08TBILISI1412, GEORGIA: SITREP 16: LOOKING FOR SIGNS OF A RUSSIAN

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
08TBILISI1412 2008-08-22 10:18 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Tbilisi

VZCZCXRO6476
PP RUEHFL RUEHKW RUEHLA RUEHROV RUEHSR
DE RUEHSI #1412/01 2351018
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 221018Z AUG 08
FM AMEMBASSY TBILISI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 9938
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE PRIORITY

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 TBILISI 001412 
 
SIPDIS 
 
DEPT FOR EUR/CARC AND TASKFORCE-1 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 08/22/2018 
TAGS: PGOV PREL PHUM RU GG
SUBJECT: GEORGIA: SITREP 16: LOOKING FOR SIGNS OF A RUSSIAN 
WITHDRAWAL 
 
Classified By: AMBASSADOR JOHN F. TEFFT FOR REASONS 1.4 (B) AND (D) 
 
1.  (U)  Summary.  As of mid-day, there were no definite sign 
of a Russian withdrawal from Georgia, but OSCE reported 
columns of Russian vehicles lining up in Gori and Kashuri on 
August 21.  On the other hand, there also continue to be 
reports of erecting fortifications and the continued 
demolition of Georgian military assets.  The Russian Embassy 
has told the Georgian MFA that travelers to and through Gori 
must register their plans in advance with the Russian Embassy 
in Tbilisi, adding that registry will "ensure unhindered 
movement".  The Finnish Foreign Minister, on behalf of the 
OSCE Chairman in Office, told FM Tkeshelashvili that 20 OSCE 
monitors will be deployed in Gori next week.  Human Rights 
Watch warns of unexploded cluster bomb elements on the ground 
in Georgian villages between Tskhinvali and Gori.  Some, but 
not all, Georgian soldiers and civilians held prisoner were 
released by the Russians and the South Ossetians.  End 
Summary. 
 
RUSSIANS OUT? NOT YET. 
---------------------- 
 
2.  (C) As of mid-day August 22, there is still no definite 
sign of a Russian withdrawal, although Russian armed forces 
officers have previously stated that movement would become 
apparent on August 22.  OSCE reports that west of Kashuri and 
in Gori columns of military vehicles are lining up.  OSCE 
termed these "indicators" of a possible withdrawal.  There is 
no change at the military checkpoint at Igoeti, the closest 
Russian position to Tbilisi.  UNOMIG told us it is looking 
into the explosions reported at the Senaki military base, 
reported reftel.  Explosions were also reported from the 
military base in Gori. 
 
3.  (C)  Russian troops at the port of Poti are reported to 
have been digging trenches, reinforcing their positions and 
destroying military infrastructure during the day of August 
21.  An embassy officer in Poti reported that there are now 
three Russian checkpoints in the Poti area, all with a 
certain level of permanency.  The first is in the northern 
part of the city with 35 soldiers camped out; the second 
controls the Leoni Bridge which leads to the road to Senaki; 
and the third is on the road to Senaki.  Through these three 
checkpoints, the Russians can control anything coming out of 
the port.  The rail line also runs through their positions. 
 
4.  (C)  Russian military sources say a pullout, or 
"pull-back", could take up to ten days.  Georgian DFM 
Vashadze told us that Russian DFM Karasin called early August 
21 to complain that Georgian forces were firing on Russian 
soldiers in Gori and that this could delay the withdrawal. 
Vashadze said that he told Karasin that there wasn't a single 
Georgian soldier "between the Roki Tunnel and Gori" and 
demanded specific information from the Russians about the 
locating of the incident.  None was forthcoming. 
 
RUSSIA REQUIRES REGISTRY OF TRAVEL TO GORI 
------------------------------------------ 
 
5. (U) The Georgian MFA announced that the Russian Embassy in 
Tbilisi has delivered a diplomatic note that says any persons 
wishing to travel through Gori must give the Embassy notice 
of their travel plans so instructions can be given to the 
Russian peacekeeping command, "which will further ensure 
unhindered movement."  The MFA reacted by labeling this 
requirement a violation of the cease-fire agreement and the 
Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, as well as an 
insult to Georgia's sovereignty.  At mid-day August 21, a 
Swedish diplomat was being prevented from entering Gori and 
told that he will be allowed to proceed after "special 
permission" is received.  The Russian checkpoints have 
routinely been turning back USG personnel attempting to enter 
Gori. 
 
