07TBILISI3137, TBILISI ELECTION UPDATE 12/19/2007

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
07TBILISI3137 2007-12-19 12:50 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL//NOFORN Embassy Tbilisi

VZCZCXRO5684
PP RUEHFL RUEHKW RUEHLA RUEHROV RUEHSR
DE RUEHSI #3137/01 3531250
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 191250Z DEC 07
FM AMEMBASSY TBILISI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 8484
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE PRIORITY

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 TBILISI 003137 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SENSITIVE 
SIPDIS 
 
DEPT FOR EUR DAS BRYZA AND EUR/CARC 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 12/18/2017 
TAGS: PGOV PHUM KDEM GG
SUBJECT: TBILISI ELECTION UPDATE 12/19/2007 
 
REF: A. TBILISI 3112 
     B. TBILISI 3118 
     C. TBILISI 2999 
 
Classified By: Ambassador John F. Tefft for reasons 1.4 (b) and (d). 
 
Ambassador and Gachechiladze Discuss Campaign 
--------------------------------------------- - 
1. (C) In a meeting December 18, United National Council of 
opposition (UNC) presidential candidate Levan Gachechiladze 
told Ambassador he was certain the elections would go to a 
second round, and he expected Saakashvili to gain at most 15 
-20% in the first round.  Gachechiladze said during UNC 
door-to-door campaigning, "85% of the doors are opening," 
demonstrating grassroots support for the opposition. 
Gachechiladze said the UNC is still "organizing the house" 
and gathering campaign volunteers.  Gachechiladze's said his 
campaign is addressing the fair distribution of land in the 
regions, opening of new markets for a strengthened 
agricultural sector and an improved environment for small 
businesses.  Gachechiladze clarified that if elected, he 
would resign the presidency within 90-200 days of his 
election.  After the election, Gachechiladze would present 
the new UNC government to the parliament for approval.  If 
the current majority United National Movement (UNM) 
parliament refused to accept his government, he would 
dissolve the parliament and hold elections 45 days later, 
extending the time he would serve as president. 
 
2. (C) Gachechiladze said he felt voters were afraid there 
would be retaliation by the government against opposition 
supporters and that voter lists were inaccurate, especially 
in relation to Georgians living abroad.  Gachechiladze also 
expressed concern that the UNM would conduct an exit poll, 
but said if he could be assured the UNM wouldn't do a poll, 
he would not let the UNC do an exit poll and he could "almost 
guarantee" presidential candidate Badri Patarkatsishvili 
would not do one either.  Ambassador told Gachechiladze the 
United States and other international organizations were not 
conducting an exit poll for the presidential elections, but 
would consider funding an exit poll for the parliamentary 
elections. 
 
3. (C) While a UNM-sponsored poll by BCG Research (ref B) 
showed Saakashvili with a major lead, Gachechiladze claimed 
some internet-based polls showed he had the lead, but that 
these results would never be reported on national TV. 
Gachechiladze said he "did not have his own television 
station," unlike Saakashvili who has three, and Imedi, which 
"belongs to Patarkatsishvili."   According to Gachechiladze, 
Patarkatsishvili's participation in the election hurt the 
opposition, as he could take anywhere from 7 - 10% of the 
vote that would otherwise go to the UNC. 
 
4. (C) Gachechiladze told the Ambassador he would accept the 
election results if ODIHR and the United States report the 
elections as free and fair.  At a December 18 press 
conference following a PACE meeting in Paris, UNC member and 
Republican Party MP Levan Berdzenishvili echoed this 
sentiment, saying the opposition trusts international 
election watchdog groups and will accept the results of the 
January elections if they are endorsed by observer 
organizations.  Berdzenishvili said "we are preparing not for 
January 6, but for January 5.  If elections are fair, and 
confirmed by the Georgian people and the international 
organizations, we will recognize the results." 
 
Campaigning Continues 
--------------------- 
 
5. (SBU) Mikheil Saakashvili campaigned in Batumi and 
Samagrelo December 18 where he was met by a large crowd of 
supporters.  In Batumi, Saakashvili predicted that by the 
expiration of his second term in 2013, Batumi would be the 
most beautiful and successful city in the Black Sea region. 
Irina Sarishvili-Chanturia, Imedi party, met with the 
ambassador-designate of France and media, while New Rightists 
candidate David Gamkrelidze campaigned in Shida Kartli. 
Gachechiladze, who campaigned in Samtske-Javakheti and 
Khasuri on December 17, told the Ambassador more than 1700 
people attended his rally, 3-4 times more than expected, and 
more than Saakashvili drew in his 2003 campaign. 
 
Patarkatsishvili Announces Campaign Program 
------------------------------------------- 
 
6. (SBU) On December 18 Badri Patarkatsishvili announced his 
campaign platform on Imedi radio, adding that the official 
release would happen in a few days.  Patarkatsishvili 
outlined plans to pay for the first 100 kilowatts of 
 
TBILISI 00003137  002 OF 003 
 
 
electricity consumed by each Georgian family over the next 18 
months, as well as gas taxes, water fees, and a stipend of 
GEL 600 per year to each unemployed Georgian.  During this 
time, Patarkatsishvili said he would also launch an 
employment program.  During the following 24 months, 
Patarkatsishvili said he would eliminate the income tax and 
obligatory military service, provide large scale amnesty to 
prisoners, and fre
e the business environment to allow 
businesses to increase their number of employees by 20% 
annually.  In the final phase of the plan, Patarkatsishvili 
said Georgia would be like other European nations, with 
export incentives and a strong tourism and agriculture 
sector.  During the radio interview, Patarkatsishvili did not 
explain how he would accomplish these programs, but when the 
interview was rebroadcast on TV, many Georgians rushed to 
Patarkatsishvili's campaign offices seeking immediate 
handouts.  Chairman of the Parliamentary Committee for Legal 
Issues Levan Bezhashvili called Patarkatsishvili's campaign a 
"bribe for voters" and said the CEC should investigate his 
platform, but NSC Chairman Alexander Lomaia downplayed the 
campaign promises, saying "people understand pre-election ads 
very well and whether or not to believe them."  Later on 
December 18 in an interview on Mze TV, Labor Party Leader 
Shalva Natelashvili accused Patarkatsishvili of stealing his 
campaign ideas. 
 
Accusations of Election Fraud Continue 
-------------------------------------- 
 
7. (SBU) The Georgian Young Lawyers' Association (GYLA) filed 
a claim in Tbilisi City Court objecting to Tbilisi Mayor Gigi 
Ugulava and Minister for Refugees and Accommodations Kova 
Subeliani taking "orders" from candidate Saakashvili during a 
meeting between Saakashvili and Abkhaz Internally Displaced 
Persons on November 28 (Ref C).  Koba Dzidziguri, 
Conservative Party leader Kakha Kukava's brother and head of 
the UNC in Samtredia, Imereti, accused local authorities of 
forging the voter list, saying the constituency in Samtredia 
was 37,000 but the CEC list contained 46,000 eligible voters. 
 In a December 18 press conference, Minister of Justice Eka 
Tkeshelashvili pledged that the January 5 vote would not be 
rigged and added any NGO, political party, or citizen has 
until December 22 to provide information to the civil 
registry about inaccuracies on the voter list and the CEC 
will correct the mistake. 
 
PM Increases Budget for Social Initiatives 
------------------------------------------ 
 
8. (U) PM Lado Gurgenidze said December 17 an additional GEL 
400 million would be spent on the government's new social 
initiatives aimed at reducing poverty and revised draft 2008 
budget that will be presented to the Parliament will be more 
socially oriented.  Gurgenidze also said the November 7 
unrest cost the Georgian economy at least USD 500 million. 
 
Monitoring of Television Continues 
---------------------------------- 
 
9. (U) The Georgian National Communications Commission (GNCC) 
announced December 17 that Mze TV, Rustavi 2 TV, and Imedi TV 
had submitted their ownership papers.  Documents showed Imedi 
is wholly owned by I-Media, which gave 100% control to News 
Corp Europe.  Georgian paper Rezonansi reported December 18 
that the authorities were "vigorous in finding out the owners 
of Imedi TV," but did not pay close attention to the 
ownership of Mze or Rustavi 2 (which are both owned by 
Georgian Industrial Group (45%) and GeoMedia Group (55%)). 
 
10. (U) On December 18 the CEC released results of monitoring 
from December 12 -15 of four national stations - Rustavi 2, 
Mze, Imedi, and Georgian Public Broadcasting - and reported 
the most frequently mentioned presidential candidate was 
Natelashvili.  Saakashvili, the only candidate running paid 
ads, had five hours and 40 minutes of advertisements.  The 
remaining candidates are relying on legally allotted free 
airtime.  Natelashvili had about 2 hours of coverage on news 
programs during the period monitored, followed by Saakashvili 
at one hour and 55 minutes, Gachechiladze at 50 minutes, Gia 
Maisashvili with 48 minutes and David Gamkrelidze with 45 
minutes of coverage.  The reports said most candidates 
received objective coverage, but Saakashvili was the 
candidate mentioned most frequently in a negative context. 
 
CEC Will Open Polling Stations in Iraq and Kosovo 
--------------------------------------------- ---- 
 
11. (U) Following a decision by the Tbilisi City Court, the 
CEC will open polling stations in Iraq and Kosovo to allow 
approximately 2100 Georgian soldiers serving there to vote. 
 
TBILISI 00003137  003 OF 003 
 
 
 
TEFFT

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