09TBILISI644, GEORGIA: ALASANIA STILL BETWEEN A ROCK AND A HARD

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
09TBILISI644 2009-03-31 15:39 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Tbilisi

VZCZCXRO5226
OO RUEHDBU RUEHFL RUEHKW RUEHLA RUEHNP RUEHROV RUEHSR
DE RUEHSI #0644/01 0901539
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
O 311539Z MAR 09
FM AMEMBASSY TBILISI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 1293
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE PRIORITY

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 TBILISI 000644 
 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 08/25/2018 
TAGS: PGOV PREL GG
SUBJECT: GEORGIA: ALASANIA STILL BETWEEN A ROCK AND A HARD 
PLACE 
 
REF: A. TBILISI 618 
     B. TBILISI 463 
 
Classified By: AMBASSADOR JOHN F. TEFFT.  REASONS:  1.4 (B) AND (D). 
 
1.  (C)  Summary:  Head of the opposition Alliance for 
Georgia ("Alliance") Irakli Alasania requested a meeting with 
the Ambassador on March 30 to discuss plans for the April 9 
protest.  Alasania has been in discussions with the UNM 
ruling party regarding a possible dialogue to overcome the 
current standoff and defuse the plans of the more radical 
opposition to remain on the streets until Saakashvili 
resigns.  Specifically, Alasania indicated he has been trying 
to convince the non-parliamentary opposition to limit the 
April 9 protest to one day.  Alasania hoped that a strong 
one-day showing would give the non-parliamentary opposition 
more leverage in negotiations with the GOG, although he 
feared the non-parliamentary opposition had become a hostage 
to its own rhetoric and many would not agree to negotiate 
anything, but the resignation of the President.  End Summary. 
 
2.  (C)   Comment:  Privately, Alasania is engaged in trying 
to broker some way out of the impasse, though he seemed less 
than optimistic that there was any good way out of the 
"mess".  He is well aware of the difficult political 
situation he faces trying to strike a moderate course while 
maintaining credibility among an increasingly radical group. 
So far Alasania has managed to remain on the fence without 
alienating either GOG officials willing to compromise or the 
non-parliamentary opposition, but this window appears to be 
closing.  In spite of his very moderate, measured, and 
thoughtful tone in private, Alasania recently signed on to a 
non-parliamentary opposition manifesto calling for President 
Saakashvili's resignation and new elections.  Various GOG 
representatives have pointed out Alasania's tendency to talk 
a good game privately but to turn around and publicly support 
the most radical demands of the non-parliamentary opposition. 
 Nevertheless, the GOG remains willing to negotiate, at least 
for the time being.  It is unclear how long the GOG will 
engage on Alasania's private waffling and public ultimatums. 
Alasania's plan is to pursue a one-day protest followed by a 
call for dialogue.  Even Alasania admits he is unsure whether 
he can get the non-parliamentary opposition to agree to a 
one-day protest much less a unified negotiating agenda. 
Alasania appears to understand he has little room to maneuver 
and is hardly enthusiastic about any of his options.  End 
Comment. 
 
These Guys Are Irrational About April 9 
 
3.  (C)  Alasania told the Ambassador that he had been 
attempting to limit the April 9 protests to one day. 
Alasania reasoned that showing that the non-parliamentary 
opposition could organize 100,000 people and peacefully 
disburse them would send a strong message to Saakashvili. 
Alasania said that he thought he was making some headway with 
the non-parliamentary crowd, but he was unsure if they would 
agree to a one-day event.  So far, only fellow members of his 
Alliance, David Gamkrelidze (New Rights) and David 
Usupashvili (Republicans) had signed on to the plan. 
Alasania said that he understood Saakashvili would not 
resign, and the non-parliamentary opposition needed to have 
an alternative plan.  Alasania lamented that most in the 
non-parliamentary opposition took it on faith that the 
protests would bring Saakashvili's government down. 
 
