07TBILISI2802, TBILISI PROTESTS: SITREP NO 6

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
07TBILISI2802 2007-11-13 12:50 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Tbilisi

VZCZCXRO4717
PP RUEHDBU RUEHFL RUEHKW RUEHLA RUEHROV RUEHSR
DE RUEHSI #2802/01 3171250
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 131250Z NOV 07
FM AMEMBASSY TBILISI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 8171
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE PRIORITY

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 TBILISI 002802 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SIPDIS 
 
DEPT FOR EUR DAS BRYZA AND EUR/CARC 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 11/13/2017 
TAGS: PREL PGOV PHUM GG
SUBJECT: TBILISI PROTESTS: SITREP NO 6 
 
REF: TBILISI 2799 
 
Classified By: Ambassador John F. Tefft for reasons 1.4 (b) and (d). 
 
----------------------------------------- 
Opposition, Government Meet in Parliament 
----------------------------------------- 
 
1.  (U) The United National Council of Opposition (UNC) met 
with the government, represented by the Speaker of 
Parliament, Nino Burjanadze, on November 10 and again on 
November 12.  Five opposition parties - Georgia's Way, the 
Conservatives, the Republicans, the New Rightists, and the 
Industrialists, participated in the meetings with Burjanadze, 
Vice-Speaker Machavariani, MP Giga Bokeria and MP Maia 
Nadiradze.  Conservative Party leader Kakha Kukava said an 
agreement was almost reached on the election code, but 
lamented that "if they had only agreed earlier on these 
issues, we could have prevented the current crisis." 
Opposition parties are still pushing for a change to the 
majoritarian system and allowing opposition parties to have 
representation on the Central Election Commission.  Nadiradze 
emphasized that the opposition and government shared the same 
goal of free, democratic elections. 
 
2. (U) Opposition leaders reported no success on the issue of 
ending the state of emergency, restrictions on media, 
specifically the closure of Imedi, and "political repressions 
against opponents."  Prior to the meetings, Kukava said there 
is no point to dialogue if Imedi does not resume 
broadcasting.  Republican Party leader Davit Usupashvili said 
individuals who participated in the protests are being 
identified by police and either arrested or intimidated, and 
no police officer has been charged with excessive use of 
force.  He also said the government had not interviewed 
opposition leader Kova Davitashvili, who was badly beaten 
during the protests.  MP Nadiradze said police are 
investigating cases of violence by protesters directed 
against police, but are not pursuing others who participated 
in the protest.  A third round of talks are planned for 
November 14. 
 
------------------------------------------- 
Opposition Chooses Candidate for Presidency 
-------------------------------------------- 
 
3. (C) The United National Council of Opposition (UNC), minus 
the Labor Party, selected Levan Gachechiladze on November 12 
as their presidential candidate.  Prior to his selection, it 
was widely believed Republican Party leader Davit Usupashvili 
would be chosen, but in a close 5 to 4 vote, Gachechiladze 
was selected.  Georgian Way leader Salome Zourabichvili will 
become prime minister if Gachechiladze wins.  Gachechiladze 
joins Gamkrelidze and an independent, Gia Maisashvili, as 
declared candidates for President. 
 
----------------------------- 
Candidate Levan Gachechiladze 
----------------------------- 
 
4. (U) Levan Gachechiladze, 43 years old, is an independent 
member of parliament with no party affiliation.  He studied 
economics at Tbilisi State University.  Gachechiladze was 
elected to Parliament in 1999 as a member of the ruling 
party, Citizen's Union of Georgia.  He split with 
Shevardnadze's party in 2001 and formed the New Rightists 
Party, serving as deputy chairman.  He was then elected to 
parliament as a majoritarian representative from the New 
Rightists party in Vake district, Tbilisi.  He split from the 
party in 2003 when Gamkrelidze and other party leaders 
refused to support the Rose Revolution.  Since then he has 
served as an independent MP and kept a low profile until the 
recent protests.   He set up the Georgian Wine and Spirits 
Company (GWS) in 1994, which soon became the biggest wine 
producer in the country.  It sold 90% of its exports to 
Russia and was heavily hit by the Russian ban on Georgian 
wine in 2006.  Gachechiladze has an estimated wealth of USD 
10 million, mostly from his position as main shareholder in 
GWS.  He reportedly sold his shares in GWS to a foreign 
investor recently. 
 
5. (C) During the protests, he was the instigator of a hunger 
strike on the Parliament steps and, along with dozens of 
others, was forced away on November 7.  Gachechiladze has 
little name recognition outside of Tbilisi.  He is not 
considered as strong a potential candidate as Usupashvili. 
Next to Salome Zourabichvili as his running mate for Prime 
Minister, he appears the weaker of the two.  Zourabichvili, 
however, said "we nominated a person who will be a very 
serious contender for Saakashvili."  Zourabichvili, who has 
lived in Georgia since 2003, is ineligible because she has 
 
TBILISI 00002802  002 OF 003 
 
 
not lived the required fifteen years in Georgia prior to the 
election.  Kova Davitashvili, leader of the People's Party, 
said Gachechiladze is an independent who had an active role 
in the opposition's recent campaigns and this largely 
contributed to his selection as the presidential candidate. 
 
--------------------------------------------- ---------------- 
Patarkatsishvili Will Run; Industrialists Support Gamkrelidze 
 
-----------------------------------
---------- ---------------- 
 
6. (U) Patarkatsishvili announced via e-mail from Europe on 
November 10 that he will run for President under the slogan, 
"Georgia without Saakashvili is Georgia without Terror."  As 
of now, there are no formal criminal charges against 
Patarkatsishvili in Georgia.  Opposition leaders said 
Pataratsishvili has a right to run but that the UNC would not 
support his candidacy.  Industrialist Party MP Zurab 
Tkemaladze offered his party's support for the candidacy of 
MP Davit Gamkrelidze of the New Rightists Party. 
 
--------------------------------------------- ---------- 
Charges Dropped Against Labor Party Leader Natelashvili 
--------------------------------------------- ---------- 
 
7.  (SBU)  On November 12, the Labor Party announced its 
intention to nominate its leader, Shalva Natelashvili, to run 
in the January 5 elections for president.  Natelashvili 
remains in hiding.  In a letter delivered to the Embassy by 
his supporters, he has asked the U.S. to consider granting 
him asylum.  On November 10, the General Prosecutor General's 
Office dropped charges of espionage and conspiracy to 
overthrow the government against Natelashvili and said he is 
wanted only for questioning as a witness.  President 
Saakashvili confirmed that Natelashvili would not be arrested 
and could "freely run for the presidency."  Davitashvili said 
the nomination was a surprise to the UNC, of which the Labor 
Party is a member.  Natelashvili's supporters deny he is in 
Russia.  They say he is undergoing medical treatment in 
Georgia and will make a statement in a few days. 
 
--------------------------------------------- ----------- 
State of Emergency Continues, Government Still Promising 
It Will Be Lifted 
--------------------------------------------- ----------- 
 
8. (U) Parliamentary majority leader Maia Nadiradze said on 
November 12 that the state of emergency would be lifted soon, 
"in two or three days."  Usupashvili, speaking for the 
opposition, expressed doubts, saying no concrete reason has 
been offered by the government for keeping the state of 
emergency in force. 
 
---------------------------------------- 
Okruashvili Trial Slated for November 16 
----------------------------------------- 
 
9. (U) Eka Beselia, Okruashvili's attorney, said the trial of 
Irakli Okruashvili, slated to begin in Tbilisi city court on 
November 16, should be postponed if the defendant fails to 
attend.   Deputy General Prosecutor Gvaramia said Okruashvili 
would be put on the wanted list if he fails to appear on 
November 16 and his GEL 10 million bail would be forfeited to 
the state budget.  Okruashvili remains in Germany. 
 
------------------------------- 
President Meets with Businesses 
------------------------------- 
 
10.  (U) President Saakashvili held a meeting with Georgian 
businessmen on November 10.  He defended his imposition of 
the state of emergency.  Some of those present expressed 
support for the President's actions. 
 
-------------------------- 
Imedi TV Still Off the Air 
-------------------------- 
 
11.  (SBU)  Opposition leaders said that restoration of Imedi 
TV to the air will be one of the top issues for discussion 
with the government.   EU Special Representative for the 
South Caucasus, Peter Semneby, visited the station's studio 
on November 11.  The station's owners said that the studio 
had been cleaned up after it was closed by police on November 
7.  At the time of Semneby's visit, some equipment was 
missing and other equipment was disconnected. 
 
--------------------- 
Matt Bryza in Tbilisi 
--------------------- 
 
 
TBILISI 00002802  003 OF 003 
 
 
12.  (C) EUR DAS Matt Bryza held meetings with both 
opposition and government leaders, as well as the Patriarch 
and the American Chamber of Commerce, during his visit 
November 10-13 (septels).  He repeatedly stressed the need 
for responsible dialogue, for an end to the state of 
emergency, for free and fair presidential elections in 
January, and for a way to be found to restore Imedi 
television to the air. 
 
TEFFT

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