Monthly Archives: November 2007

07TBILISI3005, GEORGIA BI-WEEKLY UPDATE NOVEMBER 30

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
07TBILISI3005 2007-11-30 13:35 2011-08-30 01:44 UNCLASSIFIED Embassy Tbilisi

VZCZCXRO5624
RR RUEHAG RUEHAST RUEHDA RUEHDBU RUEHDF RUEHFL RUEHIK RUEHKW RUEHLA
RUEHLN RUEHLZ RUEHPOD RUEHROV RUEHSR RUEHVK RUEHYG
DE RUEHSI #3005/01 3341335
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 301335Z NOV 07
FM AMEMBASSY TBILISI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 8348
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 TBILISI 003005 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O 12958: N/A 
TAGS: PREL PGOV PHUM ECON GG
SUBJECT: GEORGIA BI-WEEKLY UPDATE NOVEMBER 30 
 
REF: TBILISI 2964 
 
1. This cable contains current items of political, 
economic, and social interest concerning Georgia during the 
weeks of November 10-30. 
 
Last Russian Troops Leave Batumi 
-------------------------------- 
2. On November 15, the last train cars loaded with 
military equipment left the Russian military base in 
Batumi, marking the closure of the final Russian 
military facility in government-controlled Georgia.  The 
transfer was finalized ahead of schedule, as the Russians 
had committed to complete withdrawal in 2008.  The Russian 
Foreign Ministry stressed this fact in its public 
comments, noting that Russia had fulfilled its 
pledge despite what it called Tbilisi's heightened 
anti-Russian policies.  In Georgia the long-awaited 
departure passed almost unnoticed, overshadowed by 
the internal political turmoil.  In the past, Georgian 
officials have indicated that they intend to develop the 
former base, which includes a significant stretch of 
Black Sea coastline, by building hotels and other tourist 
facilities. 
 
Last Minute Change in Education Minister Candidate 
--------------------------------------------- ----- 
3. Parliament approved a new Prime Minister and a slightly 
"refreshed" Cabinet of Ministers November 22 (reftel), but 
the cabinet included one late change from the nominees 
initially announced November 19.  One November 21, Deputy 
Education Minister Bela Tsipuria was replaced as the 
nominee for Education Minister by Maia Miminoshvili, Head 
of the National Assessment and Examination Center, which 
is also part of the Education Ministry.  Tsipuria told 
journalists that she did not want to abandon the ongoing 
projects in the Ministry she was supervising.  The 
new Minister of Education Miminoshvili holds a PhD in 
physics and mathematics and is a Ministry insider who 
successfully managed the reform of nation-wide university 
enrollment started in 2005. Miminoshvili said on her 
confirmation day that she would "ensure the continuity 
of reforms" launched under the previous Minister Lomaia. 
 
Turkey, Georgia, and Azerbaijan Launch Rail Construction 
--------------------------------------------- ----------- 
4. The presidents of Georgia, Azerbaijan and Turkey 
attended a groundbreaking ceremony for construction of 
the Georgian section (Akhalkalaki-Kars) of the railway 
link between Azerbaijan and Turkey on November 21 in the 
village of Marabda, Georgia.  The project is expected to 
facilitate trade and tourism along the Caucasus, attract 
rail cargo from the Central Asia, open an alternative route 
to Trans-Siberian rail in Russia for rail cargo from China, 
and create new jobs in the remote Samtskhe-Javakheti 
region in southern Georgia.  The project envisages the 
construction of twenty-nine kilometers of railroad from 
Akhalkalaki to the Turkish border, and rehabilitation of 
192 kilometers of the existing railroad on the territory 
of Georgia. In January 2007 Azerbaijan agreed to lend USD 
200 million to Georgia to finance the construction of its 
portion of the railway.  Georgia will have to repay the 
loan at 1% interest within 25 years.  Construction of 
the Baku-Akhalkalaki-Kars railroad is schedule to finish 
by 2010. 
 
New Free Trade Agreement with Turkey 
------------------------------------ 
5. The presidents of Georgia and Turkey signed a Free 
Trade Agreement (FTA) and a treaty on eliminating double 
taxation on November 21 during a Turkish-Georgian business 
forum in Tbilisi. The FTA is expected to further facilitate 
the already growing trade between the two countries, 
which is especially important for Georgia in light of 
the continuing Russian embargo on Georgian agricultural goods. 
According to the FTA, Georgia and Turkey will waive import 
tariffs on manufactured goods and on some agricultural 
goods. In addition, Turkey will decrease tariffs by 50%-100% 
within certain quotas on some Georgian agricultural goods. 
For example, tariffs will be completely eliminated for 
Georgian wine imports to Turkey (within a quota of 1 
million liters), citrus (up to 4,000 tons), and vegetables 
(up to 1,200 tons). To protect their farmers, both countries 
excluded some agricultural goods from the waiver. The 
FTA will take effect after both countries' parliaments 
complete ratification. 
 
Success Claimed for Grape and Citrus Harvest 
-------------------------------------------- 
6. The Agriculture Ministry positively assesses the 
results of the 2007 vintage.  According to the 
Ministry, over 200 thousand tons of grapes 
were gathered in Kakheti, the main wine producing 
 
TBILISI 00003005  002 OF 002 
 
 
region of Georgia, exceeding last year's figure by 
67 percent.  Out of the total volume, wineries in 
Kakheti bought 58,000 tons, which is 2.3 times more than 
last year.  Up to 50,000 tons were used for winemaking 
in local households, 15,000 tons were sold to local food 
businesses, while 110,000 tons were deliv
ered to other 
regions of the country.  Racha, another wine producing 
region, also marked a high yield.  Wineries bought 1,070 
tons of grapes there for producing red wine.  Meanwhile, 
the citrus harvest is estimated to yield over 100 
thousand tons of citrus in the western part of Georgia, 
three times more than last year.  The government has created 
an ad hoc headquarters to assist local farmers with finding 
markets for the produce.  Last year Georgia exported around 
16 thousand tons of citrus, mostly to Ukraine, Azerbaijan, 
Armenia and Russia.  Unfavorable weather conditions in 
citrus growing countries such as Turkey and Iran have 
increased Georgia's export potential this year. 
TEFFT

Wikileaks

07TBILISI3004, INVESTIGATION OF IRAKLI RUKHADZE EXPLORES POSSIBLE

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
07TBILISI3004 2007-11-30 13:20 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Tbilisi

VZCZCXYZ0001
RR RUEHWEB

DE RUEHSI #3004 3341320
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
R 301320Z NOV 07
FM AMEMBASSY TBILISI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 8347
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE

C O N F I D E N T I A L TBILISI 003004 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SIPDIS 
 
STATE FOR EUR/CASC, EUR/FO, EEB/IFD/OIA, EEB/CBA AND CA/OCS 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 11/30/2017 
TAGS: PGOV CASC GG
SUBJECT: INVESTIGATION OF IRAKLI RUKHADZE EXPLORES POSSIBLE 
MONEY LAUNDERING CHARGES 
 
REF: TBILISI 2978 
 
Classified By: Ambassador John F. Tefft, reason 1.4(b) and (d) 
 
1. (C) The Deputy Prosecutor General of Georgia, Nika 
Gvaramia, called DCM to the Ministry of Internal Affairs to 
give an update on the criminal investigation of American 
citizen Irakli Rukhadze.  Although Rukhadze has not been 
charged as yet, he is being investigated on suspicion of 
influence peddling (reftel).  Gvaramia had no new information 
about that possible charge, but he told DCM that the police 
have obtained records of Rukhadze's bank account and have 
been questioning him about suspicious transactions.  He 
pointed to one transaction in April 2006 where Rukadze 
apparently deposited USD 1.7 million in cash and immediately 
withdrew the equivalent amount in cash Georgian lari. 
Gvaramia said that such large cash transactions should be 
reported to Georgia's Financial Monitoring Service (FMS) as 
suspicious by the bank under Georgia's money laundering laws, 
but this one was not.  The bank's failure to report the 
transaction is not Rukhadze's fault, he said, but it raises 
questions about whether Rukhadze has failed to report income 
on his tax returns or is laundering money for someone else. 
Gvaramia said that when questioned about the 2006 
transaction, Rukhadze said he could not remember it, and 
seemed to be stalling for time to figure out the best way to 
answer the questions posed to him.  Gvaramia added that there 
are subsequent cash transactions, mostly in the range of USD 
100-200,000.00, in the records of Rukhadze's account that 
need to be examined closely. 
 
