09TBILISI816, GEORGIA: PROTESTS TO CONTINUE DESPITE HANDSHAKE –

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. #09TBILISI816.
Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
09TBILISI816 2009-04-29 11:04 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Tbilisi

VZCZCXRO1839
OO RUEHDBU RUEHFL RUEHKW RUEHLA RUEHNP RUEHROV RUEHSR
DE RUEHSI #0816/01 1191104
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
O 291104Z APR 09
FM AMEMBASSY TBILISI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 1473
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE PRIORITY

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 TBILISI 000816 
 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 04/28/2019 
TAGS: PGOV PHUM PREL GG
SUBJECT: GEORGIA: PROTESTS TO CONTINUE DESPITE HANDSHAKE - 
MEETING WITH PATRIARCH 
 
REF: TBILISI 809 
 
Classified By: AMBASSADOR JOHN F. TEFFT.  REASONS:  1.4 (B) AND (D). 
 
1.  (SBU)  Summary:  Protests were largely abandoned on 
Tuesday, April 28 as non-parliamentary leaders attended 
church services for the day of reconciliation.  Crowds in 
front of Parliament were estimated at 500 or less.  At a 
church service led by the Patriarch, that only Irakli Alasani 
(Alliance) from the non-parliamentary opposition attended; 
President Saakashvili and Alasania shook hands prompting much 
speculation as to its significance.  Saakashvili reiterated 
his willingness to engage in dialogue.  Other 
non-parliamentary leaders attended church services at another 
location and then held a hastily arranged audience with the 
Patriarch, also attended by Alasania.  After that meeting, 
they again stated publicly that they would continue the 
protests and rejected dialogue.  Comments critical of the 
non-parliamentary opposition by Council of Europe Secretary 
General Terry Davis received a harsh response by many 
non-parliamentary leaders.  With the Prime Minister's office 
at the Chancellery surrounded by "cells," the Government is 
holding its weekly Wednesday meeting in Kutaisi.  The 
Ambassador will attend a meeting arranged by the EU 
Ambassadors with non-parliamentary opposition leaders on 
April 30.  End Summary. 
 
2.  (C)  Comment:  Alasania's presence at the service seems 
to have caught other non-parliamentary leaders off guard. 
The ultimate significance of the handshake between President 
Saakashvili and Alasania, if any, is still unknown; however, 
the symbolic nature of the event was obvious to all.  The 
question now is whether the hard-line faction, led by Nino 
Burjanadze (Democratic Movement - United Georgia), is losing 
control over events.  Lashing out at Terry Davis, rejecting 
dialogue after a meeting with the Patriarch who has been 
publicly encouraging it, and comparing Saakashvili to Hitler 
are all troubling signs that at least certain members of the 
non-parliamentary opposition are becoming more radicalized in 
response to an increasingly grim outlook for their political 
fortunes.  End Comment. 
 
As Always - Protests Continue 
 
3.  (C)  A scheduled April 28 concert was canceled with 
non-parliamentary opposition leaders saying that they would 
suspend the protests until April 29 to attend church services 
as requested by the Patriarch.  A group of roughly five 
hundred gathered in front of Parliament.  A small number of 
protesters remained in front of the Public Broadcasters 
Building in cells as well as the Presidential Administration 
and State Chancery blocking traffic.  Another "meeting" was 
called for Wednesday at 5pm to announce the plan for the day. 
 Some leaders suggested creating cell cities in the regions, 
some have suggested widening protests in Tbilisi, others have 
said little other than expressing confidence that Saakashvili 
is feeling the pressure and soon will resign.  It is clear 
that the non-parliamentary opposition has not come to any 
consensus on its next step and has been in a status quo 
holding pattern for the better part of a week. 
 
