07TBILISI3010, TBILISI UPDATE: 12/3/07

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
07TBILISI3010 2007-12-03 12:56 2011-08-30 01:44 UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY Embassy Tbilisi

VZCZCXRO2121
PP RUEHAG RUEHAST RUEHDA RUEHDBU RUEHDF RUEHFL RUEHIK RUEHKW RUEHLA
RUEHLN RUEHLZ RUEHPOD RUEHROV RUEHSR RUEHVK RUEHYG
DE RUEHSI #3010/01 3371256
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 031256Z DEC 07
FM AMEMBASSY TBILISI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 8353
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE PRIORITY

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 TBILISI 003010 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SENSITIVE 
SIPDIS 
 
DEPARTMENT FOR EUR/CARC 
 
E.O. 12958: N/A 
TAGS: PGOV PHUM GG
SUBJECT: TBILISI UPDATE: 12/3/07 
 
REF: TBILISI 2999 
 
-------------------------------- 
OSCE Ambassadorial Working Group 
--------------------------------- 
 
1. (U)  On November 30, the Ambassador attended an OSCE 
Ambassadorial Working Group to discuss the upcoming Georgian 
Presidential Elections.  OSCE members underscored the tense 
political climate and the low level of confidence the public 
has in the Central Election Commission (CEC).  One of the 
largest frustrations for the Council of Europe and OSCE was 
that the final form of the amended Election Code was not 
clear at the time of the meeting. (Note:  The Parliament has 
now passed the amended code.)  Ambassador Igor Gaon, Council 
of Europe, praised the work of the CEC Chairman Levan 
Tarkhnishvili, and complimented his professionalism and the 
job the CEC has done to clean up the election lists. 
However, Gaon complained that changes to the election law are 
continually being proposed.  Without a final text of the 
Election Code available in English, the Council was concerned 
ODIHR will not be able to complete its monitoring mission 
properly.  The German Ambassador agreed to draft a letter for 
all Ambassadors to sign to be sent to Acting President 
Burjanadze, asking her to clarify whether questions about the 
election code should be sent to CEC Chairman Tarkhnishvili or 
to the Secretary of the National Security Council and 
coordinator for the international community on elections, 
Alexander Lomaia. 
 
------------------------------------ 
Misuse of "Administrative Resources" 
------------------------------------ 
 
2. (SBU)  During the Working Group meeting, Ambassador Gaon 
said that the opposition is crying foul to former President 
Saakashvili's continued use of the official presidential 
residence, transport and security, although he has resigned. 
Gaon believes Saakashvili has an unfair advantage, and he 
said that in no other country is a president who has resigned 
given such leeway during a campaign.  Gaon said, at the very 
least, the National Movement Party should pay for the car, 
fuel, and other perks which Saakashvili is using.  All 
present agreed that the cost of security shouldn't be an 
issue, as all declared Presidential candidates in most 
countries are afforded this courtesy.  The Ambassador said 
that what constitutes "administrative resources" is unclear 
and that there is no one gold standard to which all countries 
adhere.  Other Ambassadors present agreed that a clear line 
needs to be drawn to define what is acceptable and what is 
not. 
 
--------------------------------------------- 
Soldiers Voting in Iraq; Updating Voter Lists 
--------------------------------------------- 
 
3. (U) The CEC said that the Ministry of Defense will confirm 
the number of soldiers in Iraq to facilitate their voting. 
The CEC is expected to receive this information from MOD on 3 
December.  The CEC has said that there will be a special 
polling place arranged for soldiers in Iraq, but no other 
information was available.  The CEC insisted that all 
soldiers would be permitted to vote. 
 
4. (U) The CEC posted several updated voter lists on the 
Internet December 1.  The CEC plans to release the remaining 
lists gradually in the next few days.  Tarkhnishvili said 
voters will have a chance to check their name on-line and if 
they find any errors, they can correct them before the 
election. 
 
------------------------------- 
Presidential Campaign Continues 
------------------------------- 
 
5. (SBU) On December 2 television station Rustavi 2 reported 
the results of a survey by Business Consulting Group (BCG), 
which showed Saakashvili as the frontrunner presidential 
candidate.  The BCG survey was commissioned by Saakashvili's 
campaign.  BCG was run by Levan Tarkhnishvili before he 
became CEC chair, and its current director is his wife.  BCG 
said it interviewed 10,000 people between November 16 and 29 
and reported 71% of respondents planned to vote, and 54.5% 
said they would vote for Saakashvili, followed by Levan 
Gachechiladze with 15.5% and Badri Patarkatsishvili, with 
14.5%.  The opposition protested the survey because BCG's 
director is related to the Chair of the CEC and challenged 
the credibility of the results. 
 
6. (U) The first television campaign ads of the Presidential 
 
TBILISI 00003010  002 OF 002 
 
 
campaign aired on November 30.  A four-minute ad for Mikheil 
Saakashvili was presented as a mock news report of his recent 
visit to a coal mining town in Imereti.  The ad highlighted 
Saakashvili's conversation with miners and his promises of 
increased employment.  Saakashvili is making the return of 
IDP's to their homes in Abkhazia a theme of his campaign.  In 
a December 1 speech, he promised to "create all the necessary 
conditions" for their return, in cooperation with with the 
international community.  In the same speech he promised to 
raise the minimum pension to USD 100. 
 
&#182
;7. (U) Party of the Future candidate Gia Maisashvili said he 
would support Saakashvili in the second round of polls if the 
choice is between Saakashvili and Badri Patarkatsishvili. 
Maisashvili's remarks were the top story on the Georgian 
Public Broadcasting (GPB) channel.  Labor Party candidate 
Shalva Natelashvili opened his party headquarters December 1 
in Tbilisi. 
 
--------------------------------------------- -- 
Opposition Claims Attacks Against Party Members 
--------------------------------------------- -- 
 
8. (U) The United National Council of Opposition (UNC) 
reported a series of attacks and intimidation against its 
activists on December 1.  Republican Party leader Tina 
Khidasheli said the UNC office was raided in Tskhaltubo, a 
town in Imereti.  She also claimed the head of the UNC 
campaign in Gardabani was kidnapped and beaten, but later 
released.  An Interior Ministry spokesman said he was unaware 
of these incidents, but urged the opposition to keep the 
Ministry informed of any others. 
 
--------------------------------------------- ----------- 
PM Gurgenidze Creates Fund to Assist Socially Vulnerable 
--------------------------------------------- ----------- 
 
9. (U) PM Lado Gurgenidze announced a joint initiative 
November 30 between the Georgian government and the business 
community to create a special fund to assist the poor.   At 
least 15 companies pledged a total GEL 5 million.  Gurgenidze 
said the government would contribute GEL 10 million. 
TEFFT

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