2. (C) By notifying the Embassy of the progress of the 
investigation, Gvaramia seems to want to be seen as sensitive 
to USG concerns about Rukhadze's case.  It would not be 
surprising if the GOG is upping the pressure on Rukhadze in 
the hope that he may become a material witness in a potential 
case against Badri Patarkatsishvili.  Nevertheless, Gvaramia 
said that Rukhadze is as yet free to leave the country if he 
wants. 
 
3. (C) Gvaramia also told the DCM that Badri Patarkatsishvili 
is shown by bank records to have withdrawn USD 12 million in 
cash from Standard Bank, which did not report that 
transaction to the FMS either. 
TEFFT

Wikileaks

07TBILISI3002, WHY PATARKATSISHVILI SCARES THE GOG

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
07TBILISI3002 2007-11-30 13:12 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Tbilisi

VZCZCXYZ0002
RR RUEHWEB

DE RUEHSI #3002/01 3341312
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
R 301312Z NOV 07
FM AMEMBASSY TBILISI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 8343
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE

C O N F I D E N T I A L TBILISI 003002 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SIPDIS 
 
STATE FOR EUR/CARC AND EUR/FO 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 11/29/2017 
TAGS: PGOV KCRM KBIO GG
SUBJECT: WHY PATARKATSISHVILI SCARES THE GOG 
 
REF: TBILISI 2978 
 
Classified By: Ambassador John F. Tefft, reason 1.4(b) and (d) 
 
1. (C) Summary.  The Georgian government accuses oligarch and 
presidential candidate Badri Patarkatsishvili of moving from 
ordinary politics to fomenting revolution over the course of 
2007.  It has taken steps against him personally and against 
his business interests in an attempt to blunt his influence 
and power, although it insists he will be allowed to campaign 
freely before the January 5 presidential election. 
Patarkatsishvili is wanted in Russia for a variety of white 
collar crimes and is suspected of much more dangerous and 
unsavory activities.  His most important tool to achieve his 
political ends is the independent television station Imedi. 
Imedi's true relationship with the American company News Corp 
is unclear, and the government wants an assurance News Corp 
is really in charge before it will trust the station to go 
back on the air.  The evidence against Patarkatsishvili 
personally, on claims of conspiracy to overthrow the 
government, is so far largely circumstantial, but some 
independent experts are uneasy about him.  Patarkatsishvili's 
popularity with Georgian voters will be tested by the 
election in January.  Even if he loses, he will likely 
continue to be a formidable opponent to Saakashvili.  End 
Summary. 
 
2. (C) The Georgian government, headed by former President 
Saakashvili, took a number of drastic and seemingly 
counter-productive steps to protect itself since the 
appearance of a major political challenge, first from former 
Minister of Defense Irakli Okruashvili and then from oligarch 
Badri Patarkatsishvili.  The arrest of Okruashvili, the 
forceful response to demonstrators on November 7, the closing 
of Patarkatsishvili's Imedi television station, and the 
harassment of some Patarkatsishvili businesses (reftel) has 
cost the GOG dearly in its standing with its friends in the 
international community.  The government is sincerely 
convinced that Patarkatsishvili constitutes a threat to its 
existence, and has been willing to sacrifice years of 
progress and accumulated international goodwill to avert that 
threat.  To the government of Georgia, the struggle is one of 
life and death.  Why is Patarkatsishvili viewed in such 
apocalyptic terms? 
 
WHO IS BADRI PATARKATSISHVILI? 
------------------------------ 
 
3. (C) Patarkatsishvili was born October 31, 1955 in Tbilisi 
to a Jewish family.  In the early 1990's, he moved to Moscow 
and became associated with Boris Berezovsky, who helped him 
to become very wealthy, attaining an estimated net worth of 
USD 12 billion, according to the Georgian Times newspaper. 
Estimates of his wealth vary widely.  Patarkatsishvili was a 
deputy director of Berezovsky's LogoVaz group, which 
distributed and sold Russian cars.  He was a director of 
Russia's ORT TV and TV6 when they were controlled by 
Berezovsky.  He was a director of the oil company Sibneft, 
which Berezovsky bought for an estimated USD 100 million but 
was later found to be worth billions.  Also associated with 
Roman Abramovich, he helped manage a $3 billion investment in 
the aluminum industry.  In 2001, he and Berezovsky were 
charged by the Russian government with stealing hundreds of 
millions of rubles from Aeroflot, and Patarkatsishvili was 
accused of embezzling millions from LogoVaz.  Faced with 
prosecution in Russia, he returned to Georgia in 2001.  In 
Georgia, he set up the independent media company, Imedi, and 
bought the country's national circus, soccer clubs, other 
sports franchises and a great deal of property.  He was the 
president of the Georgian Federation of Businessmen, and 
served on Georgia's Olympic committee.  He is known for grand 
philanthropic gestures, such as a million dollar loan to the 
City of Tbilisi to pay for gas for its citizens in 2003, and 
financing the Georgian Olympic team's participation in the 
games in Athens. 
 
4. (C) Patarkatsishvili is suspected of having an even darker 
side than that reflected by his alleged white-collar crimes 
in Russia.  He is alleged to have been Berezovsky's enforcer, 
and even to have committed murder in his service.  He is 
associated with some extremely unsavory figures, including 
Andrei Lugovoi, suspected of poisoning Russian dissident 
Alexander Litvinenko.  Lugovoi was head of ORT's security in 
Russia and Patarkatshishvili has described him as a "close 
friend."  Despite his differences with the Government of 
Russia, Patarkatsishvili is believed to be closely allied 
with Russian intelligence services, probably through Lugovoi. 
 
 
INTO THE OPPOSITION 
------------------- 
 
5. (C) Patarkatsishvili enjoyed a warm relationship with 
former Georgian President Shevardnadze.  Immediately after 
the Rose Revolution in 2003, he remained on good terms with 
President Saakashvili.  However, beginning in 2006, 
Patarkatshishvili began to take issue with the new 
government's policies toward business.  He may have been 
motivated by the new government's aggressive tax enforcement, 
which great
ly increased the government's revenue but upset 
many businessmen in Georgia, not only Patarkatsishvili.  MP 
Giga Bokeria has been quoted as saying the reason for the 
oligarch's discontent was his inability to gain privileges 
and suppress his rivals so that he could become the "Don 
Corleone of Georgian business."  In an interview, 
Patarkatsishvili marked the turning point as the death of his 
friend and former Prime Minister Zurab Zhvania in 2005. 
 
