07TBILISI2777, PROTEST IN TBILISI SITREP NO. 4

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
07TBILISI2777 2007-11-08 09:44 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Tbilisi

VZCZCXRO1318
OO RUEHDBU RUEHFL RUEHKW RUEHLA RUEHROV RUEHSR
DE RUEHSI #2777/01 3120944
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
O 080944Z NOV 07 ZDK
FM AMEMBASSY TBILISI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 8130
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE IMMEDIATE

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 TBILISI 002777 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SIPDIS 
 
DEPT FOR EUR DAS BRYZA AND EUR/CARC 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 11/08/2017 
TAGS: PREL PGOV PHUM GG
SUBJECT: PROTEST IN TBILISI SITREP NO. 4 
 
REF: TBILISI 2774 
 
TBILISI 00002777  001.4 OF 002 
 
 
Classified By: Ambassador John F. Tefft for reasons 1.4 (b) and (d). 
 
1. (C) This cable details the latest information regarding 
the November 7 government crackdown on opposition protests in 
Tbilisi, including Embassy EAC action.  Currently, RSO 
reports that the Freedom Square and Rustaveli metro stations 
are closed.  Major streets Rustaveli Avenue and Baratashvili 
Street are closed to vehicles.  Many paramilitary units and 
military vehicles are present in the downtown area but it is 
not clear if the units are MOD or MOIA personnel.  High 
schools and universities will remain closed until Monday, 
November 12. 
 
--------------------------- 
State of Emergency Declared 
--------------------------- 
 
2. (C) On November 8 at 1:00 a.m. local time Georgian 
Economic Development Minister Giorgi Arveladze announced that 
President Saakashvili imposed a country-wide state of 
emergency.  He outlined restrictions on media freedom, 
demonstrations and strikes.  The Parliament must convene 
within the next 48 hours to approve the presidential decree. 
Arveladze's announcement shortly followed one by Tbilisi 
Mayor Gigi Ugulava, who initially said the state of emergency 
would apply to Tbilisi only.  On November 9, Deputy Speaker 
of Parliament Mikheil Machavariani said he hoped the tension 
will be discharged today and tomorrow, and the Parliament 
will not need to approve the state of emergency decree. 
 
3. (C) According to the Georgian Constitution, the President 
can declare a State of Emergency "in the case of (among 
others) ...mass disorder, coup d'etat, and armed 
insurrection."  A simple majority of Parliament must approve 
the state of emergency.  According to the Georgian 
Constitution, during a state of emergency basic rights and 
freedoms can be suspended (including media, movement, 
property, and privacy rights) for the duration.  The 
President's decrees carry the weight of law, and he is immune 
from impeachment charges during the state of emergency.  No 
elections can be held in the nation, and Parliament must 
remain in session, during the state of emergency. 
 
--------------------------- 
Independent Media Shut Down 
--------------------------- 
 
4. (C) Arveladze said all television and radio news programs 
will be shut down for 15 days except for the publicly-funded 
Georgian Public Broadcaster.  Newspapers and online media 
sources will continue to operate.  Two "anti-government" TV 
channels, Imedi and Kavkaziya, were forced off the air in 
Tbilisi on November 7.  Independent TV station Channel 25 in 
Batumi was also switched off by the government around 
midnight.  After Arveladze's announcement, Mze and Rustavi 2 
both ceased all news coverage for the next 15 days.  These TV 
companies continue broadcasting without news coverage. 
 
5. (C) On November 7 around 21:00 hours Imedi Anchor, and 
former MP, Giorgi Targamadze reported on air that Interior 
Ministry Police were entering the building.  Imedi then went 
off the air.  Lewis Robertson, Chairman of Newscorp Caucasus 
and General Manager of Imedi, said approximately 150 
"spetznaz" entered the building.  Robertson said the police 
fired rubber bullets and "totally destroyed" the Imedi 
control room (the Embassy has photos of the destroyed 
studio.)  He said police told him Imedi would be closed for 
three months.  Imedi station director Bidzina Baratashvili 
said journalists were allowed to leave the building at 22:00 
and said no journalists were arrested, though Targamadze was 
briefly detained.  Some Imedi staff, including Inga Grigolia, 
suffered tear gas exposure and were taken to the hospital. 
According to Robertson, many opposition party leaders were 
present at Imedi when the raid took place. 
 
