08TBILISI925, OPPOSITION LEADERS: ANGRY, CONFUSED, UNDER

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
08TBILISI925 2008-06-02 13:39 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Tbilisi

VZCZCXRO8864
PP RUEHFL RUEHKW RUEHLA RUEHROV RUEHSR
DE RUEHSI #0925/01 1541339
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 021339Z JUN 08
FM AMEMBASSY TBILISI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 9553
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 TBILISI 000925 
 
SIPDIS 
 
DEPT FOR EUR/CARC 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 06/02/2018 
TAGS: PREL PGOV PHUM KDEM GG
SUBJECT: OPPOSITION LEADERS: ANGRY, CONFUSED, UNDER 
PRESSURE, NOT ANTI-U.S. 
 
REF: TBILISI 881 
 
Classified By: Ambassador John F. Tefft for reasons 1.4 (b) and (d). 
 
1. (C) Summary: From May 27 through May 30, opposition 
leaders of the Christian-Democratic Movement (CDM), 
Republicans, and the New Rightists met the Ambassador to 
explain their positions and distance themselves from Joint 
Opposition leader Levan Gachechiladze's anti-U.S. comments at 
the May 26 opposition protest (reftel).  All three claimed 
the May 21 elections were falsified, and said they had to 
attend the rally against the election results and ruling 
United National Movement (UNM).  All three alleged they are 
under pressure to boycott Parliament.  Targamadze and 
Usupashvili dismissed the Joint Opposition's calls for an 
alternative Parliament as unworkable.  The two men thought 
future elections could provide political cover for the 
opposition to join Parliament.  Both also looked for an 
international figure to be party to any potential agreement 
with the government.  The New Rightists' David Gamkrelidze 
suggested the unlikely step that government annul enough 
seats from the elections to prevent a constitutional majority 
for the UNM.  The Ambassador acknowledged the frustration of 
the opposition with the election result, but urged them to 
negotiate with the government in order to get concessions 
that would give them real power in Parliament.  He said any 
violence by the opposition would end badly for Georgia and 
would not be supported by the international community.  End 
Summary. 
 
Opposition Leaders Not Anti-U.S., 
Had to Protest out of Solidarity 
--------------------------------- 
 
2. (C) On May 27, newly-elected leader of the 
Christian-Democratic Movement (CDM), Giorgi Targamadze, 
called on the Ambassador.  Targamadze stressed that he does 
not share the anti-U.S. and anti-Western views Gachechiladze 
expounded on May 26 (reftel).  Targamadze claimed the CDM had 
to show solidarity with the opposition against the 
government's "falsified elections" at the rally.  But, he 
said, he did not and will not join in anti-U.S. rhetoric. 
Usupashvili agreed on May 29 that it is in neither his, nor 
his party's interest, to drive a wedge between Georgia and 
the West.  Still, he claimed, after their defeat in the polls 
(the Republicans failed to meet the 5 percent threshold to 
enter the new Parliament), the Republicans now face the 
dilemma of either moving closer to the Joint Opposition, or 
being forced out of politics completely.  Therefore, they 
also joined the protest but disdained the anti-Western 
statements.  On May 30, New Rightists leader David 
Gamkrelidze met with the Ambassador and also said 
Gachechiladze's statements referring to the U.S. as 
"Georgia's enemies" were "stupid." 
 
Believe the Elections were Falsified, 
But Look Ahead 
------------------------------------- 
 
3. (C) All three leaders said they believe that there was 
widespread fraud during the May 21 elections.  All three 
claimed this was done by adding absent voters to the voters' 
list, issuing fake IDs, and having government sympathizers 
vote multiple times.  Targamadze believed the real result for 
the winning National Movement was only 45-50 percent, rather 
than the official result of 59 percent.  Usupashvili alleged 
that the UNM had utilized "the most criminals ever" in 
organizing the election.  Gamkrelidze suggested a "real 
percentage for the UNM was 35-40 percent.  No leader 
presented any evidence for their arguments.  Dismissing his 
disappointment, and lack of surprise at the elections' 
result, Usupashvili said the important thing now is to find a 
way ahead.  Voicing concern for decentralization of local 
government and the erosion of civil society, Usupashvili 
claimed this greater majority UNM now possesses in Parliament 
(80 percent of the seats) will make democratic development in 
Georgia even more difficult.  He said such a lop-sided 
situation in the Parliament would be untenable for four 
years.  Gamkrelidze agreed, and all three leaders were trying 
to determine a course of action. 
 
Under Pressure to Join Boycott 
------------------------------ 
 
4. (C) Targamadze said the CDM is under intense pressure to 
join the opposition's boycott, which he believes is an 
unrealistic proposition.  Conversely, he claimed he cannot 
talk with the Government, lest he be seen as "Saakashvili's 
puppet" and lose all credibility as an opposition figure. 
Targamadze claimed "some forces" are directing this anti-U.S. 
 
