07TBILISI2822, TBILISI PROTESTS: SITREP NO. 7

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
07TBILISI2822 2007-11-15 13:38 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Tbilisi

VZCZCXRO7215
PP RUEHDBU RUEHFL RUEHKW RUEHLA RUEHROV RUEHSR
DE RUEHSI #2822/01 3191338
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 151338Z NOV 07
FM AMEMBASSY TBILISI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 8192
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE PRIORITY

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 TBILISI 002822 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SIPDIS 
 
DEPT FOR EUR DAS BRYZA AND EUR/CARC 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 11/15/2017 
TAGS: PREL PGOV GG
SUBJECT: TBILISI PROTESTS: SITREP NO. 7 
 
REF: A. TBILISI 2802 
 
     B. TBILISI 2813 
 
Classified By: Ambassador John F. Tefft for reasons 1.4 (b) and (d) 
 
--------------------------------------------- 
State of Emergency Will be Lifted November 16 
--------------------------------------------- 
 
1. (U) Speaker Nino Burjanadze said in a televised statement 
that the state of emergency imposed on November 7 will be 
lifted on November 16.  She stated "this is important for the 
international community and our society."  Burjanadze also 
reaffirmed the government's readiness to continue talks with 
the opposition. 
 
------------------------------------ 
Imedi TV Broadcast License Suspended 
------------------------------------ 
 
2. (SBU) Imedi TV managing director Bidzina Baratashvili said 
he received notice on November 13 from the Tbilisi City Court 
that the Imedi TV broadcast license has been suspended and 
the station's assets frozen.  The ruling was dated November 
7, and was based on statements by the station's owner Badri 
Patarkatsishvili, which according to the court contained 
calls to overthrow the government.  Baratashvili said Imedi 
TV plans to appeal the ruling to a higher court and will be 
determining the extent of damage inflicted to equipment when 
police entered and closed the station. 
 
3. (U) Nino Burjanadze met with Imedi journalists, including 
Giorgi Targamadze, the controversial Imedi news anchor, on 
November 14 at the Parliament.  The journalists shared 
information about police actions the day of the Imedi 
shutdown.  Burjanadze did not say when Imedi would be able to 
resume broadcasting.  Conservative Party leader Kukava said 
Imedi would be high on the agenda during the opposition's 
talks with Burjanadze November 15. 
 
4. (U) Tbilisi-based Kavkasia TV also remains off the air. 
The owner and broadcaster, Davit Akubardia, was told by 
authorities the tower that broadcasts the TV's signal is out. 
 Akubardia does not know who will fix the tower. 
 
--------------------------------------- 
DAS Bryza Continues Meetings in Tbilisi 
--------------------------------------- 
 
5. (C) DAS Matthew Bryza continued meetings with opposition 
leaders from the Republican Party and New Rights on November 
15.  He also met with Tbilisi Mayor Gigi Ugulava.  DAS Bryza 
continues to press for restoration of Imedi to the airwaves 
and has promoted the idea of a European-style body to monitor 
the media and ensure ethical reporting in Georgia during the 
election period.  President Saakashvili told Bryza November 
12 that he is amenable to returning Imedi to the air if 
appropriate safeguards can be instituted (ref B). 
 
--------------------------------------------- ------------- 
Opposition Briefs Diplomatic Community; Continues Dialogue 
--------------------------------------------- ------------- 
 
6. (SBU)  Ten representatives from the opposition parties 
briefed the diplomatic community on November 14.  The leaders 
laid out ten preconditions for free and fair elections.  Key 
demands were that the police stop arrests and persecution of 
participants in the protests, a government investigation into 
police actions during the protests, removal of restrictions 
on the media and reopening of Imedi television, and the 
holding of a free and fair presidential elections.  The 
opposition complained they are receiving unequal time on the 
government television channel, saying the state of emergency 
gives the President a political advantage. Republican Party 
leader Tina Khidasheli called the government channel a "PR 
tool for the president." 
 
7. (C) Republican party leader Davit Usupashvili thanked the 
United States and the international community for their 
support for electoral reforms.  He asked the international 
community to assist in elections monitoring in Tbilisi and in 
the regions.  Salome Zourabashvili announced that she will 
travel to Europe to meet with European Parliament leaders and 
possibly the NATO Secretary General to inform them of the 
opposition's plans and garner international support.  During 
her absence, presidential candidate Levan Gachechiladze, 
joined by Usupashvili and Conservative MP Kakha Kukava, will 
lead the campaign.  Gachechiladze said he will only give live 
press interviews.  Zourabashvili commented that any boycott 
of the election would be very counterproductive, because the 
United Council of Opposition's (UNC) goal is to make positive 
 
TBILISI 00002822  002 OF 003 
 
 
change and achieve free and democratic elections. 
 
8. (U) The UNC also met with government representative 
Vice-Speaker Mikheil Machavariani November 14 and is 
scheduled to meet again with Speaker Nino Burjanadze November 
15. 
 
--------------------------------------------- 
Government Proposals for Election Code Reform 
--------------------------------------------- 
 
9. (U) The government submitted a package of amendments to 
the election laws to Parliamentary committees on November 14, 
which will continue to work on them.  The proposal would 
reduce the election threshold from seven percent to five 
percent, reorganize the election commissions to include 
representatives of political parties and change the rules for 
electing majoritarian MPs to give smaller parties a larger 
chance to win seats.  The Central Election Commission will be 
composed of five members appointed by the President, one 
member appointed by the ruling National Movement party, and 
six members from each of the six opposition parties eligible 
for state funding: New Rightists, Industrialists, Labor 
Party, Freedom Party, Republican Party, and Conservative 
Party.  Each of these parties cleared the three percent and 
four percent thresholds during parliamentary and local 
elections, respectively.  Details were also worked out for 
the district and precinct election commission levels.  The 
package is scheduled for discussion in Parliament November 
15.  Republican Party leader Usupashvili told diplomats 
November 14 that the opposition is not entirely satisfied 
with the government's proposed amendments, nor is 
Davitashvili satisfied with the progress being made in the 
government's talks with the opposition. 
 
10. (U) Finance Minister Nika Gilauri announced plans 
November 13 to allocate GEL 20 million (USD 12.3 million) for 
Central Election Commission (CEC) activities related to the 
January 5 presidential elections and the plebiscite on the 
date of parliamentary elections.  Originally the CEC 2007 
budget was GEL 9.5 million (USD 5.9 million).  The extra 
allocation will come from the presidential and government 
reserve funds. 
 
---------------------------- 
Saakashvili Addresses Public 
---------------------------- 
 
11.  (SBU) President Saakashvili addressed Tbilisi Medical 
University on November 14.  The 45-minute meeting was 
broadcast on Georgian Public TV.  His speech was attended 
mainly by older health care professionals.  Saakashvili has 
not often been seen addressing older citizens.  The 
President's demeanor was subdued.  He focused mainly on 
health-related issues relevant to the medical community and, 
in a rare conciliatory gesture, admitted some Georgians are 
going hungry and some of the reforms the government enacted 
may need to be corrected.  He claimed "huge resources' are 
being used against Georgia and that Russia is acting toward 
Georgia as it had in 1921.  He accused Russia of promoting 
revolution in Georgia in order to justify invading it, but 
warned that Georgia has sufficient forces to respond.  The 
speech was well-received by the audience, who said this kind 
of dialogue is critical. 
 
------------------------------------ 
Presidential Pardon for 3,000 Inmates 
------------------------------------ 
 
12. (U) Saakashvili said November 14 he planned to pardon 
inmates convicted for "petty crimes."  Deputy Prosecutor Nika 
Gvaramia announced that 1,000 inmates will be released soon. 
The government plans to reduce prison terms for an additional 
2,000 prisoners.  The opposition alleged the decision is 
linked to the upcoming election.  However, the chairman of 
the parliamentary Committee for Legal Affairs, Levan 
Bezhashvili, said the government has been working on the idea 
for a long time. 
 
--------------------------------------------- ----- 
Public Defender Condemns Persecution of Protesters 
--------------------------------------------- ----- 
 
13. (U) Sozar Subari, Public Defender and Ombudsman, released 
a statement November 13 calling on law enforcement agencies 
to immediately stop "persecuting and terrorizing" political 
party activists and ordinary citizens who participated in the 
anti-government demonstrations.  The Interior Ministry denied 
it is persecuting anyone, but confirmed it is investigating 
violent attacks on police officers on November 7.  The 
Ministry also confirmed that an activist from the Labor Party 
 
TBILISI 00002822  003 OF 003 
 
 
was arrested November 13. 
 
------------------------------------------ 
Court Orders Okruashvili Back into Custody 
------------------------------------------ 
 
14. (U) On November 15, a court in Tbilisi granted the 
General Prosecutor's Office's request to remand Irakli 
Okruashvili to custody after he failed to appear in Tbilisi 
for additional questioning by prosecutors.  Hearings on 
Okruashvili's  corruption case are scheduled for November 16. 
 Okruashvili remains in Germany.  His attorney alleged that 
the real reason Okruashvili was ordered back into custody is 
the interviews he has given in Germany recanting his 
confession and reaffirming his charges against President 
Saakashvili. 
 
TEFFT

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