6. (C) By 2006, Patarkatsishvili had begun to finance the 
opposition parties more or less openly.  Although many of 
them urged him to run for an office, such as Mayor of Tbilisi 
in the 2006 local elections, he did not put himself forward 
personally until November 2007, when he announced his 
intention to run for President.  By that time, he was 
describing Saakashvili as "fascist" and "a despot".  Before 
that however, Patarkatsishvili was backing Irakli 
Okruashvili, who famously accused Saakashvili of plotting 
Patarkatsishvili's murder, and then retracted the accusation. 
 The government says Patarkatsishvili paid the demonstrators 
who battled police on November 7 and directed their efforts 
via intermediaries on the scene in Tbilisi. 
Patarkatsishvili's last public appearance in Georgia was at 
the opposition demonstrations on November 2, after which he 
departed for Israel and the UK.  From Eilat, he repeated the 
vow to "free Georgia from this dictatorial junta," echoing 
his call for Saakashvili's ouster that led to the closure of 
Imedi television on November 7.  Since that time he has 
allegedly been funding the travel of opposition figures to 
Europe, where they have been meeting government officials and 
pressing their case against Saakashvili as a faux democrat. 
Government pressure on Standard Bank and other 
Patarkatsishvili enterprises may make it more difficult for 
him to fund the parties within Georgia. 
 
7. (U) Patarkatsishvili's political program, as announced on 
October 17, would seek a balance in Georgia's policy toward 
Russia and the United States.  He says NATO and EU membership 
is fully in line with Georgia's interests, but "should not 
occur at the expense of others' interests."  He envisages 
Georgia as a federal state, without a president, or possibly 
with a constitutional monarch.  The central government would 
be responsible only for defense and economy and all other 
functions would be distributed to the regions.  To ensure 
both Georgia's independence and its economic prosperity, he 
would encourage maximum self-realization and security for the 
rights of entrepreneurs. 
 
IMEDI, THE THORN 
---------------- 
 
8. (C) Although Patarkatsishvili has many business interests 
in Georgia, the one that makes him the number one thorn in 
the government's side is Imedi television.  Founded in 2002, 
Imedi has grown to be the most popular television station in 
Georgia.  Although one would expect it to be a lucrative 
venture, the government has claimed it is reporting losses in 
the range of USD 20 million a year.  As Patarkatsishvili 
became more critical of the government, so did his television 
station.  Imedi broke the news that Ministry of Internal 
Affairs officials were involved in the beating death of 
Sandro Girgvliani in February 2006, a news story that shocked 
the nation and seriously undermined the government's 
reputation for respect for rule of law.  It is widely 
believed in Georgia that Patarkatsishvili had made a deal 
with the GOG earlier in 2007 to sell Imedi to an owner more 
amenable to the government in return for taking control of 
Georgian Railways.  That deal fell apart, however, reportedly 
angering Saakashvili.  By November 7, the government was 
convinced that Imedi was not only reporting, but encouraging 
revolution and disorder in the streets.  Imedi's news anchor, 
Giorgi Targamadze (a former chief of staff to ousted Adjaran 
strongman Aslan Abashidze), was a bitter government foe and 
was not shy about letting it show in his newscasts. 
President Saakashvili branded the station a "factory of 
lies." 
 
9. (C) The government does not seem willing to allow Imedi to 
reopen until it is satisfied that Patarkatsishvili cannot 
influence its editorial content and an ombudsman is in place 
to call a foul if it exceeds the bounds of journalistic 
ethics.  The government' suspicions of Imedi are heightened 
by questions about the station's relationship with the 
American communications company News Corp.  In April 2007, 
News Corp, Imedi and Patarkatsishvili trumpeted the sale of 
an undisclosed portion of Imedi to News Corp.  However, the 
government says that News Corp's purchase has never been 
registered and that on the official books Patarkatsishvili's 
companies remain the station's full owners.  The government 
wants to be assured Patarkatsishvili is out of the station 
and News Corp fully in before it allows Imedi to reopen. 
News Corp has provided the Prime Minister with a document 
wherein it admits it "does not fully own" Imedi; rather, it 
has an agreement to purchase a minority interest.  It is 
unwilling to do more than promise full transparency of its 
stake, whatever it is, in Imedi.  The government is also 
seeking to impose some duties of disclosure about management 
and Imedi's finances.  News Corp seems ready to accept these, 
so long as they are applicable to all media in owners in 
Georgia.  Similarly, it appears ready to accept oversight of 
journalistic ethics on an industry-wide basis.  It rejects 
allowing the government to name "tainted" journalists whom 
Imedi must not employ. 
 
IS HE REALLY A THREAT? 
---------------------- 
 
10. (C) Patarkatsishvili is, if nothing else, a shrewd and 
powerful opponent of the Saakashvili regime.  He has more 
than enough money to fund the opposition, as he has promised 
to do.  Although he has been named a suspect in a case of 
conspiracy to overthrow the government of Georgia, he has 
apparently been careful not to commit any treasonous acts 
that can be easily traced to him personally.  The government 
can investigate for 30 days before it must drop the 
investigation.  Officials insist he is free to return to 
Georgia to campaign while their investigation is ongoing.  At 
the same time, the government believes that 
Patarkatsishvili's turning of control of Imedi over to News 
Corp was a sham, and that he was directing its employees to 
foment revolution, and will continue to do so if allowed. 
The most serious allegations, such as stockpiling of weapons 
and organizing a militia by the station's security director, 
touch on employees' actions, and the recorded statements by 
Patarkatsishvili himself are ambiguous.  Nevertheless, not 
only the government, but also a level-headed observer such as 
Alex Rondeli, head of the Georgia Foundation for Strategic 
and International Studies, believe Patarkatsishvili is 
dangerous.  Rondeli recently told the Ambassador that in his 
opinion, it was necessary for the GOG to arrange for Irakli 
Okruashvili to be taken into custody in Germany to prevent &#x
000A;his being assassinated on Patarkatsishvili's orders, which 
would create a further scandal for the beleaguered 
Saakashvili. 
 
11. (C) Patarkatsishvili remains a huge wild card in the 
January 5 election.  It is unclear how many people would vote 
for him, but polls taken before this fall's political crisis 
showed him personally among the most popular figures in the 
country.  The government genuinely fears that he could employ 
his fortune and his network of associates to launch 
provocations or violent demonstrations.  These concerns may 
be overblown, and Georgia does not have the feel of a country 
on the verge of a revolution.  Nevertheless, this drama is 
likely to take more unexpected turns both before and after 
January 5.  It is not clear at this point who will win the 
election, or how Patarkatsishvili and the rest of the 
opposition would respond to a Saakashvili victory. 
TEFFT

Wikileaks

07TBILISI3000, OKRUASHVILI REQUESTS POLITICAL ASYLUM IN GERMANY

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To understand the justification used for the classification of each cable, please use this WikiSource article as reference.
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If you find meaningful or important information in a cable, please link directly to its unique reference number. Linking to a specific paragraph in the body of a cable is also possible by copying the appropriate link (to be found at theparagraph symbol).Please mark messages for social networking services like Twitter with the hash tags #cablegate and a hash containing the reference ID e.g. #07TBILISI3000.
Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
07TBILISI3000 2007-11-30 12:53 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Tbilisi

VZCZCXRO4940
PP RUEHDBU RUEHFL RUEHKW RUEHLA RUEHROV RUEHSR
DE RUEHSI #3000 3341253
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 301253Z NOV 07
FM AMEMBASSY TBILISI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 8342
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE PRIORITY

C O N F I D E N T I A L TBILISI 003000 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SIPDIS 
 
DEPT FOR EUR DAS BRYZA AND EUR/CARC 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 12/01/2007 
TAGS: PREL PGOV GG
SUBJECT: OKRUASHVILI REQUESTS POLITICAL ASYLUM IN GERMANY 
 
REF: TBILISI 2990 
 
Classified By: Ambassador John F. Tefft for reasons 1.4 (b) and (d). 
 
1. (C) The German Ambassador to Georgia told the Ambassador 
November 30 that former Defense Minister Irakli Okruashvili, 
arrested November 27 in Berlin on an Interpol warrant 
(Reftel), has requested political asylum from the German 
government.  The German Ambassador said a court decision on 
extradition could be delayed because of additional time 
required for a different court to rule on the political 
asylum request.  On November 29 Georgian Ambassador to 
Germany Levan Duchidze told Rustavi 2 TV that Okruashvili had 
requested political asylum in Germany shortly after his 
arrival on November 1, but was denied by the German 
government on the grounds that he had no German visa. 
 
