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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
08TBILISI2420 2008-12-18 12:59 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Tbilisi

DE RUEHSI #2420/01 3531259
O 181259Z DEC 08 ZDK

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 TBILISI 002420 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 08/25/2018 
     B. TBILISI 2219 
     C. TBILISI 2225 
Classified By: AMBASSADOR JOHN F. TEFFT.  REASONS:  1.4 (B) AND (D). 
1. (C)  Summary:  The Chairman of the ad-hoc of the 
Parliamentary Commission ("Commission") to look into events 
during and preceding the August war between Georgia and 
Russia, Paata Davitaia (Leader of "We Ourselves" 
Parliamentary Opposition), briefed the Diplomatic Corps 
December 17 on the upcoming release of the Commission's 
findings and recommendations (an official English version 
should be available early next week).  Based on the briefing, 
it appears many of the Commission's findings will support the 
Commission's conclusion that conflict with Russia was 
unavoidable due to repeated Russian (or their South Ossetian 
and Abkhaz allies) provocation, law breaking, and aggression. 
 The Commission found that Russian aggression began in the 
1990s and escalated in January 2008, reaching a peak in early 
August.  The Commission is also expected to be critical of 
the GOG's response, or lack thereof, leading up to the August 
events.  In a separate meeting prior to the briefing, 
Davitaia told us that the Commission will outline a number of 
proposed recommendations including the replacement of select 
Ministers (which has already occurred); better NSC and 
Defense coordination; development of coherent foreign policy 
coordination between the MFA and Georgia's Embassies; and a 
more institutionalized approach to National Security 
planning.  In his comments to the diplomats, Davitaia noted 
that the Commission was an ad hoc body not an investigatory 
commission with the power to subpoena or investigate 
individuals.  However, he repeatedly mentioned the total 
cooperation he and the Commission received from all Georgian 
authorities.  The Commission's report will be presented to 
the public by Davitaia on live television beginning at 1800 
Tbilisi time, December 18, and then released to the public in 
writing on December 19.  End Summary. 
2.  (C)  Comment:  From our vantage point, the Commission's 
approach reflects an honest, professional, and thorough look 
at what lead to the August conflict and how the Georgian 
Government responded.  The unprecedented and public 
appearances of 22 high-ranking Georgian officials, 
culminating with the five-hour appearance of President 
Saakashvili before the nation, was historic and kept the 
nation enthralled for several weeks.  The Commission findings 
are expected to highlight one important fact -- that this 
conflict cannot and should not be boiled down to only what 
happened on August 7.  Although the findings are critical of 
Saakashvili and his Government and how they handled the 
conflict, the report focuses on structural issues rather than 
attempting to assign blame on any particular individual. 
President Saakashvili largely pre-empted many of the proposed 
recommendations by his recent Cabinet shake up, which appears 
to have taken place partly to take some of the political 
sting out of Davitaia's impending recommendations.  However, 
this also indicates how seriously Saakashvili appears to have 
taken this Commission, because of his decision to make key 
Cabinet and personnel changes, and by his agreement to 
testify in front of the Commission.  The GOG's next challenge 
will be to assess the findings and initiate institutional 
changes to ensure future Georgian policies and decisions are 
better planned and executed.  End Comment. 
3.  (C)  The Commission found a number of faults with the 
GOG's handling of the August events.  Lack of coordination 
QGOG's handling of the August events.  Lack of coordination 
between the NSC and armed forces was specifically 
highlighted.  Leading up to and during the conflict, 
decisions were made hastily on an ad hoc basis which often 
lacked key input from other facets of government.  The 
Commission criticized the inadequacy of planning prior to 
August 7, noting that no GOG governmental sessions were held, 
and no preparatory meetings were organized to discuss how to 
coordinate a response if Russia invaded or how to deal 
institutionally with an up-tick of South Ossetian or Abkhaz 
irregular activity.  Considering the conflict had been 
simmering for over a decade, the GOG could have been much 
better prepared to deal with various contingencies of open 
conflict in South Ossetia.  The Commission also accused 
Russia of openly aiding and abetting irregular forces engaged 
in military activity in the two breakaway regions.  The full 
report will be read on live television the evening of 
December 18 to inform the public of the Commission's 
assessment, before being released in written form on December 
19.  An English-language version should be available the week 
of December 22. 
4.  (C) Davitaia also previewed the Commission's findings to 
TBILISI 00002420  002 OF 002 
visiting EUR DAS Bryza on December 16.  He said that all 
those Cabinet members and staffers who came under suspicion 
for subpa
r or negligent performance have already been 
replaced.  He seemed pleased with the results, but was 
serious about insisting for more institutional change. 
Davitaia, an IDP from Abkhazia himself, harbors no illusions 
as to who is ultimately responsible for creating an untenable 
situation in South Ossetia and Abkhazia.  He said the Russian 
General Staff had already prepared a military attack order 
and the Russians had been ramping up provocations since early 
this year.  He also said he believes the Russians used 
tactical weapons such as Iskander and Tochka - U missiles 
solely to show potential buyers (he named Syria) their 
capabilities.  Davitaia criticized the Russians for 
continuing the conflict after the cease-fire was signed and 
lamented that the Russian appear to be hardening their 
5.  (C)  Davitaia told members of a visiting CODEL (the House 
Democracy Assistance Commission) December 18 that although 
different Commission members have different points of view on 
the actors and the events (and are from different political 
parties), the findings represented an uncontroversial 
consensus.  Davitaia pointed out that even GOG officials who 
were interviewed by the Commission have publicly admitted to 
shortcomings and mistakes.  Because the Commission has no 
investigatory power, all allegations that involve potential 
legal repercussions have been turned over to the Prosecutor 
General's office for possible investigation, including the 
statements of former Georgian Ambassador to Russia, Erosi 
Kitsmarashvili, who alleged that the U.S. gave Georgia a 
"green light" to attack.   Commission Member, Levan 
Vepkhvadze (Deputy Speaker - Christian Democrats) added that 
all claims of atrocities, including South Ossetian claims of 
Georgian atrocities, have also been turned over to the 
Prosecutor General's Office for formal investigations. 
Finally, Davitaia expressed his hope and willingness to work 
with Chairperson Heidi Tagliavini's EU investigation. 


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