08TBILISI1496, GEORGIA: SITREP 22: HUMAN CHAIN SHOWS GEORGIAN

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. #08TBILISI1496.
Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
08TBILISI1496 2008-09-02 13:34 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Tbilisi

VZCZCXRO3264
PP RUEHFL RUEHKW RUEHLA RUEHROV RUEHSR
DE RUEHSI #1496/01 2461334
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 021334Z SEP 08
FM AMEMBASSY TBILISI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 0010
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE PRIORITY

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 TBILISI 001496 
 
SIPDIS 
 
DEPT FOR EUR/CARC AND TASKFORCE-1 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 08/26/2018 
TAGS: PGOV PREL PHUM RU GG
SUBJECT: GEORGIA: SITREP 22: HUMAN CHAIN SHOWS GEORGIAN 
UNITY 
 
REF: TBILISI 1482 
 
Classified By: AMBASSADOR JOHN F. TEFFT FOR REASONS 1.4 (B) AND (D) 
 
1. (C)  Summary.  On September 1 as many as 1.5 million 
Georgians rallied across the country to express national 
unity and opposition to Russia's actions.  The OSCE did not 
observe any confrontations or movements, but did see the 
presence of heavy vehicles in an ethnically Georgian village 
southwest of Akhalgori.  The government has decided to annul 
the legal basis for the presence of Russian forces anywhere 
in Georgia and is in the process of implementing this 
decision.  The government is preparing a human rights case to 
submit to the International Criminal Court.  Georgia's 
Patriarch told the Ambassador that he was frustrated and 
unable to understand why Russia was behaving as it was.  End 
Summary. 
 
THE HUMAN CHAIN 
--------------- 
 
2. (SBU) A massive pro-Georgia rally was held in Tbilisi, 
with other smaller rallies around Georgia, to coincide with 
the September 1 EU emergency meeting in Brussels.  An 
estimated 1 to 1.5 million people participated across the 
country, with Speaker of Parliament Bakradze estimating the 
number of participants to be at 1.2 million.  We saw at least 
100,000 people in downtown Tbilisi.  The government 
encouraged attendance by declaring the work day over at 2:00 
P.M. and instructing government workers to participate. 
Crowds started gathering well before 2:00 on Freedom Square 
and Rustaveli Avenue; by 2:30 large crowds had gathered 
throughout the downtown area, stopping car traffic.  Vehicles 
draped with Georgian flags drove throughout the city, some 
with (primarily young) people hanging out of them, waving 
flags as well.  The atmosphere was festive, even raucous, 
with a palpable sense of defiance, as spontaneous chants of 
"Sakartvelo" ("Georgia") and renditions of the national 
anthem broke out.  All ages and strata of society were 
represented in the remarkably incident-free rally.  Embassy 
observers noted scores of U.S., NATO, and various European 
flags as well.  In one instance an individual carrying an 
Israeli flag stood a few feet from another carrying an 
Iranian one. 
 
3. (SBU) Reminiscent of the Baltic protests in 1991, 
participants formed a human chain that stretched for miles 
down Rustaveli Avenue, along Chavchavadze to the Russian 
Embassy, across the river, along the other side, and back 
across the river to join together in a huge loop.  A 
large-scale media campaign preceded the event, which was 
nominally organized by "Stop Russia," a nebulous group 
dedicated to providing what it describes as accurate 
information about the conflict to counter Russian propaganda. 
 The organization's "I Am Georgia" and "Stop Russia" 
placards, posters and T-shirts, in English, were ubiquitous, 
including an enormous English-language billboard on Freedom 
Square.  On August 31 President Saakashvili made a late-night 
appeal to the Georgian public to attend the rallies, and 
Patriarch Ilia II blessed the event in his Sunday sermon. 
The president made his way through the crowd on Freedom 
Square to loud applause, with little security apparent.  He 
addressed the crowd from a balcony, praising Georgia's unity, 
strength and resolve, using typically fiery language to say 
that Georgia had stopped "21st-century hordes," and that 
Georgia would be the graveyard for Russian imperialism. 
 
4. (SBU) Representatives Joe Donnelly (D-IN) and Steve King 
(R-IA) drove past the human chain in downtown Tbilisi during 
their visit and were very impressed with the positive energy 
and enthusiasm of the participants.  In a public statement, 
Rep. Donnelly compared the flag-waving crowds to Americans 
celebrating the Fourth of July, and Rep. King made sure to 
acquire a Georgian flag to bring back as a reminder of the 
excitement of the day. 
 