2. (U) Eka Beselia, Okruashvili's lawyer, said Okruashvili is 
being targeted for politically-motivated persecution. 
Beselia read a statement from Okruashvili's Movement for 
United Georgia party, making an appeal to the international 
community and the German authorities not to allow Okruashvili 
to be extradited to Georgia. 
TEFFT

Wikileaks

07TBILISI2999, TBILISI UPDATE: 11/30/07

WikiLeaks Link

To understand the justification used for the classification of each cable, please use this WikiSource article as reference.
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If you find meaningful or important information in a cable, please link directly to its unique reference number. Linking to a specific paragraph in the body of a cable is also possible by copying the appropriate link (to be found at theparagraph symbol).Please mark messages for social networking services like Twitter with the hash tags #cablegate and a hash containing the reference ID e.g. #07TBILISI2999.
Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
07TBILISI2999 2007-11-30 12:53 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL//NOFORN Embassy Tbilisi

VZCZCXRO4937
PP RUEHDBU RUEHFL RUEHKW RUEHLA RUEHROV RUEHSR
DE RUEHSI #2999/01 3341253
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 301253Z NOV 07
FM AMEMBASSY TBILISI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 8340
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE PRIORITY

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 TBILISI 002999 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SENSITIVE 
SIPDIS 
 
DEPT FOR EUR DAS BRYZA AND EUR/CARC 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 12/01/2017 
TAGS: PREL PGOV GG
SUBJECT: TBILISI UPDATE: 11/30/07 
 
REF: TBILISI 2976 
 
Classified By: Ambassador John F. Tefft for reasons 1.4 (b) and (d). 
 
--------------------------------------------- ---------- 
Saakashvili Accused of Misusing Administrative Resources 
--------------------------------------------- ----------- 
 
1. (U) Opposition parties accused Mikheil Saakashvili of 
misusing administrative resources for political campaign 
purposes after he met with Abkhaz Internally Displaced 
Persons (IDPs) on November 28 at a Tbilisi Municipality 
building.  Tbilisi Mayor Gigi Ugulava and Minister for 
Refugees and Accommodations Kova Subeliani were present at 
the televised meeting.  Saakashvili instructed both officials 
present to hand over state-owned property occupied by IDPs to 
the occupants.  Saakashvili said if he is elected, he will 
return the IDPs within months in "safety and dignity" to 
Abkhazia.  New Rightists party member Mamuka Katsitadze said 
Saakashvili's instructions to government officials, when he 
is no longer president, are inappropriate and constitute a 
misuse of administrative resources. 
 
--------------------------------------------- 
Khaindrava Discusses Election with Ambassador 
--------------------------------------------- 
 
2. (C) On November 29, Goga Khaindrava, opposition politician 
and member of the United National Council of Opposition 
(UNC), met with the Ambassador.  He said opposition election 
campaigns are being hindered by a limit on the amount of 
funds that can be withdrawn from personal bank accounts.  He 
also said business owners, especially road construction 
companies, are being summoned to the National Movement Party 
offices to "encourage" a contribution to the campaign. 
 
3. (C) Khaindrava reiterated opposition party complaints of 
unfair distribution of air time by TV companies in favor of 
Saakashvili.  With Imedi TV remaining off air, Khaindrava 
said the opposition has no access to television coverage 
except Kavkasia, which has coverage limited to Tbilisi.  He 
said while Saakasvhili's entire meeting with IDPs was 
broadcast, the opposition only received 2 minutes of coverage 
of their campaign activities.  Central Election Commission 
(CEC) Chairman Levan Tarkhnishvili said equal time will be 
provided after all candidates are officially registered. 
 
4. (C) Khaindrava said UNC candidate Levan Gachechiladze was 
not going to withdraw his candidacy in favor of Badri 
Patarkatsishvili.  He said Gachechiladze did visit Badri 
recently in London, but his primary reason was to visit his 
children studying there.  Khaindrava said he too planned to 
meet with Badri, but added Badri is not a realistic candidate 
for president.  Khaindrava said Badri is using the campaign 
to return to Georgia, since he cannot be indicted if he is a 
candidate. 
 
--------------------------------------------- ----------- 
GOG Seeks Clarity about Imedi Ownership, Michnik Arrives 
--------------------------------------------- ----------- 
 
5. (U) National Security Council Secretary Alexander (Kakha) 
Lomaia told the press, "we really want Imedi back on air and 
we are doing everything in our power to make it happen," but 
he could not give an exact date.  Lomaia and PM Lado 
Gurgenidze met with Martin Pompadur, executive vice-president 
of News Corp, over the weekend to discuss Imedi's ownership 
and financial status.  On November 29 the Tbilisi City Court 
sanctioned a Finance Ministry probe into Imedi.  Gurgenidze 
called the government's request to have access to Imedi's 
financial records reasonable.    At the OSCE Ministerial 
Council in Madrid, FM Gela Bezhuashvili told reporters the 
Imedi TV problem will be resolved "through compromise." 
Polish media omsbudman Adam Michnik arrived November 29 in 
Tbilisi and met with opposition representatives and Imedi TV 
journalists in an attempt to mediate a solution to the 
closure of Imedi, help ensure media freedom, and watch for 
violations of journalistic ethics. 
 
-------------------------------- 
Election Campaigns in Full Swing 
-------------------------------- 
 
6. (U) After the final tally, the CEC announced three 
presidential candidates were disqualified for failing to 
provide adequate documentation, bringing the final number to 
nineteen.  Each candidate must now submit 50,000 signatures 
to support their candidacy and have their name put on the 
ballot.  New Rightists candidate Davit Gamkrelidze launched 
his campaign November 29.  He said he would meet with Abkhaz 
 
TBILISI 00002999  002 OF 002 
 
 
leader Sergey Bapapsh in Sokhumi to assure him Georgia would 
not seek a forceful resolution to the conflict in Abkhazia. 
Gamkrelidze also said that, if elected, he would reduce 
defense spending and immediately demand the withdrawal of 
Russian peacekeeping forces from the conflict zones.  Labor 
Party candidate Shalva Natelashvili launched his election 
campaign November 29, promising free education and medical 
care, a stipend of GEL 1000 for each newborn child, and 
halving the cost of gas, electricity and water.  UNC &#x
000A;candidate Levan Gachechiladze said he will launch his 
campaign December 3.  On the same day Badri Patarkatsishvili 
opened his campaign headquarters in Batumi and appointed a 
campaign chair. 
TEFFT

Wikileaks

07TBILISI2990, FORMER DEFENSE MINISTER IRAKLI OKRUASHVILI

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
07TBILISI2990 2007-11-29 13:51 2011-08-30 01:44 UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY Embassy Tbilisi

VZCZCXRO8901
PP RUEHAG RUEHAST RUEHDA RUEHDBU RUEHDF RUEHFL RUEHIK RUEHKW RUEHLA
RUEHLN RUEHLZ RUEHPOD RUEHROV RUEHSR RUEHVK RUEHYG
DE RUEHSI #2990 3331351
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 291351Z NOV 07
FM AMEMBASSY TBILISI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 8329
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE PRIORITY

UNCLAS TBILISI 002990 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SENSITIVE 
SIPDIS 
 
DEPT FOR EUR DAS BRYZA AND EUR/CARC 
 
E.O. 12958: N/A 
TAGS: PGOV PREL GG
SUBJECT: FORMER DEFENSE MINISTER IRAKLI OKRUASHVILI 
ARRESTED IN GERMANY 
 
REF: TBILISI 2719 
 
1. (SBU) Former Defense Minister Irakli Okruashvili was 
arrested November 27 in Berlin.  An Interpol warrant was 
issued for him at the request of Georgian law enforcement 
after he retracted his confession and failed to attend a 
court hearing in November in Tbilisi.  Okruashvili left 
Georgia November 1 (reftel) under government pressure.  A 
Berlin state prosecutor's office spokesman said it was not 
decided if Okruashvili would be held in custody pending 
extradition.  The spokesman said the Georgian government has 
40 days to file the rationale for extradition and provide 
documentation to German authorities.  The Germans plan a 
court hearing on November 29.  Iason Chikhradze, former Head 
of Procurement at the Defense Ministry under Okruashvili, has 
also been detained. 
 
