07TBILISI2882, TBILISI UPDATE 11/19/2007

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
07TBILISI2882 2007-11-19 12:38 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Tbilisi

DE RUEHSI #2882/01 3231238
P 191238Z NOV 07

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 TBILISI 002882 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 11/19/2017 
     B. TBILISI 2843 
Classified By: Ambassador John F. Tefft, reason 1.4(b) and (d). 
New Ministers Appointed 
1. (C) Following President Saakashvili's November 16 
announcement of Lado Gurgenidze as the new Prime Minister 
(Ref A), two changes to the cabinet were announced on 
November 19.  Minister of Education Kakha Lomaia was replaced 
by his deputy at the ministry, Bela Tsipuria.  Lomaia was 
subsequently named the Chairman of the National Security 
Council, an institution which has been moribund under Kota 
Kemularia.  Lomaia may now inject new life into a badly 
managed presidential administration.  Tsipuria, the second 
woman named to the cabinet of ministers, studied in the 
United States under a Muskie Fellowship.  Koba Subeliani, 
head of the Tbilisi City Municipal Improvements Service, will 
replace Giorgi Kheviashvili as Minister of Refugees. 
2. (U) Prime Minister Gurgenidze said on November 16 his top 
priorities will be to start a dialogue with the Georgian 
people, businesses, foreign investors and the Georgian 
Diaspora in order to build consensus and continue Georgia's 
economic progress.  Saakashvili hailed Gurgenidze for 
reviving Georgia's banking sector and called him "Georgia's 
most successful businessman." 
Opposition, Saakashvili Begin Campaigning 
3. (U) The United National Coalition of Opposition (UNC) 
announced November 17 plans to begin its presidential 
campaign on November 19.  Representatives from the Republican 
Party, Conservatives, Georgia's Way, Freedom Party, On Our 
Own, Party of People, Movement for United Georgia, Georgian 
Troupe, and National Forum gathered on November 17 to discuss 
a strategy for UNC presidential candidate Levan 
Gachechiladze's campaign.  Over the weekend, Koba 
Davitashvili and Jondi Baghaturia of UNC visited markets to 
call on the traders to vote for Gachechiladze, claiming the 
removal of the requirement for cash registers for small 
traders was achieved by the opposition.  Republican leader 
Davit Usupashvili said the real campaign would start only 
after the date for the election is set and Saakashvili 
resigns.  The January 5 date has not been approved by 
Parliament but Saakashvili will reportedly resign on November 
25 or 26. 
4. (U) Several other candidates have announced their 
intention to run for president: Badri Patarkashishvili, Irina 
Sarishvili, Imedi Political Movement (not related to Imedi 
television), Gia Maisashvili, founder of the Party of the 
Future, the Labor Party's Shalva Natelashvili, and New 
Rightists founder David Gamkrelidze. 
5. (SBU) The opposition claims Saakashvili began campaigning 
for his reelection immediately following his announcement of 
new elections in January.  The government has recently 
unveiled large scale social assistance programs, raised 
salaries for teachers and professors, and increased pensions. 
 On November 17, Saakashvili gave a speech at the dedication 
of a museum honoring Georgian patriot Ilia Chavchavadze, 
drawing heavily on Chavchavadze's memory and calling Badri 
Patarkatsishvili "evil."  He also criticized the business 
practices of opposition presidential candidate 
Gachechiladze's Georgian Wine and Spirits Company before it 
went bankrupt. 
Saakashvili Asks OSCE to Send Observers 
6. (U) In a November 18 meeting, Saakashvili invited OSCE 
Mission to Georgia's Head Terhi Hakala to send "hundreds, 
even thousands" of international observers to the Georgian 
elections.  He said that observers will be able to monitor 
pre-election campaigns, ensure freedom of speech is protected 
and prevent discrimination against presidential hopefuls and 
their campaigns. 
Charges Against Imedi and Patarkatsishvili; 
Kavkazia TV Back on Air 
7. (U) The Georgian National Communications Commission (GNCC) 
TBILISI 00002882  002 OF 002 
suspended Imedi TV's broadcast license for three months.  The 
suspension was dated November 8.  The GNCC said the decision 
was based on the November 7 broadcast by Imedi of "obvious 
disinformation that police were planning to storm the 
cathedral of the Holy Trinity."  This, GNCC claims, created 
an imminent and real threat of encouraging violent protests 
to continue. 
8. (U) Over the weekend Rustavi 2, Mze and Channel 1 
broadcast a program in which Deputy Chief Prosecutor Nika 
Gvaramia played taped phone conversations between Imedi 
co-owner Badri Patarkatsishvili and Imedi journalist and 
producer Giorgi Targamadze which, Gvaramia claims, 
demonstrate Patarkatsishvili was "directly controlling Imedi 
TV's editorial pol
icy."  In the program Gvaramia said the 
taped phone conversations showed "Imedi TV was a weapon in 
the hands of Patarkatsishvili."  On November 17 Saakashvili 
responded to growing concerns over what appears to be 
widespread tapping of private phone conversations by saying 
that any phone tapping was done in accordance with legal 
procedures and carried out by law enforcement agencies. 
9. (U)  Gvaramia also alleged on November 16 that two 
security firms linked to Patarkatsishvili were involved in an 
attempt to set up an illegal armed group.  Gvaramia said the 
head of both firms, Giorgi Beridze, was arrested November 13 
and a large number of weapons were seized from his apartment. 
 Gvaramia made public recorded conversations wherein Beridze 
instructed his employees to recruit "good men" "who would be 
willing to kill without hesitation." 
10. (U) Kavkasia TV began broadcasting shortly after the 
state of emergency was lifted November 16.  The 
pro-opposition station only covers the capital of Tbilisi. 
Its initial broadcasts were extremely critical of the 


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