TBILISI 00000925  002 OF 003 
 
 
sentiment in the Joint Opposition (to which the CDM is not a 
party).  He does not know whether these forces are malevolent 
or ignorant, but either way his party is going its "own 
direction."  Still press reports are swirling as to whether 
or not the CDM will join the boycott, with no decision 
evident.  (Comment: It was clear that Targamadze realizes 
such a boycott would likely be ineffective.  End comment.) 
Usupashvili agreed that a boycott is unlikely to work, but 
said the space his part
y can exist in continues to shrink. 
He said Republican leaders believe they must join in the 
boycott and block Parliament, or risk the very existence of 
their party.  Gamkrelidze has come this far with the Joint 
Opposition, and has already joined in public calls for the 
boycott and blocking Parliament.  Still, he too appeared 
dubious about its effectiveness, and said the protesters are 
likely to be arrested if they interfere with Parliament's 
first scheduled session on June 10. 
 
Alternative Parliament, New Elections? 
-------------------------------------- 
 
5. (C) Targamadze said the other opposition leaders are 
bluffing about creating an alternative Parliament, but 
claimed they have not determined another course of action. 
Usupashvili said an alternative Parliament is a "crazy idea." 
 Even Gamkrelidze indicated that it is an unrealistic 
solution.  Furthermore, he claimed he did not want the 
country to revisit the 2003 Rose Revolution again. 
Consequently, it appeared that all three are searching for a 
way out of the current impasse, and a solution with which 
they could perhaps enter Parliament, or forge a new 
Parliament.  Targamadze suggested perhaps the CDM could join 
Parliament under the aegis of creating a new, compromise 
election code and working toward "new elections" in the 
future.  Usupashvili suggested creating new, elected 
positions on a local, regional basis this fall, which would 
bring more representation to the people and counter "ongoing 
consolidation of the federal government."  Gamkrelidze made 
the unlikely suggestion that government annul enough 
electoral districts (approximately 22 of 75) in the election 
results that the UNM would not receive a constitutional 
majority. 
 
A Minority Status in Parliament? 
-------------------------------- 
 
6. (C) The Ambassador acknowledged the frustration of the 
opposition's electoral defeat, but urged them to negotiate 
with the government in order to get concessions that would 
give them real power in Parliament.  He asked each one of the 
leaders if they could join Parliament with an official 
minority status.  He noted that President Saakashvili had 
made repeated public statements offering cooperation to the 
opposition, and that key government figures, including 
incoming Speaker of Parliament Bakradze and Saakashvili 
insider Giga Bokeria, had indicated the government was 
willing to offer the opposition some concessions that would 
guarantee it power in the new Parliament.  These include a 
lower numerical threshold for creation of an opposition 
faction, a Deputy Speaker position for an opposition 
politician, and deputy chairmanship positions on committees. 
The three responded independently that such an option could 
be workable, but none expressed confidence in Saakashvili 
keeping his word.  The Ambassador agreed that both sides 
would have to fulfill their obligations under any agreement. 
Furthermore, such agreement may require both sides to make 
public, conciliatory steps. 
 
No Violence to be Allowed 
------------------------- 
 
7. (C) Regardless, the Ambassador assessed that Saakashvili 
is unlikely to cede anything to the opposition unless it is 
accompanied by less confrontation.  He said violence by the 
opposition would likely end only in arrest.  It was a 
political dead end.  Minister of Internal Affairs Vano 
Merabishvili had said the GOG will legitimately arrest any 
protesters who attempt to block Parliament when the new 
session meets on June 10.  Should violence occur and 
opposition members be arrested in trying to block Parliament, 
the Ambassador said the opposition should not appeal for 
American and European intervention to get out of a box they 
had created for themselves.  He urged the leaders instead to 
move the fight from the streets into the Parliament, noting 
that violence would not be good for anyone in Georgia. 
 
Comment 
------- 
 
8. (C) The USAID-funded National Democratic Institute (NDI) 
 
TBILISI 00000925  003 OF 003 
 
 
advised Post on June 2 that two parties had approached them 
to discuss options on entering Parliament.  Separately, 
Usupashvili and Gamkrelidze both said they thought any 
agreement with the government must happen before June 9. 
Gamkrelidze told the Ambassador that he could reach out to 
and discuss possibilities with incoming Speaker Davit 
Bakradze and Deputy Speaker Mikheil Machavariani through 
their Parliamentary offices.  The Ambassador has spoken with 
Bakradze and Deputy Foreign Minister Bokeria, urging them to 
be magnanimous in victory, to reach out to the opposition, 
bring them into Parliament, and allow them to save face. 
TEFFT

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