2. (SBU) The German Ambassador to Georgia told Ambassador on 
November 28 that the extradition process could take many 
months as it is possible Okruashvili will seek political 
asylum in Germany.  Okruashvili's wife and children are in 
Georgia but are known to be seeking visas to the U.K. 
TEFFT

Wikileaks

07TBILISI2978, GEORGIAN INVESTIGATION OF PATARKATSISHVILI

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
07TBILISI2978 2007-11-28 14:24 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Tbilisi

VZCZCXRO7969
RR RUEHDBU RUEHFL RUEHKW RUEHLA RUEHROV RUEHSR
DE RUEHSI #2978/01 3321424
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
R 281424Z NOV 07
FM AMEMBASSY TBILISI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 8314
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE
RUCPDOC/DEPT OF COMMERCE WASHDC

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 TBILISI 002978 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SIPDIS 
 
STATE FOR EUR/CARC, EUR/FO, EUR/RPM, EEB/IFD/OIA AND EEB/CBA 
COMMERCE FOR 4231 DANICA STARKS 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 11/28/2017 
TAGS: PREL PGOV BEXP EFIN GG
SUBJECT: GEORGIAN INVESTIGATION OF PATARKATSISHVILI 
BUSINESS INTERESTS AFFECTS U.S. INVESTORS 
 
 
Classified By: Ambassador John F. Tefft, reason 1.4(b) and (d) 
 
1. (C) Summary: The closure of Imedi television and the 
investigation of its finances and operations by the Goverment 
of Georgia has made headlines around the world.  The 
Government has also begun investigation of other businesses 
in which oligarch Badri Patarkatsishvili is a principal 
investor.  On November 20, the Government of Georgia took 
action to impose temporary administration by the National 
Bank of Georgia on Standard Bank, a Tbilisi bank that is 
owned by Badri Patarkatsishvili and a group of other 
investors, including some American citizens associated with 
the Salford Group.  The same day, it also entered and seized 
records from two other businesses owned by Patarkatsishvili 
and Salford.  It has closed not only the 
Patarkatsishvili-controlled TV station Imedi, but also an 
amusement park he owns in Tbilisi with Salford.  Not all of 
Salford's and Patarkatsishvili's interests have been 
impacted, however.  Salford owns an interest in one of the 
two largest cell phone companies in Georgia, Magticom.  No 
action against Magticom or other communications assets owned 
by Salford in Georgia has been reported.  However, an 
American citizen director of Salford has been questioned and 
named a suspect in an influence peddling case that is not 
altogether convincing, at least thus far as explained by the 
government.  The Embassy has made it clear to the GOG that 
while we do not countenance criminal activity and cannot 
interfere in a criminal investigation, we are extremely 
concerned about the use of legal processes for political ends 
by the government.  End Summary. 
 
STANDARD BANK UNDER ADMINISTRATION 
---------------------------------- 
 
2. (C) Salford Group is an American-based company that is 
involved in financing and managing a number of investment 
projects in Georgia for Patarkatsishvili.  The National Bank 
of Georgia (NBG), the country's central bank, states that it 
took control of Standard Bank because depositors were 
withdrawing large amounts of money from the bank, putting its 
solvency at risk.  The bank's American shareholders contend 
that the government influenced several of the bank's large 
customers to withdraw their funds and thereby manufactured a 
liquidity problem that permitted it to take control of a 
major asset owned by Patarkatsishvili, who is a rich, 
powerful and determined foe of the government.  The 
government denies it influenced the bank's customers, but 
admits that some withdrawals may have been motivated by 
customers' concerns about the bank's close association with 
Patarkatsishvili.  It also alleges that Patarkatsishvili made 
withdrawals himself, and is using the bank as a conduit for 
cash to pay demonstrators and anti-government agitators. 
 
THE RUKHADZE CASE 
----------------- 
 
3. (C) Besides its administrative action against Standard, 
the government has opened a criminal investigation of Irakli 
Rukhadze, a dual Georgian-American citizen and the managing 
director of Salford Group, which owns Standard Bank. 
Rukhadze was stopped at the Tbilisi airport on his way out of 
the country and questioned for several hours on November 20. 
He is not yet charged, but is a "suspect" in a case of 
influence peddling in violation of Georgian law.  According 
to the government, Rukhadze met with the owner of People's 
Bank of Georgia, Irena Jincharadze, and offered to intercede 
with the Bank of Georgia to resolve a dispute between 
People's Bank and the NBG in return for Jincharadze's 
agreement to a merger of Standard and People's.  Rukhadze 
allegedly recruited a Standard Bank director to help him, and 
this man actually met with an NBG officer to try to persuade 
her to resolve the dispute.  Documents provided to the 
Embassy state that the facts are evidenced by tape-recorded 
and videotaped conversations.  Rukhadze has told the Embassy 
that many of the questions posed to him during his 
interrogation related not to the influence peddling case but 
to his relationship with Patarkatsishvili and the events of 
November 7 in general.  He believes the GOG is mistaken to 
regard Salford as an alter ego of Patarkatsishvili, because 
Salford has many other investors other than Patarkatsishvili 
and many business interests that are entirely separate. 
 
SALFORD'S CONCERNS 
------------------ 
 
4. (C) On November 27, Americans Paul Blyumkin, Peter Nagel 
and other Salford officers visited the Ambassador.  They 
describedQandard as being a large part of Salford's overall 
 
TBILISI 00002978  002 OF 003 
 
 
portfolio of investments and repeated their charges that the 
government has influenced large depositors, including Telasi, 
a Tbilisi electric utility, and Azerbaijan International 
Bank, to withdraw their deposits.  In the case of the 
Azerbaijan bank, the call allegedly was made by Vano 

Merabishivili, the Minister of Internal Affairs, himself. 
Rukhadze, who was not present at the meeting, has told us 
that Ministry of Internal Affairs officer who entered the 
bank on November 20 took away a list of Standard's clients, 
under threat of destroying equipment "like at Imedi", the 
television station forcibly closed on November 7.  According 
to Rukhadze, the lists have been used by government officials 
to locate clients and pressure them to move their accounts 
out of the bank.  The Salford executives said that despite 
the withdrawals, Standard's liquidity ratios had not slipped 
below the required level when the NBG took action. 
Nevertheless, they believe Standard will be liquidated.  They 
said the new Prime Minister, Lado Gurgenidze, has refused to 
allow NBG staff to sit down with the bank's staff to discuss 
and work out their problems.  PM Gurgenidze is the former CEO 
of the Bank of Georgia, and the Salford investors allege that 
the Bank of Georgia has quickly approached Standard's 
customers and offered to replace the services the customers 
had been receiving from Standard.  They also claim that 
Giorgi Kadagidze, head of Georgia's Financial Monitoring 
Service, to whom the NBG has given charge of Standard, has 
begun selling off loans to other banks.  The investors also 
raised their concerns about what they view as the trumped-up 
criminal charges that may soon be brought against Rukhadze. 
 
