08TBILISI1403, GEORGIA: SITREP 14 – THE WAITING GAME CONTINUES

WikiLeaks Link

To understand the justification used for the classification of each cable, please use this WikiSource article as reference.
Discussing cables
If you find meaningful or important information in a cable, please link directly to its unique reference number. Linking to a specific paragraph in the body of a cable is also possible by copying the appropriate link (to be found at theparagraph symbol).Please mark messages for social networking services like Twitter with the hash tags #cablegate and a hash containing the reference ID e.g. #08TBILISI1403.
Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
08TBILISI1403 2008-08-20 12:25 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Tbilisi

VZCZCXRO4774
PP RUEHFL RUEHKW RUEHLA RUEHROV RUEHSR
DE RUEHSI #1403/01 2331225
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 201225Z AUG 08
FM AMEMBASSY TBILISI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 9922
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE PRIORITY

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 TBILISI 001403 
 
SIPDIS 
 
DEPT FOR EUR/CARC AND TASKFORCE-1 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 08/20/2018 
TAGS: PGOV PREL PHUM ECON GG RU
SUBJECT: GEORGIA: SITREP 14 - THE WAITING GAME CONTINUES 
 
REF: TBILISI 1372 
 
Classified By: AMBASSADOR JOHN F. TEFFT FOR REASONS 1.4 (B) AND (D) 
 
 1.  (C)  Summary: Faint and uncertain signs of a Russian 
withdrawal are reported, but there is as yet no unmistakable 
sign of a pullback.  Russian troops attempted August 19 to 
oust Georgian soldiers from a base in Western Georgia, to 
which the Georgians had retreated in conformity with the 
six-point agreement, but did not press on August 20 after the 
Georgians refused entry.  The OSCE Chairman in office arrives 
in Tbilisi August 21, and is expected to have two of the new 
20 monitors with him; the rest will be on the ground within 
ten days.  More than one hundred civilians are reported to be 
held hostage in Tskhinvali, and the Russians seized 20 or 
more Georgian soldiers in Poti at the same time an exchange 
of all known prisoners took place outside Gori on August 19. 
Returned Georgian prisoners alleged mistreatment by their 
captors.  The GOG is reporting that 215 Georgians have been 
killed in the conflict and 1469 wounded.  A UNHCR convoy was 
allowed to enter Gori today, accompanied by the UN High 
Commissioner for Refugees and the German Ambassador.  A U.S. 
citizen journalist was detained in Gori August 19 and held 
overnight by Russian troops and released without incident; 
four Amcit photographers were also detained for several hours 
in Gori August 20 by Russian troops before being released. 
Georgians confronted Russian troops in peaceful protests at 
checkpoints on the way to Gori and in Senaki.  Opposition 
Georgian politicians are doing their best to hold back 
criticism of President Saakashvili, with some success.  A 
recent poll shows the president with about 2/3 support in 
Tbilisi.  End Summary. 
 
RUSSIANS STILL ACTIVE, FEW SIGNS OF A PULLOUT 
--------------------------------------------- 
 
2.  (C)  Evidence of the beginning of a Russian pullout of 
Georgia is equivocal to say the least.  Russian troops are 
reported to have removed two checkpoints from the town of 
Gori, possibly the beginning of a pull back.  Two checkpoints 
remain on the north side of the town.  A UNHCR humanitarian 
aid convoy, led by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees and 
including the German Ambassador, was permitted to enter Gori 
by Russian troops.  They met with the mayor and report that 
there are few people in the city.  However, damage is limited 
to a few small areas of the city.  Five U.S. citizen 
journalists were detained by Russian troops in Gori in two 
separate incidents.  All were released unharmed.  Explosions 
were heard on August 20 from the military base in Osiari, 
apparently as base infrastructure was neutralized.   UNOMIG 
has told the Embassy that Russian troops are still moving 
freely about in Western Georgia. 
 
3.  (SBU)  On August 19, Georgian police prevented a Russian 
column from entering the Sachkere military base in Western 
Georgia.  The Russian commander threatened to return and use 
force to enter the base, but no reports of any forceful 
action have been received as of noon on August 20.  Georgian 
troops had regrouped at the base, assuming they were in 
conformity with the six-point agreement.  The Georgian MFA 
regards the attempt to oust the troops from the base as a 
provocation and a violation of the agreement.  It protested 
the continued "entering of cities, destroying military and 
civilian infrastructure, looting and robbing peaceful 
populations, dropping firebombs on forests, blowing up 
bridges, establishing new illegal checkpoints on highways, 
etc." 
 
4. (SBU)  The Georgian Orthodox church reported on August 19 
that the Gori-Samtvisi Eparchy was raided by Russians and/or 
Ossetians.  The Archbishop's car, cellphone was stolen and 
other priests in Gori had property taken from them.  A bomb 
is reported to have hit the Nikozi Eparchy.  Nuns were forced 
to leave convents in the Kodori Gorge and in Akhalgori in 
South Ossetia. 
 
MORE HOSTAGES AND POW'S TAKEN 
----------------------------- 
 
5.  (SBU)  Georgian soldiers released by the Russians 
yesterday in the prisoner exchange say they were tortured. 
Doctors who examined them found signs of beatings with blunt 
objects on the head and chest, burns and other bruises. 
Meanwhile, reports are that the Georgians taken prisoner by 
the Russians in Poti number about 20, and that they have been 
taken to Senaki.  The governor of Samegrelo and the mayor of 
Poti are negotiating with the Russian commanders to secure 
their release. 
 
