07TBILISI2709, UNITED COUNCIL OF OPPOSITION MEETS AMBASSADOR

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
07TBILISI2709 2007-11-02 07:17 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Tbilisi

VZCZCXRO6119
PP RUEHDBU RUEHFL RUEHKW RUEHLA RUEHROV RUEHSR
DE RUEHSI #2709/01 3060717
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 020717Z NOV 07
FM AMEMBASSY TBILISI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 8055
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 TBILISI 002709 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SIPDIS 
 
DEPT FOR EUR DAS BRYZA AND EUR/CARC 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 10/30/2017 
TAGS: PGOV GG
SUBJECT: UNITED COUNCIL OF OPPOSITION MEETS AMBASSADOR 
 
REF: A. TBILISI 2559 
     B. TBILISI 2662 
     C. TBILISI 2574 
 
Classified By: Ambassador John F. Tefft for reasons 1.4 (b) and (d). 
 
1. (C) Summary: On October 26, representatives of the 
ten-party United National Council of opposition (ref A) met 
the Ambassador and presented to him a copy of the four core 
demands they submitted earlier to President Saakashvili's and 
Parliamentary Speaker Nino Burjanadze's offices.  The Council 
then appealed to the Ambassador for him, or "someone of equal 
rank," to intercede on their behalf with the President and 
initiate dialogue, possibly before the planned November 2 
protest (ref B).  The Ambassador encouraged the Council to 
continue dialogue with the government, strongly warned 
against violence, and emphasized the importance of rule of 
law and U.S. support for judicial reform.  On October 28, 
businessman and independent opposition figure Badri 
Patarkatsishvili (ref C) announced that he would finance the 
November 2 protest and asked the opposition to hold it "in a 
civilized manner."  End Summary. 
 
--------------------------------- 
Opposition Meets Ambassador, 
Reiterates Demands for Government 
--------------------------------- 
 
2. (C) On October 26, representatives from the ten opposition 
parties that constitute the United National Council called on 
the Ambassador en bloc.  Attendees included:  Goga Khaindrava 
(Equality Institute, NGO), Zviad Dzidziguri and Kakha Kukava 
(Conservative Party), Shalva Natelashvili and Kakha Dzagania 
(Labor Party), Shalva Khachapuridze and Marina Muskhelishvili 
(Georgia's Way), Koka Guntsadze and Gia Tortladze (United 
Georgia, Okruashvili's party), Koba Davitashvili (People's 
Party), David Bardavelidze (Freedom Party), Jondo Bagaturia 
(Georgian Dasi), Paata Davitaia (We Ourselves), Kakha 
Shartava (National Forum), and Levan Gachechiladze 
(independent lawmaker).  The group presented a list of four 
core demands to the Ambassador, which they gave to the 
President's and Speaker's offices earlier in the week.  To 
drive home their demands, the Council has been organizing a 
large protest against the Saakashvili government in front of 
Parliament on November 2. 
 
3. (C) Conservative representative Kukava presented the first 
three demands: 1) hold parliamentary elections in spring 2008 
-- the original timeframe under the constitution (changed 
last year by Parliament); 2) change the majoritarian system 
that applies to half of the seats in Parliament to reflect 
one vote/mandate for each individual candidate, rather than 
the current "winner-takes-all" system; and, 3) modify or 
replace the Central Election Commission, so it includes 
members of the opposition.  Kukava pointed out that these 
points are to ensure the integrity of the election process, 
with the main demand being early elections. 
 
4. (C) In a rambling prelude, Shalva Natelashvili introduced 
the fourth demand, calling for the release of "political 
prisoners," which Khaindrava then finished presenting.  The 
Council considers Irakli Okruashvili a political prisoner due 
to the circumstances of his arrest, regardless of his 
complicity in corruption.  They said that at least four 
opposition party leaders are currently under arrest for 
"political reasons."  (Comment: This argument was not well 
supported in the conversation and was difficult to assess for 
accuracy.  End Comment.) 
 
5. (C) Kukava stated that the Council had come to the Embassy 
together in order to make their demands "clear."  The group 
said that they wanted cooperation and dialogue with the 
President and desired to proceed constitutionally.  Kukava 
confirmed the Council had provided a letter with their 
demands to the President's and Speaker's staffs, but that 
they had received no response from either.  He carefully 
suggested that perhaps the letter was not received by the 
President "in the right form" and suggested that perhaps the 
right "personality" (indicating the Ambassador) could take 
the request to him.  Kukava cautioned that the Council had 
intentionally not set ultimatums or asked for resignations. 
 
 
6. (C) Kukava asked if the Ambassador, or someone of similar 
rank, could mediate between the Council and the government. 
He noted that "time still exists before (the) November 2" 
demonstration.  Muskhelishvili pointed out that the Council 
did not want the Ambassador to defend the opposition, but 
rather to help calm the situation. 
 
------------------------------------ 
 
TBILISI 00002709  002 OF 002 
 
 
Regional Protest Turns Ugly, 
Patarkatsishvili Stirs the Pot Again 
------------------------------------ 
 
7. (C) On October 28, at a rally in Zugdidi organized by the 
United National Council, several youth assaulted some 
opposition members, including Khaindrava.  Public Defender 
Sozar Subari (the government ombudsman), Speaker Burjanadze 
and the opposition roundly condemned the assaults.  Local 
police were criticized for observing the assaults and t
aking 
no action.  (Subsequently, two men were jailed for 20 days 
and five others were fined for their part in the attacks.) 
 
8. (C) The same day, in a written statement from London, 
Badri Patarkatsishvili announced that he will finance the 
Council's campaign for early elections and the November 2 
protest rally.  He said that he fully supports the 
opposition's demands and wanted to finance the campaign in 
order to ensure the protests are organized "in a civilized 
manner." 
 
9. (C) Government officials, including Tbilisi Mayor Gigi 
Ugulava, criticized Patarkatsishvili's offer.  Ugulava 
decried Patarkatsishvili as a "traitor" and said "his putsch 
will not work in Georgia."  Others continue to imply that 
Patarkatsishvili is being influenced by Russia. 
 
10. (U) New Rightist Chairman David Gamkrelidze (whose party 
is not a member of the United National Council and does not 
plan to join the protest on November 2) flew to London to 
meet with Patarkatsishvili on October 29.  Like 
Patarkatsishvili, the New Rightists support the call to hold 
Parliamentary elections in April.  Gamkrelidze said that 
Patarkatsishvili can "play a very serious role in maintaining 
processes in a constitutional frame."  Regarding 
Patarkatsishvili's infusion of money to the opposition, he 
commented that "it can be only positive if legal money is 
used for this campaign, instead of illegal money coming from 
foreign countries." 
 
------- 
Comment 
------- 
 
11. (C) The disparate group of Council members bickered and 
talked over each other during the meeting with the 
Ambassador, displaying the cracks in their unity.  Kukava 
presented most of the formal points, but Goga Khaindrava 
dominated the open conversation.  Most of the other 
opposition leaders did get a chance to say a few words.  The 
Ambassador stressed several points during the meeting.  He 
encouraged the Council to continue seeking dialogue and 
offered to continue encouraging this with the government as 
well.  He strongly warned against violence, stressing that 
Georgians have seen enough of it.  He reiterated that any 
changes in election law, or government, should be undertaken 
constitutionally.  Finally, he agreed that a true, 
functioning judiciary is critical to any democracy and that 
the USG continues to push hard for judicial reform. 
TEFFT

Wikileaks

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