09TBILISI83, GEORGIA: PARLIAMENTARY AND NON-PARLIAMENTARY

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
09TBILISI83 2009-01-15 14:32 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Tbilisi

VZCZCXRO7713
OO RUEHFL RUEHKW RUEHLA RUEHNP RUEHROV RUEHSR
DE RUEHSI #0083/01 0151432
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
O 151432Z JAN 09
FM AMEMBASSY TBILISI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 0770
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE PRIORITY

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 TBILISI 000083 
 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 08/25/2018 
TAGS: PGOV PHUM PREL GG
SUBJECT: GEORGIA: PARLIAMENTARY AND NON-PARLIAMENTARY 
OPPOSITIONS CONTINUE TO DIVERGE 
 
Classified By: AMBASSADOR JOHN F. TEFFT.  REASONS:  1.4 (B) AND (D). 
 
1. (C)  Summary/Comment:  The comments of both Parliamentary 
and non-Parliamentary opposition leaders indicate that their 
interests and visions for the near and longer term future 
continue to diverge.  Cooperation between the Parliamentary 
and non-Parliamentary opposition camps is limited at best. 
The non-parliamentary opposition continues to accuse its 
parliamentary counterparts of being collaborators with the 
Government and has focused on agitating for President 
Saakashvili's resignation and the holding of new elections. 
The Parliamentary opposition is increasingly seized with 
staking out positions on substantive issues and promoting new 
initiatives within the Parliament.  As a result, they are 
growing ever more critical and increasingly skeptical of the 
motives of their counterparts outside of Parliament.  The 
Christian Democrats (CDM), the largest opposition party in 
parliament, have little to gain from new elections and have 
told us that they need a few years without elections to build 
a nationwide party that is capable of winning a parliamentary 
majority.  With the remaining independent members of the 
parliamentary opposition threatened with the possibility of 
losing their mandates in new mandates, the whole of the 
Parliamentary opposition seems very content with the status 
quo.  While the Parliamentary opposition has contingency 
plans for the possibility of new elections, we expect that 
they will continue to argue against new elections as 
unnecessary and unwise.  Independent polls continue to show 
that the public is also opposed to early elections, meaning 
that the non-parliamentary opposition's calls for elections 
are expected to fall on deaf ears, barring major economic or 
political changes.  End Summary/Comment. 
 
Parliamentary Opposition Works the System 
 
2.  (C)  CDM leaders Giorgi Targamadze and George Rukhadze 
told poloff in no uncertain terms that they were opposed to 
new elections.  Targamadze said the non-Parliamentary 
opposition is making irresponsible demands and there is no 
legal basis for new elections.  He criticized the 
non-Parliamentary, "Rustaveli elite", for worrying more about 
their personal political fortunes than what is good for the 
country.  He said that the call for new elections is an 
attempt to regain some relevance and ultimately only benefits 
the Russians.  Targamadze repeatedly made the point to Poloff 
that he did not want to help push any Russian agenda in 
Georgia.  According to Targamadze, the CDM would marginally 
gain from new elections numbers-wise so he did not fear new 
elections, but he opposed them on principle.  Targamadze, 
however, admitted to Poloff that the CDM also benefited from 
being the major opposition party in the Parliament, and that 
new elections that brought additional opposition voices into 
Parliament could dilute CDM's public platform. 
 
3.  (C)  One man party Jondi Baghaturia (Georgian Troupe) 
clearly relishes his position as an MP and is dead set 
against elections.  Unlikely to be re-elected to any new 
Parliament, Baghaturia, like Targamadze, has a vested 
interest in "principled" opposition to new elections.  At any 
rate, Baghaturia says the demands for new elections are not 
serious and are not supported by the public.  Baghaturia, a 
former member of the United Opposition, simply says, "we lost 
and we'd lose again."  Baghaturia likewise calls new election 
talk to be "wishful thinking" and says non-Parliamentary 
opposition members simply want MP positions now that they 
Qopposition members simply want MP positions now that they 
have found life on the outside unattractive.  Both Baghaturia 
and Targamadze think that the likelihood of Saakashvili 
calling for new elections is zero, unless there was pressure 
from the U.S., and even then only Parliamentary elections 
would be called.  Both opined that the National Movement 
(UNM) would stand to lose some seats but would remain the 
majority even with a "reformed" election code. 
 
Non-Parliamentary Opposition Wants New Elections 
 
4.  (C)  Not surprisingly, Kakha Kukava (Conservatives) 
viewed new elections a bit differently.  Kukava argued to 
Poloff that there would be no resolution of the political 
crisis until Saakashvili left office.  Kukava said that the 
non-Parliamentary opposition still intends to stage protests 
to bring about new elections, but has not formalized its 
plans.  In fact, Kukava admitted that he was unsure if a 
planned late January protest would take place and said a 
smaller indoor rally is being considered.  Kukava further 
acknowledged that he sees any consolidation of 
non-Parliamentary opposition in the near term as very 
unlikely.  He noted that likely participants in any future 
protests would be the former members of the United 
Opposition, although without the support of New Rights, 
Georgian Troupe, and We Ourselves (Paata Davitaia).  The 
remaining group constitutes the most radical elements of the 
non-Parliamentary opposition.  Labor and perhaps another 
 
TBILISI 00000083  002 OF 003 
 
 &
#x000A;party or two might participate in protests, but would do so 
only as a general matter of support for anti-Saakashvili 
forces, and would not officially join the ever dwindling 
United Opposition ranks.  Kukava is aware of various polls 
showing public opinion is against new elections and protests. 
 Regardless, he vows to move forward saying that polling 
always shows the public against these things, but that 
protests triggered elections before and would do so again. 
Surprisingly, Kukava admitted to poloff that he regretted not 
taking his mandate -- "not 100% but maybe 50% of me thinks I 
should have taken it." 
 
5.  (C)  Industrialist leader, Zurab Tkemaladze whose party 
ran in a small bloc and garnered less than 1% support in the 
2008 Parliamentary elections, said there is no legal or 
constitutional norm to hold new elections.  Tkemaladze also 
stated that Saakashvili would not call for new elections, but 
would not be afraid to do so if necessary.  Tkemaladze is 
also of the opinion that UNM would win handily saying there 
might be a different dynamic in Parliament, but Saakashvili 
is safe.  A generation or so older than most in the GOG or 
among opposition leaders, Tkemaladze lamented the lack of 
statesmen among the current crop of politicians.  Tkemaladze 
see public protests as unwise, unwanted, and 
counterproductive.  A former MP, Tkemaladze is dead set 
against new elections, saying the country has had too many 
revolutions and none have had positive results.  For once, he 
said, Georgia needs to have a constitutional change of power, 
his personal dissatisfaction with Saakashvili notwithstanding. 
 
All Agree that Funding is Key 
 
6.  (C)  Targamadze, Baghaturia, Kukava, and Tkemaladze all 
stated that the ability to raise funds independently is a 
critical to the success of their political aspirations and 
operations.  Targamadze is proposing legislation to try to 
limit the GOG's ability to "regulate" business and thereby 
attract financial support.  All agreed that as a practical 
matter, obtaining private funding for political parties is 
impossible.  Targamadze, Baghaturia, and Tkemaladze alleged 
that there are many prominent businessmen who would gladly 
fund opposition candidates, but they fear GOG reprisals. 
Until those in the opposition can effectively fund-raise, the 
ability to spread their message will be limited.  All were 
critical of Saakashvili, but to varying degrees.  Kukava said 
that Saakashvili is totally and completely discredited. 
Targamadze, Baghaturia, and Tkemaladze were less strident in 
their views.  All gave Saakashvili some credit for economic 
reforms and limited democratic progress.  They believed that 
they needed to push Saakashvili toward more democratic 
reforms and specifically requested that the USG pass along a 
similar message.  Targamadze said "the more voices telling 
Saakashvili the same thing the better."  He and Tkemaladze 
both told PolOff that "he listens to you (US)". 
 
Both Parts of the Opposition Jockey for Position 
 
7.  (C)  Kukava said he is open to working with the CDM 
because it actually is an opposition party, but not Davitaia 
or Baghaturi whom he regards as tools of the United National 
Movement (UNM).  (Embassy Comment:  This represents a minor 
shift for Kukava who had viewed all the Parliamentary 
opposition as a wholly owned subsidy of the UNM.  A 
willingness to work with CDM shows that they are gaining in 
stature even among opposition rivals.  End Comment.)  In 
general, Kukava and his allies have no plan other than 
staging new protests.  Eka Beselia (United Georgia - 
Qstaging new protests.  Eka Beselia (United Georgia - 
Okruashvili's Party), said that the non-Parliamentary 
opposition needs to and will consolidate, but she could not 
put forth any realistic scenarios in which this would occur. 
Beselia relayed to PolOff a more nuanced take on public 
opinion polls showing little public desire for elections. 
According to Beselia, the numbers supporting new elections 
are low because a majority of Georgian just assume 
Saakashvili will rig the elections.  Absent Saakashvili, 
there is widespread public support for elections. 
Nevertheless, Beselia said that the only option is to 
continue to protest.  What is clear is that the 
non-Parliamentary opposition has not put much thought into 
how to move forward if elections do not occur, likely meaning 
its ad-hoc approach to politics will continue. 
 
8.  (C)  Giorgi Targamadze predicted problems for the 
non-Parliamentary opposition if no elections are held. 
Specifically, he said that the New Rights-Republican party 
will not survive.  Although Gamkrelidze and Usupashvili are 
personal friends, the rank and file of their parties despise 
each other.  Without a common goal of winning an upcoming 
election, Targamadze said that the alliance is sure to 
collapse.  Targamadze and Tkemaladze both noted that there is 
not one personality who can unite the non-Parliamentary 
opposition.  Targamadze said that other than Labor, no 
 
TBILISI 00000083  003 OF 003 
 
 
non-Parliamentary opposition party offers a clear policy 
alternative to UNM.  None of the current non-Parliamentary 
nor Parliamentary leaders viewed Irakli Alasania as a game 
changer.  In fact, Kukava dismissed him out of hand saying 
every 6 months a new exciting leader enters, makes a quick 
splash then fails to achieve widespread support.  Targamadze, 
Tkemaladze, Baghaturia, and Beselia were more charitable. 
All called him an intelligent and talented individual,but 
questioned his abilities as a politician.  None were willing 
to foreclose the possibility of Alasania playing a role, but 
suggested his time as an effective political leader is down 
the road.  At a minimum, Alasania faces an uphill climb to 
unite a substantial portion of the non-Parliamentary 
opposition behind him -- assuming that even is his goal.  In 
all, Targamadze seems to relish the opportunity a dwindling 
non-Parliamentary opposition presents.  If and when the 
non-Parliamentary opposition starts to further splinter, 
Targamadze and the CDM will be waiting to welcome them and 
their supporters with open arms. 
TEFFT

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