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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
09TBILISI809 2009-04-28 13:57 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Tbilisi

DE RUEHSI #0809/01 1181357
O 281357Z APR 09

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 TBILISI 000809 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 08/25/2018 
Classified By: AMBASSADOR JOHN F. TEFFT.  REASONS:  1.4 (B) AND (D). 
1.  (C)  Summary:  Protests on Monday, April 27 which were 
supposed to include announcement of a new action plan 
consisted of no more than 1000 protesters in front of 
Parliament and a few more scattered at the Presidential 
Residence, Public Broadcasters Building, State Chancellery, 
and Freedom Square.  A concert is scheduled for Tuesday, 
April 28, but a meeting with Levan Gachechildze revealed that 
the non-parliamentary opposition has not come to any 
decisions as to how to move forward.  Gachechildze hinted at 
a willingness to talk, but only with President Saakashvili. 
The Patriarch called on both Government and opposition 
leaders to attend a penance service on April 28 at 6 pm.  End 
2.  (C)  Comment:  Once again, the non-parliamentary 
opposition could only turn out a minimal crowd on a sunny 
afternoon.  In private, some non-parliamentary opposition 
leaders sem to be signaling a willingness to end the 
protests, but they seem en masse unable to realistically 
assess their relative bargaining power and popularity. 
Questions of a lack of support are routinely explained away 
by relying on their "gut instincts" as to what the people of 
Georgia want and conspiracy theories as to why turnout has 
been so small.  Though seemingly aware in some sense that 
they are losing leverage by the day, the non-parliamentary 
opposition continues to draw the wrong conclusions. 
Preferring to ignore the possibility that the Georgian public 
does not support them or their goals, non-parliamentary 
leaders are focusing on "educating" diplomats and blaming the 
media - again highlighting the small echo chamber in which 
many of the non-parliamentary leaders operate.  End Comment. 
Protest's New Action Plan .... We'll Get Back to You 
3.  (C)  A small crowd of about 1000 protesters appeared on 
Monday, April 27.  No substantial change occurred since late 
last week with a small number of protesters staying in cells 
outside of Parliament, the Presidential Residence, Public 
Broadcasters Building, State Chancellery, and Freedom Square. 
 The roads in front of MOIA, Public Broadcasters Building, 
and Rustaveli Avenue to Freedom Square remained blocked. 
Former Presidential Candidate Levan Gachechiladze told the 
DCM that they were considering blocking Chavchavadze Avenue 
(a major thoroughfare in the Vake District) in front of 
Tbilisi State University with cells on the recommendation of 
a "couple" of students.  Other well-trafficked areas around 
Tbilisi are being considered for "cell cities" according to 
Gachechiladze.  Gachechiladze dismissed questions about 
whether roadblocks simply alienate people and serve to 
further marginalize the non-parliamentary opposition.  He 
said that nothing has been agreed upon as far as new tactics. 
 One notable moment on April 27 was when an elderly lady took 
to the stage and started to deliver a speech apparently 
complaining about the protest organizers and the protests 
(her speech was inaudible on TV and to Embassy observers). 
Her microphone was then cut off and she was escorted away. 
Willingness to Talk or Deja Vu All Over Again 
4.  (C)  Gachechiladze said the non-parliamentary opposition 
was willing to talk, but only with President Saakashvili at a 
publicized event.  Gachechiladze said the meeting needed to 
be without an agenda and could be private (except for the 
fact the meeting had taken place).  He said it was up to 
Qfact the meeting had taken place).  He said it was up to 
Saakashvili to provide a concrete time and place. 
Gachechiladze indicated that the non-parliamentary opposition 
would pick a few leaders to represent the group.  He said 
that Nino Burjanadze has pushed the idea of a meeting with 
Saakashvili saying negotiations with anybody else are 
worthless.  Gachechiladze dismissed concerns that the 
non-parliamentary opposition was too divergent in its aims 
and personalities to provide a coherent group with which to 
negotiate.  He noted that Saakashvili could name the number 
of opposition leaders to meet and the opposition would choose 
its spokesmen.  (Embassy Comment:  Gachechiladze seemed open 
to negotiations but again apart from Saakashvili's 
resignation, had no clear fallback position.  Gachechiladze, 
along with Burjanadze, appears to have taken on somewhat of a 
