09TBILISI759, GEORGIA: NON-PARLIAMENTARY OPPOSITION NIXES

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
09TBILISI759 2009-04-21 13:43 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Tbilisi

VZCZCXRO5143
OO RUEHDBU RUEHFL RUEHKW RUEHLA RUEHNP RUEHROV RUEHSR
DE RUEHSI #0759/01 1111343
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
O 211343Z APR 09
FM AMEMBASSY TBILISI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 1409
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEKJCS/OSD WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RHEHAAA/NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 TBILISI 000759 
 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 04/21/2019 
TAGS: PGOV PHUM PREL GG
SUBJECT: GEORGIA: NON-PARLIAMENTARY OPPOSITION NIXES 
DIALOGUE - PREPARES SECOND ROUND OF PROTESTS 
 
REF: A. TBILISI 0748 
     B. TBILISI 0747 
 
Classified By: AMBASSADOR JOHN F. TEFFT.  REASONS:  1.4 (B) AND (D). 
 
1.  (C)  Summary:  Protests were largely halted over the 
April 17-20 orthodox Easter holiday weekend with only a 
symbolic number of protesters in the streets.  Despite 
government and EU representative Peter Semneby's efforts to 
try to engage the non-parliamentary opposition in talks, on 
Saturday, April 18 the non-parliamentary opposition issued a 
statement rejecting dialogue and calling once again for 
President Saakashvili's resignation.  The non-parliamentary 
opposition is planning to resume protests again on Tuesday, 
April 21 promising massive crowds and a daily increase in 
momentum which will topple Saakashvili.  Thus far, there is 
little evidence of such a massive turnout.  End Summary. 
 
2.  (C)  Comment:  After a four-day respite, and paltry 
crowds before the holiday, the non-parliamentary opposition 
is banking on Tuesday's protests to provide momentum to force 
Saakashvili from office.  Although they may get a few more 
people in the street than immediately before the Holy Week 
holidays, it is hard to imagine anywhere near a critical mass 
will turn out for the 13th day of protesting.  The GoG has 
been and is still willing to offer the non-parliamentary 
opposition a face saving way out of their predicament. 
However, the non-parliamentary opposition seems determined to 
take a maximalist, uncompromising line despite increasing 
evidence that the public is tiring of the protests and is 
only marginally supportive of the opposition position. 
Non-parliamentary opposition contacts are telling us that 
maintaining unity among the group is the highest priority and 
appears to have become an end in itself.  The protests are 
becoming more detached from any semblance of a constructive 
way to push for tangible democratic changes.  The 
non-parliamentary opposition promises to announce another new 
action plan April 21, but seems paralyzed to do anything 
other than continue protests and call for Saakashvili's 
resignation.  End Comment. 
 
Protests Halt - New Protests Scheduled 
 
3.  (C)  A token presence of protesters remained in front of 
Parliament, the Public Broadcasters Building, and the 
Presidential Residence although no speakers addressed the 
crowd during the four-day Orthodox Easter holiday, April 
17-20.  A number of parties hosted a feast outside the 
Presidential Residence on Easter Sunday.  (Embassy Note:  A 
number of our Georgian staff members told us how 
inappropriate the display was and that among their friends it 
provoked an almost universally negative reaction.  End Note.) 
 Although some in the non-parliamentary opposition are 
privately willing to listen to calls for dialogue, their 
public position has only become more resolute with Saturday's 
statement being read by relative moderate David Usupashvili 
(Alliance for Georgia - Republicans).  Usupashvili announced 
that the non-parliamentary opposition would only negotiate 
President Saakashvili's resignation and went on to call for 
the "dismissal of oppressors, election riggers, and censors". 
 Usupashvili asked for the international community to take 
meaningful steps in this regard.  In a private conversation, 
Alasania ally and former Georgian Ambassador to Turkmenistan 
Alex Petriashvili suggested to PolChief that the USG request 
Saakashvili to engage in negotiations over his resignation. 
Apparently this is the way the protest leaders envision a 
QApparently this is the way the protest leaders envision a 
role for the international community.   While many in the 
non-parliamentary opposition spoke of massive new crowds of 
protesters for Tuesday's rally, Salome Zourabichvili 
(Georgia's Way) explained that the non-parliamentary 
opposition plan of involving protesters from the regions was 
only "symbolic" and not intended to increase the number of 
protesters.  The non-parliamentary opposition is set to 
announce another new action plan April 21. 
 
