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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
07TBILISI2814 2007-11-14 14:47 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Tbilisi

DE RUEHSI #2814/01 3181447
O 141447Z NOV 07

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 TBILISI 002814 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 11/14/2017 
Classified By: Ambassador John F. Tefft, reason 1.4(b) and (d). 
1. (C) Summary:  In a November 12 meeting with Georgian Prime 
Minister Zurab Noghaideli, EUR DAS Matt Bryza urged that the 
government lift its state of emergency and return independent 
television station Imedi back to the air.  Noghaideli 
admitted that the government's aggressive pursuit of economic 
and social reform has created discontent, especially among 
the rural poor and dismissed government employees.  This 
situation has given strength to the opposition that organized 
the protest of November 2.  He defended the government's 
decision to confront demonstrators when they turned violent 
on November 7.  Ringleaders of the violence will still be 
subject to prosecution, he said, but opposition leaders have 
nothing to fear.  Nevertheless, investigations of Labor Party 
leader Shalva Natelashvili and Goga Khaindrava will continue, 
and prosecutions may result if the evidence warrants.  Now 
that presidential elections have been called for November 5, 
Noghaideli said, the government is committed that they be 
free and fair, and will welcome election monitors both during 
the campaign and on election day.   He recommended Bryza 
raise with President Saakashvili the proposal to facilitate 
Imedi TV's return to the airwaves by establishing a European 
monitor of media broadcasts.  Noghaideli said that he expects 
to complete an agreement with the Azerbaijan government on 
gas supplies at a meeting in Tbilisi on November 22.  He said 
that about 80 percent of Georgia's gas supplies in 2008 will 
come from Azerbaijan.  End Summary. 
2. (C) DAS Bryza expressed to Noghaideli the USG's concern 
about the manner in which dispersal of protesters in Tbilisi 
was handled on November 7, and reported continued arrests of 
opposition supporters outside Tbilisi.  He said that the 
opposition leaders with whom he had met speak of feelings of 
fear that could make a free and fair presidential election on 
January 5 difficult.  He added that he has told the 
opposition that it must speak and act responsibly, and 
participate in dialogue with the government.  National 
Movement parliamentarians with whom he had met during his 
visit had admitted that the tough economic and social 
decision required by the government's reform agenda have 
caused discontent, and that such people are vulnerable to 
exploitation by radicals and foreign influences. 
Nevertheless, he said, it is important to get Imedi TV back 
on the air as soon as possible, while at the same time he 
recognized the need to ensure Imedi will not be used to 
incite violence or extra-constitutional steps.  It will not 
be possible to achieve confidence in the January elections 
among Georgia's supporters abroad unless Imedi is on the air, 
he concluded. 
3. (C) Noghaideli said that the government accepts that it 
will never be as popular as it was when Saakashvili was first 
elected in 2004.  Reforms have been painful and government 
employment has been reduced by 60 percent, leaving many 
former employees bitter.  He said that rural poverty is a 
difficult problem to solve in a short time.  There are many 
villages that date to collective farm days under the Soviets, 
where people do not own land and have no work, he said.  He 
rejected "artificial solutions" to the problem.  The issue 
can be only be solved by such persons moving to the cities 
over time, and he rejected "artificial solutions" such as 
forcibly relocating them.  The government is providing some 
direct benefits to such people, including health care, he 
said.  The people who have lost government jobs are more 
wealthy and yet more vocal, he said.  Many other people's 
income is growing.  But the employment problem is why the 
government is developing a free economic zone in Poti, 
redeveloping Batumi, and now turning its attention to 
Kutaisi, Noghaideli said. 
--------------------------------------------- --- 
--------------------------------------------- --- 
4. (C) Noghaideli stressed that no action was taken against 
the protesters on and after November 2, so long as they were 
peaceful, no matter how many of them there were. 
(Noghaideli's estimate was 80,000 people on November 2.)  He 
defended the action to clear the street on November 7. 
Violence occurred, he said, only when demonstrators returned 
and began to attack the police and try to enter the 
parliament.  The police had to reestablish order, he said, as 
would be required anywhere in the world.  The government 
knows it lost ground as a result, however, and is faced with 
TBILISI 00002814  002 OF 003 
a new reality.  The President has called presidential 
elections at the earliest possible date, which is January 5, 
he said.  Noghaideli added that the GOG knows the world is 
watching and that its actions matter more than its words. &#x00
