07TBILISI2799, PROTEST IN TBILISI SITREP NO. 5

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
07TBILISI2799 2007-11-09 14:47 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Tbilisi

VZCZCXRO3034
PP RUEHDBU RUEHFL RUEHKW RUEHLA RUEHROV RUEHSR
DE RUEHSI #2799/01 3131447
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 091447Z NOV 07
FM AMEMBASSY TBILISI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 8162
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 TBILISI 002799 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SIPDIS 
 
DEPT FOR EUR DAS BRYZA AND EUR/CARC 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 11/05/2017 
TAGS: PREL PGOV PHUM GG
SUBJECT: PROTEST IN TBILISI SITREP NO. 5 
 
REF: TBILISI 2791 
 
Classified By: Ambassador John F. Tefft for reasons 1.4 (b) and (d). 
 
OPPOSITION RESPONDS TO SNAP PRESIDENTIAL ELECTIONS 
--------------------------------------------- ------ 
 
1. (U) Most opposition leaders embraced President 
Saakashvili's call to hold a Presidential election on January 
5, 2008 (reftel).  The United National Council of Opposition 
(UNC) remains united so far.  According to reports, New 
Rightist (NR) Party Chairman David Gamkrelidze affirmed his 
intention to seek the Presidency, as has a perennial dark 
horse independent candidate, Gia Maisashvili.  Criticism of 
the government's forced closure of Imedi TV, and the wanton 
destruction of their studio, remains very high in today's 
papers. 
 
PARLIAMENT APPROVES STATE OF EMERGENCY 
-------------------------------------- 
 
2. (C) State-controlled public television Channel One 
continued to read on the air the text of Saakashvili's State 
of Emergency decree every two hours.  Deputy Speaker of 
Parliament Misha Machavariani announced a special session to 
consider approving the decree.  MP Giga Bokeria (one of 
Saakashvili,s closest advisors) clarified for us the 
protocol regarding the state of emergency decree.  The 
President's decree will not expire automatically if not 
approved by Parliament.  The Parliament met late on November 
9 and, as expected, backed the President's decree to show 
support for Saakashvili.  Parliament approved the entire 
15-day span of the emergency.  Saakashvili can lift the state 
of emergency at any time, and Bokeria said he will likely do 
so within the next 2-3 days.  In order to protest the 
decree's rules, no opposition members of Parliament attended 
the session. 
 
OPPOSITION LEADERS CHARGED, ONE BEATEN 
-------------------------------------- 
 
3. (C) The Prosecutor General has charged Tsotne Gamsakhurdia 
(Freedom Party, and brother of Konstantine Gamsakhurdia) and 
Shalva Natelashvili (Chair of the Labor Party) with espionage 
and conspiracy to overthrow the government.  Georgian 
authorities have told us that both men have fled the country, 
with Natelashvili exiting via Tskhinvali.  We have reports 
that Konstantine Gamsakhurdia has fled through Sokhumi.  No 
other opposition leaders are known to be charged at this 
time. 
 
4. (SBU) The Prosecutor General states that no other 
opposition leaders, nor any journalists, have been arrested. 
 
5. (U) Outspoken protest leader Koba Davitashvili (People's 
Party) appeared on TV yesterday, after he was released from 
the Gori military hospital.  He was obviously stiff, sore, 
and bruised, and had a large bandage on his head.  He thanked 
a nurse, and Parliamentary Speaker Nino Burjanadze, for 
interceding on his behalf after he was attacked by uniformed 
men, stuffed in a military vehicle, and beaten on his way to 
the hospital in Gori.  Rumors of his death proved unfounded. 
 
GAMKRELIDZE DISCUSSES ELECTION, 
OPPOSITION TO MEET BURJANADZE 
------------------------------- 
 
6. (C) On November 9, Gamkrelidze called on the Ambassador 
and strongly hinted that he intends to run for President. 
His main concern was whether the Ambassador believed a fair 
election could take place without an independent TV station. 
Since Rustavi 2, Channel One, and Mze are all controlled by 
the government or its sympathizers, Gamkrelidze fears that 
candidates other than Saakashvili may have difficulty 
accessing the airwaves.  Gamkrelidze was pleased that his 
proposal for a referendum on when to hold Parliamentary 
elections was accepted by the President.  However, he said it 
was unfortunate the President's decision had come so late. 
 
7. (C) Gamkrelidze said the violence at the protests was the 
responsibility of both the government and the UNC.  He said 
he had spoken with David Usupashvili, a member of the UNC, 
who told him the UNC is still holding together despite major 
differences among the member parties.  The parties are trying 
to agree on a presidential candidate.  Gamkrelidze said some 
of the moderate parties, such as Usupashvili's Republicans, 
had hurt themselves by taking up the demands of the leftist 
parties for Saakashvili's ouster. 
 
8. (U) Nino Burjanadze, Speaker of Parliament, called for the 
opposition leaders to meet with her.  Prior to holding the 
 
TBILISI 00002799  002 OF 002 
 
 
meetings, both sides are to meet together with the Patriarch 
to gain his blessing. 
 
AFTERMATH OF PROTEST 
--------------------- 
 
9. (U) The presence of military personnel and equipment 
around Parliament has lightened considerably.  Most military 
vehicles have left the streets.  Some uniformed personnel 
remain at intersections and around government buildings, 
without visible weapons. 
 
10. (U) The Ministry of Health announced that 587 people were 
injured in the protes
ts.  569 were released from the 
hospital.  Only three required surgery.  Reportedly, 34 
policemen were injured.  The state will cover all medical 
costs.  Fortunately, no deaths have been reported. 
 
11. (U) Georgian schools and universities are to reopen on 
Monday, November 12. 
 
12. (U) Press reports indicate the Abkhaz de-facto 
authorities have tightened controls at the cease fire line 
with Georgia proper. 
 
BADRI PATARKATSISHVILI NAMED AS SUSPECT 
--------------------------------------- 
 
13. (C) The Prosecutor General's office announced late in the 
afternoon of November 9 that they want to "interrogate" 
Georgian oligarch Badri Patarkatsishvili as a "suspect" for 
conspiring to overthrow the government. 
TEFFT

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