07TBILISI3050, GEORGIA: TBILISI ELECTION UPDATE: 12/07/2007

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
07TBILISI3050 2007-12-07 12:52 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Tbilisi

VZCZCXRO6408
PP RUEHFL RUEHKW RUEHLA RUEHROV RUEHSR
DE RUEHSI #3050/01 3411252
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 071252Z DEC 07
FM AMEMBASSY TBILISI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 8401
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE PRIORITY

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 TBILISI 003050 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SIPDIS 
 
DEPT FOR EUR DAS BRYZA AND EUR/CARC 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 12/06/2017 
TAGS: PREL PGOV GG
SUBJECT: GEORGIA: TBILISI ELECTION UPDATE: 12/07/2007 
 
REF: TBILISI 3032 
 
Classified By: Ambassador John F. Tefft for reasons 1.4 (b) and (d). 
 
--------------------------------------------- --- 
Thirteen Candidates Contest Presidential Election 
--------------------------------------------- ---- 
 
1. (U)  Thirteen presidential candidates each submitted more 
than the 50,000 required voter signatures to the Central 
Election Commission (CEC) by the December 6 deadline. 
Mikheil Saakashvili's National Movement Party submitted 
205,000 signatures, Oligarch Badri Patarkatsishvili's 
representatives submitted 202,000. New Rightists Davit 
Gamkrelidze had 165,000, Labor Party Leader Shalva 
Natelshvili presented 75,000, Party of the Future candidate 
Gia Maisashvili submitted 68,000, and United National Council 
of opposition (UNC) candidate Levan Gachechiladze submitted 
63,000.  The remaining candidates who met the 50,000 
signature threshold are Archil Ioseliani, Russian-leaning 
Hope Party candidate Irina Sarishvili, Kartlos Garibashvili, 
Levan Kidzinidze, Giorgi Shervashidze, Avtandil Margiani, and 
Shalva Kuprashvili.  The CEC will check the signatures over 
the next two days and candidates will have two additional 
days to address any inaccuracies found by the CEC.  After 
that, the CEC will decide which candidates are eligible.  CEC 
Chairman Levan Tarknishvili announced that the process should 
be completed by December 11. 
 
------------------------------------- 
Bakradze Defends Openness of Campaign 
------------------------------------- 
 
2. (C) State Minister for Conflict Resolution David Bakradze 
told the diplomatic corps on December 6 that he is taking a 
temporary leave of absence to become spokesperson for the 
presidential campaign of Saakashvili and the United National 
Movement, as permitted by Georgian law.  Bakradze emphasized 
that the government has a clear will to ensure the election 
is free and fair.  He acknowledged there have been reports of 
excesses in the pre-campaign period but said they were 
committed by over-zealous activists and are being quickly 
dealt with.  He said any of the Ambassadors who hear of a 
problem can call him immediately and he will address it. 
Most allegations have so far have proven untrue, he said. 
For example, the Ministry of Internal Affairs followed up a 
report by an opposition MP who claimed he was attacked by UNM 
thugs.  It turned out to be an incident involving drunken 
youths.  He also responded to an opposition party leader,s 
allegation that his party is blocked from renting office 
space in the regions.  He said he had spoken to the landlord 
in question and found the claim to be false.  Bakradze 
responded to claims that Saakashvili is misusing 
administrative resources in his campaign by stating that the 
UNM is paying for everything: "cars, fuel, helicopters, 
etc.".  The exception is Saakashvili's security detail, which 
is the government's responsibility.  The government gives 
other high profile political leaders, including members of 
opposition parties, security as well.  Bakradze promised to 
provide a list of contracts to prove that the UNM is paying 
for services, and called on all parties to be equally 
transparent. 
 
3. (C) Bakradze said the UNM,s intention is to run a 
positive campaign, focusing on issues rather than character 
attacks.  He asked his audience to note, for example, that 
there have been no references to connections of other 
candidates to Russia or criminal backgrounds.  He added, 
however, that if other candidates attack UNM, they would have 
to respond.  Challenged to explain why Saakashvili continues 
to give orders to ministers from his position as UNM 
candidate, Bakradze said Saakashvili is doing so not as a 
government official, but as leader of the party.  Bakradze 
reasoned it is appropriate for a party leader to make sure 
the party,s officials know and follow party policy, and this 
is no different than in other democratic systems.  (Comment: 
Bakradze is an eloquent, intelligent and engaging public 
speaker who will bring a more positive image to 
Saakashvili,s campaign than other spokespersons, such as 
Giga Bokeria, whom many voters dislike.) 
 
------------------------------------------- 
Opposition Meets Patarkatsishvili in London 
------------------------------------------- 
 
4. (C) UNC leaders met with Badri Patarkatsishvili in London 
on December 6.  Republican Party leader Davit Usupashvili 
told Rustavi 2 TV the discussions would focus on "shaping 
tactics that might prove advantageous to the opposition." 
Usupashvili told the Ambassador privately the UNC leaders are 
asking Patarkatsishvili to withdraw from the election to 
 
TBILISI 00003050  002 OF 002 
 
 
increase support for UNC candidate Levan Gachechiladze. 
 
--------------------------------------------- - 
Youth Leaders Express Concern About Elections 
--------------------------------------------- - 
 
5. (SBU) On December 6, the Ambassador met with an umbrella 
organization of students representing different opposition 
parties.  The students said they felt they were being
singled 
out for maltreatment and harassment by the police for their 
activism.  Many of them had been detained after the protests 
on November 7.  Practically all of the students insisted that 
any election Saakashvili wins would be fraudulent.  The 
students also said they fear continued harassment by law 
enforcement if the National Movement won the election. 
 
------------------------------------------ 
Saakashvili Campaign of Promises Continues 
------------------------------------------ 
 
6. (U) Former President Saakashvili pledged to set up a state 
bank to provide affordable, long-term credit to small and 
medium sized enterprises (SMEs).  He said the government 
would allocate GEL 300 million immediately and in following 
years up to GEL 3 billion to make loans available at 4-10 
percent interest rates, in comparison to the 16-20 percent 
that is usual at commercial banks.  Saakashvili also 
announced the opening of business training centers.  He said 
his main task in his next term as president will be to create 
new jobs and business opportunities, and to "take care of 
those who cannot work," in the form of increased pensions and 
vouchers for utilities and the like.  At a December 5 rally 
in the Black Sea port of Poti, Saakasvhili announced that a 
contract with an operator for Poti's planned free economic 
zone will be signed next month.  Thousands of job seekers 
have responded to a government job program announced just 
before Saakashvili left office.  The program is having 
difficulties coping administratively with the demand and with 
finding employers willing to provide the promised jobs. 
 
---------------------------- 
Presidential Debates Planned 
---------------------------- 
 
7. (U) The Georgian Public Broadcasting (GPB) Channel 
announced plans for twice-weekly debates featuring the 
presidential candidates.  The first debates are scheduled for 
December 7, but GPB has not announced the participants. 
Several opposition candidates have said they want a 
one-on-one debate with Saakashvili but with thirteen 
candidates in the running, this seems unlikely. 
 
TEFFT

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