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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
08TBILISI1987 2008-10-24 13:16 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Tbilisi

DE RUEHSI #1987/01 2981316
P 241316Z OCT 08

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 TBILISI 001987 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 10/24/2018 
Classified By: Charge d'Affaires Kent D. Logsdon for reasons 1.4 (b) an 
d (d). 
1. (C) Summary:  The latest USAID-funded International 
Republican Institute (IRI) poll, based on 1,500 surveys 
conducted from September 23 to October 1, showed that the 
August war with Russia dominated the national mood.  IRI said 
the poll showed that Georgians believed that Russian 
aggression was an ongoing effort, and their government was 
not responsible for starting the war.  President 
Saakashvili's performance during the war was viewed 
positively, and only nine percent supported a call for his 
resignation.  Despite the war and economic pressures, the 
country remained optimistic.  Slightly more people said the 
country is going in the right direction than did in February 
(reftel).  Confidence in nearly all public institutions has 
increased, and petty corruption, according to the 
respondents, remained low.  Georgians continue to value an 
opposition, dialogue, and the democratic process. 
Respondents approved the Christian-Democratic Movement's 
(CDM) decision to enter Parliament.  Those parties that 
refused to enter Parliament lost influence.  Georgians 
overwhelmingly expressed a desire for internal stability in 
the country and were strongly opposed to internal political 
instability.  War and Russian aggression were people's 
biggest fears.  Not surprisingly, regaining the separatist 
regions had surpassed job creation as a priorities for the 
government.  Georgians rejected the concept of independence 
for Abkhazia and South Ossetia's and they believed the 
regions will again be part of Georgia, but only through 
peaceful means.  Georgians supported Saakashvili's efforts to 
integrate Georgia in to NATO and EU membership.  Those polled 
cited "electricity" and "roads" among the government's most 
significant achievements.  The ruling National Movement (UNM) 
was regarded as the most capable political party in 
addressing people's problems, and Saakashvili's approval 
rating led all political figures in the poll. 
2. (C) Comment:  The poll results indicated a patriotic surge 
of support and solidarity for the country, its government, 
and institutions following the war and in the face of 
continuing Russian pressure.  Strong support from the 
international community appears to have reassured the 
Georgian populace, and they continue to look to the West for 
support, security, and development.  This poll suggests that 
the government has an opportunity to pursue its mandate for 
democratic reforms and economic growth, which would likely 
benefit the country long-term.  More immediate influences on 
the national mood will be Russia's next actions and how 
winter progresses.  Suprisingly few respondents raised free 
media or the need for more participatory democracy as 
priorities for the Government.  IRI briefed the results of 
the poll to both Government officials and opposition 
politicians, both in and outside of the Government.  The only 
part of the poll not released to political leaders is the 
"ballot test" of how many votes each political party would 
receive if a vote was held immediately; instead, each party 
received only its results for how well it polled with the 
public. End Summary. 
3. (U) The International Republican Institute (IRI), in 
conjunction with The Gallup Organization, conducted a 
USAID-funded poll across Georgia from September 23 to October 
1, 2008.  1500 adults (age 18 ) were randomly interviewed 
face-to-face, and the poll contains a margin of error of 
three percent or less.  (Note: an electronic version of this 
Qthree percent or less.  (Note: an electronic version of this 
poll has been sent to EUR/CARC.  End note.) 
Confronting Russian Aggression 
4. (SBU) Above all, IRI said the poll shows that Georgians 
believed the country was still at war against Russian 
aggression.  They believed their government was not 
responsible for starting the war.  These critical points 
explain Saakashvili's widespread support and the lack of 
support for the non-parliamentary opposition who have called 
for his resignatin.  His performance during the war was seen 
positively by 77 percent of the population, and only nine 
percent of Georgians support calls for his resignation at 
this time.  They believe this would play into Russia's goal 
of toppling Saakashvili's government. 
Optimism Despite Failures 
5. (SBU) The war was seen as the government's biggest 
failure, leading ahead of losing the territories of Abkhazia 
and South Ossetia and the government crackdown on November 7 
last year.  62 percent of people reported a worsening 
TBILISI 00001987  002 OF 003 
economic picture as well.  Still, the country remained 
optimistic about the future (76 percent reporting themselves 
optimistic versus 18 percent pessimistic).  More people said 
the country was going in the right direction (47 percent) 
than did in February (41 percent). 
Confidence in Institutions Rose
, Corruption Reported Low 
6. (SBU) Confidence in nearly all public institutions has 
increased since February.  The Georgian Orthodox Church 
remained atop the list (with a 92 percent viewing it 
favorably).  Tied for top place was the Army.  The police 
