Monthly Archives: January 2009

09TBILISI171, GEORGIA: GOVT AGREES TO LIMIT OFFENSIVE CAPABILITY

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
09TBILISI171 2009-01-30 14:47 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Tbilisi

VZCZCXRO9346
OO RUEHFL RUEHKW RUEHLA RUEHNP RUEHROV RUEHSR
DE RUEHSI #0171/01 0301447
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
O 301447Z JAN 09
FM AMEMBASSY TBILISI
TO RUEHVEN/USMISSION USOSCE IMMEDIATE 2250
RUEHBS/USEU BRUSSELS IMMEDIATE
RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 0869
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEHBJ/AMEMBASSY BEIJING PRIORITY 0175
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK PRIORITY 4773
RUEHUNV/UNVIE VIENNA PRIORITY
RUEHNO/USMISSION USNATO PRIORITY 3989

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 TBILISI 000171 
 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 01/30/2019 
TAGS: PGOV PREL MOPS KBTS RS GG
SUBJECT: GEORGIA: GOVT AGREES TO LIMIT OFFENSIVE CAPABILITY 
NEAR TERRITORIES 
 
REF: A. TBILISI 82 
     B. STATE 5642 
     C. USOSCE 13 
     D. 08 TBILISI 2271 
     E. 08 TBILISI 2495 
 
Classified By: Ambassador John F. Tefft for reasons 1.4 (b) and (d). 
 
1. (C) Summary and comment.  In a briefing for diplomats, EU 
Monitoring Mission (EUMM) staff provided information about 
the January 26 agreement between the EUMM and the Georgian 
Ministry of Defense (MOD).  The EUMM military advisor judged 
that the limitations the Georgians voluntarily imposed upon 
themselves with this agreement significantly limited their 
ability to conduct offensive capabilities against Abkhazia 
and South Ossetia.  EUMM Head Hansjorg Haber had hoped for 
more extensive limitations, but he saw this agreement as the 
beginning of a process; UK Ambassador Keefe noted the details 
were less important than the fact of the agreement.  The EUMM 
signed a similar agreement with the Ministry of Internal 
Affairs in October; Haber expressed some concerns about 
"creeping militarization" among MOIA forces, but the EUMM 
maintains an ongoing dialogue with the MOIA on these 
concerns.  Haber said the next step was to encourage Russia 
to sign a similar agreement, but expressed little hope for 
success.  French Ambassador Fournier noted the agreement 
provides a robust answer to criticism in Vienna of Georgia's 
refusal to permit a Russian military inspection under the 
OSCE Vienna Document process.  Although the Georgians have 
room to improve, they have made a good effort to do their 
part to show their commitment to avoiding military escalation 
along the boundaries.  End summary and comment. 
 
THE MOD MOU 
 
2. (SBU) On January 26, Haber and Georgian Defense Minister 
Sikharulidze signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) 
called the "Provisional Arrangement for the Exchange of 
Information between the Ministry of Defence of Georgia and 
the European Union Monitoring Mission" (text emailed to 
EUR/CARC).  The key elements remain the same as those 
reported in ref A, with the final compromises being Georgian 
willingness to sign one agreement covering both Abkhazia and 
South Ossetia, and EUMM acceptance of a 15-km zone, versus 
20-km, outside Abkhazia.  The MOD had sought U.S. input on 
the agreement (ref A), which EmbOff and Deputy DATT provided 
to MOD Analytical Department Director David Nardaia on 
January 23 per ref B.  According to the text, the agreement 
will be available in "the public domain"; Haber explained 
that it will probably not be posted on a website, but will be 
provided to anyone who asks for it, and has already been 
passed to Russia. 
 
3. (C) At the EUMM's weekly briefing for the diplomatic 
community on January 29, the EUMM's military advisor, Clive 
Trout (from the UK), went through the key elements of the 
agreement and offered the overall assessment that its 
limitations made it difficult for Georgia to mount offensive 
operations against either Abkhazia or South Ossetia.  He 
added that, because Georgia agreed to inform the EUMM of any 
major military movements, and the EUMM had the ability to 
inspect Georgian military installations within a day's 
notice, it would be very difficult for Georgia to take any 
steps to prepare for an offensive without the EUMM's 
knowledge.  Head of Mission Haber said the EUMM had sought 
more extensive limitations on the Georgian military, such as 
Qmore extensive limitations on the Georgian military, such as 
a 20-km zone outside Abkhazia and a larger zone outside South 
Ossetia that would have included parts of the east-west 
highway, but decided that this initial agreement was 
worthwhile and would begin a process of cooperation between 
the EUMM and MOD.  The agreement calls for fortnightly 
meetings between the EUMM and MOD.  UK Ambassador Denis Keefe 
noted that in any case the fact of the agreement was more 
important than the details of the text. 
 
4. (C) French Ambassador Eric Fournier expressed considerable 
indignation at the criticism levied against Georgia in Vienna 
in the context of Georgia's refusal to accede to Russia's 
request to conduct OSCE Vienna Document inspections (ref C). 
He pointed out that the MOU provided much more transparency 
on Georgia's military than OSCE commitments provided, because 
it allowed an international body present in Georgia virtually 
unrestricted access to installations and movements. 
 
THE MOIA MOU 
 
TBILISI 00000171  002 OF 003 
 
 
 
5. (C) The MOU complements a similar agreement signed between 
the EUMM and the Georgian Ministry of Internal Affairs (MOIA) 
on October 10, 2008.  Haber reported that the EUMM is 
concerned b
y recent MOIA moves that have caused a "creeping 
militarization" of the adjacent areas.  In one case, the EUMM 
undertook surprise inspections on January 27 of four MOIA 
posts near the boundaries, at Rukhi outside Abkhazia and 
Jria, Ergneti and Odzisi outside South Ossetia.  The MOIA 
allowed immediate inspections in three of the posts, and the 
EUMM found the MOIA to be in full compliance with its MOU 
(e.g., no specialized or heavy weaponry).  The MOIA did not 
allow an immediate inspection at Odzisi, however; after 
several phone calls, the EUMM was finally allowed in, but was 
not given access to one building.  Minister of Internal 
Affairs Merabishvili later admitted to Haber that the refusal 
to allow an immediate and complete inspection was a violation 
of the MOU.  He explained that the one restricted building 
was a highly sensitive surveillance station collecting 
signals intelligence from Russian and South Ossetian posts in 
Akhmaji and the Akhalgori Valley, adding that its cover had 
now been revealed to the Russians and the site would have to 
be relocated. 
 
6. (C) The EUMM has also observed some equipment held by the 
MOIA that Haber described as showing a certain "lack of 
discipline" in its commitments to avoid militarizing the 
adjacent areas, which he will raise with the MOIA.  EUMM 
monitors have observed rocket-propelled grenades (RPGs), 
sniper rifles, and around January 18 at Koshka (just outside 
the South Ossetian administrative boundry, east of 
Tskhinvali), a tripod for an RPG launcher.  The EUMM 
continues to question the MOIA's use of armored COBRA 
vehicles as well (refs D and E), although Haber admitted they 
did not violate the MOIA's agreement with the EUMM.  (Embassy 
note.  Minister Merabishvili has argued to the Ambassador 
that it is unfair of the EUMM to insist that their monitors 
needed armored vehicles to be safe along the administrative 
boundaries of the separatist territories, while objecting to 
the Georgian desire to ensure that their police personnel 
were equally safe.  We and many of our European colleagues 
think that Merabishvili has a point.  End note.)  Haber noted 
that the EUMM has observed several flights by Russian 
helicopters over areas adjacent to South Ossetia in recent 
days (west of Perevi January 27; above Perevi and Jria 
January 24; above Sakorintlo January 24 and 21; and above 
Jria January 20) and speculated that the Russians were trying 
to keep their eye on Georgian movements, including those in 
particular by COBRAs and other vehicles. 
 