"first among equals" leadership role so his comments might 
signify a greater willingness of the group as a whole to 
negotiate.  However, Tbilisi based diplomats and other 
interlocutors have been given private messages of moderation 
before from non-parliamentary leaders only to be followed by 
more radical public statements the next day.  End Comment.) 
Don't Bother Us With the Facts 
TBILISI 00000809  002 OF 002 
5.  (C)  Gachechiladze argued that the public overwhelmingly 
supports the opposition cause and claimed that 1000 
protesters were sleeping i
n front of Parliament and 300 at 
the Public Broadcasters Building.  (Embassy Note:  These 
figures are wildly exaggerated with only perhaps 25-50 in 
front of Parliament and 5-10 at the Public Broadcasters.  The 
cage infrastructure, if full, could only hold a fraction of 
what Gachechiladze claimed.  End Note.)  He stated that every 
family in Tbilisi was sending one representative a day to the 
protests on a rotating basis to explain their support was 
much greater than it appeared.  Then, in a strange non 
sequitur to a question that was never asked, Gachechiladze 
said that "(y)ou know, we're not paying them!". 
Gachechiladze claimed that the non-parliamentary opposition 
was having no financial trouble in spite of the public 
requests for donations.  Gachechildze went to complain about 
the unfairness of the media and that polling data was not 
objective, but rather, controlled by Minister of Interior 
Vano Merabishvili and was not an accurate gauge of public 
sentiment.  In response to French Ambassador Fournier's 
pointed remarks (reftel) about the non-parliamentary 
opposition, a new task force has been established to ensure 
that diplomats are getting access to "correct information" 
about what is actually happening in Georgia.  The group will 
consist of Nino Burjanadze (Democratic Movement - United 
Georgia), Salome Zourabichvili (Georgia's Way), Irakli 
Alasania (Alliance for Georgia), and Kakha Kukava 
(Conservatives).  Gachechiladze said that the opposition 
hoped to brief diplomats on next steps on April 30. 
Bakradze Leaks Private Radical Opposition Meeting 
6. (C)  Speaker David Bakradze's public announcement that he 
had met with a number of radical members of the 
non-parliamentary opposition was publicly met with opposition 
derision.  Nino Burjanadze said she was unaware of any 
meetings and called the statement an attempt to sow discord 
among the non-parliamentary oppoition.  Tina Khidasheli 
(Republican Party) called the Speaker's statement 
irresponsible and demanded that he name the people with whom 
he met.  We know that Bakradze met fringe presidential 
candidates Konstantine Gamsakhurdia (Freedom Party), Giorgi 
Maisashvili (Party of the Future), and may also have met 
former MP Guguli Magradze on Saturday, April 25.  PolChief 
met with the three at their request in the Sheraton Hotel 
following a briefing to the diplomatic corps.  When they 
realized Bakradze was also at the Sheraton, they requested a 
meeting which Bakradze accepted, according to his chief of 
staff.  The meeting is evidence of the Speaker's willingness 
to talk -- although it is unlikely that results would emerge 
from this channel.  Irakli Alasania told PolOff that these 
three opposition leaders were "nuts" and were only 
begrudgingly allowed to be involved in the protests after 
much discussion.  Bakradze's leak appears to be a tactical 
move to sow doubt and uncertainly among the non-parliamentary 
opposition.  Other sources have told Post that although the 
public face was to dismiss the meeting, the news has 
heightened the already widespread distrust among various 
non-parliamentary figures. 
Counter Accusations of Violence Continue 
7.  (C)  An activist for the Alliance for Georgia was 
allegedly beaten on Monday night in Kakheti.  The activist 
was assigned to bring protest participants from the region to 
Qwas assigned to bring protest participants from the region to 
Tbilisi.  Two other protesters were claimed to have been 
beaten Monday evening about a mile from Parliament.  Post has 
inquired with MOIA about both incidents.  A Rustavi 2 
journalist and cameraman were allegedly assaulted by three 
protesters outside of Parliament.  TV footage showed the 
cameraman being punched in the face by a protester and the 
journalist being shouted at while reporting on the protests. 
The group opposition youth group Ratom ("Why") got into a 
brief scuffle with security guards outside the Mayor's office 
when they were not allowed to spray paint and put signs on 
the government building.  They left without further incident. 


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