4. (SBU)  With regard to the reports of a Republican party 
activist being beaten in Kakheti, non-parliamentary 
opposition activists continued to call for an investigation, 
demanding that the regional governor be interviewed about the 
case.  The Ministry of Internal Affairs issued a statement 
noting that they were looking into the case, but raised 
questions about the report noting that the alleged victim had 
been observed earlier in the day purchasing gasoline in a 
Qbeen observed earlier in the day purchasing gasoline in a 
bottle which was suspicious given the fact that his car had 
been burned.  The bottle was apparently found in the vicinity 
of the burned car. 
 
The Handshake - Alasania Calls for Dialogue - Patriarch 
Providing Cover? 
 
5.  (C)  The Patriarch had called on all political forces to 
attend a day of reconciliation service at Holy Trinity 
Cathedral.  Previously, non-parliamentary leaders announced 
their intention to boycott the service.  Eka Beselia (United 
Georgia) said non-parliamentary leaders would not allow "the 
authorities to use these great religious events for their 
political PR campaigns."  Leaders were apparently unaware 
that Irakli Alasania (Alliance) had decided to attend the 
service without them.  (Embassy Note:  Alasania attended the 
service without fellow Alliance members David Gamkrelidze 
(New Rights) and David Usupashvili (Republicans).  End Note.) 
 After calling for political reconciliation, President 
Saakashvili shook Alasania's hand and then proceeded to shake 
hands of many other politicians in attendance including 
parliamentary opposition members.  Afterwards, Saakashvili 
said he was willing to engage in dialogue.  Notably, AlasanQ 
 
TBILISI 00000816  002 OF 002 
 
 
indicated that he was ready for dialogue and did not mention 
any demand for Saakashvili's resignation. 
 
6.  (C)  Apparently, after lear
ning that Saakashvili and 
Alasania shook hands, the non-parliamentary opposition 
leaders requested an immediate audience with the Patriarch. 
(Embassy Comment:  The handshake with Saakashvili at a church 
service in which the Patriarch presided is a powerful 
political image.  The Patriarch is by far the most respected 
public figure in Georgia.  The request for a meeting seems to 
be an attempt to somehow neutralize the political fallout 
from the handshake "blessed" by the Patriarch.  End Comment.) 
 The non-parliamentary opposition's agenda for its meeting 
with the Patriarch is unclear.  Public statements by Nino 
Burjanadze, Levan Gachechiladze, and others did not 
characterize the meeting.  Each issued statements saying the 
non-parliamentary opposition would continue to protest and 
not soften their demands which appeared to fly in the face of 
the Patriarch's public call for dialogue and unity. 
Non-parliamentary leaders have given no public reaction to 
Alasania's statement saying that he supported dialogue, nor 
any comment on the handshake. 
 
Another Diplomat Needs "Reeducation" 
 
7. (C)  Council of Europe Secretary General Terry Davis spoke 
at a news conference in Strasbourg and roundly condemned the 
non-parliamentary opposition when asked to comment on 
Georgia.  Davis said that "it's much better to discuss and 
settle disagreements in the Parliament not in the street." 
He criticized the non-parliamentary opposition saying that he 
did not understand why the non-parliamentary opposition did 
not take their seats in Parliament.  Nino Burjanadze 
responded that Davis needed "to look deeper into the 
situation".  Burjanadze then cited instances of an MOIA 
official throwing a water balloon (in what appears to have 
been a dumb joke aimed at MOIA personnel) and a protester 
being hit by a BB gun (no evidence of MOIA involvement) 
asking rhetorically if Terry Davis and the citizens of Great 
Britain would have ever tolerated such oppressive actions. 
Not to be outdone, Salome Zourabichvili (Georgia's Way) said 
she did not think Terry Davis or other Englishmen would have 
"offered to anyone a dialogue with Hitler" apparently unaware 
of the Munich Agreement.  Koba Davitashvili (Party of the 
People) called the GoG a gang of criminals that could not be 
dealt with in normal fashion.  Other non-parliamentary 
leaders condemned Davis' remarks. 
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: