07TBILISI2948, TBILISI UPDATE: 11/21/07

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
07TBILISI2948 2007-11-21 14:00 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Tbilisi

VZCZCXRO2507
PP RUEHDBU RUEHFL RUEHKW RUEHLA RUEHROV RUEHSR
DE RUEHSI #2948/01 3251400
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 211400Z NOV 07
FM AMEMBASSY TBILISI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 8261
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE PRIORITY

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 TBILISI 002948 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SIPDIS 
 
DEPT FOR EUR DAS BRYZA AND EUR/CARC 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 11/20/2017 
TAGS: PREL PGOV GG
SUBJECT: TBILISI UPDATE: 11/21/07 
 
 
Classified By: Ambassador John F. Tefft for reasons 1.4 (b) and (d). 
 
--------------------------------------------- ---- 
Opposition Leaders Share Latest Plans for Election 
--------------------------------------------- ----- 
 
1. (C)  United National Council of Opposition (UNC) members 
met with Ambassador November 21 to express their concerns 
about continuing government "oppression" of November 7 
protesters, government misuse of administrative resources to 
campaign, and the indefinite closure of Imedi.  Goga 
Khaindrava expressed concern that well-known independent 
economist Gia Khukhashvili is currently being detained by the 
General Prosecutor's Office because of his association with 
Badri Patarkatsishvili.  Republican Party leader Davit 
Usupashvili added that he had met with Khukhashvili before 
and he felt there was no reason to suspect Khukhashvili has 
any affiliation with Russia.  Khaindrava said the opposition 
is concerned President Saakashvili is using the 
government-controlled Public Broadcasting channel to paint 
opposition members as Russian spies (see para 3). 
Usupashvili accused Saakashvili of using state television, 
law enforcement, and the General Prosecutor's Office to 
systematically carry out his policies against the opposition 
and to directly aid his presidential campaign.  Usupashvili 
asked for USG assistance to urge the Georgian government to 
stop targeting opposition members for arrest and detention. 
The UNC leaders were most concerned about Imedi's reopening 
as the opposition would be unable to run an effective 
campaign without access to media outside of government 
controlled channels.  Koba Davitashvili told the Ambassador 
the UNC had requested permission from the government for the 
scheduled November 25 rally in Rike. 
 
2. (C) In a separate meeting, Labor Party Presidential 
candidate Shalva Natelashvili shared his version of the 
November 7 unrest.  He told the Ambassador more than half of 
the protesters were his supporters, who led him to Rike after 
the crowd in front of the Parliament was disbanded. 
Natelashvili said he felt he had to remain with his 
supporters and was not protected by his status as a political 
leader when he was hit with 30 teargas canisters. 
Natelashvili discounted rumors he had fled to Russia, saying 
he needed to receive medical attention and the only place he 
could do that was Georgia.  Natelashvili said he left Tbilisi 
immediately after the November 7 unrest because he feared the 
government's "spetznaz" planned to come to his house to kill 
him.  Natelashvili also complained about the broadcast of 
two-year old footage of his "legitimate" meetings with 
Russian diplomats in an attempt to brand him as a Russian 
collaborator.  Natelashvili characterized his relationship 
with Imedi co-owner Badri Patarkatsishvili as good, and he 
did not rule out Patarkatsishvili running for president. 
 
--------------------------------------------- ------ 
Public Broadcasting Channel Airs Film on "Coup Plot" 
--------------------------------------------- ------ 
 
3. (C) The documentary, "November to November," aired 
November 20 on the Georgian Public Broadcasting channel, and 
later on Rustavi 2 and Mze TV, outlined the government 
version of events leading to the November 7 unrest within the 
larger context of Georgian-Russian relations since the Rose 
Revolution.  The documentary made claims the anti-government 
demonstrations were part of a Russian-backed coup attempt, 
financed by Imedi co-owner Badri Patarkatsishvili, and 
incited by Imedi TV.  The documentary alleged the Russian 
Federal Security Service coordinated the demonstrations.  The 
documentary also claimed Irakli Okruashvili was part of the 
plot to destabilize the government, saying Okruashvili 
originally planned a military mutiny on September 27, but was 
stopped by the government's quick counter measures.  (Note: 
The press reported a September 27 disturbance at a military 
bases among soldiers who were supposedly drunk.  The deputy 
chief of the joint staff told Embassy's Defense Attache at 
the time it was simply a "disciplinary issue."  Reaction to 
the film varied widely, with some viewers believing the film 
strengthened the government's position, while others felt the 
government looked foolish for supporting obvious propaganda. 
UNC leaders complained this film was another example of the 
government using its resources to promote their viewpoint. 
 
--------------------------------------------- ----------- 
Claims State Employees Pressured to Vote for Saakashvili 
--------------------------------------------- ----------- 
 
4. (U) Former MP for the National Movement Guguli Magradze, 
who was dismissed by the ruling party after taking 
independent stands on several issues, said state employees, 
including teachers, are under pressure from their employers 
to vote for Saakashvili.  Parliamentary Speaker Nino 
 
TBILISI 00002948  002 OF 002 
 
 
Burjanadze did not rule out the possibility activists from 
the ruling party were doing this to "prove their loyalty to 
the party."   She said such action was counterproductive and 
should b
e "immediately eradicated." 
 
--------------------------------------------- ----- 
Burjanadze Supports European Experts on Media Bias 
--------------------------------------------- ----- 
 
5. (U)  Burjanadze said November 20 the Georgian authorities 
are working with European experts on a model to ensure Imedi 
TV broadcasts are unbiased.  EU Special Envoy for the South 
Caucasus said November 16 the EU would not serve a "mediation 
function" but would provide experts.  Nona Kandiashvili, 
managing director of Imedi Radio, which is shutdown along 
with the TV station, sought assistance from the Public 
Defender Sozar Subari on November 20 to resolve the 
situation. 
 
----------------------------------------- 
Saakashvili Continues Popularity Campaign 
----------------------------------------- 
 
6. (U) President Saakashvili continued his push for dialogue 
with the Georgian public in a meeting November 20 with World 
War II veterans and pensioners.  During the meeting, aired 
live on television, Saakashvili said the Tbilisi city 
government would look at how to address increasing public 
transport fees.  In a speech earlier in the day to Georgian 
athletes, Saakashvili said the development of a sports 
infrastructure was a matter of "personal prestige." 
Saakashvili seemed to be addressing skeptics directly, saying 
"I am not here to win your hearts and minds ahead of polls, 
but I promise we will do everything to resolve any 
shortcomings." 
 
---------------------------------- 
Gamkrelidze Statement on Elections 
---------------------------------- 
 
7. (U) In a November 20 interview on Rustavi-2, presidential 
candidate David Gamkrelidze said his main goal in the 
election was to prevent a first-round victory by Saakashvili. 
 He urged each candidate to "mobilize his voters to take as 
many votes from Saakashvili as possible."  Gamkrelidze said 
he would withdraw from the elections in favor of the 
opposition candidate who won the majority of votes in the 
first-round, and he urged other candidates to do the same. 
TEFFT

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