07TBILISI3064, TBILISI ELECTIONS UPDATE 12/10/07

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
07TBILISI3064 2007-12-10 13:22 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Tbilisi

VZCZCXRO7861
PP RUEHFL RUEHKW RUEHLA RUEHROV RUEHSR
DE RUEHSI #3064/01 3441322
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 101322Z DEC 07
FM AMEMBASSY TBILISI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 8412
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE PRIORITY

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 TBILISI 003064 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SIPDIS 
 
DEPARTMENT FOR EUR DAS BRYZA AND EUR/CARC 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 12/10/2017 
TAGS: PGOV PHUM GG
SUBJECT: TBILISI ELECTIONS UPDATE 12/10/07 
 
REF: TBILISI 3046 
 
Classified By: Ambassador John F. Tefft for reasons 1.4 (b) and (d). 
 
-------------------------- 
OSCE Ambassadorial Meeting 
--------------------------- 
 
1.  (C) On 7 December, members of the OSCE Ambassadorial 
Working Group were provided a copy of the letter sent by 
Ambassador Terhi Hakala, Head of the OSCE Mission to Georgia, 
to Acting President Nino Burjanadze.  In the letter, Hakala 
outlined the main issues which need to be addressed to ensure 
the elections are free and fair (reftel) and requested an 
English language copy of the final version of the Unified 
Electoral Code and the contact information for an 
interlocutor to whom the international community could 
address electoral issues. 
 
2.  (C)  During the meeting, the Head of the OSCE/ODIHR 
Monitoring Team, Ambassador Dieter Boden, a German diplomat 
who from 1999-2002 served as the UN Secretary General's 
Special Representative in Georgia, and Matias Eorsi, Chief of 
the Parliamentary Assembly of Council of Europe (PACE) 
Monitoring Group,  briefed the group on their plans and 
concerns leading up to January 5 election.  Ambassador Boden 
said that his group would issue two reports, one due out by 
17 December, and the second which will be completed after 
Christmas but before New Year's Day.  Ambassador Boden 
expects that short-term and long-term observers will be able 
to cover 90 percent of the precincts on election day.  Eorsi 
shared with the group his observations and concerns: 
 
- Voters claim they are being intimidated by police and 
government authorities.  Often the intimidation is subtle, 
and voters are reluctant to appeal to law enforcement bodies 
for fear of retribution. 
 
- The perception of misuse of government resources exists 
widely.  While in some instances these perceptions may be 
valid, alleged abuses are interpreted as a breach of public 
trust. 
 
-  The focus of some opposition groups is January 6 and not 
Election Day.  Some are already presupposing that the 
elections will not be open and fair and formulating their 
plans. Eorsi stressed that all entities need to work with 
government institutions to create an atmosphere of trust in 
the electoral system. 
 
-  The misconception that cameras will monitor voters in the 
precincts.  Some voters are concerned that the cameras in 
polling stations, ostensibly for monitoring the voters' list 
and the ballot box, may be used to monitor their vote 
selection. Eorsi said that the CEC needs to stress the 
secrecy of the ballot to allay these fears.  Ambassador said 
that during the local elections cameras were used and no one 
complained to observers about this issue. 
 
- Russian Members may request to be part of OSCE/ODIHR Short 
Term Observer Teams (STOs).  The consensus of the group was 
that to their knowledge no Russians had applied to be part of 
the team, but even if this should occur, the Georgians would 
be powerless to alter the composition even though they may 
oppose it. 
 
--------------------------------------------- -- 
ODIHR Ambassador Dieter Boden Meets Ambassador 
--------------------------------------------- -- 
 
3. (C) On December 10 Dieter Boden had a follow-up meeting 
with the Ambassador and Embassy staff to review election 
monitoring plans with an eye to coordinating ODIHR, Embassy 
and other monitoring of the January 5 election.  Boden said 
that ODIHR would have 28 Long Term Observers, most of whom 
will arrive this week, and 300 Short Term Observers who will 
arrive a few days before the election.  Boden outlined two 
likely issues to watch:  potential abuse of administrative 
resources and intimidation with regard to voting.  On the 
first, Boden said that there needs to be a clear definition 
of what constitutes an abuse, with some things such as denial 
of convention facilities to opposition parties in the regions 
being obvious and others being less so.  On the second, he 
said that intimidation is difficult to prove.  He said his 
observers will be instructed to look into these things but 
make assessments based on hard evidence.  The Ambassador 
agreed.  USAID Director Bob Wilson outlined the $5.5 million 
in USG assistance to advance free and fair elections, 
including efforts to study the feasibility of exit polls and 
to improve the quality of the voters' lists.  Boden mentioned 
his concern about the presence of cameras in the polling 
 
