07TBILISI2752, LIVE FROM MUNICH, OKRUASHVILI ENCOURAGES PROTESTERS

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
07TBILISI2752 2007-11-06 12:30 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Tbilisi

VZCZCXRO9070
PP RUEHDBU RUEHFL RUEHKW RUEHLA RUEHROV RUEHSR
DE RUEHSI #2752/01 3101230
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 061230Z NOV 07
FM AMEMBASSY TBILISI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 8109
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 TBILISI 002752 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SIPDIS 
 
DEPT FOR EUR DAS BRYZA AND EUR/CARC 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 11/06/2017 
TAGS: PGOV PHUM GG
SUBJECT: LIVE FROM MUNICH, OKRUASHVILI ENCOURAGES PROTESTERS 
 
REF: A. TBILISI 2729 
 
     B. TBILISI 2719 
     C. TBILISI 2542 
 
Classified By: Ambassador John F. Tefft for reasons 1.4 (b) and (d). 
 
1. (U) Summary: Former Defense Minister Irakli Okruashvili 
appeared via live telecast on Imedi TV from Munich on 
November 5.  Okruashvili claimed he "was forced to leave 
Georgia."  He apologized for disappointing Georgians with the 
recantation of the charges he had leveled against the 
government and President Saakashvili.  He said he "was forced 
to give it," and reaffirmed his accusations.  He said 
Saakshvili is in "a vacuum" among his advisors and his days 
are numbered.  He called it a game of "endurance" with the 
President, and that "the people have never lost this game," 
nor will they now.  In response, Saakashvili insider Giga 
Bokeria dismissed Okruashvili's comments, saying the 
opposition had made its last, desperate play with 
Okruashvili's reappearance.  On November 6, the Prosecutor 
General disputed Okruashvili's comments, denied he was forced 
to leave Georgia, and alleged he was taking money from 
oligarch Badri Patarkatsishvili.  They said he must still 
return to Georgia to face charges.  End Summary. 
 
--------------------------------- 
Okruashvili Resurfaces in Munich, 
Wants to Force Saakashvili Out 
--------------------------------- 
 
2. (U) At 11:00 p.m. on November 5, former defense Minister 
Irakli Okruashvili appeared via live telecast on Imedi TV 
from Munich on November 5.  He was interviewed on the same 
Open Air program on which he initially leveled charges 
against President Saakashvili and his government on September 
25.  The telecast was played live in front of Parliament, 
where approximately 2,500 people continued the fourth 
straight day (and night) of protests against the government. 
 
3. (C) Appearing confident in a business suit, Okruashvili 
displayed the similar serious, conversational tone he used to 
level his charges against Saakashvili, and not the haggard 
appearance of his videotaped confession.  In the nearly 
hour-long interview, Okruashvili apologized that he could not 
participate personally in the protests.  He said he was 
forced by the government to leave Georgia prior to November 
2, and that he is now a "political refugee."  Saying he was 
afraid, and taking a big risk by speaking, he said he "could 
not keep silent."  (Note: Saakashvili advisor Bokeria told 
the Ambassador earlier that Okruashvili had "asked to leave 
for medical treatment."  End note.) 
 
4. (U) Okruashvili's comments included the following points. 
Okruashvili: 
 
- apologized to those Georgians he disappointed with the 
testimony "which I was forced to give." 
 
- said "this is a game of endurance with the government.  The 
people have never lost this game and will win." 
 
- addressed Saakashvili, saying that he has been "in a 
vacuum" for years and listens only to his inner circle.  He 
said "your days are numbered; the people have ruled a verdict 
against you."  He said the only thing on his mind is how to 
make the President leave power. 
 
- said many government officials visited him in jail, 
including Interior Minister Vano Merabishvili, three days 
after his arrest.  He claimed that none of his friends paid 
his bail.  Rather, he said government officials used 
businessman Tamaz Nizharadze from the port of Poti to post 
his bail, because his arrest was a problem for the government. 
 
- accused the government of stealing public funds, and said 
they are now sending it abroad. 
 
- showed a letter (not close-up) and said it and other 
evidence he has, including tapes, help document that former 
Prime Minister Zurab Zhvania's death was not accidental.  He 
said he no longer has access to much of the information, 
which was in his apartment. 
 
- claimed he has had no contact with oligarch (and opposition 
bankroller) Badri Patarkatsishvili since his release from 
jail on October 9. 
 
- said he is in contact with the United National Council of 
Opposition, which is leading the protests. 
 
- encouraged the protesters to "endure, ...so that we can get 
 
TBILISI 00002752  002 OF 002 
 
 
rid of this plague, Saakashvili." 
 
5. (U) Okruashvili accused the government of three mistakes 
in his regard.  First, that they did not arrest him until 
after his statements on September 25.  Second, that they 
released him from jail.  Third, that they believed he would 
not speak out again politically against them. 
 
--------------------------------- 
Ruling Party, PG's Office Respond 
--------------------------------- 
 
6. (C) MP Giga Bokeria, a member of Saakashvili's inner 
circle, rebuffed Okruashvili's charges in a live interview. 
Appearing jovial and animated, Bokeria said that 
Okruashvili's statements were a desperate attempt by the 
opposition to continue their protests and threaten the 
government.  He sai
d that Patarkatsishvili is controlling the 
entire opposition, and that Okruashvili's appearance would 
not help them.  A member of the ruling party, and Chairman of 
the Parliament's Defense and Security Committee, Givi 
Targamadze added that this Okruashvili "is a different 
person" than he knew when they were friends, while 
Okruashvili was in the government.  He said no government 
officials visited Okruashvili in jail, and that Okruashvili 
could have spoken from Tbilisi, had he wanted. 
 
7. (U) Deputy Prosecutor General Nika Gvaramia announced on 
November 6 that Okruashvili lied about the government paying 
his bail.  Gvaramia said that Nizharadze, who paid part of 
the bail, is an associate of Okruashvili.  The lion's share 
of the bail was paid by Kibar Khalvashi's construction firm. 
Gvaramia also said that his office has launched an 
investigation into Okruashvili's claims of a murder plot 
against Patarkatsishvili.  He also stated that Okruashvili 
had "asked permission to go abroad for medical treatment. 
After being denied a British visa, he received a French visa 
in observance of all relevant procedures."  Gvaramia denied 
that "pressure through human factors" was used to coerce 
Okruashvili's testimony.  Finally, the Deputy PG released a 
tape of a phone conversation between one Davit Jablishvili 
and Okruashvili's ally, journalist Nana Lezhava.  In the 
tape, Jablishvili is heard saying he arrived in Munich from 
London to give Okruashvili "money sent by Badri."  Gvaramia 
reiterated that no charges have been dropped against 
Okruashvili, and he must return to Tbilisi upon the 
prosecutor's demand. 
 
------- 
Comment 
------- 
 
7. (C) Okruashvili's reappearance may give some new life to 
the demonstrations, but he remains a controversial figure to 
many Georgians.  We suspect that his interview will 
contribute to a rising feeling of weariness we detect among 
many of our contacts, that the current crisis should end and 
the government should get down to work on the real problems 
of the country. 
TEFFT

Wikileaks

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