Monthly Archives: November 2008

08TBILISI2219, GEORGIA: FORMER SAAKASHVILI ALLY ACCUSES TBILISI

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
08TBILISI2219 2008-11-28 14:10 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Tbilisi

VZCZCXRO1693
OO RUEHFL RUEHKW RUEHLA RUEHNP RUEHROV RUEHSR
DE RUEHSI #2219/01 3331410
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
O 281410Z NOV 08
FM AMEMBASSY TBILISI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 0477
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RHEHAAA/NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 TBILISI 002219 
 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 11/28/2018 
TAGS: PGOV PREL PHUM KDEM GG RU
SUBJECT: GEORGIA: FORMER SAAKASHVILI ALLY ACCUSES TBILISI 
OF PLANNING AUGUST EVENTS; GOVERNMENT QUICKLY REBUTS 
 
REF: TBILISI 2016 
 
Classified By: AMBASSADOR JOHN F. TEFTT FOR REASONS 1.4 (b) AND (d). 
 
1.  (C)  Summary and Comment.  In a November 25 appearance 
before the Parliamentary Commission Investigating the August 
Conflict, former Georgian Ambassador to Russia Erosi 
Kitsmarishvili publicly stated his views that Georgia's 
leaders wanted conflict with Russia and that the United 
States gave the Georgians a "green light" to take military 
action.  In statements on November 26, Kitsmarishvili claimed 
that the President of the United States and the Secretary of 
State gave Saakashvili implicit permission to use military 
force.  Immediately following Kitsmarishvili's testimony, 
Deputy FM Giga Bokeria testified that Georgia had not sought 
conflict and refuted Kitsmarishvili's testimony.  The 
Commission's meeting garnered significant public attention as 
one of the Commissioners walked out.  The Georgian public is 
anxiously awaiting the testimony of President Saakashvili on 
November 28.  Commission Chairman Paata Davitaia has worked 
to ensure that the commission thoroughly reviews a range of 
views regarding the August events and the heated exchanges on 
November 25 are evidence that the Commission is listening to 
those whose views differ significantly from those of the 
President.  End Summary and Comment. 
 
FORMER AMBASSADOR TAKES AIM AT THE PRESIDENT 
 
2.  (C)  Erosi Kitsmarishvili testified before the 
Parliamentary Commission Investigating the August Conflict on 
November 25.  (Note: Kitsmarishvili was sent to Moscow as 
Georgia's Ambassador but never actually presented his 
credentials to the Kremlin.  He spent approximately two 
months in Moscow, from April until July. End note)  In his 
three hour appearance, he argued several points (a fuller 
transcript is available on www.civil.ge): 
 
-- Georgia's leadership had purposefully dismissed 
opportunities to create new channels of communication with 
Moscow; 
 
-- Saakashvili was committed to a war plan as early as spring 
2008; 
 
-- U.S. officials gave Saakashvili a green light to resolve 
the conflicts militarily. 
 
3.  (C)  In contrast with previous testimony, tempers flared 
throughout the session.  Commission Chairman Paata Davitaia 
(see reftel) pushed Kitsmarishvili to say exactly who in the 
USG had given permission to the Georgian government. 
Kitsmarishvili was unable to provide a name and stated for 
the record that he had a conversation with Ambassador Tefft 
in which Ambassador Tefft said unequivocally that military 
action was unacceptable and that the USG had not given anyone 
a "green light" for military action.  (Note: The Ambassador 
does not remember a meeting with Kitsmarishvili and the 
embassy has no record of such a meeting.  End note.)  At one 
point, Kitsmarishvili reportedly called Commission member 
Givi Targamadze a scoundrel.  Targamadze walked out, although 
he later returned and apologized for his reaction.  The 
hearing ended when Kitsmarishvili walked out. 
 
BOKERIA RESPONDS FOR THE GOVERNMENT 
 
4.  (C)  As a result of Kitsmarishvili's accusations, the 
commission called the Foreign Minister to Parliament to 
answer the allegations.  As the Foreign Minister was outside 
the country, Deputy Foreign Minister Giga Bokeria represented 
the government.  Bokeria dismissed the allegation that the 
Georgian leadership had neglected opportunities to normalize 
ties with Moscow.  Bokeria stated that Kitsmarishvili's 
accusation that Saakashvili and his team wanted war was 
Qaccusation that Saakashvili and his team wanted war was 
"absurd and a lie."  Bokeria believed that Kitsmarishvili was 
attacking the President because he had lost his Ambassadorial 
position after being recalled in July.  Bokeria also said 
that Kitsmarishvili's appointment as Ambassador to Moscow was 
a serious mistake. 
 
5.  (C)  In a separate conversation, former Deputy Foreign 
Minister and current Minister of Culture Grigol Vashadze told 
the Ambassador that Kitsmarishvili had not been a part of the 
President's inner circle as tensions with Russia heated 
throughout the summer of 2008.  He was not in a position to 
know what was being said between Washington and Tbilisi or 
Tbilisi and Moscow at the highest levels and therefore was 
clearly guessing at the events of the summer.  Accordng to 
Vashadze, Kitsmarishvili had been disappointed when he was 
officially recalled in July. 
 
6.  (C) The day following his testimony (November 26) 
 
TBILISI 00002219  002 OF 002 
 
 
Kitsmarishvili clarified to the press that the "green light" 
to Georgian authorities from the USG had come directly from 
President Bush. (Note: Post has used Department press 
guidance to publicly deny this allegation. End Note). 
 
THE WORK OF THE COMMISSION CONTINUES 
 
7.  (C)  On November 27, Minister of the Interior Vano 
Merabishvili and Minister of Defense Kezerashvili also 
testified regarding the capabilities and failures of 
Georgia's police and armed forces in early August. 
Kezerashvili personally claimed responsibility for the 
failure of the reserve troops.  Merabishvili provided a power 
point presentation with a timeline of events. 
 
8.  (C)  On November 28, President Saakashvili is scheduled 
to testify late in the afternoon Tbilisi time.  Saakashvili 
has volunteered to appear before the commission, and the 
Parliament has invited the diplomatic corps to attend.  Post 
will report on his testimony septel.  Chairman of the 
Commission Paata Davitaia told Poloff that he expected the 
Commission to issue its findings in early December, although 
some observers and members of Parliament believe the 
Commission should hear additional testimony.  Davitaia has 
shown his commitment to leading a thorough process seeking 
answers to difficult questions while being fair to those who 
continue to appear.  Many Embassy interlocutors have told us 
that the hearings are being watched closely by the public, 
which is, for the first time in recent memory, watching its 
government be held accountable for its actions. 
TEFFT

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08TBILISI2213, GEORGIA: DEPUTY FM SAYS OSSETIANS FIRED AT

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
08TBILISI2213 2008-11-26 14:24 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Tbilisi

VZCZCXRO0685
OO RUEHFL RUEHKW RUEHLA RUEHNP RUEHROV RUEHSR
DE RUEHSI #2213 3311424
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
O 261424Z NOV 08 ZDK
FM AMEMBASSY TBILISI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 0468
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE PRIORITY

C O N F I D E N T I A L TBILISI 002213 
 
SIPDIS 
 
DEPT FOR EUR/CARC 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 11/26/2018 
TAGS: PGOV PREL PHUM RU GG
SUBJECT: GEORGIA: DEPUTY FM SAYS OSSETIANS FIRED AT 
GEORGIAN AND POLISH PRESIDENTS; UNVEILS OSCE INITIATIVES 
 
REF: TBILISI 2193 
 
Classified By: AMBASSADOR JOHN F. TEFFT FOR REASONS 1.4 (B) AND (D). 
 
1.  (C)  Acting Foreign Minister Giga Bokeria told the 
diplomatic corps November 26 that South Ossetian de facto 
spokesperson Irina Gagloyeva noted on the record that 
Ossetian forces had fired upon the Georgian and Polish 
Presidents on November 23 (reftel).  The interview with 
Gagloyeva appeared in the Russian newspaper Kommersant. 
According to the article, Gagloyeva said that Ossetian 
"border guards" did not aim at anyone, but opened fire into 
the air.  According to the article, the Ossetians thought the 
Georgians were provoking them and therefore responded. 
Bokeria told the diplomatic representatives present that 
Russian authorities, as the security guarantors, bear 
responsibility for the incident, and condemned the action as 
"provocative, disappointing and alarming."  He called on the 
international community to support the return of IDPS to 
Akhalgori and withdrawals of Russian and Ossetian forces from 
the region. 
 
2.  (SBU)  Bokeria also announced that Georgia will introduce 
draft resolutions (emailed to USOSCE and EUR/RPM) for 
consideration at the Helsinki OSCE Ministerial December 4-5 
which address safe return of IDPs, and the prevention of 
illicit supplies of conventional arms not subject to 
international verification and observation (septel) to the 
conflict regions in the OSCE area.  In addition, Georgia will 
circulate a draft statement regarding the August conflict and 
continuing security situation on the ground, inviting 
interested OSCE members to agree to sign on in support. 
(Embassy note.  The Georgians noted that Ukraine had used 
this technique successfully at the 2007 OSCE Ministerial to 
gain the support of 30 OSCE members for a statement on the 
Holodomor.  End note.)  Bokeria asked all OSCE members to 
consider supporting these resolutions and the statement.  He 
also expressed support for the OSCE mission in Georgia and 
asked that OSCE members support the extension of the 
mission's mandate. 
TEFFT

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08TBILISI2212, GEORGIA: RECENT ARRESTS SHOW PROGRESS ON

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
08TBILISI2212 2008-11-26 14:05 2011-08-30 01:44 SECRET//NOFORN Embassy Tbilisi

VZCZCXYZ0007
PP RUEHWEB

DE RUEHSI #2212 3311405
ZNY SSSSS ZZH
P 261405Z NOV 08 ZDK
FM AMEMBASSY TBILISI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 0467
INFO RUEANFA/NRC WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RHMFISS/DEPT OF ENERGY WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY

S E C R E T TBILISI 002212 
 
NOFORN 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 11/24/2018 
TAGS: KNNP PARM PGOV PREL GG
SUBJECT: GEORGIA: RECENT ARRESTS SHOW PROGRESS ON 
PREVENTING NUCLEAR SMUGGLING 
 
REF: STATE 117568 
 
Classified By: AMBASSADOR JOHN F. TEFFT FOR REASONS 1.4 (b) AND (d). 
 
1. (S/NF) Summary and Comment:  Joint cooperation between the 
USG and the Georgian government has improved Georgia's 
ability to prevent nuclear smuggling.  One area in which the 
government of Georgia continues to improve is the 
investigation of nuclear smuggling cases and the prosecution 
of traffickers.  The latest example, an October arrest and 
prosecution in Tbilisi of three Georgian radioactive 
materials traffickers, highlights this progress.  Despite 
substantial advancement of its anti-nuclear smuggling 
capabilities, the government's nonproliferation regime still 
has considerable gaps.  For example, it is not always able to 
respond to incidents where radiation is detected in a timely 
manner, due in large part to financial limitations.  The 
government continues to rely heavily on U.S. and 
international assistance in strengthening Georgia's resources 
to prevent nuclear smuggling.  End Summary and Comment. 
 
SUCCESS STORY 
 
2. (S/NF) The USG and the government of Georgia have a long 
history of close cooperation to secure radiological sources 
in Georgia and to improve Georgia's efforts to prevent 
nuclear smuggling.  On October 16 and November 19, U.S. and 
Georgian delegations met in Tbilisi to review the joint 
action plan to improve Georgia's anti-nuclear smuggling 
capabilities, which was signed on February 2, 2007 (see 
reftel and septel).  One area which was identified as a 
priority need in the joint action plan was maintaining 
Georgia's efforts to arrest and prosecute all identified 
nuclear smugglers.  The Georgians have had considerable 
success in this area, as indicated by the October 13 arrest 
of three Georgian radioactive materials traffickers, who were 
later sentenced to imprisonment (see TD/314-076336-08).  The 
traffickers were arrested in Tbilisi after a sting operation 
in which they attempted to sell cessium-137 to an informant. 
The traffickers initially attempted to market the material as 
uranium, but then acknowledged it was cessium, reportedly 
from Russia.  A fourth member of the group is still being 
sought.  Information regarding the arrests and prosecutions 
has not been released to the press, and reportedly not even 
to other government organizations, due to the sensitivity of 
the operation.  The investigation is ongoing, and in fact, 
the associates of the traffickers are not even aware of their 
arrest. 
 
ROOM FOR IMPROVEMENT 
 
3. (S) The government struggles, however, to fully implement 
all of the requirements set in the joint action plan. 
Working level government officials attribute this primarily 
to financial restraints and a lack of high-level government 
support.  One example is their inability to consistently 
respond quickly to incidents of radiation detection.  This is 
due both to Georgia's geography and the absence of a western 
field office of the Nuclear Radiation Security Service 
(NRSS), the agency responsible for responding to incidents 
involving radioactive sources.  The only NRSS office is in 
Tbilisi.  However, while the Georgian government still has 
much work to do to further develop its capabilities to 
prevent nuclear smuggling, the ability to successfully 
investigate and prosecute nuclear trafficking cases speaks 
volumes for its efforts thus far. 
TEFFT

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08TBILISI2203, GEORGIA: DETAILED ACCOUNT OF SHOOTING NEAR

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
08TBILISI2203 2008-11-25 14:45 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL//NOFORN Embassy Tbilisi

VZCZCXRO9241
OO RUEHFL RUEHKW RUEHLA RUEHNP RUEHROV RUEHSR
DE RUEHSI #2203/01 3301445
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
O 251445Z NOV 08
FM AMEMBASSY TBILISI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 0457
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE IMMEDIATE
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK IMMEDIATE 4734
RUEHVEN/USMISSION USOSCE IMMEDIATE 2220
RUEHBS/USEU BRUSSELS IMMEDIATE

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 TBILISI 002203 
 
NOFORN 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 11/25/2018 
TAGS: PGOV PREL MOPS PL RU GG
SUBJECT: GEORGIA: DETAILED ACCOUNT OF SHOOTING NEAR 
PRESIDENTS 
 
REF: TBILISI 2193 
 
Classified By: Ambassador John F. Tefft for Reasons 1.4 (b) and (d). 
 
1. (C/NF) Summary and comment.  A more comprehensive readout 
of the November 23 incident at the South Ossetian 
administrative boundary (see reftel) indicates the motorcade 
went right up to a combined Russian/Ossetian checkpoint on 
the administrative boundary of South Ossetia, and the 
presidents themselves approached the checkpoint on foot.  The 
ride toward Akhalgori was not part of the original itinerary 
for the two presidents, and Polish officials did not know 
about it until the motorcade took the turn to the north.  It 
appears that the Georgian side may have planned the side trip 
toward Akhalgori slightly ahead of time, but probably not 
very far in advance, and the Polish side was unaware of the 
plan at all.  The shooting, however, turned what President 
Saakashvili probably conceived as a unique opportunity to 
underline the plight of Georgian sovereignty into something 
far more provocative than perhaps even he intended and could 
reinforce his image as impulsive.  End summary and comment. 
 
Surprise! 
 
2. (C/NF) The Polish Charge in Tbilisi (please strictly 
protect), who rode in one of the rear vehicles of the 
approximately 12-car motorcade on November 23, offered the 
following details of the evening's events in a November 25 
meeting with PolOff.  According to the original itinerary for 
President Kaczynski's visit to Georgia, President Saakashvili 
was scheduled to meet Kaczynski at the airport at 1700, then 
escort him from there to a new settlement for internally 
displaced persons (IDPs) in Metekhi.  For unknown reasons, 
Saakashvili did not meet Kaczynski at the airport, but rather 
joined him in the presidential limousine at the presidential 
administration building in Tbilisi. 
 
3. (C/NF) Sometime after joining the Polish president, 
Saakashvili apparently proposed to Kaczynski a side trip up 
the road that leads to Akhalgor to see the checkpoints on 
the South Ossetian border.  Polish officials, including the 
Charge and presidential security personnel, did not know 
about the change in plans until the motorcade took the turn 
to the north off the main highway that leads to Akhalgori. 
Meanwhile, a bus of about 15 journalists, which was the last 
car in the motorcade, was sent ahead of the entire motorcade 
to arrive at the destination ahead of time.  Two security 
cars from the front of the motorcade joined the journalists' 
bus. 
 
Encounter at the Checkpoint 
 
4. (C/NF) Because the Charge was near the back of the 
motorcade, he did not directly witness much of what happened 
next, but he received a readout from a Polish journalist who 
was on the bus.   The Charge also noted that it was already 
dark by the time they reached the checkpoint, so it was 
difficult to see.  After traveling at a very high rate of 
speed, the bus and two security cars arrived at a checkpoint 
on the South Ossetian boundary a minute or so before the rest 
of the motorcade.  The checkpoint is directly north of 
Odzisi, on the administrative boundary; OSCE reports it is 
staffed by both Ossetian and Russian forces.  The forces 
staffing the checkpoint (it is unclear whether they were 
Ossetian or Russian), upon seeing one bus full of people and 
two cars full of security personnel pull up, appeared to the 
Polish journalist to become agitated.  The journalists were 
advised by the Georgian security personnel to stay on the 
Qadvised by the Georgian security personnel to stay on the 
bus, which they did.  The Polish journalist also noted a few 
Mercedes parked along the right side of the road, pointed in 
the opposite direction, back the way they had come.  (Embassy 
note: Based on previous presidential events we have observed, 
these vehicles were probably a security advance team.  End 
note.) 
 
5. (C/NF) A minute or so later, the main motorcade arrived, 
and the two presidents exited their vehicle and approached 
the checkpoint.  The two sides exchanged words, although it 
is not clear to what extent the presidents themselves were 
involved in this exchange.  Very soon after the presidents 
approached the checkpoint, however, three short bursts of 
automatic gunfire rang out to the northwest of the 
checkpoint.  Altogether the shooting likely lasted on the 
order of ten seconds (not several minutes, as reported by 
some press).  The Charge was at this point walking toward the 
checkpoint, but he was still several cars back.  He estimated 
that the shots, although some distance away from him 
personally, could have been fairly close to the checkpoint, 
 
TBILISI 00002203  002 OF 002 
 
 
and possibly as close as 100 feet, as reported in some press 
reports -- but he cautioned that the physical layout of the 
area, including hills to the east, made any estimates 
difficult.  He als
o said the shooting was almost surely in 
the air, dismissing as highly unlikely any suggestion that it 
was targeted at anyone. 
 
6. (C/NF) As soon as the shooting started, members of the 
motorcade, including the presidents, scrambled to return to 
their cars and leave the scene.  The two presidents did not 
re-enter their limousine, however, which was still pointed 
north and would have had to turn around, but entered one of 
the Mercedes on the right side of the road, which was able to 
depart immediately.  The Polish journalist, not the Charge 
(who was still too far back), witnessed this change of cars, 
but the Charge later saw the presidents emerge from a 
different car than the limousine when the motorcade finally 
arrived at Metekhi.  All the cars turned around and headed 
south, back toward the main highway, and continued to their 
originally planned first stop at the settlement for IDPs. 
 
Comment: Misha Being Misha 
 
7. (C/NF) The presence of cars at the checkpoint ahead of 
time indicates some amount of planning on the part of the 
Georgian side may have taken place.  The fact that the press 
bus was sent ahead of the motorcade only after they departed 
Tbilisi, however, suggests that the side trip was not planned 
very far in advance.  It is likely that, as has happened on 
previous occasions, Saakashvili was at the last moment seized 
with what seemed like a great idea: to give Kaczynski a 
graphic illustration of the ongoing insult to Georgia's 
territorial integrity -- and not to miss a great photo 
opportunity.  From the Polish Charge's description of the 
shooting, it almost surely came from an area controlled by 
the Russians and Ossetians, so any suggestion of Georgian 
involvement in the shooting itself is fanciful.  We will 
likely never know whether the forces at the checkpoint knew 
the exact identity of their visitors, but it would have been 
obvious that this was an important group of well-secured VIPs 
-- and still somebody pulled the trigger.  Although it did 
not harm anyone, the shooting made clear how precarious the 
situation on the boundary still is, however, and could give 
the opposition -- not to mention the Poles -- fodder for 
criticism of the president.  Politicians such as Nino 
Burjanadze have used similar incidents in the past to suggest 
that Saakashvili lacks restraint, and we would not be 
surprised if we soon heard similar accusations. 
TEFFT

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08TBILISI2193, GEORGIA: SHOOTING NEAR PRESIDENTIAL CONVOY

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
08TBILISI2193 2008-11-24 14:29 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Tbilisi

VZCZCXRO8083
OO RUEHFL RUEHKW RUEHLA RUEHNP RUEHROV RUEHSR
DE RUEHSI #2193 3291429
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
O 241429Z NOV 08
FM AMEMBASSY TBILISI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 0454
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE IMMEDIATE
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK IMMEDIATE 4733
RUEHVEN/USMISSION USOSCE IMMEDIATE 2219
RUEHBS/USEU BRUSSELS IMMEDIATE

C O N F I D E N T I A L TBILISI 002193 
 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 11/24/2018 
TAGS: PGOV PREL MOPS PL RU GG
SUBJECT: GEORGIA: SHOOTING NEAR PRESIDENTIAL CONVOY 
 
Classified By: Ambassador John F. Tefft for Reasons 1.4 (b) and (d). 
 
1. (C) Summary and comment.  While observing Russian and 
Ossetian checkpoints on the edge of South Ossetia, Georgian 
President Saakashvili and Polish President Kaczynski heard 
gunfire from a seeming short distance away and quickly 
departed from the area.  No one was injured.  The motorcade 
was at Odzisi, the last town in undisputed Georgian territory 
on the road to Akhalgori, which is near both a Russian and an 
Ossetian checkpoint.  The gunfire came from a spot somewhere 
between the two checkpoints.  It is not clear whether the 
shots were in the air or aimed at anything in particular; it 
is also not clear that whoever was shooting knew the identity 
of the travelers.  Both presidents disputed the suggestion 
that the shooting was staged, which also seems unlikely to 
post.  The Polish Charge, who was riding in the motorcade, 
has promised additional details November 25, but we are 
unlikely ever to know for sure who pulled the trigger.  End 
summary and comment. 
 
What do we know -- and not know -- about what happened? 
 
2. (C) A Polish official traveling with the motorcade 
explained the following.  Between 6 and 7 P.M. local time on 
Sunday, November 23, the motorcade reached the last Georgian 
checkpoint on the road to Akhalgori, which is just past the 
village of Odzisi.  From that spot the first Russian 
checkpoint on the road is visible to the north, and a 
formerly Russian checkpoint that has been taken over by 
Ossetians is visible to the west, across the river on the 
outskirts of the village of Akhmaji.  It was dark at the time 
of the motorcade's arrival, so little was visible.  The 
travelers exited the cars and apparently sought permission to 
enter cross the checkpoint and enter South Ossetia.  The two 
presidents exited the cars to discuss the situation.  Shortly 
thereafter they heard gunfire coming from the northwest, but 
did not see any sign of the shots.  They quickly entered the 
cars and departed.  The motorcade continued to its next 
scheduled stop, a visit to a new settlement for internally 
displaced persons in Metekhi, near Kaspi. 
 
3. (C) The Polish official noted several points that were not 
clear even to him, an eyewitness.  The exact location of the 
firing was not clear.  Northwest of the motorcade's location 
would most likely be on the west side of the river, in which 
case the shooters could have been Russian or Ossetian.  It 
was also not clear whether the shots were in the air or 
directed at the motorcade (or some other target).  Finally, 
it was by no means clear whether the shooters had any 
knowledge of the identity of the travelers. 
 
What are people saying about what happened? 
 
4. (SBU) Some televised and other press reports suggested 
that the motorcade was actually fired upon.  It is unlikely 
that anyone other than the shooters themselves knows this for 
sure.  A staff member in the prime minister's office told 
post shortly after the incident that the shooters most likely 
did not know who was in the cars, while a government security 
official told an Embassy counterpart that he thought they did 
know.  Later that evening, Polish President Lech Kaczynski 
himself said at a press conference that he was not sure 
whether shots were "fired into the air or where."  Post has 
heard no credible reports of any impacts from bullets or 
other ammunition near the motorcade. 
 
5. (SBU) One press report suggested that the shooting erupted 
Q5. (SBU) One press report suggested that the shooting erupted 
about 100 feet frm the motorcade.  Although the Polish 
official was not sure how far away the shooting was, his 
inability to describe the shooting's location with much 
precision suggests it occurred from considerably farther away 
than 100 feet.  The OSCE noted that the road is located in a 
valley, which effect on the sounds of gunshots and their 
echoes can make pinpointing the exact location of shots very 
difficult. 
 
6. (SBU) At the press conference, a Polish journalist 
suggested to President Saakashvili that perhaps the whole 
incident was staged, pointing to the presence of Georgian 
journalists on the scene beforehand as suspicious. 
Saakashvili explained that no journalists were on the scene 
ahead of time, that the footage on television was taken by a 
staff cameraman who always accompanies the president.  He 
also said he would never have put the Polish president's life 
in danger.  Kaczynski also rejected the suggestion as 
"unserious." 
TEFFT

Wikileaks

08TBILISI2192, GEORGIA QUIETLY MARKS ROSE REVOLUTION’S FIFTH

WikiLeaks Link

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
08TBILISI2192 2008-11-24 14:16 2011-08-30 01:44 UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY Embassy Tbilisi

VZCZCXRO8064
PP RUEHAG RUEHAST RUEHDA RUEHDF RUEHFL RUEHIK RUEHKW RUEHLA RUEHLN
RUEHLZ RUEHNP RUEHPOD RUEHROV RUEHSR RUEHVK RUEHYG
DE RUEHSI #2192 3291416
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 241416Z NOV 08
FM AMEMBASSY TBILISI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 0453
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE

UNCLAS TBILISI 002192 
 
SENSITIVE 
SIPDIS 
 
DEPT FOR EUR/CARC 
 
E.O. 12958: N/A 
TAGS: PGOV PREL PHUM KDEM GG
SUBJECT: GEORGIA QUIETLY MARKS ROSE REVOLUTION'S FIFTH 
ANNIVERSARY 
 
1. (U) On November 23, the fifth anniversary of Georgia's 
Rose Revolution, the Government held a party and concert to 
commemorate the occasion.  The Ambassador attended both 
events  Only a small number of foreign dignitaries attended 
the events, including Polish President Lech Kaczynski, UK 
Special Representative to the South Caucasus Sir Brian Fall, 
and the Bulgarian Black Sea Envoy Ambassador Elena 
Poptodorova.  The diplomatic corps and members of the 
government made up the majority of participants at the 
events.  Prior to these events, President Saakashvili marked 
the anniversary with a live, televised address to the nation, 
in which he discussed the Rose Revolution.  In the background 
of the event was the excitement caused by the firing of 
weapons near the motorcade of Presidents Saakashvili and 
Kaczynski as they visited a "border" post near South Ossetia. 
 
2. (U) In his speech to the nation, Saakashvili noted that 
"not all of the expectations of the Rose Revolution had been 
fulfilled" and said the revolution would continue until key 
tasks were accomplished.  Saakashvili said "perhaps more 
could have been done" in the past five years.  Notably, the 
President said that the August war with Russia would make it 
"more difficult" to restore Georgia's territorial integrity. 
He said Georgia "had become the major target of the world's 
largest aggressor" and is now confronting "a huge empire of 
evil."  However, Saakashvili said that despite this 
challenge, Russia had failed in its goal to destroy Georgia's 
statehood and democracy.  Saakashvili called for unity, 
strength, and courage from the country and its citizens, in 
order to continue the progress made since 2003.  He claimed 
that above all other accomplishments, Georgia has 
materialized as a true state in the world.  Despite this and 
other achievements, Saakashvili concluded that more remains 
to be done, and that no effort should be spared to turn 
Georgia into a "fully free and liberal democracy." 
 
3. (SBU) Comment: This party and concert commemorating the 
Rose Revolution marked a subdued contrast to the massive 
staging of events that Saakashvili has held in years past. 
Initially Saakashvili sent out invitations to many world 
leaders in hopes of holding a large event.  While it is 
difficult to know with certainty what changed, Saakashvili 
muted the five year anniversary celebrations.  It is possible 
he realized that the time was not right, given the August 
conflict and the latest spate of negative publicity 
questioning Saakashvili's judgment in resorting to force, to 
make a splashy statement of all he has done for Georgia.  It 
is also possible that he was unable to get the level of 
international representation he had hoped for, in large part 
due to the high-level visitors from around the globe who have 
come to Georgia since August, and therefore were not 
available to return.  We also understand that political 
polling showed that the public was opposed to a big event. 
Regardless, Saakashvili's statements regarding the events of 
August were noteworthy as they marked a change in tone from 
his previous statements, some of which implied that Georgia 
had been successful in its conflict with Russia, in spite of 
the loss of control over the two separatist territories.  End 
comment. 
TEFFT

Wikileaks

08TBILISI2191, GEORGIA: FORMER SPEAKER BURJANADZE LAUNCHES NEW

WikiLeaks Link

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
08TBILISI2191 2008-11-24 13:59 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Tbilisi

VZCZCXRO8041
PP RUEHFL RUEHKW RUEHLA RUEHNP RUEHROV RUEHSR
DE RUEHSI #2191 3291359
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 241359Z NOV 08
FM AMEMBASSY TBILISI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 0452
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE PRIORITY

C O N F I D E N T I A L TBILISI 002191 
 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 11/24/2018 
TAGS: PGOV PREL GG
SUBJECT: GEORGIA: FORMER SPEAKER BURJANADZE LAUNCHES NEW 
POLITICAL PARTY 
 
Classified By: AMBASSADOR JOHN F. TEFFT, REASONS 1.4 (b) AND (d). 
 
1.  (C)  Summary.  On the fifth anniversary of Georgia's Rose 
Revolution, former Speaker of the Parliament Nino Burjanadze 
(and twice interim President of Georgia) officially launched 
her new political party "Democratic Movement United Georgia" 
in a packed basketball arena of 1800 supporters.  In 
accepting the new party's leadership position, she recalled 
her role in the successes of Saakashvili's government -- 
improved energy supplies and economic climate -- but 
criticized the Saakashvili government for losing the war in 
August and not achieving enough democratically.  The party 
congress was well-staged and well-financed.  Burjanadze 
appears to have found solid financing and showed on the 
November 23 that she will be a relevant political voice in 
Georgia.  Her next challenge will be to build her political 
popularity.  End Summary. 
 
THE FORM 
 
2.  (C)  On November 23, in a basketball arena in Tbilisi, 
former Speaker of the Parliament Nino Burjanadze officially 
launched her Political Party "Democratic Movement United 
Georgia" (DMUG), announced the members of the governing 
council and accepted the party's leadership role.  The arena 
was packed to overflowing on a Sunday afternoon and the 
majority of the crowd of 1800 people appeared to be in their 
30's and 40's, slightly older than the usual crowd drawn by 
President Saakashvili's UNM.  The crowd was supportive, but 
not overly enthusiastic.  In addition to Burjanadze's 
supporters, many Ambassadors -- including the U.S., British, 
French, German, EU and OSCE -- attended.  British Special 
Envoy to the Caucasus Sir Brian Fall, in town for the 5th 
anniversary of the Rose Revolution, also made an appearance. 
3.  (C)  The arena was professionally staged with 
expensive-looking backdrops, large TV screens and theater 
lighting.  DMUG's logo and printed materials were 
professionally produced.  While no mention of the funding for 
the event or the DMUG was made, it appears that Burjanadze 
has been successful in raising funds. 
 
THE SUBSTANCE 
 
4.  (C)  An advisor close to Burjanadze told us prior to the 
event that Burjanadze would focus her remarks largely on the 
unfulfilled promises of the Rose Revolution (Note: Burjanadze 
had been one of the three members of the "troika" that 
ushered in the Rose Revolution in 2003.  That troika included 
Mikheil Saakashvili, Nino Burjanadze and the late Prime 
Minister Zurab Zhvania.  End Note.)  She pointed out that the 
Rose Revolution had yielded benefits for ordinary Georgians 
including improved energy supplies and a a growing economy. 
She took some credit for those successes.  Nonetheless, 
Burjanadze cited failures of the current leadership to 
implement reform in the court system, promote individual 
liberties and liberalize the media, and she focused her 
arguments around the point that Georgia needed new leadership 
because Saakashvili had mismanaged the conflict in August. 
Burjanadze told her supporters that Georgia had spent 15 
years getting Russian bases out of Georgia, only to face two 
new ones now.  She said that the President's impulsiveness 
had moved Georgia backwards.  In her printed materials 
(emailed to EUR/CARC), she wrote, "What is needed today is 
moderation instead of impulsiveness, professionalism instead 
of superficiality, pragmatism stead of inadequacy." 
Burjanadze promised to develop a detailed platform to present 
to the public shortly. 
 
5.  (C)  Comment.  Burjanadze is taking a page out of 
Saakashvili's play book.  She has a well-designed party with 
a substantive platform that is being presented as an 
Qa substantive platform that is being presented as an 
alternative to Saakashvili and the United National Movement. 
While the names of those on the DMUG's governing council are 
not well-known to us and the sources of the party's financing 
are unclear, Burjanadze is positioning herself and her party 
to attract votes no matter when the next election is 
scheduled.  End Comment. 
TEFFT

Wikileaks

08TBILISI2190, GEORGIA SIGNS 5 YEAR MOU FOR GAS WITH SOCAR

WikiLeaks Link

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
08TBILISI2190 2008-11-24 13:55 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Tbilisi

VZCZCXRO8034
OO RUEHFL RUEHKW RUEHLA RUEHNP RUEHROV RUEHSR
DE RUEHSI #2190/01 3291355
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
O 241355Z NOV 08
FM AMEMBASSY TBILISI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 0450
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEHAH/AMEMBASSY ASHGABAT PRIORITY 0848

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 TBILISI 002190 
 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 10/16/2018 
TAGS: ECON ENRG PGOV PREL RU AZ GG
SUBJECT: GEORGIA SIGNS 5 YEAR MOU FOR GAS WITH SOCAR 
 
REF: OLSON 11/10/2008 E-MAIL 
 
Classified By: Ambassador John F. Tefft for reasons 1.4 (b) and (d). 
 
1.  (C) Summary and Comment:  After months of discussion, the 
Georgian government signed a five-year memorandum of 
understanding (MOU) with SOCAR, the Azerbaijani state oil and 
gas company, to provide natural gas to Georgia.  The 
agreement will, in principle, take effect on January 1, 2009 
following the expiration of Georgia's current contract with 
SOCAR.  The actual amount of gas Georgia purchases will 
depend on demand.  The MOU states the agreement will provide 
for any deficit between supply and "social" demand at 
existing prices.  Negotiating on the actual contract for 2009 
continues, and the GOG worries it may not be concluded by 
January 1.  For its part, the Government of Georgia will sell 
26 regional gas distribution networks, covering the whole 
country except for Tbilisi, to SOCAR.  This deal has yet to 
be finalized, although talks continue.  The pre-conflict 
status quo regarding the operation of the Enguri power plant 
(the dam is in Georgia, but the power station across the 
"border" in Abkhazia) seems to have taken hold, although the 
threat of a power shutoff remains real.  Georgia appears to 
have made significant progress to ensure its energy needs in 
the short term.  End Summary and Comment. 
 
VOLUME TO MAKE UP GEORGIAN DEFICIT 
 
2.  (C) According to First Deputy Minister of Energy 
Valishvili, the amount of gas provided under the MOU will 
vary based on season and demand.  The MOU is written to meet 
any deficit demand of commercial and individual customers. 
The volumes will essentially equal total Georgian "social" 
demand minus transit gas from Russia and Georgia's transit 
allotment from the South Caucasus Pipeline (SCP).  The actual 
volume will vary, as Georgian natural gas demand in winter is 
approximately 9 mcm/day, while it is merely 2 mcm/day in the 
summer.  Approximately two-thirds of Georgian gas consumption 
is used mostly for residential customers and for power 
production, with the remaining one-third being used 
commercially.  Based on these figures, contracted volumes 
with Azerbaijan as of 2009 could be as high as 5 to 6 mcm/day 
in winter. 
 
PRICES REMAIN STABLE 
 
3.  (C) According to the GOG, the five year agreement, which 
will run through December 31, 2013, keeps prices at the 
current rate.  Georgian Minister of Energy Khetaguri 
elaborated that the price for &social8 users, which 
includes residential and thermal power plants, would be 
approximately 164 USD/tcm.  The commercial rate would vary 
based on market prices.  Commercial contracts will be 
negotiated and agreed directly by SOCAR and commercial users. 
 According to Khetaguri, the current commercial rate in 
Georgia is 258 USD from SOCAR and 280 USD from Gazprom.  Some 
commercial entities, including Itera, are buying gas directly 
from Gazprom, although the Georgian Oil and Gas Company is 
not currently buying gas from Gazprom. 
 
SIGNED ON THE DOTTED LINE, NOW THE HARD WORK STARTS 
 
4.  (C) Now that the MOU has been signed, Valishvili stressed 
that the hard, painful work of negotiating a contract has 
begun.  She is hopeful that an agreement can be reached for 
2009 by January 1, but is skeptical.  She said the 
bureaucracy of the Azerbaijani system, both within the 
government and SOCAR, will make the contract negotiations 
challenging and likely lengthy. 
 
NEGOTIATING CONTINUES ON SALE OF GAS NETWORKS TO SOCAR 
 
5.  (C) Minister Khetaguri confirmed to us that the Georgian 
government has agreed to sell all 26 regional gas 
Qgovernment has agreed to sell all 26 regional gas 
distribution networks to SOCAR as part of the larger MOU 
negotiation.  (Note:  This does not include the Tbilisi 
system which is currently owned by KazTransGas).  Valishvili 
said the Ministry of Economic Development is continuing to 
negotiate with SOCAR over final sale of the distribution 
assets.  She did not know when the final sale will be 
completed. 
 
ENGURI ) MAINTAINING THE STATUS QUO 
 
6.  (C) On Enguri, Khetaguri said not much has changed in 
recent days.  He said the sharing of power from the Enguri 
station continues as it did prior to the conflict, and the 
Abkhaz and Russians have been relatively quiet.  He stressed 
that the five yearMOU with SOCAR is the best defense against 
an Russian/Abkhaz shutoff of the Enguri power station. 
(Embassy note:  Georgia reportedly depends upon power from 
Enguri to meet 40% of its energy needs during winter.  The 
 
TBILISI 00002190  002 OF 002 
 
 
Abkhaz have repeatedly threatened to stop the operation of 
the power plant (located in Abkhazia) and cut off power to 
Georgia; the Georgian have responded with a threat to cut off 
the water from the dam, stopping the supply of electricity to 
Sukhumi and the rest of Abkhazia.
End note.)  With Georgian 
natural gas needs met, Khetaguri said that the country could 
deal with the threat of a cut off of Enguri power much more 
easily than the Abkhaz could in Sukhumi.  In his view, the 
Russians, or their Abkhaz allies, would only decide to cut 
the power from Enguri to Georgia only if they are sure that 
such a move would completely cripple the Georgian government. 
TEFFT

Wikileaks

08TBILISI2189, GEORGIA: UNITED OPPOSITION SHOWING SIGNS OF

WikiLeaks Link

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
08TBILISI2189 2008-11-24 13:52 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Tbilisi

VZCZCXRO8023
OO RUEHFL RUEHKW RUEHLA RUEHNP RUEHROV RUEHSR
DE RUEHSI #2189/01 3291352
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
O 241352Z NOV 08
FM AMEMBASSY TBILISI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 0448
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE PRIORITY

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 TBILISI 002189 
 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 08/25/2018 
TAGS: PGOV PREL GG
SUBJECT: GEORGIA: UNITED OPPOSITION SHOWING SIGNS OF 
DIVERGING 
 
REF: A. TBILISI 2086 
     B. TBILISI 1987 
 
Classified By: AMBASSADOR JOHN F. TEFFT.  REASONS:  1.4 (B) AND (D). 
 
1. (C)  Summary/Comment: David Gamkrelidze (New Rights) 
provided poloffs with a view about the future of his party 
and hinted about that he would leave the united opposition 
soon.  Gamkrelidze confirmed that he is working closely with 
David Usupashvili (Republicans) to form a new coalition, 
building on the cooperation evidenced in their joint approach 
to the November 7 protest led by more radical elements of the 
united opposition.  Gamkrelidze has been in talks with 
several opposition leaders about moving away from a strategy 
of street demonstrations and constant calls for new elections 
toward a more stable, longer term political action plan that 
focuses more on policy than anti-Saakashvili rhetoric.  He is 
also talking to Nino Burjanadze about cooperation, but a 
coalition seems unlikely since neither would be willing to 
cede the top spot in a party.  Although the United Opposition 
still exists, Gamkrelidze's remarks confirm a growing rift 
between opposition parties with a more radical wing committed 
to protests and confrontation, and a more moderate wing which 
is increasingly rejecting that strategy.  End Summary/Comment. 
 
Realignment in the United Opposition 
 
2.  (C)  During his talk with poloffs, Gamkrelidze focused 
solely on his political strategy which pointedly did not 
include any of the more radical extra-parliamentary 
opposition.  He stated that he has come to the conclusion 
that the opposition needs a credible alternative to President 
Saakashvili before it can be considered a legitimate 
electoral option to force democratic reforms.  Gamkrelidze 
said he has been in talks with UN Ambassador Irakli Alasania 
to lead a coalition of New Rights and Republicans, tacitly 
acknowledging that neither he nor David Usupashvili is the 
optimal candidate to fill that role.  He said that the new 
bloc will be announced in December with or without Alasania. 
(Comment:  Alasania appears to have multiple suitors.  He is 
currently being courted by all sides, including President 
Saakashvili and the UNM, as well as Former Speaker Nino 
Burjanadze who launched her own party November 23 (septel)). 
He also is open to other like-minded opposition leaders o 
join, but noted that discussions with Salome Zourabichvili 
(Georgia's Way) were "difficult".  He indicated that funding 
was still an issue as businessmen were wary of being seen as 
providing support to opposition parties.  Gamkrelidze 
expressed hope that the GOG would make good on Saakashvili's 
recent announcement to restore funding to most opposition 
parties, including those outside of Parliament, giving his 
movement an infusion of cash. 
 
3.  (C)  When asked about talks with Nino Burjanadze, 
Gamkrelidze indicated that there had been discussions between 
their camps, but that he does not expect a coalition to 
develop between them.  (Embassy note: During the run-up to 
the November 7 protest, both Burjanadze and Gamkrelidze told 
us that they were in touch to discuss tactics in the days 
prior to  the event. End note.)  Gamkrelidze said Burjanadze 
is solely focused on being President so any coalition without 
her at the top is non-negotiable from her side.  Gamkrelidze 
was circumspect about Burjanadze's chances at the top of a 
ticket.  In his view, Burjanadze is too closely tied to the 
Government; has accusations of corruption swirling around her 
and her husband; and is not somebody, in his opinion, who 
voters could rally around as the dominate face of the 
opposition.  Lastly, as a practical matter, Gamkrelidze is 
Qopposition.  Lastly, as a practical matter, Gamkrelidze is 
doubtful Georgia is ready to elect a woman as President.  For 
his part, Gamkrelidze is open to working with Burjanadze, but 
sees little chance for any formal coalition with her for the 
foreseeable future, at least until it becomes clear what her 
party and its electoral chances look like. 
 
Further Cracks 
 
4.  (C)  New Rights and the Republicans also skipped the most 
recent meeting of opposition leaders with the diplomatic 
corps.  Zviad Dzidziguiri, Kakha Kuvava (Conservatives), Koka 
Guntsadze (United Opposition), and Eka Beselia (Okruashvili 
Party) repeated their demands of the GOG (reftel A) and 
announced their intention to stage more protests.  A featured 
speaker at the November 7 protest, former Minister of 
Reintegration Goga Khaindrava appeared at the meeting and 
again lambasted the current U.S. administration and the 
Ambassador; his speech was described by one observer as 
"incoherent".  Interestingly, Levan Gachechiladze was also 
absent from the meeting, although no public reason was given. 
 According to IRI, Gachechiladze is discussing a possible 
coalition with the Conservatives, Okruashvili's Party, and 
Davitashvili's People's Party so his absence appears to have 
been a scheduling conflict and not a further sign of 
 
TBILISI 00002189  002 OF 002 
 
 
disunity.  While there has been no official break, the 
consistent absence of New Rights, Republicans, Burjanadze and 
her supporters,
 as well as other more moderate opposition 
members portend that the United Opposition's days are 
numbered. 
 
Moving Forward 
 
5.  (C)  Gamkrelidze told poloffs that an effective 
opposition message cannot just be anti-Saakashvili.  (Embassy 
note:  This is a message that the USG has long been 
delivering to the opposition.  End note.)  He said that at a 
recent IRI seminar, representatives of New Rights and the 
Republicans had discussed a platform and ways to deliver a 
positive message to voters that distinguishes themselves from 
the other opposition.  IRI told us that Gamkrelidze has also 
been in contact with the Aristotle consulting company and 
hired a local pollster to canvas public opinion on the 
opposition.  The results of this poll coincided with the 
recent IRI poll results which showed very small public 
support for all of the opposition parties and their leaders. 
Gamkrelidze appears to have taken this message to heart after 
initially disputing the results of the IRI poll.  Gamkrelidze 
says the public wants stability, not more protests.  While he 
believes there should be new elections, the time is not right 
and demands for more elections are unrealistic.  As such, 
along with David Usupashvili, he intends to launch a new 
campaign in January at the grass roots level focusing on a 
positive agenda.  Gamkrelidze noted how impressed he was with 
President Elect Obama's organization and grass roots focus. 
He said a similar approach could be effective to increase 
support for his new coalition. 
 
6.  (C)  Gamkrelidze was less confident when asked about what 
the coalition's natural constituency would be given that his 
political views are largely similar to that of the UNM. 
Gamkrelidze conceded the point in part, but said they would 
pursue a more non-confrontational approach to Russia, and 
focus on making Georgia more democratic and transparent.  He 
also cited polling and anecdotal evidence which, in his view, 
shows that support for the UNM and Saakashvili was fairly 
broad, but shallow.  Gamkrelidze again cited the opposition's 
lack of a credible alternative to Saakashvili as a main 
factor in its lack of public support.  He opined that UNM is 
largely a party of expediency, stating that if Alasania or 
another credible figure led a more moderate opposition, 
defections could easily occur.  Independently, IRI told us 
that it could easily see about 15-20 MPs following the recent 
examples of former PM Zurab Noghaideli and MP Peter Mamradze 
moving into the opposition if it had a credible leader.  When 
we asked Gamkrelidze about IRI's view, he said that this was 
a distinct possibility, but he was not overly optimistic.  He 
explained that if MPs join an established party or coalition, 
the defections will likely have some real political effect. 
However, Gamkrelidze feels that most defectors, like former 
PM Noghaideli, only want to be the leaders of their own 
parties which only serves to muddy the waters and provides 
little if any political support to the creation of an 
effective opposition. 
TEFFT

Wikileaks

08TBILISI2176, GEORGIA: SERIOUS INCIDENTS, FATALITIES ON THE RISE

WikiLeaks Link

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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. #08TBILISI2176.
Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
08TBILISI2176 2008-11-24 05:24 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Tbilisi

VZCZCXRO7577
OO RUEHFL RUEHKW RUEHLA RUEHNP RUEHROV RUEHSR
DE RUEHSI #2176/01 3290524
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
O 240524Z NOV 08
FM AMEMBASSY TBILISI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 0442
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE IMMEDIATE
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK IMMEDIATE 4730
RUEHVEN/USMISSION USOSCE IMMEDIATE 2216
RUEHBS/USEU BRUSSELS IMMEDIATE

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 TBILISI 002176 
 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 11/12/2018 
TAGS: PGOV PREL MOPS GG
SUBJECT: GEORGIA: SERIOUS INCIDENTS, FATALITIES ON THE RISE 
 
Classified By: Ambassador John F. Tefft for Reasons 1.4 (b) and (d). 
 
1. (C) Summary and comment.  Recent weeks have seen an 
increase in the number and severity of boundary-line 
incidents, including several fatalities.  The one exception 
is Perevi, where the withdrawal of Ossetian forces reduced 
tensions -- although Russian forces still occupy a checkpoint 
outside South Ossetia and control access to the village.  The 
arrival of Ossetian forces at other formerly Russian 
checkpoints has created a new potential source of tension, 
however.  The seemingly deliberate nature of several of these 
incidents suggests that there are forces in both Abkhazia and 
South Ossetia trying to foment instability.  End summary and 
comment. 
 
South Ossetia: Explosions, Shootings and Checkpoints 
 
2. (SBU) Two recent incidents on the edges of South Ossetia 
involving explosive devices reflect intentional mischief.  On 
November 17, two Georgian police officers were killed and 
eight individuals wounded, including two children, in one of 
two separate incidents involving apparent aerial devices. 
The OSCE reported one device landed in Kere (just outside the 
administrative boundary, east of Tskhinvali); it was found 
and removed by Interior Ministry personnel with no further 
incident.  Another device landed in nearby Plavi.  It was 
found and removed by Interior Ministry personnel to what they 
thought was a more secure location in the village, but it 
then detonated, killing two and wounding eight.  Explosives 
were apparently packed into a compartment designed to hold a 
camera.  The OSCE had not seen any such device before.  The 
Interior Ministry said in a public statement that the device 
was detonated remotely; the EU Monitoring Mission (EUMM) 
thought it might have been detonated accidentally by the 
officers. 
 
3. (SBU) On November 10, two Georgian police officers were 
killed by an explosive device rigged to a South Ossetian flag 
placed in Dvani, outside South Ossetia, and three others were 
wounded in a second explosion.  The OSCE noted similar booby 
traps were used in Northern Ireland and demonstrate a clear 
intent to harm. 
 
4. (C) Two recent incidents involving sniper attacks likewise 
seem to reflect deliberate targeting on both sides.  The OSCE 
reported that on November 5, a sniper's bullet did not 
injure, but hit the collar of a Georgian police officer in 
Zemo Nikozi, just outside the administrative boundary south 
of Tskhinvali.  Also on November 5, South Ossetian press 
reported that a sniper from outside South Ossetia shot and 
killed a South Ossetian man, Oleg Disev, while he was driving 
his car near the village of Korkula.  In a November 20 
briefing for the diplomatic corps, the EUMM noted that they 
had collected evidence that Georgian Interior Ministry forces 
had at their disposal a Brugger and Thomet sniper rifle, with 
silencer.  The EUMM characterized this as an offensive weapon 
and expressed concern that it was not in keeping with its 
discussions with the Georgians about the types of weapons -- 
defensive ones -- that Georgian forces would deploy in the 
areas adjacent to South Ossetia. 
 
5. (SBU) Other incidents may not reflect planned attacks, but 
highlight the tense atmosphere around the administrative 
boundary.  On November 19, for example, a car carrying 
officials from the South Ossetian de facto prosecutor's 
office set out for Ksuisi, a village inside South Ossetia, to 
investigate a murder.  On the way, however, the car took a 
Qinvestigate a murder.  On the way, however, the car took a 
turn that led them out of the South Ossetia, and it 
encountered a Georgian checkpoint.  The Georgians reportedly 
fired warning shots, which led to an exchange of gunfire; one 
Ossetian official was seriously injured.  Noting the 
confusing nature of the roads in the villages, the OSCE 
suggested it was quite possible that the car took the road 
out of South Ossetia by mistake.  Whatever the reason for the 
wrong turn, neither side appeared comfortable enough to 
approach each and discuss the situation, but rather turned 
immediately to their guns.  The night of November 12 and 13, 
extended gunfire occurred across the administrative boundary 
near the village of Koshka; no one was reported injured.  The 
Interior Ministry told the OSCE that the shooting came in one 
direction only, from South Ossetia into undisputed Georgian 
territory.  The OSCE was unable to confirm this. 
 
6. (SBU) Over the past few weeks, the EUMM and OSCE have 
observed that Ossetian forces have begun taking over 
checkpoints from Russian forces.  At the November 20 
briefing, the EUMM noted that Ossetians have assumed control 
of checkpoints near Knolevi, Ergneti, Monasteri and Odzisi; 
in the case of Monasteri, the checkpoint has been moved to 
nearby Mskhlebi.  Neither organization has reported any 
 
TBILISI 00002176  002 OF 003 
 
 
specific incidents related to these changes of command,
 but 
both noted that the change increases the potential for direct 
confrontation between Ossetians and Georgians. 
 
7. (SBU) One situation that has improved is that of Perevi, 
where Ossetian forces departed the checkpoint between 
November 15 and 16 in favor of Russian forces once again. On 
November 18 representatives of the UN High Commissioner for 
Refugees entered Perevi, and the OSCE entered on November 19, 
under Russian escort.  Estimates vary, but the OSCE thought 
60% of the population remained in the village, and about 20% 
of students were back in class; the OSCE called the security 
situation in the village good.  The OSCE also planned to meet 
with Russian forces to discuss the establishment of contacts 
between Russian officials and local administrative officials. 
 The EUMM noted that villagers expressed concerns about their 
fields, some of which they said had been incorporated by 
Ossetian de facto authorities into South Ossetian territory. 
Without access to their crops, the villagers thus face a 
difficult winter, and their future livelihood is also in 
question. 
 
Abkhazia: Shooting, Explosions and Harassment 
 
8. (SBU) Three recent incidents near Abkhazia suggest 
intentional efforts by Abkhaz forces to attack or provoke the 
Georgian side.  On November 20, two heavy exchanges of fire 
occurred near Ganmukhuri, outside Abkhazia but north of the 
Enguri River, at 0630 and 0905, each lasting about 10 
minutes.  UNOMIG found that all of the exchanges occurred 
entirely outside the administrative boundary in undisputed 
Georgian territory.  No injuries were reported, although one 
of the Abkhaz targets seemed to be a Georgian Interior 
Ministry post.  UNOMIG reports rocket-propelled grenades, 
machine guns and small arms were used in the exchanges, and 
two armored vehicles were used on the Abkhaz side; UNOMIG was 
unable to determine who manned the vehicles.  It is not clear 
what initiated the exchanges, although Georgian Interior 
Ministry sources called the first one a coordinated attack by 
Abkhaz forces.  Georgian press reported that the Abkhaz 
forces left mines in their positions as they departed; UNOMIG 
confirmed the presence of anti-personnel mines, but noted 
that they were set with tripwires, would have demanded some 
time to set.  UNOMIG therefore speculated that Abkhaz forces 
came into the area under cover of darkness, over the night of 
November 19-20, and lay the mines at that time; UNOMIG also 
speculated that discovery of these Abkhaz forces may have led 
to the shooting.  UNOMIG also reported two Russian 
helicopters overhead during the second exchange, one MI-8 and 
one MI-24. 
 
9. (SBU) On November 15, the Georgian Interior Ministry 
received reports of individuals being detained while trying 
to cross the border into Abkhazia in the vicinity of 
Kalagali, a village just outside the administrative boundary, 
north of the Enguri River and northwest of Tsalenjikha. 
Officers went to investigate, and while in the area came 
under fire from unidentified forces in the woods.  One 
Georgian police officer was killed by a shot to the head. 
EUMM and UNOMIG were informed and sent patrols to the scene 
to investigate.  At about 1515, heavy firing erupted, 
although no one was injured.  A UNOMIG investigation found 
several hundred shells of four different calibers in the 
area.  Although Abkhaz press quoted de facto authorities as 
Qarea.  Although Abkhaz press quoted de facto authorities as 
saying that the Interior Ministry forces were inside 
Abkhazia, both EUMM and UNOMIG found that all of the events 
occurred outside, though close to, the boundary.  UNOMIG 
found one and possibly two firing positions on a hill 
overlooking the area and determined that the attack was 
likely planned in advance. 
 
10. (SBU) On November 14, an explosion damaged an electric 
transformer in Muzhava, shutting off power to three local 
villages.  UNOMIG reported that some kind of improvised 
explosive device caused the explosion, possibly detonated 
remotely.  The EUMM noted that two cows were killed as well. 
As of November 20, villagers in Muzhava and Eritskali told 
UNOMIG they still did not have power. 
 
11. (SBU) The situation along the boundary has become more 
tense in other ways as well.  UNOMIG has received several 
reports of documents, including passports, being seized at 
the boundary by both Abkhaz and Russian forces and either 
removed to a regional office, where individuals have to make 
a special request for their return, or destroyed.  UNOMIG has 
also received reports of Abkhaz forces seizing and burning 
Georgian-language textbooks.  Both EUMM and UNOMIG continue 
to receive reports of difficulties individuals face in 
crossing the boundary.  EUMM itself remains unable to enter 
Abkhazia.  On November 4, an EUMM patrol entered Abkhazia 
 
TBILISI 00002176  003 OF 003 
 
 
near Eritskali; shortly after it crossed the boundary, 
Russian and Abkhaz forces forced the monitors to depart 
Abkhazia at gun point.  Abkhaz de facto officials told EUMM 
Head of Mission Haber in Geneva on November 18 that they 
would not allow EU monitors into Abkhazia.  UNOMIG continues 
to have freedom of movement for the most part, but it has 
encountered resistance as well.  Both Russian and Abkhaz 
forces confronted a UNOMIG patrol in a "particularly hostile 
manner" throughout their patrol through the Gali sector on 
November 19.  An Abkhaz drew his weapon at a UNOMIG patrol on 
November 15 near Saberio, about which UNOMIG complained to a 
regional commander; the next day the personnel at that same 
checkpoint were "unusually polite." 
 
An Attack Taxonomy 
 
12. (SBU) The deputy head of the EUMM offered at the November 
20 briefing his analysis of recent incidents.  He saw three 
types of events occurring.  First, attacks designed to 
destroy property and complicate the life of residents; the 
explosion of the transformer in Muzhava is an example. 
Second, inadvertent escalation of confrontations between 
forces on the two sides, such as the exchanges of fires near 
Kalagali.  (Note: Post is not convinced that the Abkhaz 
presence near Kalagali was either inadvertent or benign and 
would suggest the incident near Mereti is a better example of 
this category.  End note.)  Third, intentional, malicious 
attacks designed to kill or maim, such as the booby-trapped 
flag or the UAVs; he saw these types of events as the most 
pernicious. 
 
Comment: A Deliberate Increase in Tension 
 
13. (C) All international observers agree that the last two 
weeks have seen an increase in the frequency and severity of 
incidents along the boundary line.  The EUMM's three 
categories probably reflect different motivations for 
violence, but it is noteworthy that incidents in all three 
categories seem to be on the rise.  Even though some of the 
incidents can be attributed to the inherent danger of having 
armed enemies in close proximity to each other, it
seems 
clear that there are parties inside Abkhazia and South 
Ossetia trying to increase tensions and stir up trouble. 
TEFFT

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