09TBILISI894, GEORGIA: PROTESTS – OPPOSITION APPEARS TO STEP

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
09TBILISI894 2009-05-08 13:05 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Tbilisi

VZCZCXRO3197
OO RUEHDBU RUEHFL RUEHKW RUEHLA RUEHNP RUEHROV RUEHSR
DE RUEHSI #0894/01 1281305
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
O 081305Z MAY 09          ZDK DUE TO SVC'S
FM AMEMBASSY TBILISI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 1535
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE PRIORITY

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 TBILISI 000894 
 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 05/08/2019 
TAGS: PGOV PHUM PREL GG
SUBJECT: GEORGIA: PROTESTS - OPPOSITION APPEARS TO STEP 
BACK, SAYS OPEN TO DIALOGUE 
 
REF: TBILISI 0876 
 
TBILISI 00000894  001.2 OF 002 
 
 
Classified By: AMBASSADOR JOHN F. TEFFT.  REASONS:  1.4 (B) AND (D). 
 
1.  (C)  Summary:  On May 7, a day after violence erupted 
when opposition protesters charged a police station, 
non-parliamentary opposition leaders indicated a new 
willingness to engage in dialogue, although they did not 
present a united message.  Irakli Alasania (Alliance) called 
for dialogue without preconditions.  Others like Nino 
Burjanadze called for dialogue, but only to discuss 
Saakashvili's resignation.  The non-parliamentary leaders as 
a group issued a joint statement that called for a meeting 
with Saakashvili, but also reaffirmed their demand for regime 
change.  The turnout for protests was slightly higher than 
normal with 3000-5000 briefly attending a rally in front of 
Parliament which quickly broke up due to heavy rain.  The 
non-parliamentary opposition's plans remain unclear, some 
have indicated that protests and blocking roads will continue 
as scheduled, others have remained mum.  Speaker Bakradze 
announced that he was trying to schedule a prelimnary 
discussion on May 8 with Irakli Alasania and any other 
opposition leader willing to take part; at mid-day May 8 the 
non-parliamentary opposition was reportedly meeting to decide 
how to respond to Bakradze's offer.  President Saakashvili is 
in Prague at the EU Eastern Partnership Summit and is due to 
return to Tbilisi early May 9.  End Summary. 
 
2.  (C)  Comment:  We have the impression that at least some 
non-parliamentary leaders were shocked that they had "lost 
control of the mob" when more radical leaders attempted to 
enter a police station by force May 6, apparently on their 
own initiative and led by the Gachechiladze brothers.  The 
non-parliamentary opposition seems in disarray and unsure how 
to recover and regroup from the police station incident. 
Fissures are becoming more apparent with hard-liners 
conceding little, Alasania apparently ready to deal and 
others still on the fence.  Hard-liners among the group will 
certainly try to rein in the moderates and continue along the 
path to confrontation; however, any public statements 
expressing an increased openness to dialogue, is a net 
positive.  We continue to push for all sides to engage in 
meaningful dialogue, abide by the law and avoid violence. 
End Comment. 
 
Protest Numbers Increase Slightly 
 
3.  (C)  After the May 6 violence, the number of protesters 
who attended the daily "meeting" in front of the Parliament 
increased from 1000-2000 to 3000-5000.  Embassy observers 
said the crowd was much more diverse than normal, in contrast 
with the usual "rent-a-crowd".  The increased numbers both in 
the late evening on May 6, and on May 7, tend to indicate 
that the confrontation galvanized at least some supporters 
who had not been regularly attending the protests.  At the 
rally, the non-parliamentary opposition issued a joint 
statement that expressed a willingness to meet with 
Saakashvili to present him with their position on how to 
overcome the crisis.  They reiterated their demand for 
Saakashvili's resignation and blamed Saakashvili's 
"irresponsible and provocative actions" for the escalation of 
violence.  The statement was read by Gubaz Sanikidze 
(National Forum). The non-parliamentary opposition leaders 
urged supporters to hold a large scale rally on May 9 to mark 
the one month anniversary of the protests.  No further plans 
were announced. 
 
Alasania Says Dialogue Without Preconditions 
 
4.  (C)  Alasania sent out a statement expressing his desire 
Q4.  (C)  Alasania sent out a statement expressing his desire 
to start talks saying that the "meeting should be held 
without preconditions if we want to achieve real results." 
No other non-parliamentary leaders have joined in his 
statement.  Nino Burjanadze (Democratic Movement - United 
Georgia) said that she was ready to meet the President but 
only to discuss his resignation.  She added that she would 
not obstruct others among the non-parliamentary group from 
speaking with the GoG but did not see the point in discussing 
other issues.  Salome Zourabichvili (Georgia's Way) demanded 
that Saakashvili "wake up and realize what is going on and 
meet with them."  Speaker Bakradze responded to Alasania's 
statement for meeting without preconditions.  He indicated 
that he would like to hold a meeting on March 8 with any 
opposition member willing to engage in a serious discussion 
rather than to simply deliver ultimatums. 
 
Three Youth Activists Allege Mistreatment in Custody 
 
5.  (SBU)  According to the press, the three opposition 
activists accused of beating a Georgia Public Broadcaster 
journalist held a press conference May 7, alleging that they 
were beaten up, threatened and verbally abused by police 
 
TBILISI 00000894  002 OF 002 
 
 
during their detention.  We asked the Ministry of Internal 
Affairs for a response since its May 7 statement alleged that 
the detainees were not injured during their
 detention.  We've 
also reiterated our request for information regarding other 
reported cases of opposition activists beaten during the 
protests. 
TEFFT

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