Georgia's second-largest 
city, the Ambassador took part in the ribbon-cutting for a new 
cheese factory, constructed with assistance from USAID's Agvantage 
program, that should be able to support up to 400 local dairy 
farmers.  Regional Governor Akaki Bobokhidze told the Ambassador 
that Kutaisi's infrastructure has been nearly rehabilitated, except 
for the water system.  Local officials are currently looking for 
donors to assist with the projected USD 18 million project.  It 
currently takes 5-6 liters of water at the source to provide a 
single liter of water in town, because of leaky pipes.  Kutaisi has 
been the center of a series of corruption cases among city 
officials.  Bobokhidze said corruption among local officials remains 
a problem, as he cannot pay a salary high enough to dissuade someone 
from "making $5,000 with the stroke of a pen."  The Ambassador also 
visited a local youth center directed by a Peace Corps Volunteer, 
and took part in Kutaisi's October 6 Breast Health Awareness Walk to 
raise awareness about breast cancer screening and treatment. 
 
TEFFT

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