09TBILISI786, GEORGIA: OPPOSITION PROTESTERS INFLATE REGIONAL

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. #09TBILISI786.
Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
09TBILISI786 2009-04-23 13:24 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Tbilisi

VZCZCXRO7350
PP RUEHDBU RUEHFL RUEHKW RUEHLA RUEHNP RUEHROV RUEHSR
DE RUEHSI #0786/01 1131324
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 231324Z APR 09
FM AMEMBASSY TBILISI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 1425
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE
RHEHAAA/NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL WASHINGTON DC
RUEKJCS/OSD WASHINGTON DC

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 TBILISI 000786 
 
SIPDIS 
 
DEPT FOR EUR/CARC 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 04/23/2019 
TAGS: PGOV PREL PHUM KDEM GG
SUBJECT: GEORGIA: OPPOSITION PROTESTERS INFLATE REGIONAL 
TURNOUT 
 
REF: TBILISI 769 
 
Classified By: AMBASSADOR JOHN F. TEFFT FOR REASONS 1.4 (B) AND (D) 
 
1. (SBU) Summary: April 22 press reports that the radical 
opposition mustered 600-plus vehicles from the regions to 
join 30,000 protesters in front of Parliament were 
exaggerated and incorrect.  Embassy observers and Ministry of 
Internal Affairs (MOIA) officials estimated no more than 
5,000 protesters gathered on Rustaveli.  MOIA counted 113 
cars with protesters that came to Tbilisi from the regions. 
Opposition leader Tina Khidasheli said on a national talk 
show that the Alliance for Georgia would recruit more 
supporters to come to Tbilisi on April 24.  Protest leaders 
erected more "cells" along Rustaveli and continued to block 
Tbilisi's main traffic circle, Freedom Square (reftel).  Some 
protesters vandalized the entrance to the Ministry of 
Economic Development.  Minister of Education Nika Gvaramia 
announced that although schools remain open, nearly 1,700 
students are not attending due to entrances being blocked by 
protesters.  NGOs continue to circulate an appeal to both 
sides to negotiate.  The Government stated that it would take 
no action against the protesters as long as they remained 
peaceful.  In a televised cabinet meeting, President 
Saakashvili urged his government to continue focusing on 
addressing the nation's economic difficulties and 
implementing existing development plans.  In a private 
meeting, the Ambassador encouraged Irakli Alasania to find a 
way to the negotiating table.  End Summary. 
 
2. (C) Comment: The radical leaders appear to be 
incrementally escalating the situation, trying to provoke the 
government into a reaction the opposition can exploit for PR 
purposes.  Thus far, the government has held steady in this 
contest of nerves.  By refusing to engage in any negotiation 
or constructive action with any GOG officials, the radicals 
are convincing more and more Georgians that they are not the 
democrats they claim to be and are merely on a quest for 
personal power.  End Comment. 
 
REPORTS OF PROTESTERS FROM REGION INACCURATE 
 
3. (C) Protests led by the radical opposition dragged into 
their 14th day on April 22 (reftel).  Wildly inaccurate press 
reports on April 22 claimed 600-plus vehicles from the 
regions joined 30,000 protesters in front of Parliament, 
repeated by several international media outlets including AP. 
   Embassy observers on the ground and MOIA officials 
estimated no more than 5,000 protesters gathered on Rustaveli 
at the height of the day's rally.  MOIA counted 113 cars with 
protesters that came to Tbilisi from the regions and 
estimated they could have contained no more than 1,000 people 
maximum.  Reportedly, the National Forum party had 
coordinated most of the cars; however, the Conservatives 
posted a schedule on their website detailing when the convoy 
would travel through various western cities so others could 
join.  Embassy observers noted that the convoy from Western 
Georgia appeared larger, because the protesters were driving 
slowly and not allowing other drivers to pass.  This led to 
many angry drivers honking their horns at the protesters' 
cars. 
 
OPPOSITION PLANS FOR MORE 
 
4. (C) On the Georgian Public Broadcaster's (GPB) nationwide 
evening talk show, Accents, Republican party activist Tina 
Khidasheli claimed that the protesters from the regions would 
stay for a week or so in Tbilisi.  She said the Alliance 
would recruit more participants from the regions on April 24. 
Qwould recruit more participants from the regions on April 24. 
 
 
MORE CELLS ARE ERECTED, BLOCK MAJOR SQUARE 
 
5. (C) Meanwhile, the radical opposition leaders erected 
additional "cells" on Freedom Square, the key traffic circle 
in downtown Tbilisi.  This enabled them to block a major 
traffic route with few people.  They continued to maintain a 
token presence in front of the GPB office and the 
Presidential Residence as well.  On the morning of April 23, 
some local residents nearby Freedom Square moved several 
"cells" so that traffic could pass.  Opposition members 
replaced the "cells" after about an hour, again stopping 
traffic.  By the afternoon, more "cells" had extended the 
blockage of Rustaveli by several hundred meters in the 
opposite direction, near the Opera Theater. 
 
SCHOOLS OPEN, PARENTS KEEP STUDENTS AWAY 
 
 
TBILISI 00000786  002 OF 002 
 
 
6. (U) Nationwide TV Rustavi-2 reported that nearly 1,700 
students at Tbilisi School Number One -- which is directly 
adjacent to Parliament -- have not attended class now for 
more than a week due to the protests.  Other schools near the 
protests also have declining attendance.  Education Minister 
Gvaramia said all schools remain open, but parents are 
keeping their children home to avoid the protesters.  In 
response, some opposition leaders offered to hold an extra 
summer s
chool session for the students after Saakashvili 
resigns and they are in power. 
 
NGOs CALL FOR DIALOGUE 
 
7. (SBU) On April 17, a large number of reputable Georgian 
NGOs issued a collective statement to all sides to negotiate 
(statement emailed to EUR/CARC).  They applauded the GOG for 
showing restraint and allowing the protests to continue.  The 
statement also called on the GOG to investigate any crimes 
(such as alleged beatings reported previously).  Above all, 
it appealed to both sides to address the important issues 
facing the country through dialogue.  To date, the opposition 
has not acknowledged civil society's calls for constructive 
negotiation, rather than only calling for Saakashvili's 
resignation.  (Note: Nana Kakabadze signed the statement on 
behalf of her organization, Former Political Prisoners for 
Human Rights.  However, Kakabadze has been an active 
participant -- not a speaker -- at the protests.  A video on 
www.civil.ge shows her posing in one of the cells.  End note.) 
 
SAAKASHVILI MAINTAINS GOVERNMENT FOCUS 
 
8. (U) President Saakashvili held a televised cabinet meeting 
on April 22.  During the meeting he urged his ministers to 
continue focusing on implementing the government's various 
four-year development plans.  These include energy, economic 
development, agriculture, education, healthcare, and 
infrastructure.  Saakashvili pointed to the World Bank's 
announcement this week of Georgia as a top economic reformer 
as evidence of his policy's success.  He said "in recent 
weeks we have proven Georgia is a stable and sustainable 
country, despite some attempts by internal and external 
elements."  He claimed his government's attention to 
continuing economic development would help overcome 
"unemployment triggered by the war and global crisis." 
Senior Government leaders and MOIA officials continue to 
maintain that they will take no action against the protesters 
as long as the protests remain peaceful. 
 
AMBASSADOR URGES ALASANIA TO ENGAGE IN DIALOGUE 
 
9. (C)  In an effort to understand the plan of the opposition 
leaders, Ambassador met privately with Alliance for Georgia 
leader Irakli Alasania on April 22.  Alasania maintained he 
wanted to engage in a dialogue with the government, but was 
hesitant to separate himself from other protest leaders who 
continue to agree on only one point for discussion with the 
President: his resignation.  The Ambassador urged him to find 
a way to engage in a dialogue which would lead to a peaceful 
end to the protests.  Aasania said that he would continue 
his discussions with the other protest leaders. 
TEFFT

Wikileaks

Advertisements
Post a comment or leave a trackback: Trackback URL.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: