09TBILISI940, GEORGIA: PROTESTS – FURTHER SIGNS OF OPPOSITION

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
09TBILISI940 2009-05-20 13:16 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Tbilisi

VZCZCXRO8986
OO RUEHDBU RUEHFL RUEHKW RUEHLA RUEHNP RUEHROV RUEHSR
DE RUEHSI #0940/01 1401316
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
O 201316Z MAY 09
FM AMEMBASSY TBILISI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 1593
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE PRIORITY

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 TBILISI 000940 
 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 05/20/2019 
TAGS: PGOV PHUM PREL GG
SUBJECT: GEORGIA: PROTESTS - FURTHER SIGNS OF OPPOSITION 
DESPERATION 
 
REF: TBILISI 937 
 
Classified By: AMBASSADOR JOHN F. TEFFT.  REASONS:  1.4 (B) AND (D). 
 
1.  (C)  Summary:  A small group of protesters blocked the 
main road to the Tbilisi International Airport in front of 
the new Ministry of Internal Affairs building for about 45 
minutes on May 19.  Other protest leaders addressed a small 
crowd in front of Parliament.  Salome Zourabichvili 
(Georgia's Way) explained that May 26 (Georgian Independence 
Day) would be a new April 9, and that the process was moving 
towards its final stages.  Zourabichvili said that she 
explained the truth about the current political situation in 
Georgia to Javier Solana who had "been misinformed". 
Zourabichvili added the EU's active intervention would be 
necessary in the upcoming days, while she dismissed the 
United States as not being able to help solve the impasse. 
Nino Burjanadze (Democratic Movement - United Georgia) 
announced that she would sue President Saakashvili for his 
alleged remarks about her serving Russia's interests during 
the May 11 meeting with opposition leaders.  Saakashvili made 
another public statement calling for calm and stability while 
criticizing the non-parliamentary opposition for paying 
protesters.  Meanwhile, Speaker Bakradze told the Ambassador 
that he remained willing to meet with non-parliamentary 
opposition leaders and that he was still in regular contact 
with both Levan Gachechiladze and Irakli Alasania (Alliance). 
 End Summary. 
 
2.  (C)  Comment:  Whether threatening to sue the President, 
calling for direct EU intervention into internal politics, or 
being forced to "educate" another misinformed diplomat, the 
non-parliamentary opposition appears to be increasingly 
frustrated and desperate.  Comments, both public and private, 
indicate the non-parliamentary opposition generally realizes 
that it is losing its already limited bargaining leverage and 
at least some leaders are searching for a solution to its 
largely self-inflicted predicament.  For its part, the GoG 
appears to remain willing to let the non-parliamentary 
opposition save some face and achieve some meaningful 
concessions.  However, Saakashvili's second day of critical 
remarks about the protests and its organizers may indicate 
that the GoG is preparing the political field to move ahead 
on its own sooner rather than later with its reform agenda, 
presumably together with the parliamentary opposition.  End 
Comment. 
 
Protesters Block Airport Road - Nino and Salome Express 
Frustration 
 
3. (C)  A group of several hundred protesters led by 
Gachechiladze, Burjanadze, David Gamkrelidze (Alliance - New 
Rights), and Zviad Dzidziguri (Conservatives) blocked a 
portion of the major highway connecting Tbilisi to the 
international airport and all parts east.  The blockade 
lasted about 45 minutes and was organized to show that the 
MoIA "has become a symbol of human rights violations and 
violence in Georgia" according to Gamkrelidze.  Journalists 
interviewed irate motorists caught in the blockade.  Despite 
his recent comments that blocking roads was 
counterproductive, Gamkrelidze dismissed criticism of the 
irate drivers saying "other roads to the airport were not 
blocked."  Gachechiladze later announced that he would join 
his brother in organizing non-parliamentary opposition 
concerts in Batumi and then rally Georgians to march from the 
coast to Tbilisi in order to join a May 26 protest rally. 
Non-parliamentary opposition leaders placed a small number of 
cells in the center of the western Georgian town of Zugdidi, 
but did not use them to block any roads. 
Qbut did not use them to block any roads. 
 
4.  (C)  Burjanadze announced that she would sue President 
Saakashvili for damaging her "dignity and business 
reputation".  Burjanadze said that the basis for her law suit 
were private remarks Saakashvili made to the 
non-parliamentary opposition during their May 11 meeting. 
Saakashvili allegedly said that Burjanadze was serving 
Russia's interests by engaging in protests.  Zourabichvili 
expressed her frustration of having to educate another 
misinformed diplomat -- this time, the EU's Javier Solana. 
Zourabichvili said that Solana had "wrong information" and 
blamed the Georgian Embassy and the President's PR 
specialists for providing misinformation.  Zourabichvili said 
that "it required serious effort to explain that the 
opposition is not split and that the opposition is not 
irresponsible."  Zourabichvili expressed her opinion that the 
process was nearing its last stages (though she did not 
speculate about the outcome).  In a dig at the United States, 
Zourabichvili said that only the EU could help solve the 
impasse as "we are asking our friends in the EU to more 
actively influence internal political processes in Georgia 
now, as the U.S. has already said that it is not prepared to 
do so and directly handed over the Caucasus and Ukraine to 
 
TBILISI 00000940  002 OF 002 
 
 
the E.U." 
 
Misha Goes on Offensive - Bakradze/GoG Still Willing to Talk 
 
5.  (C)  While visiting Poti May 19, S
aakashvili again 
criticized the non-parliamentary opposition's threats to 
block major roads, saying their tactics hurt average 
Georgians.  Saakashvili announced publicly that the GoG would 
not allow the non-parliamentary opposition to block major 
roads, ports, or railways.  Saakashvili called for calm and 
dialogue saying that stability was a key government 
responsibility.  Saakashvili said that whatever "personal 
ambitions one might have, one should not humiliate a citizen 
by paying 40 or 50 lari to spend a night in a cage." 
Saakashvili said he understood and did not blame those who 
are accepting the payments, and offered a bit of political 
advice saying that if the non-parliamentary opposition spent 
its money to truly help those in need rather than on their 
personal ambitions they would have much greater political 
support.  Speaker David Bakradze told the Ambassador that he 
remained in regular contact with both Gachechiladze and 
Alasania.  Bakradze said that he was happy to speak to the 
non-parliamentary opposition, and that the GoG's offer for 
dialogue was still open. 
TEFFT

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