08TBILISI1286, LABOR PARTY ACTIVIST ARRESTED, NATELASHVILI CLAIMS

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
08TBILISI1286 2008-07-29 11:43 2011-08-30 01:44 UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY Embassy Tbilisi

VZCZCXRO8512
PP RUEHAG RUEHAST RUEHDA RUEHDF RUEHFL RUEHIK RUEHKW RUEHLA RUEHLN
RUEHLZ RUEHPOD RUEHROV RUEHSR RUEHVK RUEHYG
DE RUEHSI #1286 2111143
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 291143Z JUL 08
FM AMEMBASSY TBILISI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 9815
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE

UNCLAS TBILISI 001286 
 
SENSITIVE 
SIPDIS 
 
DEPT FOR EUR/CARC 
 
E.O. 12958: N/A 
TAGS: PREL PGOV PHUM KDEM GG
SUBJECT: LABOR PARTY ACTIVIST ARRESTED, NATELASHVILI CLAIMS 
POLITICAL PERSECUTION 
 
REF: TBILISI 1273 
 
1. (U) On July 25, Georgian police arrested Labor Party 
activist Archil Benidze on charges of money laundering. 
Chairman of the Labor Party Shalva Natelashvili held a press 
brief where he denounced the arrest as "political persecution 
by the government."  Natelashvili alleged the arrest was 
engineered to obtain "false evidence" against him to be used 
in arresting him as well.  News reports claimed the 
Prosecutor General's office  (PGO) has taped conversations 
between Natelashvili and an associate of deceased oligarch 
Badri Patarkatsishvili, regarding money transfers to Georgia. 
 Benidze was on the party list, and was Labor's majoritarian 
candidate in the Aspindza district of the Samstkhe-Javakheti 
region, during the May parliamentary elections.  He is not a 
well-known public figure. 
 
2. (SBU) Deputy Foreign Minister Giga Bokeria informed the 
Ambassador of the arrest in advance.  Anticipating 
Natelashvili's charge of political persecution, Bokeria said 
there was ample evidence of money laundering.  The Embassy 
also inquired about the charges with the PGO, which provided 
Post the following explanation.  Begin Text: 
 
On 30 November 2007 the criminal investigation was initiated 
by the Investigation Unit of Constitutional Security 
Department of the Ministry of Internal Affairs (MOIA) of 
Georgia Under Article 194 Section 2 (a, b) of the Criminal 
Code of Georgia (money laundering). 
 
On 26 July 2008, Mr. Archil Benidze (member of Labour Party 
of Georgia) was charged with Article 194 Section 2 (a, c) of 
the Criminal Code of Georgia (Edition in force as for 12 
April 2008) and on the same day Tbilisi City Court issued an 
Order for the application of pre-trial detention as a measure 
of constraint against Mr. Benidze.  The case is still under 
an investigation. 
 
End text. 
 
3. (SBU) Comment: Natelashvili has submitted letters (emailed 
to EUR/CARC) to the Embassy requesting political asylum and 
alleging persecution by the government.  Natelashvili has 
also alleged the government is pressuring him with threat of 
arrest to enter Parliament, ostensibly to "legitimize" the 
body.  Natelashvili has recently held several press briefings 
before the MOIA and PGO, where he has denounced the two 
offices and claimed he would not allow his party members to 
testify on pending investigations (such as Benidze's). 
Benidze's arrest comes at the same time as a New Rightist 
activist was charged with attempted bribery, and Eka 
Beselia's son awaits trial (reftel).  End comment. 
TEFFT

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