REQUIEM FOR TSKHINVALI 
---------------------- 
 
6.  (U) Russian orchestral conductor Valery Gergiev led a 
concert in Tskhinvali on August 21, a requiem for those 
killed in the fighting there.  The GOR flew foreign 
journalists to Vladikavkaz and then bused them south to 
Tskhinvali to attend.  The concert was broadcast live on 
Russian state-owned TV channels. 
 
SOME GEORGIAN PRISONERS RELEASED 
-------------------------------- 
 
7.  (U) The press reported that the Russians released ten of 
the 22 Georgian soldiers seized at Poti on August 19. 
 
TBILISI 00001412  002 OF 002 
 
 
Sixty-three Georgian civilians being held in Tskhinvali were 
swapped for eight South Ossetian prisoners in Gori on August 
21.  Most of them were elderly men and women  Georgian 
officials say 101 Georgian civilians remain in South Ossetian 
custody. 
 
RUSSIAN CLUSTER BOMB DANGER 
--------------------------- 
 
8.  (U) Human Rights Watch (HRW) warned on August 21 that 
hundreds of unexploded submunitions f
rom cluster bombs are 
lying on the ground in and around the villages of Shindisi 
and Pkhvenisi (in Georgian territory just south of 
Tskhinvali), posing a risk to life.  "Many people have died 
because of Russia's use of cluster munitions in Georgia, even 
as Moscow denies it had used this barbaric weapon," said Marc 
Garlasco, senior military analyst for HRW. 
 
VISITORS 
-------- 
 
9.  (U) U.S. General Craddock, in Tbilisi August 21, publicly 
stressed the humanitarian aspects of the USG's military 
mission in Georgia and was seen on television visiting IDP's. 
 USAID's Henrietta Fore announced to the press $10.7 million 
worth of U.S. humanitarian assistance had already been 
delivered.  Finnish Foreign Minister Alexander Stubb, 
representing the OSCE Chairman in Office, visited Gori and 
promised more humanitarian aid for the city.  After an August 
21 meeting with FM Tkeshelashvili, he said that 20 OSCE 
observers will start working in Gori the week of August 25. 
NATO special representative Robert Simmons expressed sympathy 
for IDP's and vowed NATO will not do business as usual with 
Russia until it withdraws from Georgia.  He reportedly said 
NATO will assist Georgia to rebuild its air defense and other 
defensive infrastructure.  President Basescu of Romania said 
Romania will support MAP for Georgia in December. 
 
10.  (U) Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee 
Berman and Chairman of the House Education and Labor 
Committee Miller are visiting Tbilisi August 22.  They will 
meet with Speaker of Parliament Bakradze and President 
Saakashvili before returning to Paris.  Rep. Chris Smith is 
meeting with the Patriarch of the Georgian Orthodox Church 
and human rights organizations in Tbilisi August 22; he is 
expected to return to the U.S. on August 23.  Senator Lugar 
arrives in Tbilisi the evening of August 23. 
 
SANAKOYEV HELPS RUSSIANS HOME 
----------------------------- 
 
11.  (U) The Georgia-supported alternative de facto 
government of South Ossetia, led by Dmitri Sanakoyev, 
assisted 300 Russian citizens to return to Russia via the 
border crossing north of Kazbegi.  The Russians had been 
denied assistance by the Russian Embassy because they were in 
Georgia illegally. 
 
PROTESTS 
-------- 
 
12.  (U) Peaceful protests of the Russian occupation were 
held at the Igoeti checkpoint, in Kutaisi and in Poti.  Among 
the groups protesting were medical doctors, teachers, and 
representatives of Georgia's ethnic Armenian community. 
TEFFT

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