08TBILISI1982, GEORGIA: A/S FRIED VISITS GORI, CHECKPOINTS

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
08TBILISI1982 2008-10-24 10:40 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Tbilisi

VZCZCXRO3249
PP RUEHFL RUEHKW RUEHLA RUEHROV RUEHSR
DE RUEHSI #1982/01 2981040
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 241040Z OCT 08
FM AMEMBASSY TBILISI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 0279
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE PRIORITY

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 TBILISI 001982 
 
SIPDIS 
 
DEPT FOR A/S FRIED AND EUR/CARC 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 10/21/2018 
TAGS: PGOV PREL PHUM RU GG
SUBJECT: GEORGIA: A/S FRIED VISITS GORI, CHECKPOINTS 
 
Classified By: CHARGE D'AFFAIRES KENT LOGSDON FOR REASONS 1.4 (B) AND ( 
D) 
 
1. (C) Begin Summary: EUR Assistant Secretary Daniel Fried 
and the Ambassador visited the Gori Field Office of the 
European Union Monitoring Mission (EUMM), which conducts 
patrols to the south and southwest of South Ossetia, October 
19.  So far, the EUMM has been denied access into South 
Ossetia by the Ossetians, and has had little cooperation from 
the Russians.  Fried visited the final, Georgian-controlled 
checkpoints on the way to Akhalgori, and spoke with local 
farmers and villagers near the administrative boundary whose 
homes had been destroyed, their livestock stolen, and their 
holdings lost.  One farmer was kidnapped the previous week 
and held by Ossetian bandits for three days.  The Georgians 
continued to be unable to secure the entire administrative 
boundary, which consists of open terrain and a patchwork of 
fields and orchards.  Shida Kartli region's governor, Lado 
Vardzelashvili, confirmed that the security situation in his 
region was his most critical challenge, noting that a robust 
Georgian police presence was necessary to reassure returning 
IDPs.  End Summary. 
 
2. (C) Assistant Secretary Fried and the Ambassador met the 
EUMM Gori Field Office's commanding officer, Stephan Burel (a 
French Gendarme).  The EUMM is overseeing the 
Sarkozy-brokered Russian-Georgian ceasefire.  The field 
office, one of four in the country, is conducting patrols to 
the south and southwest of South Ossetia along the 
administrative boundary.  So far, the Ossetians have refused 
all access into South Ossetia, and the EUMM had no 
working-level contacts or cooperation from the Russians.  All 
communication with Russian forces is handled by the EUMM HQ 
in Tbilisi.  Burel noted that he has tried to engage the 
Russian and Ossetian forces, with no success.  He said the 
Ossetians were always drunk by noon, and the Russians would 
not speak with him.  The field office currently conducts 
three day patrols and one night patrol daily.  Burel said 
that Georgians were returning to their homes in the area, and 
he received reports of Ossetian incursions into Georgia 
approximately every three days.  All EUMM personnel are 
completely unarmed.  Burel said small arms would do his 
observers no good in facing the more heavily-armed Ossetians. 
 
3. (C) The same day, Fried visited the final Georgian 
checkpoint in Odzisi on the road to Akhalgori.  The Georgian 
police showed how the Russians have established checkpoints 
for the Ossetians, and are manning each with up to 50 
soldiers.  The Georgian police were allowing Georgians and 
Ossetians to cross the administrative boundary to and from 
Akhalgori and South Ossetia.  They reported, however, that 
the Ossetians and Russians were only allowing those Georgians 
with "residence cards" to enter back into the occupied 
territories.  The police also noted that the Russians had 
renovated a road from Akhalgori to Tskhinvali that would 
handle heavy equipment and be passable in winter. 
 
4. (C)  Fried spoke with local farmers and villagers in Zemo 
Khviti, southwest of Tskhinvali and right next to the 
administrative boundary.  Some had their homes destroyed and 
livestock stolen.  One farmer was kidnapped at night by 
Ossetian bandits on/around October 15, and only released 
three days later.  In addition, the kidnappers stole the last 
52 of the farmer's cattle.  He said that if he were younger, 
he would likely have been killed.  The farmer's equipment and 
about 50 more cattle had been stolen earlier during the 
Qabout 50 more cattle had been stolen earlier during the 
Russian invasion.  Fried visited an elderly lady's home that 
was destroyed by an artillery shell and a farm association's 
warehouse that was hit by a Russian rocket.  The association 
lost significant equipment to Ossetian thieves following the 
invasion.  They thanked the OSCE for providing a new tractor 
to their association.  The visit confirmed that security 
along the administrative boundary, which consists of open 
terrain and a patchwork of fields and orchards, was tenuous. 
Many of one farmer's holdings, for example, laid between 
across the boundary in South Ossetia and he no longer had 
access to them. 
 
5. (C) Fried then met with Shida Kartli region's governor, 
Lado Vardzelashvili.  The governor confirmed to Fried that 
the security situation in his region was his most urgent 
problem.  He said the EUMM cannot access those places in 
South Ossetia where tens of thousands of Georgians lived and 
determine the people's condition now.  Continuing incursions 
of Ossetians was fomenting fear among the Georgian 
population, although the EUMM was helping counter this in 
those areas they could access.  Vardzelashvili was also 
concerned by the Russians establishing border guards and 
stations along the administrative boundary.  The Georgians 
were arresting Ossetian looters they encountered in 
Georgian-controlled territory.  Still, the Russians would not 


TBILISI 00001982  002 OF 002 
 
 
stop Ossetians from raiding south, and the Georgian police 
cannot secure it completely against Ossetian incursions. 
Without improvement in the security situation, namely an 
increase in Georgian police presence, Vardzelashvili said 
more Georgians would have to abandon villages close to the 
administrative boundary where they already required police 
protection. 
 
6. (C) Fried told Vardzelashvili that although we all want to 
return to August 6, the Russians would undoubtedly remain in 
South Ossetia for a long time.  He noted Vardzelashvili's 
point that secuity for Georgians in unoccupied and occupied 
Georgia was a priority facing the GOG.  Fried said the first 
will be easier than the second, but that the USG would try to 
help on both.  He stated that Georgia certainly has the right 
to defend itself and enforce its laws, but strongly cautioned 
against any Georgian provocations in the occupied areas. 
Finally, Fried agreed with Vardzelashvili that if Georgia 
could grow its economy and address humanitarian concerns, 
eventually the Ossetians could decide to rejoin Georgia. 
 
7. (C) Assistant Secretary Fried has cleared this cable. 
LOGSDON

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