TBILISI 00003064  002 OF 002 
 
 
stations, which the government is using to prevent tampering 
with ballot boxes.  However, it was a consensus that so long 
as cameras are focused away from the polling booths there is 
little likelihood that ballot secrecy will be compromised. 
Boden also expressed concern about uncertainty and lack of 
control over voting at Georgian embassies in foreign 
countries.  It was agreed that more information about the 
number of voters registered abroad and how the voting process 
will be controlled should be requested from the CEC. 
 
--------------------------------------------- --------- 
Ambassador Meets Conservative Party Leader Usupashvili 
---------------------------------------
------ --------- 
 
4. (C) On December 10 Conservative Party Leader David 
Usupashvili (please protect) met Ambassador to discuss 
Usupashvili's recent visit to London to meet opposition 
candidate and oligarch Badri Patarkatsishvili.  Usupashvili, 
traveling with two other opposition members, said that 
Patarkatsishvili offered to join the United Opposition in 
exchange for the position of Prime Minister.  Usupashvili 
said that the United Opposition was split on whether to 
accept such an offer:  while on the one hand it would 
guarantee another 10% of the vote, on the other many worried 
that Patarkatsishvili and his financial means would eclipse 
the rest of the opposition.  Patarkatsisvili reportedly plans 
to use 1 billion USD in his own funds to support the start of 
small and medium enterprises in Georgia.  Usupashvili also 
believed that Labor Party Leader Shalva Natelashvili would 
join the United Opposition, bringing his 5-7% of the voters, 
should Patarkatsisvili join.  Ultimately, Usupashvili did not 
think the United Opposition could win without 
Patarkatsishvili's votes.  He also thought that the United 
Opposition would not accept Patarkatsisvili's offer. 
Usupashvili said he had tried to reach out to Acting 
President Burjanadze to come to agreement on potential 
coalitions, protections for the losing party, and composition 
of the government based on various election outcomes.  He 
indicated that Burjanadze was unable to talk freely in her 
office and accepted the Ambassador's offer to suggest that 
Burjanadze meet Usupashvili at a mutually convenient 
location. 
 
--------------------------------------------- --------- 
Central Election Commission Registers Seven Candidates 
--------------------------------------------- --------- 
 
5. (U) The Central Election Commission (CEC) registered seven 
out of 13 candidates who initially submitted the minimum of 
50,000 signatures to the CEC.  Mikheil Saakashvili, United 
National Council of opposition (UNC) Levan Gachechiladze, New 
Rightists Davit Gamkrelidze, Labor Party leader Shalva 
Natelashvili, Party of Hope Candidate Irina Sarishvili, Party 
of Future Gia Maisashvili, and oligarch Badri 
Patarkatsishvili were registered.  Political unknown Levan 
Kidzinidze's submission is still being verified by the CEC. 
 
-------------------------------------- 
Imedi TV to Resume Broadcast This Week 
-------------------------------------- 
 
6. (U) Imedi TV will resume broadcasts the week of December 
10 with limited news coverage, with plans for news bulletins 
every three hours (compared to each hour before the station's 
closure).  Giorgi Targamadze, head of Imedi TV political 
programs, said he expected limited broadcasts to resume 
December 11 or 12.  A test broadcast was done December 8 for 
15 minutes but the station then went off the air and 
currently the station's logo is being broadcast.  Targamadze 
said Imedi is working to restore damaged equipment in the 
studios, including the main studio's control unit, internal 
phone network and Internet connection.  Targamadze said Imedi 
management was also working to replace several key anchors 
who left the station after it was shutdown, including Inga 
Grigolia and Eka Khoperia, who hosted the late night 
political talk show, On the Air.  On December 7 Saakashvili's 
campaign spokesman, Davit Bakradze, said the National 
Movement will participate in political talk shows hosted by 
Imedi.  This ends a year long boycott by the government and 
ruling party officials of political shows on Imedi. 
TEFFT

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