09TBILISI842, GEORGIA: PROTESTS CONTINE TO DWINDLE, BUT NO END

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
09TBILISI842 2009-05-01 14:19 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Tbilisi

VZCZCXRO4406
OO RUEHDBU RUEHFL RUEHKW RUEHLA RUEHNP RUEHROV RUEHSR
DE RUEHSI #0842 1211419
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
O 011419Z MAY 09
FM AMEMBASSY TBILISI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 1499
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 TBILISI 000842 
 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 05/01/2019 
TAGS: PGOV PHUM PREL GG
SUBJECT: GEORGIA: PROTESTS CONTINE TO DWINDLE, BUT NO END 
IN SIGHT 
 
REF: TBILISI 827 
 
Classified By: AMBASSADOR JOHN F. TEFFT.  REASONS:  1.4 (B) AND (D). 
 
1.  (SBU)  Summary:  Non-parliamentary opposition leaders 
addressed a crowd of about 1500 in front of Parliament on 
Thursday, April 30 and announced their plan to picket the 
Public Broadcasters Building starting at 9:00 am on May 1. 
Nino Burjanadze stated that the opposition needed to take 
more effective steps but did not elaborate.  She also said 
that if the protests fail, Georgia will become a 
dictatorship.  The Parliament, Public Broadcasters Building, 
State Chancellery, and Rustaveli Avenue all remain blocked by 
protesters although foot traffic is allowed to pass.  The 
Prime Minister told the Ambassador that the going price to 
hire a person to stay overnight in a cell has dropped off. 
EU Special Representative Semneby returned to Tbilisi May 1. 
End Summary. 
 
2.  (C)  Comment:  Both in their public and private comments, 
non-parliamentary leaders are alleging that the public 
(including the Diplomatic Corps) is not "getting the message" 
and does not evaluate current events through the same prism 
they do.  The non-parliamentary opposition is arguing that 
this is because of media manipulation or GoG oppression 
rather than a rejection of the message itself.  Among the 
non-parliamentary opposition, there seems to be a growing 
sense that the protests are not going to lead to President 
Saakashvili's resignation, but there is no agreement on next 
steps.  We are continuing to push for dialogue and are urging 
non-parliamentary leaders to focus their demands on issues 
short of Saakashvili's resignation.  End Comment. 
 
Small Protest Again 
 
3.  (C)  Embassy observers estimate Thursday's crowd at 
approximately 1500 protesters.  Local businessmen are 
complaining to us about the smell from human excrement and 
having to clean drug paraphernalia off the street every 
morning.  Nothing has changed regarding the protests over the 
last week, although non-parliamentary opposition staged a 
rally in front of the Public Broadcasters Building early 
Friday morning, May 1, which gathered about 300-500 
protesters.  No other plan was announced, and Saakashvili's 
resignation was again demanded by non-parliamentary leaders. 
Embassy contacts are increasingly expressing their 
frustration at the protesters.  The Prime Minister told the 
Ambassador on April 30, that the going price for those 
staying overnight in the cells has fallen way off.  He said 
that protesters are being paid 25 GEL to stay in a cell at 
the Chancellery and 30-35 GEL at the Parliament. 
 
GoG Still Willing to Negotiate 
 
4.  (C)  Parliamentary Speaker Bakradze was scheduled to meet 
April 30 with Irakli Alasania (Alliance), but Alasania called 
off the meeting.  GoG officials told us they hope the meeting 
will occur Friday night.  EU representative Peter Semneby is 
in Tbilisi and expects to meet with a number of leaders. 
Semneby told Ambassador that he will push non-parliamentary 
leaders to adjust their demands and accept a dialogue. 
Semneby agreed with the Ambassador that the GoG seemed 
legitimately ready to have a serious dialogue, although he 
was unsure how many in the non-parliamentary opposition felt 
the same.  According to Semneby, Alasania had expressed his 
desire to break with the non-parliamentary opposition, 
although noted that Alasania felt like he needed political 
cover and would be attacked viciously by the 
non-parliamentary opposition.  (Embassy Comment:  We agree 
Qthat Alasania is looking for a way out; however, we have 
little indication that any other non-parliamentary figure is 
currently ready to make a similar jump to provide him 
"cover".  The Ambassador was due to meet Nino Burjanadze on 
May 1 to urge her to engage in serious dialogue.  End 
Comment.) 
TEFFT

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