6. (C) Television station Kavkaziya, a strongly 
anti-government station covering Tbilisi, went off the air at 
around the same time.  According to owner David Akubardia, 
the signal was cut at the transmitter.  Akubardia said he 
received a visit from a businessman with close ties to the 
government, Avto Tserateli, who said the "spetsnaz" were 
planning a raid on Kavkaziya, but he was able to convince the 
authorities to cut the signal instead.  Tserateli then 
offered Akubardia and his wife, Nino Jangirashvili, money in 
exchange for staying off the air for a week.  Akubardia and 
his wife refused the money, took the most valuable equipment 
from the station to their home and the station remains off 
the air. 
 
 
TBILISI 00002777  002.2 OF 002 
 
 
-------------------------- 
Russian Diplomats Expelled 
-------------------------- 
 
7. (C) Following Saakashvili's address on November 7, in 
which he said some diplomats from the Russian embassy were 
engaged in "subversive activities" against Georgia, the 
Georgian MFA declared three Russian diplomats persona non 
grata on November 8.  They include: DCM Ivan Volinkin,
 
Counselor Pavel Solomatin, and Third Secretary Kurenkov.  On 
November 7 the Interior Ministry released taped audio and 
video purporting to show opposition leaders MP Levan 
Berdzenishvili (Republican Party), Giorgi Khaindrava 
(Equality Institute), Konstantine Gamsakhurdia (Freedom 
Party), and Shalva Natelashvili (Labor Party) cooperating 
with Russian counter-intelligence agents and conversing with 
the three expelled diplomats.  Georgia has recalled its 
Ambassador to Russia, Irakli Chubinishvili, "for 
consultations in connection with recent developments in the 
country," according to the MFA. 
 
------------------------- 
Arrest and Injury Reports 
------------------------- 
 
8. (C) Salome Zourabichvili (Georgia's Way) gave an interview 
in front of Imedi's barricaded studio.  She said Kukha 
Kukhava (Conservative Party) and another opposition leader 
were arrested at Imedi; this has not been verified. 
 
9. (C) According to the Health Ministry, approximately 500 
people were taken to hospitals around Tbilisi.  At the end of 
the day, approximately 94 remained in the hospital, including 
24 policemen.  Some civilians and police were badly injured. 
No deaths have been officially reported. 
 
10. (C) Public Defender and Omsbudsman Sozar Subari and his 
staff were present at the November 7 demonstrations, and he 
personally was hit by police batons, sending him to the 
hospital.  He later appeared multiple times on TV.  Subari's 
office is preparing a report on human rights violations that 
occurred during the protests. 
 
-------------------------------- 
EAC Meetings and Consular Report 
-------------------------------- 
 
11. (C) On November 8 Embassy EAC met for the second time. 
The EAC reviewed, and ordered a test of, the emergency 
communication networks, including telephone trees and cell 
phone SMS notifications.  The EAC also reviewed and evaluated 
the status of the Embassy on tripwires and follow-on actions. 
 The Embassy will host a town hall meeting November 8 to 
review the latest information.  The EAC will reconvene 
November 9. 
 
12. (C) Embassy Conoff is establishing a call center in CONS 
for public information on security and travel, updating the 
Consular Information Sheet for Washington, and anticipates 
sending an additional warden message before COB today.  They 
are also drafting a public announcement.  CONS has received 
several inquiries from Amcits regarding the travel situation, 
and from Georgians regarding asylum or asking the USG to 
intervene in the situation. 
TEFFT

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