OSCE NOTES CALM, BUT OBSERVES VEHICLES 
-------------------------------------- 
 
5. (SBU) Russian troops continue to refuse access to areas 
north of the outer ring of checkpoints and to the conflict 
zone in South Ossetia, with no change coming from OSCE Head 
of Mission Hakala's August 29 meeting with Russian General 
Kulakhmetov (see reftel).  In the meantime, OSCE monitors are 
currently attempting to visit as many sites as possible in 
the area south of the checkpoints.  Recently arrivals have 
doubled the number of monitors from 8 to 16, with four more 
monitors expected this week.  The OSCE is now able to have 
three patrols out at a time. 
 
 
TBILISI 00001496  002 OF 002 
 
 
6. (SBU) On September 1 the OSCE heard reports of movements 
of heavy vehicles from west to east in the area of 
predominantly Georgian villages just west of Akhalgori.  The 
monitors then confirmed the presence of at least 12, and 
possibly as many as 48, large vehicles, including BTRs, in 
the small village of Monasteri southwest of Akhalgori, just 
north of the administrative border of South Ossetia.  The 
OSCE did not
 observe any vehicle movement.  Their immediate 
purpose and destination were unknown, although OSCE 
speculated that they were meant to provide "protection" for 
South Ossetia and its border and deter any Georgian action. 
 
ANNULMENT OF BASIS OF RUSSIAN PRESENCE 
-------------------------------------- 
 
7. (C) Further to the discussion in reftel, Deputy Speaker of 
Parliament (and minority faction Christian Democratic 
Movement member) Levan Vepkhvadze clarified that the 
provisions of the August 28 parliamentary resolution calling 
for the severance of all diplomatic ties with Russia and the 
annulment of all legal acts providing for Russian forces on 
Georgian territory were non-binding recommendations to the 
government.  Minister of Reintegration Yakobashvili has 
stated publicly that Georgia must maintain a minimal 
diplomatic relationship with Russia to protect its citizens 
in Russia.  He informed the Embassy, however, that the 
government has already promulgated a decision nullifying the 
legal acts, including withdrawal from the 1992 Sochi and 1994 
Moscow agreements, and was in the process of implementing 
this decision.  (In a separate conversation, Deputy Minister 
for Reintegration David Rakviashvili explained that the legal 
steps for withdrawal from the two agreements would be 
different, because one was a bilateral agreement with Russia 
and the other was a multilateral CIS agreement.) 
Yakobashvili went on to explain that the only practical 
impact of the provision was to indicate that Georgia no 
longer accepts the previous peacekeeping arrangements, and 
that the six-point cease-fire agreement was the only 
acceptable basis for any new plan.  The implication seemed to 
be that Georgia would consider any new peacekeeping plan 
based on the new cease-fire, presumably even one involving 
Russian forces. 
 
GEORGIA PURSUING CASE WITH THE ICC 
---------------------------------- 
 
8. (C) The Prosecutor's Office confirmed that the Ministry of 
Justice is preparing a case to file with the International 
Criminal Court, likely alleging human rights abuses such as 
ethnic cleansing in South Ossetia by Ossetian militias and 
Russian forces.  Human Rights Watch has privately encouraged 
such a step, citing significant evidence of abuses, including 
ethnic cleansing. 
 
PATRIARCH QUESTIONS RUSSIAN MOTIVES 
----------------------------------- 
 
9.  (C)  The Ambassador met with a visibly frustrated and 
tired Patriarch Ilia II on August 29.  The Patriarch thanked 
the Ambassador for the assistance which the United States was 
giving Georgia in its hour of need, particularly humanitarian 
assistance for the new internally displaced persons.  Ilia II 
said he was tired of watching on television the horrible 
things done to innocent Georgians by Russians and South 
Ossetians.  He said that he had traveled to the zone of 
conflict after the cessation of open hostilities to retrieve 
the bodies of dead soldiers and civilians, because the 
Russians respected only his office.  It was dangerous but the 
only way to give the victims a proper burial.  He had 
traveled to South Ossetia with side cars shielding him from 
possible shooting by Russian forces.  Ilia II said he had 
written to both President Medvedev and Prime Minister Putin, 
asking that they rescind their decision to recognize the 
independence of Abkhazia and South Ossetia.  He asked the 
Ambassador how we could convince the Russians to withdraw 
their forces and to walk back their recognition decisions. 
What kind of face-saving step did they want?  The Patriarch 
said he simply could not understand the rationale behind 
Putin's decision to invade Georgia.  It would solve no 
problems and generate more anger and hatred toward Russia. 
 
VISITORS 
-------- 
 
10. (SBU) Representatives Donnelly and King completed their 
visit September 1.  OVP continues its preparations. 
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: