09TBILISI911, GEORGIA: ALASANIA LEANS TOWARDS DIALOGUE;

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
09TBILISI911 2009-05-14 11:59 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Tbilisi

VZCZCXRO4510
OO RUEHDBU RUEHFL RUEHKW RUEHLA RUEHNP RUEHROV RUEHSR
DE RUEHSI #0911/01 1341159
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
O 141159Z MAY 09 ZDK
FM AMEMBASSY TBILISI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 1559
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 SECTION 01 OF 02 TBILISI 000911 
 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 05/14/2019 
TAGS: PGOV PHUM PREL GG
SUBJECT: GEORGIA: ALASANIA LEANS TOWARDS DIALOGUE; 
OPPOSITION SPLIT VISIBLE 
 
Classified By: AMBASSADOR JOHN F. TEFFT.  REASONS:  1.4 (B) AND (D). 
 
1.  (C)  Summary:  Only about 500 protesters attended the 
meeting in front of Parliament on May 13.  Irakli Alasania 
(Alliance), who did not attend the meeting at Parliament on 
Wednesday, announced separately that his supporters would not 
continue to block the road in front of the Georgian Public 
Broadcaster citing it as a show of good faith, noting that 
blocking roads was counterproductive.  Nonetheless, a number 
of other protest organizers announced a plan to start 
blocking roads in various districts of Tbilisi starting May 
16.  GoG officials briefed the diplomatic corps on its plans 
and said, if necessary, it would not hold a parade on 
Georgian Independence Day, May 26 to avoid conflict.  Tbilisi 
Mayor, Gigi Ugalava stated the government's position that the 
road blockages and protests were illega but would continue 
to be tolerated.  Meanwhile, Alasania made further statements 
welcoming dialogue but has not made a break from the 
non-parliamentary opposition who despite evidence to the 
contrary, continue to tout their unity.  End Summary. 
 
2.  (C)  Comment:  Although protest leaders are maintaining 
the facade of unity of purpose, it is clear to virtually all 
observers that this unity is fragile at best.  Alasania's 
statements on the decision to remove some traffic roadblocks 
and entertain dialogue were welcome, but quickly rebutted by 
other members who vowed to continue the corridor of shame in 
front of the Public Broadcasters and block more roads.  For 
its part, the GoG plans to be patient but has been signaling 
the diplomatic community that at some point, the protests 
need to end.  Alasania and others are being cautious, only 
incrementally moving towards negotiations.  The GoG, in 
contrast, plans to move forward with its initiative.  From 
our perspective, the GoG is making every attempt to include 
the non-parliamentary opposition in dialogue but will not 
wait indefinitely for Alasania and others so called moderates 
to come around.  End Comment. 
 
Protest Plans/Tactics As Clear As Mud 
 
3.  (C)  Alasania announced his intention to unblock traffic 
in front of the Georgian Public Broadcasters building.  David 
Gamkrelidze (Alliance - New Rights) said that he had always 
thought "blocking traffic was creating more inconveniences to 
residents than the authorities."  (Embassy Comment:  We had 
privately heard from numerous sources that Gamkrelidze was a 
strident supporter of blocking the Georgian Public 
Broadcasters road.  Gamkrelidze's statement represents at 
least some acknowledgment that blocking roads was 
counterproductive.  End Comment.)  Nino Burjanadze countered 
that she will picket the Public Broadcasters and maintain the 
"corridor of shame."  Davit Berdzenishvili (Alliance - 
Republicans) attempted to explain away the apparent 
contradiction in approaches by simply saying there was no 
contradiction.  Other leaders such as Zviad Dzidziguri 
(Conservatives) and Salome Zourabichvili (Georgia's Way) 
tried to downplay the announcement. 
 
4.  (C)  The latest plan according to some in the 
non-parliamentary opposition includes picketing the Public 
Broadcaster for four hours on May 14 and May 15; blocking 
roads in the districts of Nadzaladevi on May 16, Isani and 
Didube on May 17; and holding a rally May 18 in front of 
Rustavi 2 TV.  On May 19, a rally will be held outside the 
Presidential Residence and on May 20, Giorgi Gachechiladze 
QPresidential Residence and on May 20, Giorgi Gachechiladze 
(Utsnobi - brother of Levan Gachechiladze) will lead a march 
on Tbilisi from Batumi culminating in joining the 
opposition's public parade to mark Independence Day on May 
26.  Nino Burjanadze acknowledged the plan was not fully 
agreed upon and other events were being planned.  On May 13, 
two meetings were held at Gachechiladze's office and 
Gamkrelidze's office in which Burjanadze and others did not 
attend leaving many to speculate that the non-parliamentary 
opposition is breaking into two groups. 
 
Alasania Creeps Toward Dialogue - Is Anybody With Him? 
 
5.  (C)  Alasania's recent public statements indicate a 
willingness to engage in dialogue, though it remains unclear 
who among the non-parliamentary opposition, are with him. 
Members of his own alliance appear unconvinced.  David 
Usupashvili (Alliance - Republicans) and Gamkrelidze 
supported the decision to remove road blocks, but have been 
less vocal about dialogue with Gamkrelidze recently calling 
it pointless.  Usupashvili said he would only discuss the 
President's resignation.  Alasania has told us that he was 
working to convince Gachechiladze and others that negotiation 
is the only end-game but so far has received no public 
backing from any non-parliamentary leader.  Alasania's own 
statements have often been internally inconsistent as pointed 
 
TBILISI 00000911  002 OF 002 
 &#x0
00A; 
out in his recent appearance on the BBC program "Hardtalk". 
The host challenged him on how one could call for dialogue 
and the President's resignation at the same time asking "what 
is there to negotiate about?"  Alasania demurred, instead 
saying that Saakashvili's denial of a political crisis 
exacerbated the situation and then said that the protesters 
were countering the terror the GoG had undertaking against 
the protesters since April 9.  The host then interrupted and 
called Alasania's statement "patently untrue" citing the 
GoG's proposals and general patience of the GoG.  In short, 
Alasania's performance highlighted that supporting an 
ultimatum calling for the President's resignation while 
maintaining one is open to dialogue is an problematic 
approach. 
 
Burjanadze - No Surrender 
 
6.  (C)  On the other side, Nino Burjanadze appears to be the 
leader of those opposing any sort of compromise.  Along with 
Burjanadze, Eka Beselia (United Georgia), and Salome 
Zourabichvili (Georgia's Way) are among the most vocal in 
calling for an escalation and, according to Alasania, 
provoking a conflict on May 26.  A longtime Burjanadze aide 
(please strictly protect) told PolChief that she was 
frustrated and disillusioned with how the process has 
unfolded and Burjanadze's role in it.  The aide said that the 
protests and ultimatums would lead to no actual progress on 
issues of importance and although she was not going to make 
it public, she would not be working for Burjanadze any 
longer.  Burjanadze apparently has been hearing the message 
both publicly and privately making a statement claiming she 
is not radical.  Burjanadze, likely not helping her case, 
said that she "would have been radical if (she) called for 
hanging Saakashvili", but she had not done so. 
 
GoG ExplainsPlans to DipCorps 
 
7.  (C)  In a DipCorps briefing May 13, Speaker David 
Bakradze, Tbilisi Mayor Gigi Ugalava, Deputy Minister of 
Interior Eka Zguladze, and a number of other GoG 
representatives explained their intentions and answered 
questions.  Bakradze said that the GoG was focused on not 
perpetuating the zero-sum game of Georgian politics and 
expressed his hope and the GoG's desire to include the 
non-parliamentary opposition in meaningful discussion. 
Bakradze said that the GoG would not be held hostage to 
unrealistic ultimatums.  At the same time, Bakradze left the 
door open for parliamentary elections if other reforms and 
local elections proceeded in a positive, non-polarizing 
manner.  Zguladze addressed the group and said that political 
dialogue would not interfere with ongoing investigations into 
wrongdoing on both sides.  Zguladze that if Ombudsman Sozar 
Subari and defense attorneys want to speak with investigators 
or detainees, MoIA encouraged them to do so.  Zguladze 
extended the same to the Dipcorps saying that Diplomatic 
officials could speak to the investigator of any individual 
case they desired.  Zguladze then outlined a number of 
incidents where abuses were alleged but when followed up, 
individuals had given fake names to hospitals or the press 
making some investigations difficult if not impossible. 
 
8.  (C)  Ugalava explained that street blockages by the 
non-parliamentary opposition were illegal.  (Embassy Comment: 
 This corresponds with out understanding that a group of 
protesters is allowed to block a street but using objects 
such as cages is unlawful.  End Comment.)  Ugalava said that 
although illegal, the GoG was tolerating the protests but 
Qalthough illegal, the GoG was tolerating the protests but 
that they could not go on forever.  Responding to the 
non-parliamentary opposition's plan to confront the 
traditional military parade on May 26 with a parade of their 
own, Ugalava said that they would simply cancel the parade 
and not give in to the non-parliamentary opposition's plan to 
stage a confrontation.  Bakradze spoke up and said the 
non-parliamentary opposition wanted a boxing match, while the 
GoG was using the sumo technique of simply stepping aside. 
Ugalava said that he hoped May 26 could be used as a day of 
political reconciliation.  Both Bakradze and Ugalava said 
that they would avoid the law enforcement option but would 
not allow protesters into buildings or to shut down major 
railroads or highways.  In public statements, both Bakradze 
and Ugalava criticized the non-parliamentary opposition for 
its plans to use a national holiday for its own narrow 
interests. 
TEFFT

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