5. (C) Other Salford/Patarkatsishvili projects have been 
subject to police action and investigation in recent days. 
On November 7, masked law enforcement officers entered and 
locked up Mtatsminda Park, an amusement park, without 
warning, explanation or court-issued documents.  The only 
explanation Salford has received for the action is a 
television appearance by the Tbilisii deputy mayor, who 
claimed Mtatsminda had not paid its November rent to the 
city.  Rukhadze told us the payment was not due until 
November 17.  On November 20, besides Standard Bank, the 
offices of a Salford-owned Internet service provider, 
Telenet, and the bottler of Borjomi mineral water, Georgia 
Glass and Mineral Water (GG&MW), were occupied by the 
enforcement division of the Ministry of Finance's Revenue 
Service, who took financial records and computers away for 
investigation.  Salford has ownership interests in the 
cellular telephone company Magticom, the cable television 
company Ayety, and other communications companies in Georgia 
through Metromedia, Inc., none of which have reported trouble 
with the government. 
 
THE GOVERNMENT EXPLAINS ITSELF 
------------------------------ 
 
6. (C) After receiving a complaint from Rukhadze about his 
detention for questioning, the Ambassador called Eka 
Sharashidze, Chief of Staff for President Saakashvili, on 
November 21.  He raised concerns about the use of criminal 
cases such as that opened against Rukhadze, and tax and other 
legal actions against businesses such as GG&MW, being used as 
political tools.  He said he wanted to be sure that 
investigations of companies in which American investors had 
interests fully met legal standards and were not politically 
motivated.  Sharashidze said she would investigate the 
situation.   Rukhadze later reported that documents and 
records seized from GG&MW and Telenet were returned on 
November 22, apparently as a result of intercession by the 
Embassy and other diplomatic missions. 
 
7. (C) On November 26, the Ambassador discussed the Standard 
Bank case with PM Gurgenidze.  Gurgenidze said he had met 
with Rukhadze earlier in the day.  He said that the NBG had 
taken control of Standard because the bank was experiencing 
severe liquidity problems, caused by Patarkatsishvili rapidly 
drawing down reserves.  There was a risk of a run on the Bank 
and possibly a broader banking crisis in Georgia, he said. 
He said that bank examiners had discovered that 
Patarkatsishvili had recently wired USD 20 million to 
Standard, and one of his aides had then withdrawn the money 
in cash, presumably to finance political activities in 
Georgia.  Gurgenidze said that Patarkatsishvili was 
apparently using Standard Bank and GG&MW because they are 
cash producers which can fund his political activities.  He 
told the Ambassador he had reviewed the file on Rukhadze, and 
that as a banker himself, he felt that Rukhadze was at a 
minimum involved in unethical practices.  Gurgenidze was 
satisfied that responsible Georgian authorities are engaged 
in a "measured, pre-emptive law enforcement action" and not a 
 
TBILISI 00002978  003 OF 003 
 
 
political vendetta against Patarkatsishvili and his 
associates.  The Ambassador again stressed that the USG wants 
the law to be applied fairly, and specifically had concerns 
in this case because American citizens are involved. 
 
8. (C) On November 27, following the meeting with Salford 
executives, the Deputy Chief of Mission discussed the 
Rukhadze and Standard Bank cases with Deputy Prosecutor 
General Nika Gvaramia.  Gvaramia stressed that Rukhadze is 
only a suspect, and not charged with a crime at this time, 
although an investigation is underway to determine if the 
talks between Rukhadze and Jincharadze were "just business" 
or something criminal.  The police have 30 days to make a 
case, he said.  Gvaramia reiterated that the government acted 
against Standard Bank because of concerns about its 
liquidity, caused by Patarkatsishvili's withdrawal of up to 
USD 40 million.  He said that the temporary administration 
will end when the liquidity problem is resolved.  Asked about 
alleged coercion of Standard clients to withdraw money, 
Gvaramia said he doubted a government official like 
Merabishvili would make such a call in person to the 
Azerbaijani bank, since it would quickly become public.  He 
said he would make inquiries as to who called Telasi. 
 
THE CHOICE: IGNORE CRIMINALITY OR TAKE THE HEAT FOR ACTING? 
--------------------------------------------- -------------- 
 
9. (C) Summing up, the DCM told Gvaramia that the 
government's moves against Imedi television, Standard Bank 
and the other Patarkatsishvili businesses, coupled with the 
arrest and exile of Saakashvili's other major foe, Irakli 
Okruashvili, have raised serious questions about the 
government's use of legal procedures for political purposes. 
They could impact negatively on Georgia's chances to enter 
NATO and its image in the OSCE and in Washington.  Gvaramia 
admitted that the current situation is damaging to Georgia 
politically and economically, and the effects could last as 
much as five or six years.  He said that it has become common 
in Georgia for criminally linked people to call themselves 
politicians and protect themselves by claiming immunity.  In 
Okruashvili's case, he said, Okruashvili knew charges were 
coming and intentionally made a political splash to head them 
off.  Patarkatsishvili, too, is under investigation, which 
will continue even if he is a candidate for president, 
although the government would take no action against his &#x000A
;person, Gvaramia said.  Gvaramia declared that political 
opposition cannot be used as a shield against prosecution. 
He insisted the government cannot ignore criminal activity 
among the opposition, and if it does, it would have to ignore 
corruption among National Movement politicians as well.  He 
compared the current situation to Shevardnadze's 
administration, when the former President made his political 
opponents virtually immune and thereby happy and 
compromising.  But the government then becomes a hostage of 
the opposition, he said.  The government is faced with a very 
hard choice, he concluded, either to ignore criminal activity 
or to take the heat from critics at home and abroad. 
 
 
 
 
TEFFT

Wikileaks

07TBILISI2977, GOVERNMENT LAUNCHES NEW SOCIAL ASSISTANCE PROGRAMS AHEAD OF

WikiLeaks Link

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Discussing cables
If you find meaningful or important information in a cable, please link directly to its unique reference number. Linking to a specific paragraph in the body of a cable is also possible by copying the appropriate link (to be found at theparagraph symbol).Please mark messages for social networking services like Twitter with the hash tags #cablegate and a hash containing the reference ID e.g. #07TBILISI2977.
Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
07TBILISI2977 2007-11-28 14:07 2011-08-30 01:44 UNCLASSIFIED Embassy Tbilisi

VZCZCXRO7951
RR RUEHAG RUEHAST RUEHDA RUEHDBU RUEHDF RUEHFL RUEHIK RUEHKW RUEHLA
RUEHLN RUEHLZ RUEHPOD RUEHROV RUEHSR RUEHVK RUEHYG
DE RUEHSI #2977/01 3321407
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 281407Z NOV 07
FM AMEMBASSY TBILISI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 8312
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 TBILISI 002977 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SIPDIS 
 
STATE FOR EUR/CARC 
 
TAGS: PGOV SOCI ECON GG
E.O. 12958: N/A 
SUBJECT: GOVERNMENT LAUNCHES NEW SOCIAL ASSISTANCE PROGRAMS AHEAD OF 
ELECTIONS 
 
 
1.  Summary:  Responding to social concerns voiced at the November 
2-7 anti-government demonstrations in Tbilisi, the government of 
Georgia has announced a number of initiatives to provide relief to 
vulnerable groups.  The timing of the announcements prompted 
government opponents to accuse the ruling National Movement and 
President Saakashvili of attempting to gain favor among the 
electorate.  Nevertheless, the beneficiaries of the different 
programs are still happy to receive what has been offered.  The 
programs in some respects are an acknowledgment of previous 
shortcomings by the government.  End Summary. 
 
2. On November 16, the Ministry of Finance allocated GEL 13.9 
million (USD 8.6 million) from the state budget to finance flour to 
be supplied to the rural population, within the framework of a 
presidential subsidies program. The program provides a one-time 
transfer of 50 kg of flour to low income groups and teachers in the 
villages. 
 