Negotiation without Concessions - Opposition Avoids 
Saakashvili Meeting 
 
4.  (C)  Speaker of Parliament David Bakradze has been in 
contact with Alasania and other non-parliamentary opposition 
leaders, but told the Ambassador that Saturday's statement 
was a setback.  Bakradze reiterated that the GoG was not 
going to agree to anything unilaterally as the 
non-parliamentary opposition would just pocket the concession 
and continue to insist on Saakashvili's resignation.  In this 
vein, Alasania repeated the non-parliamentary line saying he 
would negotiate with Saakashvili on democratic reform, but 
the non-parliamentary opposition would "not at all" give up 
on its demand that Saakashvili resign.  Bakradze indicated 
that many in the non-parliamentary opposition were not 
 
TBILISI 00000759  002 OF 002 
 
 
interested in good faith dialogue and vastly overestimated 
their bargaining position.  Bakradze specifically mentioned 
Ala
sania, reiterating the government's view that Alasania 
uses a moderate tone in private to Western diplomats but says 
radical things in public and refuses to negotiate in good 
faith.  According to Bakradze, Deputy Foreign Minister (and 
Saakashvili insider) Giga Bokeria has also spoken with Irakli 
Alasania as well as Levan Gachechiladze to discuss a face 
saving way out of the non-parliamentary opposition's 
self-inflicted predicament. 
 
5.  (C)  Bakradze told the Ambassador that the GoG had hoped 
to arrange a pull-aside meeting with Saakashvili and a number 
of non-parliamentary opposition leaders at midnight Easter 
mass, but the non-parliamentary leaders elected not to 
attend.  Bakradze told the Ambassador that UNM focus groups 
showed that the public is very unhappy with the protests. 
Bakradze also mentioned the same focus groups are also 
unhappy with the GoG but their anger is primarily directed at 
the non-parliamentary leaders for the impasse.  Bakradze 
expressed his regret that the non-parliamentary opposition 
rejected another opportunity for dialogue, but said that the 
GoG would still work on finding a "face saving" way out of 
the impasse.  Bakradze did not expect a large turnout fo the 
April 21 protest rally and expected the rallies to continue 
for a few more days before they die out. 
 
Public Scared and Confused 
 
6.  (C)  An increasing number of beatings have been reported 
to the Public Defender's office (ref A).  Details remain 
unclear although public anxiety is increasing as stories of 
robberies and crimes spread.  Over the weekend, Post became 
aware of two recent burglaries, one of an American citizen 
and long-time Tbilisi resident, another of the former 
Georgian Ambassador to the United States and Switzerland and 
Alasania supporter, Levan Mikeladze.  Both appear to be 
crimes of opportunity; Alasania's camp has not alleged 
political motivations in the Mikeladze case pending a police 
investigation.  Whether these are crimes of opportunity, 
political violence, or otherwise, anecdotal evidence suggests 
crime has increased since the protests began although the 
public seems unsure whom to blame.  Adding to the public 
confusion, the MOIA released a video in which a Burjanadze 
supporter claimed that he was approached by some 
non-parliamentary opposition representatives to convince him 
to use a "trivial quarrel" over a car incident and claim it 
was the result of MOIA repression.  Burjanadze confirmed the 
person was a supporter, but denied his allegations.  Finally, 
seeming to confirm the rumors, over the weekend, a number of 
news programs showed numerous clips of protesters being paid 
for their efforts.  (Embassy Comment:  This is the first 
instance of video footage of protesters being paid released 
to the public.  End Comment.) 
TEFFT

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