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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
07TBILISI2659 2007-10-26 11:41 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Tbilisi

DE RUEHSI #2659/01 2991141
P 261141Z OCT 07

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 TBILISI 002659 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 10/24/2017 
     B. TBILISI 2483 
     C. TBILISI 2596 
Classified By: Ambassador John F. Tefft for reasons 1.4 (b) and (d). 
1. (C) Summary: On October 24, Chairman of the opposition 
Republican Party David Usupashvili met with Ambassador 
regarding the united opposition's planned November 2 protest 
against the Saakashvili government (ref A).  Usupashvili 
voiced two main concerns about the protests: First, that the 
government -- or an outside party (i.e. Russia) -- could 
provoke violence and spark a crackdown; second, that Irakli 
Okruashvili may attend the protest and inflame the crowd. 
Usupashvili had met on October 23 with Speaker of Parliament 
Nino Burjanadze (ref B) and shared the same two concerns.  He 
said that he believes the government is taking a wait-and-see 
attitude toward the protest, and that their reaction will 
depend on the size of the crowd it attracts.  He said 
Saakashvili is playing "dirty politics" by offering to lower 
the threshold only now that he is under pressure (ref C), 
rather than earlier in the summer.  Usupashvili reiterated 
that he believes the best solution to the current situation 
for both the opposition and government remains early 
elections in spring 2008.  End Summary. 
November 2 Protest Plans Continue 
2. (C) On October 24, leader of the opposition Republican 
Party, David Usupashvili, met with Ambassador to discuss the 
upcoming November 2 protest and the status of the 
opposition's United National Council.  Usupashvili told 
Ambassador that he and the Council are trying to find a 
solution to the current political situation.  Usupashvili 
said that the Council has an internal working agreement that 
no party leaders will jeopardize the group's united front. 
3. (C) Usupashvili said the opposition continues to meet with 
people throughout the regions.  (Note: Opposition-sponsored 
rallies in Batumi and Kutaisi during the past two weeks each 
drew crowds of a few thousand.  End note.)  He said he does 
not know exactly how many will participate on November 2, but 
he expects at least three times the number that attended on 
September 28, or around 30,000.  The upper limit of anyone's 
expectations is 100,000.  Usupashvili stated that the 
opposition Council is not planning to "cross any lines" 
during the protest, and that they do not want to lose control 
of the crowd.  He said that he believes the government does 
not know what to expect from the protest either, but that 
they are taking a wait-and-see attitude.  Usupashvili 
believes the government's response will depend on the turnout 
at the protest. 
Usupashvili Meets Burjanadze 
4. (C) Usupashvili said his understanding of the government's 
position came from a meeting with Parliamentary Speaker Nino 
Burjanadze on October 23.  Usupashvili said Burjanadze asked 
him why the opposition does not work together in Parliament, 
in committees, and on legislation.  He replied that this is 
not the issue that should be discussed now.  Burjanadze told 
him that the government is now thinking about changing the 
election code.  He countered that they should have done this 
during the summer.  Usupashvili said that Saakashvili and 
Burjanadze, unlike Minister of Internal Affairs Merabishvili, 
care about the country and its future.  He said it will be 
bad for the government if they are seen to fold under 
pressure, but it is their fault that they have driven people 
to the street.  He stated that he and Salome Zourabichvili 
(Georgia's Way party) have tried to focus the Council's 
demands on election issues and not on Saakashvili's 
5. (C) Usupashvili advised Burjanadze of the Council's two 
main concerns regarding the November 2 demonstration.  First, 
he worries that if the pressure on the government mounts, 
some ministers (implying Merabishvili) could provoke violence 
to allow the government to crackdown and disperse the 
protesters.  Equally serious could be a staged provocation by 
a foreign interest, specifically Russia.  Usupashvili's 
second concern is that Irakli Okruashvili might attend, which 
he fears would cause the people to demand direct action from 
him against the government.  Finally, Usupashvili told 
Burjanadze that although early elections are not the 
Council's main demand, he believes that they would be the 
best solution for the country.  He said that they would stop 
TBILISI 00002659  002 OF 002 
the pressure now building up against the current government 
and allow Saakashvili to continue to lead the country, "just 
not with a 90 percent approval rating."  If the elections are 
not held early, Usupashvili says, the street could force 
Saakashvili out and replace him with someone totally new. 
Opposition and Gove
rnment Share Risk, 
Threshold Offer Not Enough 
6. (C) Usupashvili acknowledged to Ambassador that the 
opposition, as well as the government, is at high risk due to 
the pending protest.  He said that with the United Council 
representing all parties except New Rightists, the opposition 
could all be "completely destroyed" at once, should something 
bad happen.  Again, he implied such action could be 
instigated by Russia.  In response to Ambassador's question 
regarding Saakashvili's offer to lower the threshold for 
participation in Parliament, Usupashvili said "we are not 
stupid; we know they were holding this for such a time when 
they were under pressure."  Usupashvili restated that 
whatever happens, he does not want to see another "force 
majeure" situation in Georgia.  He is asking people to "be 
7. (C) (Note: Usupashvili and fellow United National Council 
opposition leader Konstantine Gamsakhurdia are scheduled to 
meet with NATO Secretary General de Hoop Scheffer's staff and 
Javier Solana's staff in Brussels this week to discuss the 
state of the opposition and upcoming elections.  They then 
travel to Washington, D.C. to meet with EUR/CARC and Senator 
Graham, among others.  Usupashvili plans to return to Georgia 
the morning of November 2.  End note.) 
8. (C) The Ambassador advised Usupashvili that he continues 
to hear the Georgian people do not want more instability, and 
that the harsh rhetoric used by both the opposition and 
government does not help the situation.  He applauded 
Usupashvili reaching out quietly to Burjanadze, and 
encouraged further dialogue between the opposition and 
government.  The Ambassador agreed that Burjanadze and the 
government are trying to determine what action to take 
regarding the November 2 protest.  The government has been 
largely quiet about it.  The opposition has put Saakashvili's 
government in a corner, where he is largely unable to concede 
anything more at this point without seriously losing face. 
It appears that the opposition has gotten to this point 
without now knowing what to do next, especially if things get 
out of control. 


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