3. Another initiative will provide the vulnerable population of 
Georgia with foodstuffs and wine.  According to a November 13 
decree, a one-time package of assistance in kind will be distributed 
all over Georgia to the poorest families.  The package includes 2kg 
of sugar, 2 kg rice, 2 jars of condensed milk, 3 kg of tangerines, 2 
kg of apples, 1 liter of vegetable oil, 200g of biscuits, and 1 
bottle of wine per family.  The Ministry of Agriculture will get a 
GEL 6 million (USD 3.6 million) transfer from the state budget to 
finance the project. 
 
4. Provision of rural families with firewood is yet another 
initiative by the president.  Vouchers providing for distribution of 
5 cubic meters of firewood per family will be distributed in 
villages.  Those who have already paid for firewood will be able to 
use vouchers next winter. 
Commercials sponsored by the government advertising the program 
"Let's Spend the Winter in Warmth Together" are running on the 
public broadcasting channel to inform people about the initiative. 
 
5. Tbilisi City Hall plans to carry out a new program to place 
students in jobs in December this year.  According to the Mayor, 
5,000 students will be employed.  They will mainly perform work on 
soil preparation for planting.  The details of the program and its 
budget will become known in the near future. 
 
6. David Tkeshelashvili, Minister of Labor, Healthcare and Welfare 
Protection, announced that about 100,000 people will be placed in 
jobs in 2008 through an existing job placement program.  The program 
will include job training for future employees.  Eight newly opened 
professional centers will participate in this process jointly with 
various organizations and enterprises.  Some technical issues of the 
program are still being worked out.  President Saakashvili urged 
businessmen and industrialists to employ participants of the job 
placement program in jobs to be created in the next two years. The 
state will pay employees for three months if private employers will 
employ them in 2008.  This program is expected to cost USD 2.3 
million. 
 
7. The Ministry of Finance's requirement, imposed two years ago, 
that all merchants use cash registers has bred resentment because of 
the extra expense it entails.  Opposition parties played upon this 
fact to mobilize vendors to protest against the government in 
November.  As a result, merchants in bazaars and open-air markets 
have been exempted until July 1, 2009.  According to the Tbilisi Tax 
Department, the extra time will allow entrepreneurs to bring their 
business and financial situation into order. 
 
8. The President announced an increase in the minimum salary for 
school teachers to GEL 200 (USD 120).  In addition, health insurance 
vouchers will be distributed to 70,000 teachers in secondary schools 
starting January 1, 2008, as part of a Teachers' Health Care 
Program.  According to then-Minister of Education Lomaia, the price 
of the health insurance package to the teachers will be GEL 10 
(about USD 6) per month.  The State will cover the remaining costs. 
In fact, the state will fully cover the costs in the first stage of 
the program (2008-2009), while co-funding will be introduced later. 
The program provides for full or partial covering of various 
medicines, treatment and other medical services.  The total budget 
of the program for 2008 will be GEL 8.4 million (about USD 5 
million). 
 
9. The minimum pension will go up from the current GEL 38 (USD 23) 
to GEL 55 (USD 34) starting from December 1, 2007, requiring GEL 14 
million spending (USD 8.5 million) from the current year's budget. 
A further increase to GEL 78 (USD 48) will occur early next year, 
costing the government GEL 250 million (USD 152 million) per year. 
 
10. Full members of Georgia's Academy of Sciences will get an 
additional GEL 1600 (USD 987) per month salary starting December 1, 
an
d member-correspondents will receive a GEL 1000 (USD 617) per 
month increase.  There are 65 members and 65 member-correspondents 
in the Academy. 
 
TBILISI 00002977  002 OF 002 
 
 
 
11. On November 26, Parliament adopted a decision by which all 
property-related legal disputes with the government will be resolved 
in the property-owners' favor, if they are physical persons.  There 
are 7000 cases which the parliament exempted from the law settling 
ownership issues that was passed in 2007.  These disputes relate 
mostly to land and apartments, and the threat to people's homes and 
businesses has become a serious cause of public discontent, 
especially in Tbilisi and the Adjara region. 
 
12.  Comment: These latest moves by President Saakashvili and the 
National Movement will quickly be denounced by the opposition as an 
attempt to curry favor and draw votes in advance of the January 5 
presidential election.  They coincide with Saakashvili's efforts to 
reach out to pensioners, health care professionals, businessmen and 
others, in an effort to counter his reputation for being out of 
touch with the public.  Saakashvili has in the past concentrated on 
market-based reforms that should in fact, in the long run, bring 
significant benefits to Georgia as a whole, but that involve 
short-term pain as well.  The programs the government is now 
undertaking, while seemingly temporary in nature, aim at those who 
may not have immediately benefited from the reforms he has promoted. 
 We also note that the IMF has warned against the inflationary 
effect of excessive government spending.  The government has 
undoubtedly considered that, but has decided for its own reasons to 
implement the new programs.  End comment. 
 
TEFFT

Wikileaks

07TBILISI2976, TBILISI UPDATE: 11/28/2007

WikiLeaks Link

To understand the justification used for the classification of each cable, please use this WikiSource article as reference.
Discussing cables
If you find meaningful or important information in a cable, please link directly to its unique reference number. Linking to a specific paragraph in the body of a cable is also possible by copying the appropriate link (to be found at theparagraph symbol).Please mark messages for social networking services like Twitter with the hash tags #cablegate and a hash containing the reference ID e.g. #07TBILISI2976.
Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
07TBILISI2976 2007-11-28 13:36 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Tbilisi

VZCZCXRO7918
PP RUEHDBU RUEHFL RUEHKW RUEHLA RUEHROV RUEHSR
DE RUEHSI #2976/01 3321336
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 281336Z NOV 07
FM AMEMBASSY TBILISI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 8310
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE PRIORITY

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 TBILISI 002976 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SIPDIS 
 
DEPT FOR EUR DAS BRYZA AND EUR/CARC 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 11/27/2017 
TAGS: PREL PGOV GG
SUBJECT: TBILISI UPDATE: 11/28/2007 
 
REF: TBILISI 2964 
 
Classified By: Ambassador John F. Tefft for reasons 1.4 (b) and (d). 
 
---------------------------- 
Twenty-Two Bid for Presidency 
----------------------------- 
 
1. (U) Central Election Commission (CEC) Chairman Levan 
Tarkhnishvili said, as of the November 26 deadline, 
twenty-two people had registered for the January 5 
presidential election.  In addition to Mikheil Saakashvili, 
oligarch Badri Patarkatsishvili, United National Council of 
Opposition (UNC) candidate Levan Gachechiladze, New Rights 
Party leader Davit Gamkrelidze, and Labor Party leader Shalva 
Natelashvili, other hopefuls include: Green Party leader 
Giorgi Gachechiladze; Teimuraz Shashiashvili, who was 
Governor of Imereti under Shevardnadze; and Avtandil 
Margiani, Deputy PM under Shevardnadze in the early 1990s. 
Each candidate must submit 50,000 signatures in support of 
their registration to the CEC by December 5.  It is likely 
many of the candidates will not fulfill this requirement and 
the candidate field will be reduced to the most well-known 
politicians. 
 
-------------------------------------------- 
Acting President Burjanadze Addresses Nation 
-------------------------------------------- 
 
2. (U) In a November 26 address, Acting President Nino 
Burjanadze called for "calm and restraint" ahead of the 
January 5 election "in order to maintain stability in the 
country," and said state structures and agencies would 
function as normal during the transitional period. 
Burjanadze said achievements gained in the past four years by 
the government should not be overshadowed by mistakes. 
Burjanadze asked each citizen to "think long and hard before 
casting a ballot," and called the election a very important 
test for Georgia, saying "I am sure we will pass." 
Burjanadze also said she would spare no effort to ensure the 
elections were free and fair.  During her tenure as Acting 
President, Burjanadze has most of the presidential powers, 
but she cannot appoint or dismiss ministers or regional 
governors, and cannot dissolve parliament. 
 
