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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