5. (C) Noghaideli said the government is committed to free 
and fair elections in January.  However, he believes that 
opposition claims that their members fear retaliation, 
especially outside Tbilisi, are overblown.  To address that, 
the government has invited the OSCE to send long-term 
election monitors to Georgia to monitor the campaign as well 
as the elections.  The world should watch, he said, and it 
will see that people have the chance to express their views 
as in any normal democratic country. 
6. (C) The Russians now know they have failed to replace 
Saakashvili and can have no real influence in Georgian 
politics, Noghaideli said.  They will still try to influence 
the course of politics negatively.  However, by involving 
themselves with the Russians, Shalva Natelashvili and Goga 
Khaindrava have marginalized themselves.  An investigation of 
their behavior will be undertaken, but they will not be 
arrested unless more evidence of crimes is uncovered, he 
said.  Badri Patarkatsishvili is "playing the Russians' 
game," Noghaideli said.  Badri was using Imedi as his tool, 
calling for forceful overthrow of the government and 
rebellion.  He said that the Ambassador will soon receive a 
package of evidence relating to Imedi from the General 
Prosecutor.  Bryza agreed that the calls for overthrow of the 
government on the part of both Imedi and the opposition were 
unacceptable.  He said the calling of presidential elections 
in January was a prudent decision.  Nevertheless, he was 
delivering a firm message from Secretary Rice to lift the 
state of emergency and put Imedi back on the air to ensure 
the elections are credible. 
7. (C) Bryza said that the opposition had told him that the 
police had chased demonstrators down on November 7 and that 
dissidents have been sought out and jailed since.  Noghaideli 
said that some demonstrators who were bent on breaking 
windows and smashing property were chased down and could not 
be left to their own ends.  He cited the action of 
demonstrators earlier this year in Estonia.  He said that 
ringleaders of violence could indeed face prosecution and 
spending 30 days in jail.  He professed himself ready to 
discuss the lifting of the state of emergency and reopening 
of Imedi.  He said he, the President, and the Minister of 
Interior will take responsibility for police misbehavior, but 
that individual police, who were on the street in the heat of 
confrontation, should receive understanding.  The police will 
conduct an internal assessment after the situation returns to 
normal, he said.  The state of emergency will end "this week" 
(the week of November 12).  Then people will have full rights 
to demonstrate, he said, but the government does not want a 
return to the same situation as before. 
8. (C) In that regard, Bryza urged Noghaideli to talk to 
Rupert Murdoch about the incendiary content of Imedi 
broadcasts, since he may not fully understand what Imedi was 
up to.  He said independent European monitors could be 
appointed to judge whether broadcasts violate professional 
and/or ethical standards of journalism, if Imedi is allowed 
to reopen.  Such monitors exist in several European 
countries, he said.  Noghaideli deferred to President 
Saakashvili to make such a decision. 
9. (C) Bryza asked Noghaideli what the economic impact of the 
political crisis has been.  Noghaideli said it is difficult 
to calculate.  He thinks there could be a slowing of growth 
for a while, but the economy should get back to normal unless 
the upcoming election is perceived to be unfair by the United 
States and the Europeans. 
10. (C) Bryza said that he supports Georgia in seeking 
Azerbaijani natural gas as an alternate to Russian supplies. 
The grand goal, he said, is to get Azeri production up to the 
point that Georgia's needs can be met and enough is available 
to fill the Nabucco and Turkey-Greece-Italy pipelines. 
However, both Azerbaijan and BP are playing a hard game in 
their negotiations over future gas development.  The USG is 
stressing to the Azeris that they need to help Georgia with 
gas, and to BP that they need to compromise.  He said he 
hopes to see a deal finished soon. 
11. (C) Noghaideli said that Azeri Energy Minister Rovnaq 
Aliyev is coming to Tbilisi on November 22 to complete 
TBILISI 00002814  003 OF 003 
negotiations.  He expects that Georgia will get about 1.0-1.4 
million cm per day at a cost of $140 per thousand cubic 
meters.  In the end, he thinks Georgia will use about 80 
percent Azeri gas (from the South Caucasus Pipeline and 
SOCAR).  Only 20 percent or less will come from Russia. 
Noghaideli was proud that Georgia is now a net exporter of 
electricity, as he said, and is constructing high-voltage 
lines to its neighbors.  Because Georgia is solving its 
internal energy problems, it is looking forward to 
international projects, Noghaideli said.  He expects 
electricity consumption will begin to rise in 2008 as the 
economy grows.  He said the government is beginning to think 
about what will happen in seven to ten years. 
12. (U) DAS Bryza has cleared this telegram. 


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