08TBILISI1163, A/S KRAMER MEETINGS WITH OPPOSITION, PUBLIC

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
08TBILISI1163 2008-07-04 08:07 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Tbilisi

VZCZCXRO9970
PP RUEHFL RUEHKW RUEHLA RUEHROV RUEHSR
DE RUEHSI #1163/01 1860807
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 040807Z JUL 08
FM AMEMBASSY TBILISI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 9726
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE PRIORITY

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 TBILISI 001163 
 
SIPDIS 
 
DEPT FOR DRL AND EUR/CARC 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 06/26/2018 
TAGS: PREL PGOV PHUM KDEM GG
SUBJECT: A/S KRAMER MEETINGS WITH OPPOSITION, PUBLIC 
DEFENDER, CIVIL SOCIETY, AND JUDICIAL REFORM ADVOCATES 
 
Classified By: Ambassador John F. Tefft for reasons 1.4 (b) and (d). 
 
1.  (C) Summary and Comment:  On June 25, Assistant Secretary 
of State for Democracy, Human Rights and Labor (DRL) David J. 
Kramer and the Ambassador met with the Public Defender, 
Georgian opposition leaders, civil society and those involved 
in judicial reforms to discuss the state of human rights 
conditions in Georgia.  The opinions of the first three 
groups converged on the government's over-centralization of 
power, perceived lack of media freedom, intimidation of 
opposition activists before and after the Parliamentary 
elections, and the government's focus on implementing reforms 
rather than including a variety of views.  The common threads 
of opinion between the groups unraveled over the fairness of 
Parliamentary elections with Joint Opposition party 
representatives alleging the Parliamentary election results 
were not legitimate and International Society for Fair and 
Democratic Elections and Transparency International 
Representatives noting that while the process was not 
perfect, the Parliamentary results were greatly improved over 
the Presidential elections.  Regardless of the group, all 
would like more dialogue with the government in formulating 
policy, although some groups are withdrawing from the 
political process.  The interlocutors urged the United 
National Movement UNM) to do more to build a strong 
multi-party Parliament.  A/S Kramer noted the troubling 
consolidation of television broadcasting in Georgia and 
agreed to raise the issue with key GoG officials.  Judges and 
members of the Georgian Bar Association talked about recent 
reforms, but acknowledged that public trust in the judiciary 
is still quite low.   End Comment and Summary. 
 
----------------------------- 
Public Defender--Sozar Subari 
----------------------------- 
 
2.  (C) Subari began by describing his cool relationship with 
the Saakashvili administration, which got off to a rocky 
start in 2004, just after he assumed office, when he openly 
supported the return of Georgians from Russia through South 
Ossetia, which the government portrayed as breaking 
immigration laws.  As he sees it, his strained relations with 
the Saakashvili government afford him little room for 
maneuver, as he has few strong allies or friends within the 
government.  Subari stated his appreciation for the U.S. 
Embassy and the international community's help bringing to 
light some of the tough human rights questions in Georgia. 
Since he took office in 2004, Subari's focus has been on 
reducing the instances of use of excessive force by police 
and maltreatment of detainees in prisons.  He has recently 
focused attention on addressing the cases of 16 people who 
were beaten after May 21 Parliamentary elections, urging the 
government to take a more active role in investigating the 
incidents.  Subari has effectively used the media and has 
received extensive media coverage of his activities.  A/S 
Kramer commended him for his good work and encouraged him to 
reach out and build consensus with UNM members to help him 
have more impact in addressing human rights concerns. 
 
------------------ 
Opposition Parties 
------------------ 
 
3.  (C)  Representatives from the Joint Opposition, 
Christian-Democratic Movement, the Republicans and Labor 
Parties all shared the view that the government acted 
improperly during both elections, abandoning democratic 
reforms and consolidating power.  Giorgi Targamadze, 
Christian-Democratic Movement, (whose party won eight percent 
in May and entered Parliament) said that Saakashvili has 
consolidated all political power under his control.  He 
claimed a free media no longer exists on television and urged 
the U.S. to restore media and democracy assistance programs 
like those in the late 1990s, to foster new leaders. 
Targamadze, in contrast to the others, said his party joined 
Parliament in order to try and effect positive change within 
the system.  The party representatives were concerned by 
recent beatings of party activists, and voiced frustration at 
the government's failure to address these incidents 
seriously.  (Comment:  The Prosecutor General's Office said 
they are investigating four cases, but the others lacked 
sufficient evidence.  End comment.) Party leaders 
acknowledged that the Joint Opposition is now worse off than 
it was in September 2007 due to mistakes during both election 
campaigns and the interim negotiations with the government. 
They asserted that the international community erred by not 
understanding the ruling party's intent to consolidate power. 
 Democratic and human rights, in their minds, are being 
diminished and the international community appears to be more 
concerned with stability than with freedom. 
 
TBILISI 00001163  002 OF 002 
 
 
 
------------- 
Civil Society 
------------- 
 
4.  (C)  Topics at the civil society dinner, attended by 
representatives from Transparency International,
 Caucasus 
School of Journalism, Penal Reform International, Georgian 
Young Lawyers (GYLA),  International Society for Fair and 
Democratic Elections (ISFED) and Liberty Institute, spanned 
the Human Rights continuum, but primarily focused on the 
following:  media freedom issues, lack of pluralism in 
decision making, and the psychology of Georgian character 
which seems to preclude compromise in politics for fear of 
appearing weak.  Most admitted the government has made 
impressive strides in reforming the police, stamping out 
corruption, and promoting religious freedom, but pointed out 
that other areas are either being ignored or undermined. 
They characterized diversity and editorial independence of TV 
media as diminished, due to consolidation of ownership of 
national channels.  Nino Danelia, Caucasus School of 
Journalism, attributed the pressure on journalists as a 
result of market pressure on owners rather than pressure from 
the government.  She went on to say that some media outlet 
owners are linked to the ruling party, which pressures 
journalists to find "sound bites" to support government 
programs.  This has the overall affect of lowering standards 
for journalists. All agreed that although print journalism 
may be considered the most "free", less than five percent of 
the population reads the papers, which are not sold by 
subscription.  For the moment, television stations tend to 
reflect the editorial policies of their owners and talk shows 
typically feature politicians screaming at each other or at 
journalists. 
 
5.  (C)  Members of the group discussed the critical 
necessity of compromise in pluralism, but maintained this 
idea is absent in the Georgian psyche.  Georgians want a 
"macho" leader and compromise to them wreaks of weakness. 
ISFED noted that if initially Levan Gachechiladze, Joint 
Opposition, had approval ratings in the 40th percentile in 
January, they fell to the teens by May because he 
miscalculated how to fulfill the archetype "macho" image. 
His key misstep was when he began to use obscene language 
with female journalists and to talk about Nino Burjanadze in 
vulgar terms, which turned key supporters against him. 
According to the ISFED rep, being "macho" means being tough, 
but not vulgar, and especially not with women.  The GYLA rep 
pointed out that David Usupashvili's willingness to reach out 
to the UNM and work as a bridge between the majority and 
opposition was what cost him eventually his Parliament 
seat--dialogue to some, equals "loser." 
 
--------------- 
Judicial Reform 
--------------- 
 
6.  (C)  The Deputy Supreme Court Justice recounted judicial 
reforms made in Georgia during the last years, underlining 
the watershed last year of the passage a law banning ex parte 
communications and citing statistics to show that the number 
of those judged guilty who receive imprisonment (44 percent) 
is significantly lower than before, due to the use of bail 
and plea bargaining.  He did not refute A/S Kramer's 
observation that public perception of the judiciary is very 
low, but explained that the state is very young and those who 
are part of the judiciary are still acquiring the skills 
needed to operate in an independent state. David Lanchava, a 
defense attorney and member of the Georgian Bar Association 
(GBA), asserted that the progress of reforms in the 
Prosecutor's Office and the patrol police were successful due 
to strong reformers at the top, namely Zurab Adeishvili and 
Vano Merabashvili.  This is missing in the judiciary. 
Lanchava voiced his opinion that the changes in the law have 
weakened the role of the advocates (defense lawyers) at the 
expense of the prosecutors.  He went on to say that in his 
experience 90 percent of judges are knowledgable and are not 
corrupt, but they need to be bolder in their decision making 
role.  Medea Dematrashvili, Ethics Committee, GBA, added that 
much has been done to address ethical behavior--legislation, 
training--but so far it has not solved the problem in its 
entirety. 
 
7.  (U)  A/S Kramer did not have the opportunity to clear 
this cable. 
TEFFT

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