07TBILISI3112, TBILISI ELECTION UPDATE 12/17/07

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
07TBILISI3112 2007-12-17 13:17 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Tbilisi

VZCZCXRO3626
PP RUEHFL RUEHKW RUEHLA RUEHROV RUEHSR
DE RUEHSI #3112/01 3511317
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 171317Z DEC 07
FM AMEMBASSY TBILISI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 8467
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE PRIORITY

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 TBILISI 003112 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SIPDIS 
 
DEPT FOR EUR/CARC 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 12/17/2017 
TAGS: PGOV PHUM KDEM GG
SUBJECT: TBILISI ELECTION UPDATE 12/17/07 
 
REF: TBILISI 3101 
 
Classified By: Ambassador John F. Tefft for reasons 1.4(b&d). 
 
Lomaia and Ambassador Discuss Exit Polls and ODIHR 
--------------------------------------------- ------ 
 
1. (C) In a meeting December 14, the Ambassador told NSC 
Chairman Alexander Lomaia that we had done a comprehensive 
feasibility evaluation and found that we could not sponsor 
and mount a proper exit poll (factoring in an adequate amount 
of time for voter education) in the short time before the 
January 5 election.  Lomaia, who had previously requested 
U.S. assistance for an exit poll, said he understood the 
decision, but asked how the Georgian government should deal 
with the possibility that Badri Patarkatsishvili would fund 
his own exit poll.  Lomaia said that Patarkatsishvili could 
certainly "buy the numbers" he wanted, to show a 
lower-than-officially-announced result for Saakashvili in 
order to justify post-election protests.  (Note: Ruling 
National Movement spokesman David Bakradze had exactly the 
same reaction when he and the Ambassador discussed exit polls 
later the same day, noting that a Badri-funded poll would get 
attention, and the National Movement would need something to 
counter it.) 
 
2. (C) The Ambassador stressed that we should place our 
confidence in the OSCE/ODIHR Election Observation Mission to 
assess the election fairly and definitively, as well as in a 
parallel vote tabulation (PVT).  Lomaia agreed that these 
were very important.  He said the Georgian government had 
recently created the interagency task force on the elections 
(reftel) precisely to facilitate communication with ODIHR, as 
well as NGOs and the diplomatic community.  He stressed, 
however, that the government wanted ODIHR to do more than 
write an evaluation of the election after-the-fact; it should 
also provide the government with a "roadmap to a free and 
fair election," including benchmarks and proactive advice on 
how to fix problems early on.  The Ambassador noted that 
ODIHR would issue two interim reports that would lay out its 
observations as the campaign progressed.  Lomaia also 
stressed that ODIHR should judge the Georgian election by the 
same criteria it has used elsewhere, for example in Armenia 
and Russia. 
 
3. (C) Lomaia said the ruling party would take no position on 
the plebiscite question about whether to hold parliamentary 
elections in April or in the fall.  He said the question 
would be worded so that a "yes" answer meant April elections, 
something the opposition (which supports early elections) had 
wanted.  Lomaia said this concession was intended to be a 
"signal" to responsible elements in the opposition that there 
was a political future even if they lose the presidential 
race.  Asked about post-election protests, Lomaia said the 
government hoped any protests would be peaceful, but would be 
ready to react if demonstrators crossed lines such as 
intruding into Parliament or using Imedi TV for inflammatory 
statements. 
 
Prosecutor General Meets Ambassador 
----------------------------------- 
4. (SBU)  The Prosecutor General Zurab Adeishvili told 
Ambassador in a meeting on 17 December that the government 
does not plan on bringing cases against candidates after the 
election, with the possible exception of Badri 
Patarkatsishvili.  Adeishvili also noted that there are 
ongoing criminal cases against law enforcement officials who 
used excessive force during the protest on November 7. 
 
Bakradze Briefs Diplomatic Corps 
-------------------------------- 
5. (SBU) National Movement spokesman David Bakradze (on leave 
from his position as State Minister of Conflict Resolution) 
gave a wide-ranging briefing to diplomats December 14.  He 
explained the government's reasoning for calling a plebiscite 
on NATO accession -- to "institutionalize the will of the 
people" and thereby make the NATO direction irreversible -- 
and its neutral stance on the plebiscite on the timing of 
parliamentary elections.  Bakradze said the government had 
initially opposed spring elections because they could be a 
distraction during a potential crisis period following 
international recognition of Kosovo, but now that 
presidential elections had been moved up to January and the 
winner would have a strong mandate, this concern about 
parliamentary elections no longer applied. 
 
6. (SBU) Bakradze distributed a large packet of 
election-related materials, including reports from MOIA 
investigations into a number of alleged elections-related 
abuses.  Noting that the opposition had complained that 
voters' lists were too large, Bakradze agreed that this was 
 
TBILISI 00003112  002 OF 002 
 
 
true, but he said the extra names were largely those of 
Georgians working abroad (usually without documentation) and 
these individuals could not be precisely identified or 
removed from the rolls without violating international 
standards guaranteeing their right to vote.  Bakradze 
expressed concern that some in the opposition were already 
declaring that
elections could not be free and fair, and were 
attacking the Central Election Commission and international 
experts.  He noted that opposition MP Levan Berdzenishvili 
had criticized Matyas Eorsi, head of a Council of Europe 
delegation that recently visited, while stressing that Eorsi 
"is a Hungarian Jew." 
 
7. (SBU) Asked about reports that officials were collecting 
identity cards, Bakradze said he knew of no scenario in which 
an individual could use a photocopy of someone else's 
identity card to cast a fraudulent ballot, and he asked for 
the details of any reported case of police asking for 
identity cards.  In response to another question, Bakradze 
said he thought it quite possible that Saakashvili would 
agree to appear on an Imedi talk show if he was invited. 
Asked by the Ambassador if the National Movement had warned 
its officials in the regions not to intimidate voters, 
Bakradze replied with an emphatic yes.  He said Deputy 
Speaker of Parliament Machavariani was devoting all his time 
to telling local officials and activists that the "best 
Christmas present" they could give the opposition would be to 
make them into victims.  Bakradze added that Saakashvili 
understood the advantages of victimhood perfectly from his 
time in opposition five years ago.  Bakradze admitted that, 
"given the current level of political culture," there could 
be a "temptation" to commit abuses, but the National Movement 
was making a point to its people that such actions were 
damaging to the party and prohibited. 
 
Ruling in Favor of Military Voters 
---------------------------------- 
8.  (U)  On December 17,  the Tbilisi City Court reviewed the 
case brought by the United National Movement Party regarding 
the CEC's decision not to permit military serving outside of 
Georgia to vote (reftel).  The Tbilisi City court ruled in 
favor of the National Movement and abolished the CEC's 
previous decision. 
 
TEFFT

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