08TBILISI1470, GEORGIA: SITREP 19: RESPONDING TO MEDVEDEV’S

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
08TBILISI1470 2008-08-26 14:21 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Tbilisi

VZCZCXRO8891
PP RUEHFL RUEHKW RUEHLA RUEHROV RUEHSR
DE RUEHSI #1470/01 2391421
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 261421Z AUG 08
FM AMEMBASSY TBILISI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 9967
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE PRIORITY

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 TBILISI 001470 
 
SIPDIS 
 
DEPT FOR EUR/CARC AND TASKFORCE-1 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 08/26/2018 
TAGS: PGOV PREL PHUM RU GG
SUBJECT: GEORGIA: SITREP 19: RESPONDING TO MEDVEDEV'S 
ANNOUNCEMENT 
 
Classified By: AMBASSADOR JOHN F. TEFFT FOR REASONS 1.4 (B) AND (D) 
 
1.  (C)  Summary.  Tbilisi is formulating its official 
response to Russian President Medvedev's announcement that 
Russia would recognize the breakaway republics of South 
Ossetia and Abkhazia and per DFM Vashadze, is looking for a 
strong reaction from the West (more details to be provided 
septel).  Georgia has broken relations with Russia, and the 
Russian Embassy in Tbilisi is reportedly closed.  Although no 
shots were fired overnight, the situation in Akhalgori 
remains tense.  The Georgians are accusing the South 
Ossetians of kicking ethnic Georgians out of Megvrekisi 
village near Tskhinvali, and have moved Georgian police away 
from Akhalgori since they believe this village is next.  The 
government has made a public and private push to energize the 
country and the international community to provide 
humanitarian aid quickly.  End Summary. 
 
AKHALGORI UPDATE 
---------------- 
 
2.  (C) On August 26, the OSCE reported the Ossetian and 
Georgian sides met in negotiations regarding Akhalgori.  The 
Georgian side proposed a withdrawal of Ossetian forces from 
Zemo-Boli (on the outskirts of Akhalgori), to be followed by 
a withdrawal of Georgian police forces from Mosabruni (two 
kilometers from Akhalgori).  A tentative agreement on the 
above withdrawals was struck.  In addition, South Ossetians 
promised to stop all looting in the area.  (Note: The OSCE 
IMOs have been inside Akhalgori on August 25 and 26.  They 
have not yet confirmed looting has taken place in the town. 
End note.)  Georgian police will patrol up to near Akhalgori. 
 The OSCE noted that such an arrangement, if the two sides 
maintain it, leaves a power vacuum in Akhalgori that either 
side could be tempted to try to fill.  Still, the OSCE noted 
the agreement shows some progress.  In a statement to the 
press, National Security Council Secretary Kakha Lomaia said 
that Georgia is abiding by the terms of the cease-fire, but 
"would be forced to give . . . a proper response" if 
provoked.  Later in the day, the Georgian MFA reported to us 
that Georgian police have retreated from around Akhalgori 
because they believe South Ossetians will move against ethnic 
Georgians soon and they want to avoid a conflict. 
 
REACTING TO RUSSIAN RECOGNITION 
------------------------------- 
 
3. (U) The press reports President Saakashvili commented that 
Russia is trying to legalize its occupation, adding "This is 
a challenge to the whole world.  Such provocations will 
ultimately fail, but for them to fail, we have to be very 
mobilized; and Georgia will not be able to win this war 
alone."  MPs Zhvania and Darchiashvili made similar 
statements; opposition New Rightists leader Gamkrelidze urged 
Georgia to react strongly to recognition, including severing 
all diplomatic ties with Russia.  Secretary Lomaia suggested 
that a decision by the Russian government to extend 
recognition would carry no legal weight, but that its 
political consequences for Russia would be serious: Russia 
would find itself even more isolated and less stable in the 
face of its 80 autonomous entities.  The Georgian patriarch 
released a statement urging Russia not to extend recognition, 
echoing the concern with Russia's own separatist difficulties. 
 
POLITICAL FALLOUT 
----------------- 
 
4. (U) Gamkrelidze told the press he would end his moratorium 
on criticizing the government on September 8, the same day 
Parliament's "state of war" declaration expires.  Opposition 
People's Party leader Davitashvili proposed the establishment 
of a coalition government of national conciliation, which 
would work on de-occupation of the country and restoration of 
its territorial integrity.  Labor Party leader Natelashvili 
(who was elected to Parliament but who has not yet taken a 
seat) criticized Saakashvili for slandering the Labor Party 
instead of protecting the country. 
 
HUMANITARIAN AID BECOMES FOCUS 
------------------------------ 
 
5. (C) Government sources indicate that assisting those 
disrupted by the war, including both Internally Displaced 
Persons (IDPs) and those that remained in villages, has 
become a key focus.  The government held a meeting in Gori to 
highlight its reconstruction efforts.  While in Gori, 
President Saakashvili emphasized the importance of providing 
shelter before winter.  State Minister for Reintegration 
Yakobashvili sent a letter to the Ambassador requesting that 
the U.S. "employ all means available to you to pressure the 
 
TBILISI 00001470  002 OF 002 
 
 
Russian side" to facilitate the delivery of humanitarian aid, 
arguing that Russia has not fulfilled its obligations under 
point 3 of the cease-fire agreement.  In a meeting with Sen. 
Lugar, Yakobashvili explained that the resettlement of IDPs 
was the government's first objective in its overall response 
to the crisis.  Sasha Gakharia, Deputy Minister, Ministry of 
Refugees and Accommodation, told Poloff that many
 IDPs who 
are from Gori and villages nearby want to return to Gori as 
this is where their houses are located.  MP Subeliani has 
recently asked IDPs from the Gori area to return so as to be 
nearby when assessment teams come to Gori.  For those who are 
living in collective centers, the GoG has organized buses, 
but for now it is up to IDPs to make the decision as to 
whether they wish to return to Gori.  IDPs from Kodori Gorge 
are principally in Tbilisi and there are no indications that 
they intend to relocate to Gori. 
 
U.S. ASSISTANCE VESSELS 
----------------------- 
 
6. (C) We are awaiting an interagency decision regarding 
whether or not the next U.S. ship scheduled to provide 
humanitarian aid to Georgia will offload at Poti or Batumi. 
If the ship docks at Poti, its cargo would go by truck south 
to Batumi before sending it east on the major west-east 
highway toward Tbilisi.  This plan would send a strong signal 
on the operability of the Poti port without directly 
challenging the Russians, whose checkpoints are outside Poti 
and not at the port itself. 
 
PRISONER EXCHANGE 
----------------- 
 
7. (U) The press reported the Georgians released three 
military detainees on August 25.  There continues to be no 
additional information regarding reports of Georgian hostages 
in the Tskhinvali region. 
 
VISITORS 
-------- 
 
8.  (SBU)  The economic delegation led by U/S Jeffrey 
continues its work.  The group is tentatively planning to 
travel A press conference is scheduled for August 27 just 
prior to departure.  Presidential candidate John McCain's 
wife Cindy is in Tbilisi August 26.  A delegation led by Rep. 
Joe Donnelly (formerly led by Rep. Hunter) will visit Tbilisi 
September 1.  H is working with CODEL Poe to combine 
Congressman Poe's September 1 visit with CODEL Donnelly. 
TEFFT

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