07TBILISI2789, GEORGIAN FOREIGN MINISTER BEZHUASHVILI ON

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
07TBILISI2789 2007-11-08 14:16 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Tbilisi

VZCZCXRO1562
OO RUEHDBU RUEHFL RUEHKW RUEHLA RUEHROV RUEHSR
DE RUEHSI #2789/01 3121416
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
O 081416Z NOV 07
FM AMEMBASSY TBILISI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 8145
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 TBILISI 002789 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SIPDIS 
 
STATE FOR EUR/CARC AND EUR/FO 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 11/08/2017 
TAGS: PGOV MARR CFE GG
SUBJECT: GEORGIAN FOREIGN MINISTER BEZHUASHVILI ON 
POLITICAL SITUATION, CFE 
 
 
Classified By: Ambassador John F. Tefft, reason 1.4(b) and (d) 
 
1.  (C) Summary:  In a meeting on November 8, Georgian 
Foreign Minister Gela Bezhuashvili said that the government 
has decided not to go for parliamentary approval of the full 
15 day state of emergency if there are no incidents during 
the next two days, thereby letting it lapse.  It will also 
start negotiations with the opposition on all four of their 
demands including the date for parliamentary elections. 
Speaker of Parliament Nino Burjanadze would start the 
negotiations and later President Saakashvili would directly 
participate.  Bezhuashvili said that Georgia does not need 
international mediation but could solve its own problems.  He 
said the government had decided to arrest Shalva Natelashvili 
and Konstantine Gamsakhurdia but not other opposition 
leaders, because the those two are the main beneficiaries of 
Russian money and were ringleaders in what the Georgians 
believe was a planned plot to use the November 2 
demonstration as a means of overthrowing the government.  A 
final decision has not been taken on Imedi Television. 
Bezhuashvili said the Ministry of Interior wants to 
investigate the finances of the station, and its relationship 
with Standard Bank, owned by Badri Patarkatsishvili.  He is 
trying to contact NewsCorp, the American company that is a 
part owner of Imedi.  End Summary. 
 
2.  (C) The Ambassador underscored with Bezuashvili the 
points delivered to the Foreign Minister by A/S Fried in a 
telcon on November 7.  Bezhuashvili told the Ambassador that 
he had participated in a late night meeting with President 
Saakashvili to discuss the way ahead from the current 
political situation in Georgia, after A/S Fried's call and 
another call from Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt.  He 
said that he understands the message Fried was trying to 
deliver but the government stands by its decision to declare 
a state of emergency and close Imedi television. 
 
3.  (C) Bezhuashvili explained that the state of emergency 
applies to the entire country.  However, it involves 
suspension of only three freedoms in the constitution, the 
rights to strike, to hold demonstrations and to disseminate 
information.  All else, he said, remains the same as before 
the declaration of the emergency.  Some in the government had 
advocated a stricter regime and arrests of opposition 
leaders.  As it is, he said, legal cases will be opened 
against Shalva Natelashvili and Konstantine Gamsakhurdia. 
Both these men have likely fled the country, leaving via 
Tskhinvali in South Ossetia.  Bezhuashvili confirmed that 
 
SIPDIS 
Koba Davitashvili is not dead or seriously injured.  (Note: 
Davitashvili was seen leaving the hospital in Gori after 
being treated for injuries suffered during the 
demonstrations.) 
 
4.  (C) Bezhuashvili insisted that the country was facing an 
"existential threat" before the crackdown, but that the 
situation on the streets is now fully under the government's 
control.  He said that two armed groups were ready to attack 
on the evening of November 6, as part of a well-planned 
attempt at violent regime change.  Bezhuashvili conceded that 
the forcible dispersal of the demonstrations had damaged the 
Saakashvili government, but that the alternative was much 
worse.  The government acted legitimately, he said.  The 
state of emergency was announced to last for 15 days, but he 
hopes that the situation will have returned so close to 
normal that the emergency can be lifted within two days, 
before the Parliament must vote on its continuation. 
 
5.  (C) Imedi will likely remain closed, Bezhuashvili said, 
because of the danger the station will initiate a new round 
of unrest.  Its finances will be closely checked, as well as 
its relationship with Standard Bank in Tbilisi, which is 
owned by Badri Patarkatsishvili and no final decision has 
been taken.  Patarkatsishvili's threat to use all the 
resources he has to overthrow the government was a clear 
message that the government had to take action against Imedi, 
he said.  It was a national security issue, in his view.  Had 
the government not acted, he said, it would have been "1992 
(i.e. civil war) all over again."  He said that he and the 
government realize the damage to Georgia's reputation caused 
by closing Imedi.  He is looking for a way to contact Rupert 
Murdoch, the owner of NewsCorp, which is a partner with 
Patarkatsishvili in Imedi.  He thinks Murdoch may not be 
aware of who his partner in Imedi is and what he has been up 
to in Georgia. 
 
6.  (C) Bezhuashvili said that the missing element in the 
otherwise well-planned effort against the government was 
Irakli Okruashvili.  The Russians had calculated that the 
government would not dare to arrest Okruashvili after his 
sensational charges against the President.  Also, the turnout 
 
TBILISI 00002789  002 OF 002 
 
 
for the November 2 demonstration was not as large as 
expected, and Bezhuashvili claimed that
both Natelashvili and 
Gamsakhurdia had received calls from Moscow chiding them for 
not doing better.  He said the government has proof that 
Russian agents were paying demonstrators.  He also implicated 
Goga Khaindrava as a tool of the Russians. 
 
7.  (C) Bezhuashvili has instructed his deputy, Nika 
Vashakidze, to go to Moscow November 9 and deliver a strong 
message on both the alleged provocation of unrest in Tbilisi 
and on the conflicts in Abkhazia and South Ossetia.  For now, 
the GOG will hold off on demanding any changes to the 
negotiating formats in those conflicts, he said. 
 
8.  (C) Bezhuashvili was conciliatory in tone toward other 
members of the opposition, whom he said were not involved 
with Patarkatsishvili or the Russians.  The government will 
now begin a renewed dialogue with these moderates, such as 
Davit Usupashvili and Salome Zourabichvili.   All four of the 
opposition's election-related demands will be on the table, 
Bezhuashvili said, even the date of elections. 
 
9.  (C) Bezhuashvili noted that the Russian Duma ratified the 
adapted CFE treaty on November 7.  He believes this makes the 
Georgian concerns about the Russian military base at Gudauta 
moot, and that ratification of the A/CFE will not be a 
problem in Georgian domestic politics.  "Let us know what you 
need," he said, "and we will be there for you." 
 
 
TEFFT

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