07TBILISI3174, ALEX RONDELI: THE UNM SHIP MIGHT STILL FLOAT

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
07TBILISI3174 2007-12-28 11:40 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Tbilisi

VZCZCXRO1078
OO RUEHFL RUEHKW RUEHLA RUEHROV RUEHSR
DE RUEHSI #3174/01 3621140
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
O 281140Z DEC 07
FM AMEMBASSY TBILISI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 8529
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE PRIORITY

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 TBILISI 003174 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SIPDIS 
 
STATE FOR EUR DAS BRYZA, EUR/CARC 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 12/27/2017 
TAGS: PGOV GG
SUBJECT: ALEX RONDELI: THE UNM SHIP MIGHT STILL FLOAT 
 
REF: TBILISI 2454 
 
Classified By: AMBASSADOR JOHN F. TEFFT. REASONS 1.4 (b) & (d) 
 
1. (C)  Alex Rondeli, Director of the Georgian Foundation for 
Security and International Studies (GFSIS) and widely 
respected political analyst, shared his views on recent 
political developments and media professionalism with the DCM 
on December 26.  Rondeli wasn,t surprised by reports of 
Patarkatsishvili,s coup plot and expressed admiration for 
the effectiveness the Ministry of Internal Affairs (MOIA) 
sting operation that uncovered the threat.  He believes 
Patarkatsishivili felt safe in meeting MOIA official Kodua in 
London based on Marina Gabunia,s recommendation after 
meeting Kodua and Gelbakhiani,s recommendation after his two 
meetings.  According to Rondeli, Patarkatsishvili asked 
Gabunia, a former judge who was dismissed for corruption, to 
make the first pitch to Kodua because she had a past romantic 
relationship with him. 
 
2. (C) When asked what he thought Patarkatsishvili might do 
as a Plan B if the coup plans are foiled, he responded that 
Plan A had been the November demonstrations and the coup plot 
is Plan B.  Rondeli believes Patarkatsishvili had hoped to 
use the early November demonstrations to topple Saakashvili 
but the strong government response on November 7 turned the 
tide.  Rondeli,s greatest worry now is an assassination 
attempt on an opposition candidate that would be blamed on 
Saakashvili,s supporters.  Rondeli recalled discussions he 
had in Berlin in October when he alerted the German Foreign 
Ministry to the risk that anti-Saakashvili forces could 
assassinate Okruashvili to weaken the Georgian government, 
and thinks this concern led the Germans to finally arrest 
Okruashvili to keep him from harm. 
 
3. (C) Rondeli expressed his view that the Georgian people 
accept as credible the evidence of Patarkatsishvili,s coup 
plot and are shocked and angered by it.  He thinks the 
majority of Georgians will assume calls for demonstrations on 
January 6 will be part of Patarkatsishvili,s plot and they 
now want to hear from the candidates whether they support the 
election or support demonstrations.  Rondeli believes United 
Opposition candidate Gachechiladze, whom he has known since a 
child, is a dirty politician and knew about 
Patarkatsishvili,s plans.  He also believes that the 
opposition candidates have been slow to denounce 
Patarkatsishvili because all of them (with the probable 
exception of Usupashvili and the Republicans) have received 
financing from Patarkatsishvili.  Rondeli sees the 
fingerprints of the Russian FSB on Patarkatsishvili,s plot 
and argues the Kremlin would not let such an opportunity to 
topple Saakashvili pass untried. 
 
4. (C)  Rondeli said the ad hoc media watchdog group that 
Adam Michnik formed in early December is effective as a moral 
force that journalists are paying attention to.   The group 
is composed of seven professionals hand picked by Michnik 
from media, NGOs and think-tanks.  The group convenes at the 
public TV station on Friday evenings for one hour of air time 
set aside for discussion and rendering of opinions about news 
coverage by the various TV stations.  Rondeli said he 
believes the Michnik group is helping to set fair journalism 
standards and that the TV stations are listening and striving 
to avoid criticisms.  According to Rondeli the Michnik group 
has found no serious problems with professional standards 
since beginning its work two weeks ago.  The group plans to 
meet twice more and at this point has no intention of 
continuing beyond the January 5 election. 
 
5. (C)  Rondeli explained that there is no conflict with the 
Media Council formed by the government because the Council 
has a more technical role, to track TV programming to ensure 
that regulatory standards are met, such as balanced coverage 
of the presidential candidates during the election.  Rondeli 
believes the combination of the Michnik group and the Media 
Council has achieved the goal of improved journalistic 
professionalism during the election period and Georgia will 
have to consider how best to maintain these standards after 
January 5 and during future elections. 
 
6. (C)  Comment:  Rondeli was depressed and very critical of 
the government following the November 7 crack down on 
demonstrations.  He even advised Lado Gurgenidze, whom he 
says was the most gifted of his former students, against 
accepting Saakashvili,s offer to be Prime Minister and 
thereby joining a sinking ship.  However, over the past few 
weeks he has come to a grudging acceptance of the 
government,s actions as necessary real politik and now 
believes the United National Movement,s ship might still 
float after the election.  He thinks demonstrations on 
January 6 are unavoidable.  He believes the international 
 
TBILISI 00003174  002 OF 002 
 
 
community has an extremely important role to play because the 
strength and danger of the demonstrations will depend on how 
clear the international community,s verdict on the elections 
will be.  He concedes that we are in a very dangerous and 
confusing period for Georgia and
 he does not have a clear 
idea how this will play out.  End Comment. 
 
 
TEFFT

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