------------------------------------------ 
Plebiscite will be held on NATO Membership 
------------------------------------------ 
 
3. (U) The president's office announced a plebiscite to be 
held January 5 for Georgians to say whether they support 
Georgia's efforts to join NATO.  The decree authorizing the 
plebiscite, which can be called by the president on issues of 
state importance, was signed before Saakashvili stepped down 
as president.  Debate over Georgia's chances to gain MAP in 
2008 continue as ruling party MP Givi Targamadze said it was 
now a more complicated but not tragic situation.  Georgia's 
Way leader Salome Zourabichvili, who returned from Europe 
November 27, told Rustavi 2 TV that Georgia's chance to gain 
MAP in April "was almost equal to zero." 
 
------------------------------------- 
Lomaia: Open and Free Elections a Must 
-------------------------------------- 
 
4. (C) Alexander (Kakha) Lomaia, the newly appointed 
Secretary of the National Security Council and the 
 
SIPDIS 
government's coordinator for the international community on 
elections (reftel), told US elections assistance group 
members that the atmosphere leading up to the elections is 
very important and media monitoring is crucial for 
establishing a positive atmosphere.  Lomaia said the 
government will encourage media to allot to the opposition 
more media time than the minimum permitted by law.  Lomaia 
also said opinion polling and exit polls are important to 
establish the legitimacy of the results.  Lomaia said he 
wants to work closely with international organizations to 
guarantee all conditions are met so the election results can 
be declared above board. 
 
5. (C) On Patarkatsishvili's candidacy, Lomaia said despite 
credible proof of Patarkatsishvili's attempts to destabilize 
the current administration, he would not be arrested if he 
returned to Georgia to campaign.  Lomaia added the government 
did not want to see a presidential candidate jailed during 
the election and he was "99 percent sure" it wouldn't occur, 
unless something "outrageous happened."  Lomaia said rumors 
that National Movement Party members were masquerading as tax 
police to blackmail business owners to vote for Saakashvili 
were likely a case of overzealous party members promoting the 
cause, but he added the situation was resolved.  Lomaia said 
 
TBILISI 00002976  002 OF 002 
 
 
informal dialogue between the opposition and Acting President 
Burjanadze continued, even though the majority of election 
code amendments had been adopted.  Lomaia said Burjanadze 
told him she was in constant communication with opposition 
leaders. 
 
---------------------------------- 
Patarkatsishvili's Assets Targeted 
---------------------------------- 
 
6. (U) The National Bank of Georgia appointed a temporary 
administrator to Standard Bank November 27 because of 
liquidity concerns.  Patarkatsishvili's lawyers said he has 
"
indirect interests" in the bank and the company that manages 
Patarkatsishvili's USD100 million portfolio in Georgia, 
Salford Capital, said this was part of a systematic campaign 
by authorities to target Patarkatsishvili's assets.  This 
move follows the closure of Imedi TV and radio, and the 
seizure of Patarkatsishvili's Tbilisi-based amusement park. 
Salford Capital chief executive Irakli Rukhadze is also under 
investigation for unlawfully "exercising influence" at the 
National Bank. Salford Capital executives met with PM Lado 
Gurgenidze November 26 to discuss the actions against 
Standard Bank and the law firm hired by Patarkatsishvili to 
represent his interests sent a letter to PM Gurgenidze 
protesting the action. 
 
--------------------------------------------- ------ 
Opposition MP Beaten in Tbilisi, Accuses Government 
--------------------------------------------- ------ 
 
7. (U) On November 27 police arrested three men suspected of 
the November 26 attack on Our Georgia MP Merab Khurtsidze. 
The Interior Ministry released a taped video confession of 
one of the suspects claiming the assault was due to an 
argument between Khurtsidze and the suspects.  Our Georgia 
Parliamentary faction leader MP Valeri Gelbakhiani, said the 
attack was a "political reprisal" by authorities but 
Burjanadze said "as usual, the authorities were blamed (for 
the attack)."  She also praised the Interior Ministry for its 
immediate response to "a very unpleasant incident." 
Khurtsidze left the ruling party to join Our Georgia in 
October. 
 
--------------------------------------------- -------------- 
Georgian Media Council, Opposition Seek Level Playing Field 
--------------------------------------------- -------------- 
 
8. (U) The Georgian Media Council, made up of journalists and 
media experts, drew up a list of 12 recommendations aimed at 
ensuring the elections are objectively covered, including 
calling for equal airtime for all major candidates and asking 
channels to refrain from broadcasting unverified stories. 
Opposition candidates have also drawn attention to the 
necessity for the media to be more fair in its coverage of 
all candidates during the election period.  Several 
opposition leaders appeared on television November 27 to call 
for televised debates that would include all candidates and 
focus on the issues. 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
TEFFT

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07TBILISI2973, REQUESTED SPEAKER ON MEDIA ETHICS IN A POLITICAL CAMPAIGN

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
07TBILISI2973 2007-11-28 09:58 2011-08-30 01:44 UNCLASSIFIED Embassy Tbilisi

VZCZCXYZ1278
PP RUEHWEB

DE RUEHSI #2973 3320958
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 280958Z NOV 07
FM AMEMBASSY TBILISI
TO SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 8308

UNCLAS TBILISI 002973 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SIPDIS 
 
IIP/EUR FOR TANIA CHOMIAK-SALVI, IIP/S FOR LAWRENCE SCHWARTZ 
 
E.O. 12958: N/A 
TAGS: OIIP KPAO GG
SUBJECT: REQUESTED SPEAKER ON MEDIA ETHICS IN A POLITICAL CAMPAIGN 
 
REF: A) STATE 151480 
 
1. Summary: Embassy Tbilisi requests a rapid response speaker 
program for a program on journalistic ethics in covering elections. 
This program should last 7-9 days and take place in December 2007, 
before the January 5, 2008 snap Presidential elections. Post 
requests George Krimsky of the ICFJ, or a similar speaker. The 
audience will be working broadcast editors, producers and 
journalists.  End Summary. 
 
2. Program Description: On November 8, 2007 (in the wake of 
demonstrations) a snap Presidential election was announced for 
January 5, 2008.  This is expected to be a closely contested 
election, in which the perceived bias of the media will be under 
close scrutiny from all sides.  Currently Georgia is considering 
adopting a code of journalistic ethics.  Embassy Tbilisi wants to 
bring an experienced and well-known journalist such as George 
Krimsky to Tbilisi and Batumi to teach television editors, 
producers, and journalists about the ethical requirements of 
election campaign reporting.  Training sessions will be held in the 
newsrooms of all five nationally broadcast channels.  The program 
would last 7-9 days. 
 
3. Time Frame: December 2007, to be set according to the speaker's 
availability. 
 
4. Program Purpose: Journalism in Georgia is still not fully 
developed and in recent months the issue of media bias has become 
increasingly important.  This program is intended to educate 
journalists, and to give them an understanding of the ethical 
standards common in the Euro-Atlantic community.  In addition to 
workshops in television newsrooms we will schedule lectures at the 
Georgian Institute of Public Administration's School of Journalism 
and at the Georgian Foundation for Strategic and International 
Studies. 
 
5. Audience:  Working Television journalists, especially including 
editors and producers. 
 
6. Language Requirements:  English, with translation into Georgian 
provided.  Alternatively, Russian could be used.  FSA funds will be 
used for interpretation. 
 
7. Post Contact Information: 
APAO Stephen A. Guice: phone +995-32-277449, mobile +995-99-504392, 
fax +995-32-532319, email: Guicesa@state.gov 
Information Assistant Nana Kiknadze: phone +995-32-277208, mobile 
+995-99-540734, email Kiknadzen@state.gov 
 
8. Funding source: FY 07/08 FSA speaker funds. 
 
TEFFT

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