6.  (U)  A journalist for the UK's Guardian newspaper reports 
that the number of Georgians held hostage in Tskhinvali is 
 
TBILISI 00001403  002 OF 003 
 
 
now 131, including some women and a 12-year-old girl. 
 
TOLL OF GEORGIAN CASUALTIES 
--------------------------- 
 
7.  (U)  According to the chairman of the parliamentary 
committee for defense and security, 215 Geo
rgians have been 
killed in the conflict with Russia.  Sixty-nine of them are 
civilians, 133 are military personnel, including four 
reservists and thirteen Ministry of Interior troops.  Seventy 
soldiers are missing.  He reports that 1,469 people have been 
injured of whom 446 are still in the hospital. 
 
OSCE MONITORS NUMBER AND DEPLOYMENT UNCERTAIN 
--------------------------------------------- 
 
8. (C)  Existing OSCE monitors have gotten permission to 
enter Tskhinvali from the Russian commander there.  However, 
the head of the mission told us that she will not be sending 
observers into South Ossetia until she has assurances from 
the Russians that the monitors will be safe.  OSCE Chairman 
in Office, Finnish Foreign Minister Alexander Stubb, will 
arrive in Tbilisi on August 21, and is expected to be 
accompanied by the first two of the additional 20 monitors 
authorized by the OSCE on August 19.  Officers at OSCE's 
Tbilisi office report that the 20 monitors are expected to be 
on the ground in Tbilisi in the next ten days.  Monitors will 
initially work out of Tbilisi for the first 2-4 weeks.  Once 
additional monitors arrive (from the additional 80 monitors 
expected) and if the security situation allows, OSCE hopes to 
set up a base in Gori and eventually, in Tskhinvali. 
 
PROTESTERS CONFRONT THE OCCUPIERS 
--------------------------------- 
 
9. (U)  The press reported that Georgian students, young 
people, trade unionists and businessmen protested the Russian 
occupation at the checkpoint in Igoeti on the road from 
Tbilisi to Gori.  They faced off against Russian soldiers, 
who were backed up by a tank. The message was that Georgians 
will not be intimidated by the Russians.  Another 
demonstration by 3000 protesters took place in Senaki near 
the Russian-occupied military base. 
 
DIPLOMATIC ACTIVITIES 
--------------------- 
 
10.  (U)  British Foreign Secretary David Miliband arrived in 
Tbilisi on August 19 from the NATO ministerial in Brussels. 
In a press conference he expressed the UK's support for 
Georgia and its people.  Earlier, in Brussels, he termed the 
Russian occupation a violation of international law.  A 
delegation from the Council of Europe and the European 
Parliament arrived on a fact-finding mission the same day. 
 
11.  (SBU)  A French Embassy representative is continuously 
monitoring six Russian battalions between Zugdidi and Senaki. 
 Senators Lieberman and Lindsay Graham, accompanied by Rep 
Chris Smith, are in Tbilisi August 20, meeting with President 
Saakashvili and the Prime Minister.  They will also visit an 
IDP shelter in Tbilisi and observe the off-loading of a U.S. 
military humanitarian assistance flight.  The Senators will 
depart Tbilisi the same day; Rep. Smith plans to remain in 
Tbilisi to support the repatriation of several American 
citizen minors who are unable to get back to Tbilisi because 
of continued Russian troop movements on the main highway. 
 
AMCIT ARRESTED, EXPELLED FROM GORI 
---------------------------------- 
 
12.  (C)  An American journalist (representing a San Diego, 
California newspaper) who had found his way into Gori was 
arrested and held by the Russians overnight on August 19-20. 
He was released and returned to Tbilisi on August 20 after 
intervention by Embassy Moscow.  The journalist was not 
abused or mistreated.  On August 21, a group of four U.S. 
citizen photographers were detained by Russian troops in 
Gori.  They were released without incident after several 
hours and were in the process of returning to Tbilisi. 
 
POST-INVASION POLITICKING SLOWLY BEGINS 
--------------------------------------- 
 
13.  (U)  Former Speaker of Parliament Nino Burjanadze 
publicly criticized President Saakashvili in a Reuters 
interview on August 18.  She said the government will face 
"tough questions" about what led to the conflict with Russia. 
 She promised to play an active political role after the 
crisis abates.  Burjanadze had formerly been closely allied 
with Saakahsvili.  Opposition leader Levan Gachechiladze 
talked to the Financial Times about the need for new 
 
TBILISI 00001403  003 OF 003 
 
 
elections as soon as possible.  However, he and other 
opposition politicians later called for a moratorium on 
confrontation with the government until after the Russians 
leave Georgia.   For the moment, a GORBI telephone poll shows 
Saakashvili's popularity is higher than it has been, as 69 
percent of Tbilisi residents approve of how he is handling 
his job.  A majority still favor Georgia's NATO membership. 
Eighty-five percent are holding on to a favorable view of 
Western countries. 
TEFFT

Wikileaks

Advertisements
Post a comment or leave a trackback: Trackback URL.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: