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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
09TBILISI850 2009-05-04 14:28 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Tbilisi

DE RUEHSI #0850/01 1241428
O 041428Z MAY 09

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 TBILISI 000850 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 05/04/2019 
Classified By: AMBASSADOR JOHN F. TEFFT.  REASONS:  1.4 (B) AND (D). 
1.  (C)  Summary:  Protests continued through the weekend 
although crowds only numbered around 500-1500.  Roads 
remained blocked by "cells" and the opposition announced that 
more disruptions are being planned.  A May 2 concert 
featuring Levan Gachechiladze's brother, Utsnobi ("Unknown" 
or "Anonymous") failed to draw much of a crowd.  EU 
representative Peter Semneby spent the weekend in Tbilisi 
trying to bring some opposition members to the negotiating 
table, but was unable to do so.  Indications are that Irakli 
Alasania is willing to consider the idea of a negotiated 
settlement and is working toward building some consensus 
among the non-parliamentary opposition.  We understand that 
Alasania met Parliamentary Speaker Bakradze May 3 to discuss 
a way out.  GoG-organized focus groups show decreasing 
support for the non-parliamentary opposition but also, no 
support (including from Government supporters) for using 
force to stop the protests.  The Ambassador urged Minister of 
Internal Affairs Vano Merabishvili, to continue to exercise 
restraint.  The Ambassador also met with Nino Burjanadze who 
conceded that the protests have not being going as well as 
hoped, but showed little willingness to negotiate.  End 
2.  (C)  Comment:  Despite Peter Semneby's efforts, there is 
little indication that the non-parliamentary opposition is 
currently willing to negotiate.  Irakli Alasania (Alliance) 
appears to be contemplating a move but has not been able to 
attract any other leader to join him.  For now, at least, the 
non-parliamentary opposition is considering further 
roadblocks, appearing to hope that further inconveniencing 
the public will somehow bring different political results. 
Alasania wants political cover but there are few, if any 
signs, that other non-parliamentary leaders are willing to 
negotiate.  Indeed, most seem to be unwilling to confront 
what Post and the EU are hearing, and GoG focus groups show - 
that the non-parliamentary opposition is losing support by 
the day.  The possibility of creating more roadblocks and 
"cell" cities is a negative development; nevertheless, we 
continue to push for all sides to engage in meaningful 
dialogue.  End Comment. 
Protests Numbers Still Small - Escalation Discussed 
3.  (C)  The protesters numbered around 500-1500 Friday, May 
1, Saturday, May 2, and Sunday May 3, despite a free concert 
given by Utsnobi.  Sunday grew an especially small crowd that 
Embassy observers estimated at 100-200 in front of 
Parliament.  In spite of the numbers, the non-parliamentary 
opposition remains defiant.  Kakha Kukhava (Conservatives) 
announced that no change in strategy was needed as the 
rallies had been a success.  Salome Zourabichvili (Georgia's 
Way) called for a new April 9 to combat GoG claims that 
support was waning.  Although no further pickets or 
roadblocks have been set up, non-parliamentary leaders are 
considering blocking major roads into Tbilisi on May 5, as 
well as setting up cells in front of the new City Hall. 
Protests are scheduled to continue May 4. 
GoG Still Patient - Watching Focus Groups 
4.  (C)  The Ambassador spoke to Minister of the Interior, 
Vano Merabishvili, on Friday May 1, and commended the GoG's 
restraint and patience in handling the protests so far.  The 
Ambassador also cautioned Merabishvili about using force to 
dislodge protesters.  (Embassy Note:  The Ambassador 
Qdislodge protesters.  (Embassy Note:  The Ambassador 
delivered the same message to Deputy Foreign Minister Giga 
Bokeria.  End Note.)  Merabishvili told the Ambassador that 
MOIA would continue to allow protests as long as they were 
peaceful, and wished to avoid any use of force.  Merabishvili 
(and other GoG contacts) said its focus groups showed 
widespread dissatisfaction with the non-parliamentary 
opposition.  The GoG was given relatively good marks for its 
handling of the situation.  Nonetheless, even UNM supporters 
did not support using force to dislodge the protesters, 
something according to Merabishvili, something the GoG had 
taken to heart.  Our GoG interlocutors believe that at least 
a number of non-parliamentary opposition leaders are looking 
for violence. 
Alasania Again Flirting with Dialogue - Moderation 
5.  (C)  According to the EU's Peter Semneby, Alasania is 
planning to present a new negotiating strategy to the other 
opposition leaders at a "make or break" meeting.  Semneby 
told the Ambassador that Alasania was looking for political 
cover.  Semneby spent the weekend talking to various 
TBILISI 00000850  002 OF 002 
non-parliamentary opposition members who did not seem to be 
on the same page as Alasania regarding negotiations.  Semneby 
reported that it took over an hour to get Levan Gachechiladze 
to concede that "negotiations are not inconceivable". 
Semneby also told non-parliamentary opposition leaders &#x0
00A;bluntly that blocking more roads was "monumentally stupid". 
Alasania, despite his apparent willingness to negotiate and 
public statement reiterating his desire to engage in 
dialogue, has avoided a long planned meeting with Speaker 
Bakradze, one in which he told the Ambassador he would have 
late last week.  We understand that the meeting finally took 
place May 3.  (Embassy Comment:  Any willingness to negotiate 
must be viewed as a positive sign.  Alasania will likely 
faces an uphill climb to find any likely partners in the 
current non-parliamentary group who are willing to join him. 
End Comment.) 
Nino Burjanadze - Lost 
6.  (C)  The Ambassador met with Nino Burjanadze (Democratic 
Movement - United Georgia) for a frank discussion about the 
protests.  Burjanadze admitted the protests had not worked 
yet, and in between angry monologues about Saakashvili, 
seemed to understand the Ambassador's point of view that the 
cell cities, the violence (perpetrated by the opposition), 
paying for protesters, and unwillingness to negotiate was 
further damaging her image.  Burjanadze lamented that she had 
to work with such a group of idiots (the non-parliamentary 
opposition) who thought the cells were a good idea.  She 
returned to the idea that Saakashvili forced her into her 
current predicament, taking no responsibility for her own 
complicityin her radical turn.  Burjanadze refused to 
entertain negotiations and reiterated her one demand, but 
could not articulate any strategy to bring about 
Saakashvili's resignation.  Burjanadze repeated that polls, 
focus groups, and PR machines (the GoG) do not represent 
actual Georgian opinion, preferring like most in the 
non-parliamentary opposition to believe her gut feelings. 
Nevertheless, Burjanadze conceded that the opposition does 
not look good but would not back down from its sole demand. 
(Embassy Comment:  Burjanadze conceded little but was clearly 
in a dour, somber mood not indicative of high confidence of 
success.  The Director of the Georgian Intelligence Service, 
Gela Bezhuashvili described her as "lost".  End Comment.) 


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