07TBILISI2719, OPPOSITION KICKS OFF DAY OF PROTEST, OKRUASHVILI

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
07TBILISI2719 2007-11-02 12:28 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL//NOFORN Embassy Tbilisi

VZCZCXRO6491
PP RUEHDBU RUEHFL RUEHKW RUEHLA RUEHROV RUEHSR
DE RUEHSI #2719/01 3061228
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 021228Z NOV 07
FM AMEMBASSY TBILISI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 8063
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE PRIORITY

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 TBILISI 002719 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SENSITIVE 
SIPDIS 
 
DEPT FOR EUR DAS BRYZA AND EUR/CARC 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 11/02/2017 
TAGS: PREL PGOV PHUM GG
SUBJECT: OPPOSITION KICKS OFF DAY OF PROTEST, OKRUASHVILI 
LEAVES GEORGIA 
 
 
Classified By: Ambassador John F. Tefft for reasons 1.4 (b) and (d). 
 
1. (C) Summary:  Protesters arrived from outside Tbilisi on 
November 1 in anticipation of the November 2 opposition rally 
at the Parliament Building.  Media reported that police in 
various Western Georgian districts were taking measures to 
block roads or confiscate drivers' licenses to prevent 
protesters from reaching Tbilisi.  The government has vowed 
to protect the rights of the rally attendees to demonstrate, 
and called for peaceful protest.  By 2:30 p.m. on November 2, 
the official start of the protest, an estimated 30-50,000 
people were in front of the Parliament, thronging Rustaveli 
Avenue.  The crowd is calm, and many people from the regions 
succeeded in reaching Tbilisi.  Demonstrators are carrying 
party flags, but hearing speeches is difficult if one is not 
close to the Parliament building.  Badri Patarkatsishvili 
will not attend the rally.  Patarkatsishvili told the 
Ambassador he does not want violence and sought his advice in 
a call on the morning of November 2.  Irakli Okruashvili will 
not attend the rally either.  The government granted 
permission for Okruashvili to go to France for unspecified 
medical treatment on November 1.  When he arrived in Munich 
he changed his plans and did not go on to Paris.  His 
whereabouts are unknown at this time.  Opposition leaders 
claim he was threatened with arrest in order to force his 
departure.  End Summary. 
 
Protesters Arrive From Regions, Rumors of Roadblocks 
--------------------------------------------- ------- 
 
2. (U) Opposition supporters began arriving in Tbilisi on 
November 1 in advance of demonstrations called by the United 
Opposition for November 2.  At 23:00 a small crowd had 
gathered in front of the Parliament Building but had 
dispersed by 3:00 a.m. Imedi TV, owned by Patarkatsishvili, 
ran live footage in the evening showing cars and minibuses 
arriving from the western districts.  Republican Party MP 
David Berdzenishvili claimed at least a thousand cars would 
arrive from Batumi, Zugdidi, Kutaisi, Akhaltsikhe in Western 
Georgia and Kakheti in the East.  Media reports said police 
had blocked the Chakvi tunnel, the most direct route from the 
West to Tbilisi, and had put up concrete barricades in the 
town of Chakvi.  The television showed individuals moving the 
concrete barricades to allow cars to pass.  There were other 
media reports of nails placed in the road to Tbilisi from 
Zugdidi and confiscation of drivers licenses by police. 
 
3. (U)  Imedi TV has devoted the bulk of its coverage to 
opposition leaders.  MP Gia Torladze, a member of 
Okruashvili's party, said the protests would continue if the 
demands of the opposition were not met.  Conservative MP Koba 
Davitashvili stressed the need for dialogue, but remained 
critical of the government in his statements.  Salome 
Zurabichvili and Shalva Natelashvili also were drumming up 
support in the press for the November 2 rally.  The 
Industrialists announced they would participate, but the New 
Rightists said they planned to stay out of the protest unless 
"forced" to join. 
 
4. (U) Unofficial estimates put the number of participants at 
between 30 and 50 thousand by the official 2:30 p.m. start 
time of the protest on Rustaveli Avenue in downtown Tbilisi, 
centering on the Parliament Building.  The crowd is calm, and 
content mostly to stand around talking.  Although it is mixed 
in age, older Georgians predominate.  Many are from outside 
of Tbilisi.  Because of the size of the crowd, it is 
difficult to hear speeches from the front of the Parliament. 
Only a few hand-lettered signs are in evidence, but many 
supporters are carrying their parties' flags through the 
streets.  Crowd control is good and security is relaxed; 
police are holding back from the streets themselves. 
 
Government Response to Protest 
------------------------------- 
 
5. (U) Police have sealed off streets and areas surrounding 
central Tbilisi's Rustaveli Avenue in fulfillment of the 
city's pledge to provide security at the rally.  Government 
representatives have stressed that such a protest is the 
"right of the people" but Tbilisi Mayor Gigi Ugulava called 
the opposition rally an "untalented attempt to imitate the 
2003 (Rose Revolution)."  He also said the government will 
protect the people's rights.  Speaker Nino Burjanadze called 
on protesters with "genuine concerns" not to pander to the 
interests of those who seek to destabilize the government. 
 
Okruashvili Leaves Georgia 
-------------------------- 
 
 
TBILISI 00002719  002 OF 002 
 
 
6. (C) Irakli Okruashvili left Georgia on November 1, 
arriving in Munich en route to France.  However, he changed 
his itinerary in Munich and his current whereabouts are 
unknown.  The General Prosecutor's office released a 
statement November 1 stating Okruashvili was granted 
permission to leave Georgia to seek unspecified medical
 
treatment.  Eka Beselia, Okruashvili's attorney and a member 
of Movement for United Georgia, said Okruashvili had planned 
to attend the rally but the government forced him to leave 
Georgia and had threatened him with arrest. 
 
Patarkatsishvili Will Not Attend Rally 
-------------------------------------- 
 
7. (C) Badri Patarkatsishvili said he would not attend the 
November 2 rally.  He insists he will only finance a 
constitutional change of power, as "Georgia cannot survive 
another revolution."  At 2:00 p.m. on November 2, as the 
demonstration was beginning, Patarkatsishvili called the 
Ambassador to tell him directly that he would only pursue 
change through constitutional means.  He asked the Ambassador 
for his advice if the crowd gets out of control.  The 
Ambassador repeated what Assistant Secretary Fried had said 
to the opposition and the government as well as at the 
Tbilisi Summit Conference on November 1:  The United States 
supports dialogue and we hope there will be no violence.  By 
his call, Patarkatsishvili seemed to be trying to avoid 
responsibility for whatever happens at the protest. 
TEFFT

Wikileaks

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