RUSSIA'S TURN 
 
7. (C) Haber said the next step was to approach the Russians 
and seek a similar agreement, and in fact the EUMM has 
already begun this process by sharing the text of the MOU 
with Russia.  Haber had been hoping for a "soft landing" with 
the Russians, and he was pleased that their initial response 
to the MOU was no response at all; he had feared some kind of 
negative statement.  Haber reported that Russian Ambassador 
to the EU Chizhov in Brussels had remarked privately to him 
that the MOU does not go as far as the fourth point of the 
six-point cease-fire agreement (Haber commented to the 
Qsix-point cease-fire agreement (Haber commented to the 
assembled diplomats that the Russians still have some work to 
do on the fifth point).  Haber said he had little expectation 
of immediate or substantive steps toward such an agreement 
with Russia, and he thought the international community might 
need to use other fora, such as bilateral engagement or the 
Geneva process, to make any progress.  Nevertheless he 
thought approaching the Russians would still be useful in 
putting the diplomatic ball in their court. 
 
COMMENT: THE GEORGIANS ARE TRYING HARD 
 
8. (C) Although the EUMM wanted to sign the MOU earlier, the 
Georgian government's caution in making these voluntary 
commitments is understandable.  Its willingness to do so 
shows a sincere interest in being both cooperative and 
transparent with the international community.  Even though 
the EUMM did not get as restrictive an agreement as it 
wanted, it is satisfied that Georgia's ability to mount 
offensive operations is significantly impaired.  As the EUMM 
points out, the government's good will now deserves the 
reward of a serious expectation from the international 
community that Russia will reciprocate.  Russia may counter 
that Georgia continues to militarize the adjacent areas -- 
 
TBILISI 00000171  003 OF 003 
 
 
but such allegations must be kept in context.  Although the 
MOIA's record of compliance with its MOU is apparently not 
100%, it has maintained a regular dialogue with the EUMM. 
Merabishvili's admission of a violation, not to mention the 
rather remarkable revelation about sensitive intelligence 
operations, demonstrates an openness about internal 
operations that few sovereign nations would suffer on their 
own soil.  The MOD MOU also establishes regular 
consultations, and we expect the MOD and EUMM will remain 
similar engaged.  Furthermore, no international monitors have 
reported suspicions of active Georgian attacks against 
Russian, Abkhaz or South Ossetian forces.  Instead monitors 
have continued to file regular reports about attacks against 
Georgian forces, as well as the installation of heavy 
equipment along the Abkhaz and South Ossetian sides of the 
administrative boundaries. 
TEFFT

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09TBILISI170, GEORGIAN PRIME MINISTER RESIGNS, FINANCE MINISTER

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
09TBILISI170 2009-01-30 14:46 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Tbilisi

VZCZCXRO9344
OO RUEHFL RUEHKW RUEHLA RUEHNP RUEHROV RUEHSR
DE RUEHSI #0170 0301446
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
O 301446Z JAN 09
FM AMEMBASSY TBILISI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 0868
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE PRIORITY

C O N F I D E N T I A L TBILISI 000170 
 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 01/25/2019 
TAGS: ECON ENRG PGOV PREL RU GG
SUBJECT: GEORGIAN PRIME MINISTER RESIGNS, FINANCE MINISTER 
TO HEAD GOVERNMENT 
 
REF: TBILISI 90 
 
Classified By: Ambassador John F. Tefft for reasons 1.4 (b) and (d). 
 
1.  (C) After a prolonged illness over the past few months, 
including extensive treatment in Europe, Prime Minister 
Mgaloblishvili submitted his resignation to the President on 
January 30.  Although only 35 years old, Mgaloblishvili is 
suffering from kidney disease and as reported reftel, is 
visibly ill and not improving.  According to the Prime 
Minister's chief of staff, First Vice Prime Minister and 
Finance Minister Nika Gilauri will be publicly named prime 
minister by President Saakashvili in a speech to the country 
later this evening.  Mgaloblishvili has been ill for over a 
month, and many, including post believed that Gilauri would 
be the likely successor (reftel).  When we contacted Deputy 
Minister of Finance Dmitri Gvindadze he said that they were 
in a meeting, and that while, at this point, he could not 
officially confirm Gilauri was the new PM, it was "most 
likely." 
 
2.  (C) Gilauri has long been a close contact of post, 
especially on economic and assistance issues.  When 
Mgaloblishvili took office in late October, Gilauri assumed a 
large part of what had been prior PM responsibilities, namely 
coordinating post-conflict assistance.  Prior to assuming the 
job of Finance Minister, Gilauri served as Minister of Energy 
from February 2004 to September 2007.  Gilauri received his 
BA in economics from the University of Limerick and his MA in 
international business management from the University of 
Philadelphia. 
TEFFT

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09TBILISI169, GEORGIA: THE ECONOMY IS SAAKASHVILI’S TOP PRIORITY

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
09TBILISI169 2009-01-30 14:42 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Tbilisi

VZCZCXRO9341
OO RUEHFL RUEHKW RUEHLA RUEHNP RUEHROV RUEHSR
DE RUEHSI #0169/01 0301442
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
O 301442Z JAN 09
FM AMEMBASSY TBILISI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 0866
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE PRIORITY

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 TBILISI 000169 
 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 01/25/2019 
TAGS: ECON ENRG PGOV PREL GG
SUBJECT: GEORGIA: THE ECONOMY IS SAAKASHVILI'S TOP PRIORITY 
 
REF: A. A) 08 TBILISI 2194 
     B. B)08 TBILISI 1912 
     C. C) 08 TBILISI 2119 
     D. D) TBILISI 31 
     E. E) TBILISI 23 
 
Classified By: Ambassador John F. Tefft for reasons 1.4 (b) and (d). 
 
1.   (C) Summary.  Although in better financial shape than 
some of its neighbors, Georgia is starting to suffer from the 
overall international economic malaise.  Georgia's banking 
sector remains sound due to high liquidity and conservative 
lending policies, but experts worry that a likely devaluation 
of the currency could trigger an increase in loan defaults. 
Pressure on the lari remains strong, because the country is 
dependent on dollar-denominated imports.  Unemployment 
continues to rise, in large part due to the difficult state 
of the construction and real estate sectors.  While 
unemployment officially stands at approximately 13 percent, 
actual unemployment is likely much higher.  In the last three 
months, more than 3,000 people have been laid off in the 
banking sector alone due to a decrease in lending.  While the 
initial shock to the Georgian economy came from the August 
conflict with Russia, the threats of the international 
economic crisis could be even more serious.  The government 
understands the threat it faces from economic instability and 
has taken on an aggressive public strategy to address growing 
unemployment and economic uncertainty.  An astute politician, 
President Saakashvili understands the population's 
uncertainty over the economy and is trying to address it. 
Saakashvili recently announced a 2 billion GEL economic 
stimulus package specifically geared at address unemployment 
concerns.  End Summary. 
 
CONTRACTION OF GDP 
 
2.  (C) The impact of the world wide financial crisis is now 
being felt throughout the Georgian economy.  While the 
initial shock to the economy came from the August war with 
Russia, the international economic crisis is bigger and more 
threatening to Georgia, both olitically and economically. 
Prior to the August conflict, Georgia experienced several 
years of double digit GDP growth.  According to the Ministry 
of Finance, growth for the first half of 2008 stood at nine 
percent, and would have been higher had Georgia not 
instituted an aggressive campaign to combat inflation. 
However, due to the August conflict and the resulting drop in 
FDI followed by the global economic crisis, GDP declined in 
the second half of 2008, bringing overall 2008 GDP growth to 
an estimated two percent (Note: official GDP numbers are 
expected in March. End Note).  Initial government and 
international financial institution predictions for 2009 have 
GDP growth pegged between two to four percent. 
 
INFLATION DECREASES, BUT PRESSURE ON THE LARI INCREASES 
 
3.  (C) Inflation for 2008 in Georgia came in at around seven 
percent according to early indicators from the National Bank. 
 This is a significant achievement for the Saakashvili 
government, as year end 2007 inflation totaled 11 percent 
according to the state statistics agency (ref A).  The 
decrease in inflation was the result of a comprehensive 
strategy to tackle creeping consumer price increases.  The 
government's anti-inflation strategy has continued into 2009, 
however, increasing pressure on the lari might require the 
government to back away from these plans.  According to 
conventional economic theory, the current inflation control 
strategy would only work if the government allows the lari to 
float against the dollar.  If the lari is allowed to float, 
the current pressure vis-a-vis the dollar would cause the 
lari to rapidly devalue.  Without a floating exchange policy, 
Qlari to rapidly devalue.  Without a floating exchange policy, 
the National Bank is continuing to spend reserves to meet the 
demand for dollars and keep the exchange rate at its current 
parity. 
 
ADDITIONAL LARI DEVALUATION LIKELY 
 
4.  (C) In the months following the August conflict, the 
Georgian government was able to use reserves to maintain the 
lari-dollar ratio at around 1.45.  However, the National Bank 
was rapidly burning through reserves (ref B) and began to 
worry about running out.  A USD 750 million standby 
arrangement with the IMF helped the situation, as did the USD 
250 million in budget support provided by the United States. 
Even with these dollar inflows, the government devalued (ref 
C) the currency on November 7 to 1.65 GEL per USD.  Even 
while the government vowed to defend this parity, advisors to 
the National Bank, Ministry of Finance officials, and 
commercial bankers have suggested that the amount of the 
devaluation was not enough.  They expect the currency to 
devalue further during the first quarter of 2009.  If the 
government manages the devaluation, which is likely, the lari 
will probably move towards 1.85 per USD.  However, if the 
 
TBILISI 00000169  002 OF 002 
 
 
government was to make the decision to let the lari float, 
even in a managed way, t
he rate could easily reach 2.00 GEL 
to USD. 
 
SERIOUS IMPLICATIONS OF DEVALUATION 
 
5.  (C) In addition to possible inflationary pressures due to 
the increasing real price of imports, the Georgian banking 
sector would be hit hard by a devaluation of the lari. 
According to Ministry of Finance officials approximately 90 
percent of Georgian consumer loans are denominated in 
dollars.  This shifts the currency risk from the lender to 
the borrower.  Many Georgians benefited in 2007 and the first 
half of 2008 from a weakening dollar, effectively decreasing 
the cost of their loans.  The majority of these loans were 
made when the dollar-lari ratio was between 1.45-1.70. 
However, as the lari weakens the cost of servicing these 
loans increases.  If the lari hit 1.95-2.00 per USD, many 
debtors could find themselves unable to pay back the banks. 
The heads of the two major Georgian commercial banks, TBC and 
Bank of Georgia, told EconOff that they are currently within 
their forecasted range for debt rescheduling, however, they 
are worried about managing a serious jump in defaults and 
debt rescheduling.  Neither TBC nor the Bank of Georgia are 
currently lending to consumers beyond a small group of 
well-vetted clients. 
 
UNEMPLOYMENT GROWING 
 
6.  (C) Unemployment has been steadily increasing over the 
last two months.  The construction and real estate sectors 
are the hardest hit in the Georgian economy, with banking 
also experiencing significant challenges.  Georgia's major 
export industries, namely ferral metals and fertilizers have 
also been impacted by decreasing global demand and the 
resulting dip in prices, forcing layoffs.  Many of the blue 
collar workers formerly employed on construction projects 
have found themselves out of work, as have a large number of 
those working in retail banking (ref D).  The Georgian 
Government has vowed to keep unemployment under 14 percent; 
however, some government experts privately estimate 
unemployment at already near 20 percent.  A Ministry of 
Finance official told EconOff in a worse case estimate that 
as many as 250,000 individuals could be added to the 
unemployment rolls in the first quarter of 2008.  According 
to the Georgian Statistics Agency, the labor force totals 1.9 
million and official unemployment is 13 percent, making the 
actual number of unemployed approximately 250,000 people. 
This means that unemployment in the first part of 2009 could 
double.  Add this to an increasing debt load for average 
Georgians, and the situation could be serious. 
 
THE ECONOMY ) THE GOVERNMENT'S ACHILLES HEEL 
 
7.  (C) President Saakashvili recognizes that the real 
domestic challenge for his government in the short term is 
economic.  While repeated polling has shown the population 
has no appetite for new elections or street protests (ref E), 
economic hardship could quickly increase criticism of the 
Saakashvili regime.  In response to this potential threat, 
Saakashvili is working hard to show his government is 
confronting economic challenges to help the Georgian people. 
He announced a two billion GEL economic stimulus package that 
envisions increasing social assistance, while strengthening 
infrastructure investments to create jobs.  In a Georgian 
&New Deal8 of sorts, Saakashvili has pledged to undertake 
serious infrastructure investments, including road, railroad, 
building, and energy-related projects.  According to a 
Ministry of Finance staffer, the infrastructure projects 
Saakashvili touted in his package are nearly all being done 
QSaakashvili touted in his package are nearly all being done 
through assistance pledges following the August war. 
 
COMMENT:  ONLY TIME WILL TELL . . . 
 
8. (C) In the past, Saakashvili let his Prime Minister take 
the lead in economic affairs, but lately the President has 
been personally focused on economic issues.  Georgia finds 
itself at a advantage compared to many of its neighbors 
because its economy is more developed and its banks more 
conservative and liquid.  In addition, the assistance pledged 
following the August conflict gives Georgia a reserve of 
funds that others do not have at their disposal.  If Georgia 
escapes 2008 with GDP growth between zero and two percent and 
can achieve the forecasted two to four percent growth in 
2009, it will likely weather the storm.  However, if the 
global economic crisis continues to worsen, decreasing the 
demand for Georgian exports and lowering FDI coming into 
Georgia, the economy could face a rocky road ahead. 
TEFFT

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09TBILISI168, GEORGIA: NON PARLIAMENTARY OPPOSITION CALLS FOR

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
09TBILISI168 2009-01-30 14:27 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Tbilisi

VZCZCXRO9331
OO RUEHFL RUEHKW RUEHLA RUEHNP RUEHROV RUEHSR
DE RUEHSI #0168/01 0301427
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
O 301427Z JAN 09
FM AMEMBASSY TBILISI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 0864
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE PRIORITY

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 TBILISI 000168 
 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 08/25/2018 
TAGS: PGOV PHUM PREL GG
SUBJECT: GEORGIA: NON PARLIAMENTARY OPPOSITION CALLS FOR 
PRESIDENT'S OUSTER, AGAIN 
 
Classified By: AMBASSADOR JOHN F. TEFFT.  REASONS:  1.4 (B) AND (D). 
 
1. (C)  Summary/Comment:  The non-parliamentary opposition 
announced and distributed its Declaration of Political 
Parties and Civil Society Organizations of Georgia 
(Declaration) which calls for President Saakashvili's 
resignation; early presidential and parliamentary elections; 
and the establishment of conditions for conducting free and 
fair elections.  Nineteen non-parliamentary leaders and ten 
civil society leaders, including former Speaker Nino 
Burjanadze, signed the Declaration.  Notably absent from 
signing were former Georgian Ambassador to the UN Irakli 
Alasania, and former Prime Minister Zurab Noghaideli; 
however, according to the press, both "agreed" in principle 
with the document (although Noghaideli is on record as 
opposing new elections now).  The Declaration leaves 
unanswered what policies the group would pursue; whether 
parliamentary or presidential elections would come first and 
how either could be accomplished in a constitutional 
framework; and how "free and fair" election conditions would 
be established.  The Declaration drew substantial media 
coverage, but has drawn little notice from the public.  In 
our view, the Declaration amounts to a codification of the 
non-parliamentary opposition's previous demands and 
reinforces the view that about the only issue they can agree 
on is their strong dislike of President Saakashvili.  For the 
most part, this Declaration which was to explain the 
non-parliamentary agenda in detail and unite democratic 
forces failed to deliver a coordinated, coherent plan.  End 
Summary/Comment. 
 
Declaration Announced - Non-Parliamentary Opposition Ratchets 
Up the Rhetoric 
 
2.  (SBU)   The Declaration was announced on January 29 in 
the Tbilisi Marriott to widespread media coverage.  Imedi, 
Rustavi, and Georgian Public Broadcasting showed clips of the 
signing and interviews with various opposition leaders.  The 
weekly English language, Georgia Today had a front page photo 
and caption.  Virtually every Georgian newspaper had at least 
a mention of the Declaration on the front page.  David 
Gamkrelidze (New Rights), Salome Zourabichvili (Georgia's 
Way), and Eka Beselia (Movement for a United Georgia, aka 
Okruashvili's party) were quoted extensively.  Gamkrelidze 
stated that "(t)oday one demand, one goal unites us - to get 
rid of Saakashvili".  Gamkrelidze continued saying that 
"(t)hose who do not share our position will automatically be 
enlisted to the governmental team.  There is a certain 
watershed, demarcation lines between the real opposition and 
the rest of the political forces."  Zourabichvili added that 
"Saakashvili should resign and there is no longer any other 
issue.  If we do not achieve this no other issues will be 
important because the country will no longer exist." 
 
3.  (C)  The Declaration states that Saakashvili's 
lawlessness and violence have driven Georgia to catastrophe, 
and that each day he remains in power generates additional 
problems for Georgia.  It continues with the aforementioned 
demands and says that it is a civic duty to immediately 
effect regime change by constitutional means.  The 
Declaration calls on the public to secure free and democratic 
development and unification.  What is does not say is what 
would constitute "constitutional" means or any legal 
justification for holding new elections or demanding the 
resignation of Saakashvili.  Thea Gogvadze-Apfel, a 
Burjanadze confidante, told Poloff that the Declaration, a 
subject of discussion among the non-parliamentary opposition 
Qsubject of discussion among the non-parliamentary opposition 
for a period of months, represents the only level at which 
the non-parliamentary opposition could agree.  The harsh 
rhetoric is also a clear call to fence sitters such as 
Alasania, and Noghaideli that their equivocation is 
increasingly irritating to the non-parliamentary crowd. 
 
Opposition's Unity Moment Quickly Inundated by Reality 
 
4.  (C)  The "unity" among non-parliamentary forces looks 
thin, since they spent three months coalescing around a 
document of minimalist non-parliamentary demands.  In a 
moment of clarity, Shalva Natelashvili (Labor Party leader) 
said "I agree with the principles of the memorandum but I am 
not signing it.  I mean how many times can we sign one and 
the same thing?  We've been doing this since 2003." 
Natelashvili went on to blast other non-parliamentary figures 
saying "(i)t is unacceptable for me to sign the declaration, 
as by signing it other opposition leaders may make me stand 
next to Burjanadze or Noghaideli."  Irakli Melashvili 
(National Forum) said he did not sign the document because 
the non-parliamentary opposition has no idea as to how it is 
going to enforce its demands.  Melashvili said "(w)e have 
asked the opposition parties what they will do if Saakashvili 
holds a new election.  We have not received a clear answer 
and that's why we have refused o sign this document." 
 
TBILISI 00000168  002 OF 002 
 
 
Parliamentary opposition MP Gia Tsagareishvili (Democratic &#x000A
;Party of Georgia) said opposition MPs were not consulted.  He 
continued saying "(i)f somebody does not want to see my face, 
I am not interested in them.  I am not going to go somewhere 
to see them.  Let them come, talk to us, tell us what they 
want and we will answer them." 
 
5.  (C) Far from uniting the non-parliamentary opposition, 
the Declaration only reinforces how disparate the 
non-parliamentary group is.  Nino Burjanadze did not attend 
the signing preferring to travel to Davos, Switzerland for 
meetings.  Alasania expressed his general agreement with the 
Declaration but refused to sign, prompting editorial pages 
and non-parliamentary leaders alike to question where his 
loyalties lie.  In fact, the non-parliamentary opposition 
could not agree on whether or when to hold protests. 
Protests may be held in the spring but it remains unclear 
which parties will participate.  Natelashvili, whose Labor 
Party formed a bulk of the protesters in November 2007, has 
said he would not protest for the benefit of former GOG 
officials such as Burjanadze, Alasania, and Noghaideli.  At 
the end of the day, the Declaration creates more questions 
than it answers. 
 
6.  (C)  Parliamentary Speaker David Bakradze lamented the 
radicalization of political discourse.  He was quoted as 
saying "(u)nfortunately, part of the opposition sticks with a 
radical stance.  I think that instead of further 
radicalization, the population today needs to see the 
cooperation of different parties on vital issues, such as 
overcoming the economic crisis and ensuring security in the 
country."  Bakradze also pointed out the inherent 
contradiction in the non-parliamentary opposition demands, 
questioning how one can call for both the reform of the 
election code and immediate elections at the same time. 
While the non-parliamentary opposition will continue to be a 
thorn in the Government's side, the recent Declaration does 
not suggest the non-parliamentary has found a way to pose a 
true threat to Saakashvili or the UNM. 
TEFFT

Wikileaks

09TBILISI165, GEORGIA: THE RULING PARTY REFLECTS, DEVELOPS

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
09TBILISI165 2009-01-29 14:52 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Tbilisi

VZCZCXRO8133
OO RUEHFL RUEHKW RUEHLA RUEHNP RUEHROV RUEHSR
DE RUEHSI #0165/01 0291452
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
O 291452Z JAN 09
FM AMEMBASSY TBILISI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 0861
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE PRIORITY

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 TBILISI 000165 
 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 08/25/2018 
TAGS: PGOV PHUM PREL GG
SUBJECT: GEORGIA: THE RULING PARTY REFLECTS, DEVELOPS 
STRATEGY FOR 2009 
 
REF: TBILISI 132 
 
Classified By: AMBASSADOR JOHN F. TEFFT.  REASONS:  1.4 (B) AND (D). 
 
1. (C)  Summary/Comment:  While highly confident in their 
ability to serve out their mandates, the leaders of the 
United National Movement (UNM) have gone through a period of 
self-evaluation as to how best to effectuate their political 
and policy aims in the coming year.  UNM is poised to resume 
its legislative push for democratic reform.  Quietly, 
President Saakashvili has been meeting with various academics 
and analysts in an attempt to broaden the range of policy 
discussion beyond his small group of trusted advisors at the 
urging of various UNM members.  The amount of influence these 
members have had on Saakashvili's reignited push for 
democratic reform is hard to say.  However, it is clear that 
a number of influential Ministers and lawmakers are giving 
President Saakashvili the message that more openness and 
reform is needed.  Feeling as though they need to re-engage 
with the public, UNM leaders are hitting the airwaves to 
defend themselves from criticism and promote their policy 
agenda.  Saakashvili himself jump-started the effort by 
taking four hours of public questions on January 23 (reftel 
A).  While too early to tell what this change in strategy 
will mean in concrete terms, the UNM's willingness to 
critically evaluate their performance, especially while 
enjoying a substantial parliamentary majority and electoral 
security, sets them apart from their competitors.  The UNM 
has shown itself to be a savvy party with a deep bench of 
talent and would be a formidable foe, even for a united, 
coherent and focused opposition.  End Summary/Comment. 
 
NEW ELECTIONS HIGHLY UNLIKELY 
 
2.  (C)  Akaki Minashvili (UNM - Head of Foreign Relations 
Committee) told Poloff that early elections will not be held, 
echoing what UNM MP's Giorgi Kandelaki and Irakli Kavtaradze 
told us recently.  Minashvili dismissed the possibility that 
the non-parliamentary opposition could force new elections 
saying the public did not support new elections, and there 
was no reason for Saakashvili to call them.  David Dondua, 
Deputy Chief of Cabinet, who advises Speaker David Bakradze 
also said elections were highly unlikely but that one never 
knows if Saakashvili will change his mind.  (Embassy Note: 
Dondua, former MFA Political Directorr, is more of a foreign 
policy specialist than a party politician. End Note.) 
Minashvili was not surprised that the non-parliamentary 
opposition's demand was the resignation of Saakashvili 
followed by snap Presidential elections.  He said the 
non-parliamentary opposition stood to gain some seats in 
early parliamentary elections but UNM would still form a 
substantial majority.  Minashvili opined that no current 
opposition figure could even come close to beating 
Saakashvili in a presidential election, leaving the 
non-parliamentary oppositio with only one logical course -- 
to pursue presidential elections without Saakashvili. 
Minashvili outlined the UNM counter-strategy.  According to 
Minashvili, UNM through various polling data understands that 
the public's main concerns are economic.  Also well aware 
that calls for early elections are not popular, UNM plans to 
paint the non-parliamentary opposition's demands for new 
elections as a costly "do over" whose sole purpose is to 
allow non-parliamentary leaders to regain lost political 
relevance.  President Saakashvili has made numerous public 
statement in this direction, recently saying he would not 
call new elections based on the "whims and ambitions of 
certain persons". 
Qcertain persons". 
 
WE BECAME COMPLACENT 
 
3.  (C)  Minashvili lamented the fact that UNM's drive for 
democratic reform lost steam in recent years.  During and 
after the August war, the GOG had operated in strict crisis 
mode which did not lend itself to much introspection.  Now 
that the acute crisis has largely subsided, Minashvili said 
the UNM was in the process of reassessing political mistakes 
(much as the UNM-dominated GOG has been reassessing 
shortcomings in the leadup to the August war).  Minashvili 
said it was easy to become complacent after the 2008 
elections in which UNM won an overwhelming mandate. 
According to Minashvili, the lack of a coherent opposition 
with competing policy objectives lulled the UNM into losing 
its focus.  The UNM intends to gain back its strength which 
was its ability to deliver tangible economic and democratic 
change.  The August war and its aftermath made UNM realize it 
had become insular and had largely stopped direct engagement 
with the public. 
 
4.  (C)  Highlighting its shift of strategy, prominent GOG 
figures such as Tbilisi Mayor Gigi Ugulava,  Minister for 
Economic Development Lasha Zhvania, and other UNM officials 
have been appearing on political talk shows.  Minashvili 
 
TBILISI 00000165  002 OF 002 
 
 
complained to Poloff about the abundance of talkshows and the 
time demands it put on him and his colleagues to appear, but 
at the same time acknowledged the necessity of standing 
before a critical host and defending the G
OG's record.  UNM 
members have even been appearing on Kavkasia, ending their 
"boycott" of the "pro-Opposition" channel.  Minashvili said 
the consensus is that the UNM had much to gain by detailing 
accomplishments and policy substance to the public.  Dondua 
acknowledged the increased presence of UNM figures on 
television, though he cautioned that they needed to find the 
right balance.  Dondua was concerned that UNM might 
over-saturate the airwaves which could be detrimental to 
their aims.  Nevertheless, President Saakashvili took four 
hours of public questions on January 23.  Minashvili says 
more frequent TV appearances by UNM members produce the added 
benefit of exposing the non-parliamentary opposition's lack 
of policy aims and goals.  Whether the media "blitz" proves 
successful for the UNM or not, if it fosters a public debate 
on competing policy agendas, Georgia's democracy is the 
ultimate beneficiary. 
 
5.  (C)  Minashvili hinted that the UNM had become somewhat 
intellectually stagnant and disengaged in pushing forward 
policy goals since mid-2008.  He hailed the U.S.-Georgia 
Charter as providing a new impetus to further domestic 
political and economic reform.  Recent reports have hit the 
press that President Saakashvili has been meeting privately 
with intellectuals, educators, and others for extended 
sessions.  Foreign Minister Vashadze told the Ambassador that 
Saakashvili had been doing this at his and Minister for 
Reintegration Temuri Yakobashvili's urging.  Vashadze told 
the Ambassador the meetings are one of the positive ways 
Saakashvili has changed since the end of the war.  According 
to acquaintances of Embassy staff, some of whom confirmed 
that they personally took part in some discussions with the 
President, during these meetings Saakashvili listened and 
engaged in vigorous debate with the invitees.  On January 21, 
President Saakashvili offered a number of experts and 
analysts the opportunity to sit on a policy advisory board. 
While non-parliamentary leaders have predictably dismissed 
this as show, Minashvili confirmed that Saakashvili is 
re-engaged and listening to wide range of opinions both 
inside his party and out.  Saakashvili has made a number of 
public announcements about his admiration of George 
Washington and his desire for his legacy to be that of 
"somebody who made Georgia a modern European state".  What 
the "revival" of the UNM's democratic reform agenda will mean 
in practical policy terms is still unclear.  Nevertheless, at 
least on the surface, UNM from the President on down seems 
re-energized and recommitted to a reform agenda. 
 
LEGISLATIVE AGENDA 
 
6.  (C)  UNM hopes the Parliament will pass the new Criminal 
Procedure Code in February.  Minashvili told Poloff the draft 
(put together with USG assistance) was being reviewed by a 
Council of Europe team of experts.  Once the review is 
complete, parliamentary debate will begin.  Minashvili 
expected little substantive disagreement between the UNM and 
parliamentary opposition parties on the draft law which 
should allow for its quick adoption.  Minashvili said work on 
a new Electoral Code will remain a UNM priority (septel). 
Dondua confirmed the UNM's legislative agenda and the 
Speaker's desire to adopt a new Electoral Code.  Dondua hoped 
for widespread input across the political spectrum, but he 
Qwas not optimistic that those in the non-parliamentary 
minority were willing to play a constructive role.  Dondua 
told Poloff that Parliament also would work on increasing the 
diversity of opinion on Georgian Public TV, consistent with 
its aim to foster more media access across the spectrum. 
 
7.  (C)  Minashvili, a member of the Ad Hoc Parliamentary 
Commission to review the August war, said the members 
intended to meticulously oversee the implementation of their 
recommendations to improve the GOG's institutional capacity 
to respond to further Russian threats (or other threats) to 
Georgia's security.  Minashvili also noted that UNM 
parliamentarians plan to closely monitor how foreign 
assistance is spent, making sure it is used as intended. 
Similarly, UNM will put forth legislation to reorganize the 
way social payments are distributed focusing on financial 
need rather than social "category", which should have the 
effect of better targeting limited resources to those who 
truly need help.  Minashvili and Dondua stressed that the UNM 
would be watching the economic status of the poor closely. 
UNM will adjust the budget accordingly to ensure the poorest 
in Georgia do not disproportionately feel the effects of the 
economic slowdown.  Seeing the economy as its one potential 
weakness, the UNM is intent on making sure the global 
economic crisis does not result in a domestic political one. 
TEFFT

Wikileaks

09TBILISI164, GEORGIA: UNOMIG OBSERVES SNIPER PATROL IN ABKHAZIA

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
09TBILISI164 2009-01-29 14:36 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Tbilisi

VZCZCXRO8749
OO RUEHFL RUEHKW RUEHLA RUEHNP RUEHROV RUEHSR
DE RUEHSI #0164 0291436
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
O 291436Z JAN 09 ZDK DUE TO MSG REJECTED
FM AMEMBASSY TBILISI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 0860
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE IMMEDIATE
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK IMMEDIATE 4772
RUEHVEN/USMISSION USOSCE IMMEDIATE 2249
RUEHBS/USEU BRUSSELS IMMEDIATE

C O N F I D E N T I A L TBILISI 000164 
 
NOFORN 
SENSITIVE 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 01/28/2019 
TAGS: PGOV PREL MOPS RS GG
SUBJECT: GEORGIA: UNOMIG OBSERVES SNIPER PATROL IN ABKHAZIA 
 
Classified By: Ambassador John F. Tefft for Reasons 1.4 (b) and (d). 
 
1. (C/NF) Summary and comment.  On January 22 a UN Observer 
Mission in Georgia (UNOMIG) patrol in Abkhazia saw seven 
individuals in unmarked camouflage patrolling near the 
village of Gvashigverdi, just inside the administrative 
boundary.  Among other weapons, the group carried three SVD 
sniper rifles.  Local villagers said the soldiers were 
Russian and are seen frequently in the area.  Georgian forces 
in nearby Pakhulani, across the boundary, had concerns about 
snipers in December and restricted their movements for fear 
of attacks, and a UNOMIG patrol was threatened by an Abkhaz 
soldier in the same area January 16.  Georgian officials have 
informed us about sniper attacks on Georgian forces along the 
administrative boundaries of both Abkhazia and South Ossetia, 
sometimes with the use of specialized sniper rifles, but this 
is the first instance known to us in which international 
monitors have observed militia carrying such weapons.  End 
summary and comment. 
 
2. (C/NF) While on patrol in the Gali sector on January 22, a 
UNOMIG patrol came across a foot patrol consisting of seven 
individuals wearing mismatched, unmarked camouflage uniforms. 
 An American member of the UNOMIG patrol (please protect) 
explained that mismatched camouflage uniforms generally 
indicate Abkhaz militia, but he observed that none of the 
individuals had typical Caucasian features.  Local villagers 
later told the UNOMIG patrol that the soldiers were Russian 
and frequently patrolled the area.  The American officer saw 
the foot patrol carrying three SVD sniper rifles, as well as 
one PKM machine gun and at least two AK-47 or -74 assault 
rifles.  The UNOMIG patrol also observed a Russian armored 
vehicle in the same area.  The official report of the 
incident does not mention the specific weapons observed, nor 
does it speculate on the origin of the members of the foot 
patrol (see paragraph 4). 
 
3. (SBU) On December 19, 2008, a UNOMIG patrol met with 
Georgian Interior Ministry officials based near Pakhulani, 
directly across the administrative boundary from Gvashigverdi 
(both villages are north of the Enguri River).  They informed 
UNOMIG that they had stopped patrolling in the area because 
of recent shooting incidents and recommended that UNOMIG 
likewise refrain from patrolling the area for fear of 
snipers.  On January 16, 2009, a UNOMIG patrol near Tkaia, 
just south of Gvashigverdi (on the other side of both the 
administrative boundary and the Enguri River), while 
observing an Abkhaz post, heard approximately 15 shots from a 
machine gun on the Abkhaz side of the boundary.  Although the 
patrol could not determine the exact source of the firing, 
one Abkhaz soldier at the post shouted and another pointed 
his weapon at the patrol. 
 
4. (SBU) The following passage appears in the January 23 
Daily UNOMIG SitRep from Special Representative Verbeke to Le 
Roy, UN, New York (reporting on the events of January 22): 
 
-- At GVASHIGVERDI, patrol observed 1 X BTR-80 and 7 armed 
soldiers on foot (origin unidentified) conducting patrol. 
Local resident said such patrols carried out regularly. 
TEFFT

Wikileaks

09TBILISI148, RUSSIAN SOLDIER DESERTS, SEEKS ASYLUM IN GEORGIA

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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. #09TBILISI148.
Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
09TBILISI148 2009-01-28 13:06 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Tbilisi

VZCZCXRO6865
OO RUEHFL RUEHKW RUEHLA RUEHNP RUEHROV RUEHSR
DE RUEHSI #0148/01 0281306
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
O 281306Z JAN 09
FM AMEMBASSY TBILISI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 0846
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEHBJ/AMEMBASSY BEIJING PRIORITY 0173
RUEHBS/USEU BRUSSELS PRIORITY
RUEHVEN/USMISSION USOSCE PRIORITY 2247
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK PRIORITY 4770

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 TBILISI 000148 
 
SIPDIS 
 
DEPT FOR EUR/CARC 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 01/28/2019 
TAGS: PGOV PREL PREF MOPS KBTS RU GG
SUBJECT: RUSSIAN SOLDIER DESERTS, SEEKS ASYLUM IN GEORGIA 
 
Classified By: Ambassador John F. Tefft for Reasons 1.4 (b) and (d). 
 
1. (C) Summary and comment.  On January 26 a Russian soldier 
based in the Akhalgori Valley inside South Ossetia deserted 
his post, crossed the administrative boundary at Odzisi, 
flagged down a Georgian Interior Ministry car, and requested 
asylum, based on his difficult living conditions.  The 
Ministry publicly announced the event January 27; a video of 
the soldier telling his story was made available on TV and 
the Internet; and he spoke with international news 
organizations.  Russian government officials have reportedly 
accused the Georgian government of forcibly detaining the 
soldier and demanded his return.  The Ministry has 
facilitated phone contact between the soldier and his family 
and offered to facilitate the family's travel to visit him in 
Georgia; it has also offered the EU Monitoring Mission a 
chance to meet with the soldier.  Post is still gathering 
information, but we have no reason to doubt the government's 
version of events, particularly given the many reports 
circulating about the difficult conditions facing Russian 
soldiers in South Ossetia.  The government seems to be 
developing a careful approach to the case.  End summary and 
comment. 
 
2. (C) Head of the Interior Ministry's Analytical Department 
Shota Utiashvili provided EmbOff with the following 
chronology.  On January 26 Aleksandr Glukhov apparently 
crossed the Ksani River on his own and flagged down a car 
near Odzisi, which happened to be an Interior Ministry 
vehicle.  (Post note: Odzisi is the location of the last 
Georgian checkpoint before the administrative boundary, so 
many, if not most, of the vehicles at that part of the road 
are Interior Ministry vehicles.  End note.)  He identified 
himself, complained about difficult living conditions at his 
post, including poor food and no opportunity to bathe for 
over a month, and sought permission from the Georgian 
president to stay in Georgia.  The Ministry publcly 
announced the event on January 27, provided video testimony 
to television stations, posted the video on its own website 
(www.police.ge/en), and made the soldier available to the 
press.  The Ministry is currently hosting Glukhov in 
Mtskheta.  Glukhov has spoken with his parents on the phone, 
and the Ministry has offered to facilitate his parents' 
travel to Georgia to see Glukhov. 
 
3. (C) Utiashvili said that Glukhov did use the word "asylum" 
in his request for protection.  He also expressed the 
opinion, however, that Glukhov probably wants to return to 
Russia; he just does not want to serve in the Russian Army 
any longer.  Noting that Glukhov is free to return to Russia 
whenever he wants, he thought Glukhov would stay in Georgia 
for a while and try to negotiate a return that would avoid 
negative consequences for his desertion. 
 
4. (C) The Interior Ministry made Glukhov available to meet 
publicly with representatives of the press and others on 
January 27 at McDonald's on Rustaveli Avenue in downtown 
Tbilisi.  In communications with Deputy Foreign Minister Giga 
Bokeria and Foreign Minister Grigol Vashadze, however, post 
advised caution, suggesting indiscreet treatment of the case 
could cause difficulties for both Georgia and Glukhov.  Post 
also suggested that the government stay in close contact with 
the Europeans, who would likely track the case very 
Qthe Europeans, who would likely track the case very 
carefully.  Bokeria explained that the only way to counter 
likely Russian accusations of kidnapping was to present 
Glukhov himself to the press.  Vashadze acknowledged the need 
for caution, however, and informed the Ambassador of the 
efforts to establish contact between Glukhov and his family. 
The Interior Ministry has extended an invitation to the EU 
Monitoring Mission to meet with Glukhov in a more discreet 
setting and has reached out to the Swiss Embassy, which looks 
after Russia's interests in Georgia, about the case. 
 
COMMENT: A DELICATE SITUATION 
 
5. (C) Post has heard numerous stories from credible sources, 
including the EUMM, that Russian forces in South Ossetia do 
indeed live in difficult circumstances.  Russian soldiers in 
Perevi, for example, complained to the EUMM about not being 
paid for months.  The EUMM heard a story that Russian forces 
in Akhalgori approached the Georgian side about the 
possibility of bringing in supplies by helicopter over 
Georgian airspace, should the situation get truly desperate, 
because they were already having supply problems.  (Senior 
Russian officials later disputed this story.)  Although we 
cannot confirm the details of this apparent defection, we 
have no reason to doubt the Georgian version of events.  A 
 
TBILISI 00000148  002 OF 002 
 
 &#x
000A;real difficulty for the Georgians, however, is how to handle 
the situation carefully, so that Glukhov himself is protected 
and the Georgian government is not perceived as exploiting a 
personal tragedy for the sake of political expediency.  The 
initial impulse, to showcase Glukhov at McDonald's, was 
questionable, but by contacting the family and bringing the 
Europeans into the process, the government seems to be 
developing a more sophisticated approach. 
TEFFT

Wikileaks

09TBILISI132, GEORGIA: POLITICIANS HIT THE AIRWAVES

WikiLeaks Link

To understand the justification used for the classification of each cable, please use this WikiSource article as reference.
Discussing cables
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. #09TBILISI132.
Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
09TBILISI132 2009-01-26 14:52 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Tbilisi

VZCZCXRO5141
OO RUEHFL RUEHKW RUEHLA RUEHNP RUEHROV RUEHSR
DE RUEHSI #0132/01 0261452
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
O 261452Z JAN 09
FM AMEMBASSY TBILISI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 0831
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE PRIORITY

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 TBILISI 000132 
 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 08/25/2018 
TAGS: PGOV PHUM PREL GG
SUBJECT: GEORGIA: POLITICIANS HIT THE AIRWAVES 
 
REF: A. TBILISI 113 
     B. TBILISI 97 
     C. TBILISI 89 
     D. TBILISI 57 
     E. 08 TBILISI 2482 
     F. 08 TBILISI 2268 
 
Classified By: AMBASSADOR JOHN F. TEFFT.  REASONS:  1.4 (B) AND (D). 
 
1. (C)  Summary/Comment:  In a televised first, President 
Saakashvili answered four hours of call-in questioning from 
the general public on January 23.  Opposition figures called 
the session a "Putin-like" stunt.  In our view, the event 
actually resembled more of a "town-hall" political event and 
is consistent with a new UNM strategy for more public 
engagement (septel).  Saakashvili appeared confident though 
at times combative, speaking on a wide range of policy 
issues; expressing high hopes for his agenda; and 
categorically ruling out new elections while still managing 
to get a verbal jab or two in on his rivals.  Subsequently, 
Irakli Alasania and Nino Burjanadze appeared on Political 
Week on Public Television (ref A) to discuss their political 
futures.  Both Alasania and Burjanadze called for 
Saakashvili's resignation and new elections.  Alasania was 
short on specifics, but appeared poised, balanced, and 
avoided being reflexively anti-Saakashvili in his tone. 
Burjanadze was more uneven and broke no new ground. 
Alasania, as the biggest unknown, probably made the largest 
impact over the weekend by his measured performance, 
rhetorically distancing himself from the radical 
non-parliamentary opposition.  Saakashvili gave a strong 
performance, however; it is doubtful he swayed any serious 
critics with his efforts.  Burjanadze still appears to be 
searching for her political footing (ref C).  End 
Summary/Comment. 
 
Misha, Taking Your Calls 
 
2.  (SBU)  Love him or hate him, President Saakashvili has an 
undeniable public presence which was live on display for four 
hours on the afternoon of January 23.  A local Embassy 
employee, self-described as "not a fan", called Saakashvili's 
performance very impressive.  An informal FSN panel agreed 
that the four hour session was a bit over the top.  He called 
the August war a "huge tragedy" including for himself 
personally, and slammed Russian PM Putin several times for 
his aggressive neo-Soviet policies.  Saakashvili praised the 
incoming U.S. administration saying he liked President 
Obama's inauguration speech, and noted that he had a warm 
conversation with the new President after his election.  He 
praised President Bush's support during August but expressed 
his personal view that the United States was perceived as 
weak towards the end of the Bush administration by Russia and 
the Europeans.  Saakashvili said a strong America is a 
natural ally for Georgia in all circumstance and reiterated 
his desire to continue Georgia's western integration. 
 
3.  (SBU)  On the economy, Saakashvili took nearly two hours 
of questions ranging from unemployment to water supply and 
other infrastructure issues in remote and rural areas, 
pensions and other pedestrian issues.  Displaying a western 
politician's acumen, Saakashvili largely answered the 
question of his own choosing with a positive spin rather than 
facing a tough question head on.  However, addressing a 
recent controversy, Saakashvili vigorously defended his 
government's decision to enter into a joint management 
agreement of the Enguri hydro power plant with Inter RAO (a 
Russian owned company) which he said guaranteed unhindered 
electricity for western Georgia (ref B, ref D).  Saakashvili 
often returned to his strategy of downplaying the role the 
August war played in the economic downturn, saying that 
Georgia's economic woes are due to the global economic 
QGeorgia's economic woes are due to the global economic 
downturn.  He described Georgia as "not only besieged by an 
armed enemy, but by the global economic crisis as well." 
Saakashvili again asked the public to compare the favorable 
state of Georgia's economy to Russia and other neighbors.  In 
a lighter moment, when asked about his ailing Prime Minister 
and Speaker of Parliament, he began reading aloud text 
messages he had received from both of them.  In one such 
message shared by Saakashvili, Speaker David Bakradze 
jokingly compared being pricked, drilled, shaved, hung on a 
hook, and tortured (while hospitalized) to serving in 
Parliament. 
 
4.  (C)  Saving his best shots for the non-parliamentary 
opposition, Saakashvili said none of his former allies went 
into the opposition on their own accord, but only after being 
fired.  Saakashvili also stated that he had not spoken with 
Alasania since he left government.  (Embassy Comment:  Our 
sources indicate that both of these statements are dubious 
and that Burjanadze and Alasania chose to enter the 
opposition.  We have also heard Saakashvili offered Alasania 
the position of Defense Minister or Foreign Minister in 
 
TBILISI 00000132  002.3 OF 002 
 
 
November to forestall his departure, something Alasania 
recently mentioned publicly.  End Comment.)  Saakashvili &
#x000A;openly mocked the non-parliamentary opposition whom, he 
joked, "have announced a tender on selecting a leader." 
Saakashvili praised the parliamentary opposition saying that 
"major political battle is ongoing in the Parliament".  He 
then noted how much better the parliamentary opposition's 
standing was in recent polls compared to their 
non-parliamentary colleagues.  The President was dismissive 
of accusations about a lack of media freedom saying whenever 
opposition politicians complain about a lack of free speech 
on TV, they are always appearing on live TV doing so. 
(Embassy Comment:  On Rustavi 2 numerous opposition 
politicians expressed negative views on Saakashvili's Q and A 
session immediately after its conclusion.  David Gamkrelidze 
(New Rights) and David Usupashvili (Republicans) slammed 
Saakashvili at a televised press conference, which added 
simply credence to Saakashvili's point.  End Comment.) 
Saakashvili ruled out calls for new elections.  He said the 
November 2007 events and early presidential and parliamentary 
elections cost Georgia USD 2 billion in lost investments. 
 
Alasania Gets Good Marks 
 
5.  (SBU)  Our informal FSN panel gave Alasania good marks 
for his performance on the TV talkshow Political Week. 
Alasania's demeanor was poised, and his responses were 
measured and thoughtful.  The former diplomat was very 
impressive when speaking on foreign relations and external 
issues, but less confident on domestic ones at one point 
flubbing the name of a non-parliamentary leader.  Alasania 
expressed his solidarity with the non-parliamentary 
opposition demand for early elections, but was very careful 
not to tie himself to any group or figure.  Alasania vaguely 
said he did not intend to set up a separate political party 
but would announce his "political team" shortly.  Alasania 
earned his highest marks when asked provocative questions by 
host Inga Grigolia about why he chose not to speak out until 
well after the August war.  Alasania was quick to point out 
that he is not simply anti-Saakashvili and is proud of a 
number of things accomplished while he was part of the UNM. 
Alasania also said he balanced duty to his country and its 
President and his personal feelings when deciding the right 
time to leave the UNM and GOG.  Alasania noted that it would 
have been detrimental to Georgia's interests to speak out 
while Ambassador to the UN, and that while he had strong 
disagreements with Saakashvili, he was not about to publicly 
discuss them until the immediate crisis was resolved. 
 
6.  (C)  Alasania responded directly to Saakashvili's claim 
that he had not spoken to Alasania after his "sacking". 
Alasania said publicly that he had been offered the Defense 
Minister and Foreign Minister positions after he gave 
Saakashvili his resignation.  Alasania avoided any further 
tit-for-tat discussion, instead preferring to outline his 
vision of a less confrontational Georgia both internally and 
externally.  He refuted the suggestions that he was 
"America's candidate", as well as speculation that the United 
States tacitly instructed Saakashvili to "invade" South 
Ossetia.  Alasania said he had many high-level contacts in 
the USG and not once had anybody hinted at support for 
military action.  Alasania reminded viewers that the United 
States does not support any specific candidate in Georgian 
elections.  While Alasania avoided difficult questions as to 
Qelections.  While Alasania avoided difficult questions as to 
exactly where he falls in the non-parliamentary opposition, 
he succeeded in delivering a moderate message both in tone 
and substance.  After an uneven first press conference (ref 
E), Alasania's most recent performance was a definite 
improvement, though he still has many difficult decisions 
about his future to make. 
 