increased as well (84 percent citing confidence versus 77 
percent in February).  Public perceptions of the performance 
of both the army and police during the war was high.  The 
Central Bank (62 percent down from 65) and Education system 
(56 down from 58) slipped only a few points from February. 
The media basically stayed the same with 72 percent viewing 
it favorably (compared to 73 in February).  Reports of petty 
corruption remained very low, 96 percent of respondents say 
they had not had to pay a bribe for any government service or 
decision in the previous 12 months.  Only 0.7 percent said 
they had been asked to pay a one-time bribe. 
Domestic Politics, Dialogue, and Internal Stability 
7. (SBU) The democratic process remained important in 
Georgians' eyes.  They expressed the desire for additional 
democratic development.  86 percent (up from 84) said an 
opposition is important to Georgia's governance.  The same 
percentage wants to see dialogue between the opposition and 
the government.  Georgians overwhelmingly wanted internal 
stability in the country.  Only six percent said that 
internal political confrontation would be acceptable now. 
Respondents (67 percent versus 18 against) approved the CDM's 
decision to enter Parliament after the May election. 
Similarly, 60 percent opposed the United Opposition members' 
decision to not join Parliament, and only 19 percent 
supported it.  Those parties that refused to enter Parliament 
(Labor, the New Rightists, Conservatives, United Opposition) 
have lost public confidence in their ability to solve 
problems.  And the CDM is now viewed as the second-most 
recognizable opposition party (some had previously considered 
it pro-government) after the Labor Party (in February they 
were fifth). 
Separatist Regions More Important than Economy 
8. (C) People were asked what should be the top priorities of 
the government.  Regaining the separatist regions (60 percent 
as a first priority) surpassed creating jobs (22 percent), 
despite 62 percent of people saying the economic situation 
had worsened over the past two months.  Integration into EU 
and NATO (15 percent) and implementation of reforms (3 
percent) followed.  The ruling National Movement (UNM) was 
seen by 40 percent of respondents as the most capable 
political party in addressing people's problems (it was 39 
percent in February).  35 percent said they did not know 
which party was most capable.  Although the CDM earned itself 
second place with 5 percent (below its 11 percent in 
February), this was ahead of the next closest opposition 
party -- Labor with only 2 percent confidence.  (Comment: 
Again, this indicates that the CDM's constructive engagement 
and criticism in Parliament, the media, and the regions is 
paying dividends for the new party.  End comment.) 
Fears Remain, Longing for Territories 
9. (SBU) Resumption of war and Russian aggression top he 
list of people's fears, followed by the loss of Georgia's 
territorial integrity.  Georgians (91 percent) said they 
Qterritorial integrity.  Georgians (91 percent) said they 
would never accept Abkhazia's or South Ossetia's independence 
(only 4 percent said yes).  However, respondents 
overwhelmingly said they supported reintegration of the 
separatist territories only via peaceful means. 
Government Credited with Gaining International Support 
10. (SBU) Electricity and roads remained the government's 
biggest achievements, although gaining international support 
was a new mention.  Support for NATO and EU membership was 
strong at 86 percent.  A majority (54 percent) supported NATO 
military bases in Georgia, with 33 percent opposed.  Poll 
responsdents overwhelmingly appreciated their country's 
external relations - Ukraine and the United States topped the 
list of favorable relationship ratings at 97 percent each. 
France and the EU both received 94 percent favorable ratings. 
 Lithuania and Germany were 92 percent, Poland was 89 
percent, Turkey 88 percent, Azerbaijan 86 percent, Armenia 65 
TBILISI 00001987  003 OF 003 
percent, and Iran 49 percent.  Relations with Russia were 
viewed as "bad" by 97 percent of respondents. 
Political Leader Ratings 
11. (C) The poll again tracked ratings of political leaders, 
asking the respondents to rate them favorably or unfavorably. 
 Topping the list was President Saakashvili (75 percent 
favorable and 21 percent not).  A surprising second was 
Public Defender/Ombudsman Sozar Subari (70 percent favorable, 
15 percent unfavorable).  As additioNEQQ=QAHwVQc>, CDM leader Giorgi Targamadze tied for third with 70 
percent.  In descending order of favorable approval ratings 
came the following: businessman Bidzina Ivanishvili (65), 
former Speaker Nino Burjanadze (63), PM Lado Gurgenidze (57), 
Tbilisi Mayor Gigi Ugulava (57), Irakli Okruashvili (56), and 
Giorgi Baramidze (53) and parliamentary Speaker David 
Bakradze (52).  Most opposition members fell somewhat. 
Republicans Tina Khidasheli (51) and David Usupashvili (50), 
New Rightist David Gamkrelidze (49), Levan Gachechiladze 
(45), Koba Davitashvili (44), Kakha Kukava (43), and Shalva 
Natelashvili (33) all slipped from their February ratings. 
Some ministers improved, including FM Eka Tkeshelashvili 
(43), MOIA Vano Merabishvili (33), and Economic Minister Eka 
Sharashidze (31).  CDM Vice Speaker Levan Vepkhvadze (18 
percent favorable and 23 percent unfavorable) was largely 
unheard of (44 percent said they did not know the name). 


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