4.  (C)  According to Alasania, his non-parliamentary allies 
were almost "suicidal" and completely unrealistic; none of 
them had given any thought to an end game other than 
Saakashvili resigning and them being swept into power. 
QSaakashvili resigning and them being swept into power. 
(Embassy Note:  Poloff has heard rumors that a contentious 
issue between the non-parliamentary opposition is between Eka 
Beselia (United Georgia) and Koba Davitashvili (Party of the 
People) as to who will get to be Prosecutor General when 
Saakashvili resigns.  Alasania ally, David Usupashvili 
recently told Polchief that he needed to start focusing on 
economic policy issues, apparently convinced that he would be 
holding a high ranking office soon.  End Note.)  Alasania 
reiterated that he had explained to his non-parliamentary 
allies that Saakashvili was unlikely to resign, and that they 
needed an alternate course of action.  Alasania said his fear 
was that April 9 would fail, in that a small radical rump 
group of non-parliamentary opposition would protest 
indefinitely, weakening their message, alienating potential 
supporters and making a farce of the whole protest.  Alasania 
told the Ambassador that he saw the wisdom in the GOG 
strategy of leaving the non-parliamentary group alone to 
discredit themselves.  Alasania expressed hope that he would 
be able to get at least some of the non-parliamentary crowd 
to think about alternatives, but also said many -- he 
especially cited Levan Gachechiladze -- were becoming more 
radical by the minute. 
 
TBILISI 00000644  002 OF 002 
 
 
 
One Day of Protests - Then What? 
 
5.  (C)  Alasania was unsure what he would do
if the 
non-parliamentary opposition did not agree to his idea of a 
one day protest.  Alasania sought out the Ambassador's views 
on how he could "get out of this mess" and inquired if the 
USG would play the role of a guarantor in any 
GOG/non-parliamentary dialogue.  The Ambassador replied that 
he would do all he could to facilitate dialogue but could not 
solve Georgia's internal political problems.  Alasania said 
he understood but asked rhetorically a number of times during 
the conversation, "what is the way out of this mess?". 
Alasania said that if the protest went as he hoped and was 
limited to one day, he would present a demand to President 
Saakashvili for dialogue.  Alasania said he understood the 
futility of presenting another ultimatum to the President. 
(Embassy Note:  Despite his private misgivings about the 
utility of ultimatums, on March 27 Alasania signed on to the 
non-parliamentary manifesto calling for Saakashvili's 
resignation and new elections.  End Note.) 
 
6.  (C)  When the Ambassador inquired as to whether Alasania 
would be in a position to speak on behalf of the 
non-parliamentary opposition, Alasania said he did not know. 
The Ambassador noted that this dynamic sank GOG discussions 
with the non-parliamentary group in the past.  Alasania 
answered that he understood that he had to be able to deliver 
something in order to negotiate with the GOG.  Alasania said 
he hoped he would be able to convince a sizable group to 
follow him but was doubtful some of the more radical members 
would agree. (Embassy Note:  Alasania, while understanding 
that an ultimatum for the President's resignation was a 
non-starter, did not appear to have clearly thought out what 
his demands would be.  End Note.) 
 
GOG Ready to Talk but Is Alasania Ready to Walk the Walk 
 
7.  (C)  Alasania indicated that he was unsure if President 
Saakashvili was serious about a dialogue, but had recently 
met with Vice Prime Minister Giorgi Baramidze and discussed a 
"deal".  Baramidze said that the UNM was open to a number of 
issues (constitutional reforms - democratic reforms writ 
large) and hinted that early parliamentary elections were on 
the table, but not for 2009.  Baramidze said that Alasania 
would have to publicly distance himself from the April 9 
protests.  Alasania declined as he believes politically he 
can not simply walk away from the April 9 demonstrations. 
Alasania also said he was not going to accept UNM,s dictated 
terms without a more concrete understanding of what UNM was 
ready to deliver. 
 
8.  (C)  Alasania told the Ambassador that he and Baramidze 
agreed to speak again soon.  Ambassador suggested that 
Speaker of the Parliament David Bakradze might also be a 
useful interlocutor as soon as Bakradze returns from abroad. 
Despite the contact between Alasania and GOG representatives, 
Deputy Foreign Minister Giga Bokeria expressed a view to EUR 
DAS Bryza and the Ambassador that is likely held by many in 
the GOG.  Bokeria said that Alasania represented himself 
privately as a moderate willing to talk but never missed a 
chance to call for Saakashvili's resignation in public. 
Bokeria previewed the GOG position (which Baramidze 
presented) that if Alasania wanted to talk, he needed to 
present a moderate public face as well.  Bokeria noted that 
although Alasania was in contact with the GOG about a 
dialogue, his public actions belied his private words. 
Nevertheless, Bokeria said the GOG remained open to 
discussions. 
TEFFT

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