Burjanadze - A Leader Looking for a Direction 
 
7.  (C)  Nino Burjanadze's appearance on the same episode of 
Political Week was not viewed as positively by our FSN group. 
 While Alasania was philosophical and nuanced about his time 
in government, Burjanadze appeared defensive.  She was unable 
to explain effectively the apparent contradictions of her 
previous governmental role and her current opposition to 
Saakashvili.  Burjanadze repeated her calls for Saakashvili's 
resignation and early presidential elections.  She demurred 
when asked if she would run for president, speaking only 
hypothetically that all leaders of political parties have 
ambitions to be president.  She spent much of her time 
criticizing Saakashvili rather than focusing on her own long 
term political vision.  Burjanadze vaguely spoke of uniting 
opposition forces to push for new elections, but could give 
no specific details.  In all, Burjanadze did not break any 
new ground, and her appearance may have served to muddle her 
message rather than help shape it. 
TEFFT

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09TBILISI131, GEORGIA: GAS RETURNS TO SOUTH OSSETIA

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
09TBILISI131 2009-01-26 13:16 2011-08-30 01:44 UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY Embassy Tbilisi

VZCZCXRO5103
OO RUEHAG RUEHAST RUEHDA RUEHDF RUEHFL RUEHIK RUEHKW RUEHLA RUEHLN
RUEHLZ RUEHNP RUEHPOD RUEHROV RUEHSK RUEHSR RUEHVK RUEHYG
DE RUEHSI #0131 0261316
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 261316Z JAN 09 ZDK
FM AMEMBASSY TBILISI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 0830
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE PRIORITY

UNCLAS TBILISI 000131 
 
SENSITIVE 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: N/A 
TAGS: ECON ENRG PGOV PREL RU GG
SUBJECT: GEORGIA: GAS RETURNS TO SOUTH OSSETIA 
 
REF: TBILISI 122 
 
1.  (SBU)  Itera-Georgia confirmed on Saturday, January 24 
that it received approval from the Russian Government 
(reftel) to import gas from GazProm to sell to South Ossetia. 
 Itera-Georgia repressurized the line and began supplying 
natural gas to South Ossetia early on January 24.  This 
resumes the supply that had been halted following the August 
war due to pipeline damage.  Despite lack of access to the 
territory through which the pipeline runs, Georgia continues 
to be cooperative in supplying gas. 
TEFFT

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09TBILISI122, GEORGIA OKAYS GAS TO SOUTH OSSETIA, ITERA ONLY

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Discussing cables
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. #09TBILISI122.
Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
09TBILISI122 2009-01-23 14:34 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Tbilisi

VZCZCXRO3691
OO RUEHFL RUEHKW RUEHLA RUEHNP RUEHROV RUEHSR
DE RUEHSI #0122/01 0231434
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
O 231434Z JAN 09
FM AMEMBASSY TBILISI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 0822
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEHAH/AMEMBASSY ASHGABAT PRIORITY 0855
RUEHTA/AMEMBASSY ASTANA PRIORITY 0026

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 TBILISI 000122 
 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 01/22/2019 
TAGS: PREL ENRG PGOV RU GG
SUBJECT: GEORGIA OKAYS GAS TO SOUTH OSSETIA, ITERA ONLY 
AWAITS RUSSIAN APPROVAL 
 
Classified By: Ambassador John F. Tefft for reasons 1.4 (b) and (d). 
 
1.  (C) Summary:  On January 20, the Georgian Government 
issued an exception to the Law on Occupied Territories to 
Itera-Georgia in order to provide gas to South Ossetia. 
Itera-Georgia General Director David Beradze confirmed that 
Itera concluded a commercial contract with South Ossetia on 
January 22 and are now only waiting on the Russian 
bureaucracy to allow gas to flow to Tskhinvali.  The gas 
supplied to South Ossetia will come from GazProm and be sold 
on a commercial basis to South Ossetia at 645 GEL per 
thousand cubic meters (tcm).  South Ossetia has prepaid a 
portion of the contract already.  Beradze said that once he 
receives confirmation that the Russian Customs Service has 
provided the necessary documents to allow for the gas 
transfer, Itera will immediately begin to pump gas to 
Tskhinvali.  He hoped gas could be flowing as soon as January 
24, but thought perhaps January 26 might be more likely.  End 
Summary. 
 
2.  (C) Comment:  Despite claims by some to the contrary, it 
was the South Ossetian and Russian refusal to allow OSCE 
technical experts and Georgian Oil and Gas Company engineers 
to manually examine and repair the line following the August 
conflict that slowed the return of gas to Tskhinvali.  During 
the last Geneva discussion in mid-December, the Georgians 
pledged to move quickly to resolve the problem, noting that 
only South Ossetian cooperation was required.  After a 
continued lack of access to the pipeline in disputed 
territory, the Georgians, with OSCE assistance, conducted two 
pressure tests to locate additional leaks.  Once a second 
leak was discovered on undisputed Georgian territory and 
repaired, gas was again able to flow and the Georgian 
Government quickly approved an exception to legislation to 
allow gas to be commercially sold to Tskhinvali.  While 
Itera-Georgia has received pre-payment from the South 
Ossetians, Beradze clearly gave the impression that Itera 
might not be paid for all of the gas.  While he didn't say 
that Itera was receiving gas at lower cost from GazProm in 
order to sell it to South Ossetia, it was clear that deals 
had been made in Moscow with Itera-Russia.  End Comment. 
 
GEORGIANS QUICKLY PERMIT GAS FLOW TO TSKHINVALI 
 
3.  (C) Beradze stressed that the Georgian Government has 
been very cooperative in returning gas to South Ossetia, 
noting that it was the South Ossetian refusal to allow the 
line to be repaired following the conflict that caused 
delays.  He stressed that his company lost considerable money 
in both Gori and South Ossetia during and directly following 
the conflict, as significant amounts of gas were lost due to 
war damage to the pipeline.  Beradze said that Itera only 
requested an exemption from the Law on Occupied Territories 
on Thursday, January 15.  He pointed out that given the 
weekend and local religious holiday on January 19, Itera 
received an answer from the Georgian Government in only two 
working days. 
 
ITERA AND OSSETIANS REACH A COMMERCIAL AGREEMENT 
 
4.  (C) Itera and the South Ossetians reached a commercial 
agreement on January 22.  Beradze said that Itera will sell 
Russian gas, purchased from GazProm, to South Ossetia at the 
commercial rate.  This will be the only commercial gas Itera, 
or for that matter any other gas distribution company in 
Georgia, will be purchasing from Russia.  Beradze said that 
currently Azeri gas from SOCAR is selling anywhere from 10 to 
Qcurrently Azeri gas from SOCAR is selling anywhere from 10 to 
20 USD cheaper per tcm, making it much more commercially 
attractive. 
 
5.  (C) Beradze confirmed that GazProm helped rehabilitate 
part of the gas pipeline within South Ossetia and installed a 
new regulator valve in Tskhinvali that reportedly can 
withstand 10 bar pressure.  He said the South Ossetians are 
asking for Itera to provide gas at 10 bar.  Even with 
renovations, Beradze said he believes this amount of pressure 
will eventually blow the line.  Due to this concern, and in 
part because his company has been unable to inspect the line 
itself, he said Itera has informed the South Ossetians that 
they only intend to provide gas at five bar until they can be 
assured the line can handle the pressure. 
 
WAITING FOR THE RUSSIANS 
 
6.  (C) Beradze said that the only barrier that is now 
keeping the gas from flowing is the Russian bureaucracy.  He 
said that the agreement is currently with Russian Customs 
which must issue an order allowing the gas to be sold and 
transited through Georgia.  Beradze said that only when 
Itera-Moscow receives these documents will the company 
 
TBILISI 00000122  002 OF 002 
 
 
repressurize the line and send gas into South Ossetia.  When 
Itera-Georgia receives the necessary assurances, it will 
immediately begin to pump existing commercial gas from 
non-Russian sources into
the pipeline to speed delivery in 
South Ossetia.  Beradze said this process will take no more 
than two hours in order to build the necessary pressure and 
start delivery to end users. 
TEFFT

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