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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
07TBILISI2813 2007-11-14 14:33 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Tbilisi

DE RUEHSI #2813/01 3181433
O 141433Z NOV 07

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 TBILISI 002813 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 11/13/2017 
Classified By: Ambassador John F. Tefft, reason 1.4(b) and (d) 
1. (C) Summary:  In a November 13 meeting EUR DAS Matt Bryza 
conveyed to Georgian President Micheil Saakashvili the 
Secretary's firm message that the state of emergency in 
Georgia must be lifted and that all TV broadcasts, especially 
Imedi's, must be resumed if the GOG is to restore faith in 
Georgia's democratic reforms and retain U.S. support. 
Saakashvili disputed that his concerns about Russian 
involvement in the recent street protests and a buildup in 
Abkhazia are an excuse for abandoning Georgian democracy.  He 
considers the threats from Russia and from Imedi television 
to Georgia's government as quite real.  At the same time, he 
told Bryza that he will end the state of emergency in Georgia 
by November 16.  He also said he is ready to reopen Imedi 
television if appropriate safeguards on the messages it 
broadcasts can be found, in accordance with proposals made by 
Bryza and Ambassador Tefft in meetings with other GOG 
officials.  He promised that opposition leaders will be free 
to speak out and hold peaceful demonstrations after the state 
of emergency ends, without fear of arrest.  Saakashvili 
expressed deep concern about reports of a Russian buildup of 
troops and weapons in Abkhazia.  He asked the USG to send a 
strong message to the Russians not to take such a provocative 
action at such a critical time in Georgia's internal 
political life.  A dramatic increase in the Russian presence 
in Abkhazia would be considered an attack, he said, and would 
draw a Georgian response.   End Summary. 
2. (C) DAS Bryza reviewed for Saakashvili his series of 
meetings with the opposition and government officials since 
his arrival in Tbilisi on November 11.  He told Saakashvili 
that he has been as tough in his approach to the opposition 
as he has been to the government, but he was sent to Tbilisi 
to deliver a firm message from Secretary Rice. He said that 
Saakashvili's decision to call early presidential elections 
was welcome, but that the state of emergency and closure of 
Imedi television sent shock waves throughout Washington.  It 
is now crucial to lift the state of emergency and to reopen 
Imedi, he said. 
3. (C) Saakashvili said that the country faced a choice in 
November of "either Imedi or Georgia".  His government fully 
realized and took into account the damage to its reputation 
that would result from its decision to announce a state of 
emergency and take Imedi off the air.  He said that the 
demonstrators on the street on November 7 were far different 
from those who took part in the November 2 demonstrations. 
On November 7, they were "criminals and dismissed, corrupt 
policemen" in contrast to the political and civil society 
activists of November 2.  The November 7 protests, he 
insisted, were not counter-revolution, but counter-reform. 
He observed that the demonstrations were limited to Rustaveli 
Avenue in front of the Parliament, and not county-wide as was 
the case during the Rose Revolution in 2003.  He claimed that 
Imedi journalists had been overheard discussing provoking the 
killing of demonstrators in order to inspire the people to 
overrun the Parliament building.  He also said that Imedi's 
security director was organizing criminals and distributing 
weapons.  Saakashvili expressed his view that Imedi is under 
the control of Badri Patarkatsishvili, and that 
Patarkatsishvili and even the station's co-owner, Rupert 
Murdoch, are cooperating with Vladimir Putin.  He based his 
belief about Murdoch on a recent telephone discussion with 
Richard Holbrooke, who, he said, told him that Murdoch is 
also beholden to Putin. 
4. (C) Saakashvili said that he will end the state of 
emergency he announced on November 7 early, on November 16. 
After the state of emergency is lifted, he said, the 
opposition will have full access to the media and will be 
able to hold rallies and peaceful demonstrations.  The 
opposition leaders' fears of arrest are simply groundless, he 
said.  However, he said that street hooligans must be 
arrested and prosecuted as a matter of keeping order.  Also, 
he said, Irakli Okruashvili is a different case.  In his 
view, Okruashvili is deeply corrupt and stole from the 
Ministry of Defense, and should be prosecuted.  Bryza 
countered that the USG had long ago warned Saakashvili about 
Okruashvili's alleged corruption.  Saakashvili replied that 
he should have listened to us. 
5. (C) Some of Imedi's actions up to November 7 were criminal 
and will be prosecuted according to normal procedures, 
Saakashvili said.  As examples of Imedi's incitement during 
TBILISI 00002813  002 OF 003 
the protests, he said it had broadcast calls for people to 
attack Parliament and false reports of the death of c
and pregnant women and of a police attack on the Tbilisi 
cathedral.  He intends to announce that the station can 
reopen if appropriate safeguards are agreed with Murdoch and 
with European powers who might supply an appropriate person 
to monitor its messages, as Bryza had discussed with 
prosecutor General Adeishvili and parliamentary leaders 
Bokeria and Rurua.  Such a deal could be implemented quickly, 
he said.  In spite of the doubts he expressed about Murdoch, 
he said he intends to contact him and discuss the conditions 
for reopening the station.  He promised that all damage done 
to the station's equipment will be fully compensated. 
6. (C) Saakashvili said that as the demonstrations turned 
violent, all his advisors, including Nino Burjanadze, 
demanded that a state of emergency be imposed in order to 
allow the use of military troops to keep order.  The Georgian 
government mobilized as never before, he said.  Now, as calm 
returns, he is resigning, calling presidential elections and 
holding a plebiscite on the date of parliamentary elections. 
His own term in office is being shortened by one and one-half 
years, he said -- which should be compared to how others in 
the region cling to power.  He promised that he would not 
ignore the results of the plebiscite on the date of 
parliamentary elections if it does not go his way. 
Saakashvili also defended himself against charges that he 
relies on only a narrow circle of advisors.  He said that he 
has frequent conversations with journalists, and that he has 
successfully kept disparate politicians like Zurab Noghaideli 
and Burjanadze together in the National Movement by 
listening, by empowering and by delegating.  Only Irakli 
Okruashvili preferred to go his own way.  His circle seems 
narrow only to those who are outside of it, he said, and 
those people are out only because of poor results and lack of 
--------------------------------------------- -- 
--------------------------------------------- -- 
7. (C) Saakashvili became impassioned as he discussed the 
current and growing threat of Russian action to seize 
Abkhazia.  No Georgian leader can tolerate an attack on 
Abkhazia by Russia and hope to survive in office, he said. 
His own family, he said, lives with the guilt that it did not 
take action when Georgia was occupied by the Red Army in 
1921.  He said that Georgia will fight back, whatever the 
cost, if Russia attacks in Abkhazia.  He told how Putin had 
at one time threatened him with using "Cyprus" tactics, 
meaning that he would seize Abkhazia at some time when the 
government in Tbilisi is caught up in internal problems, as 
was the government in Athens when the Turkish republic in 
Cyprus was created.  Now, he said, Russia is preparing to 
quickly insert up to 5000 troops into Abkhazia in order to 
expand Russia's military presence in Abkhazia in anticipation 
of possible Russian recognition of Abkhazia during the Kosovo 
endgame.  He urged the USG to send a strong message to Russia 
not to take such a step. 
8. (C) Saakashvili referred to a recent New York Times 
editorial which termed U.S. interests in Georgia "moderate". 
The fact is, he said, if the United States loses Georgia, it 
loses Central Asia and the Caspian Basin as well. 
9. (C) Bryza said that the Russian threat to Abkhazia 
Saakashvili describes is viewed by some key observers in 
Washington as an excuse to prolong the state of emergency. 
and a perception exists that Saakashvili is ready to walk 
away from his record as a democrat because of his exaggerated 
fear of Russian intrigue.  Saakashvili emphatically denied 
that.  He said such a reaction is "exactly what the Russians 
want," so they can achieve their ends in Abkhazia and in 
Georgia.  The situation in Abkhazia will become clear within 
three or four days, he said, and the USG should pay attention 
to the increasingly bellicose statements from the Russian 
Duma and Moscow Mayor Luzhkov as well as the actions of the 
Russian military.  He warned that Putin will act if he does 
not get a clear signal from the United States that a 
provocation in Abkhazia will not be tolerated.  Recalling his 
promise to lift the state of emergency, find a way to restore 
Imedi to the air, and to hold elections, he urged that "you 
secure Abkhazia, and I will secure the situation in Georgia." 
 Bryza countered that it would be easier to gain traction in 
Washington on this latest Abkhazia issue if the GOG lifted 
the state of emergency and reopened Imedi Television. 
10. (C) Saakashvili called Bryza back to the Chancery for 
further consultations on Abkhazia at 12:30 a.m.  Saakashvili 
had convened his nearly nightly meeting of his national 
TBILISI 00002813  003 OF 003 
security team.  In attendance were Speaker Burjanadze, 
Minister of Internal Affairs Merabishvili, Minister of 
Defense Kezerashvili, State Minister for Conflict Resolution 
Bakradze, Minister of Economic Development Arveladze, 
parliamentary leader Bokeria and Tbilisi Mayor Ugulava. 
Saakashvili showed Bryza grainy photos taken from video 
footage shot by a Georgian UAV of a military base at 
Ochamchire in Abkhazia.  MOD Kezerashvili said the photos 
depicted five T-72 tanks and 6 D-30 howitzers that had 
allegedly been moved into Abkhazia from Sochi, Russia by rail 
three days earlier.  In response to Saakashvili's appeal for 
Washington to intervene at the highest levels in Moscow, 
Bryza suggested the GOG first lift the state of emergency and 
resume Imedi TV broadcasts.  Bryza also suggested the need 
for higher resolution images.  Bryza underscored the 
unwavering support of the United States for Georgia's 
territorial integrity and for a peaceful, political 
settlement in Abkhazia.  He added that if true, such Russian 
military movements could have a chilling impact on CFE treaty 
11. (U) DAS Bryza has cleared this telegram. 


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