09TBILISI972, GEORGIA: PROTESTS SMALL – QUIET

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
09TBILISI972 2009-05-28 11:30 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Tbilisi

VZCZCXRO4879
OO RUEHDBU RUEHFL RUEHKW RUEHLA RUEHNP RUEHROV RUEHSR
DE RUEHSI #0972 1481130
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
O 281130Z MAY 09 ZDK
FM AMEMBASSY TBILISI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 1623
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE PRIORITY

C O N F I D E N T I A L TBILISI 000972 
 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 05/28/2019 
TAGS: PGOV PHUM PREL GG
SUBJECT: GEORGIA: PROTESTS SMALL - QUIET 
 
REF: TBILISI 968 
 
Classified By: AMBASSADOR JOHN F. TEFFT.  REASONS:  1.4 (B) AND (D). 
 
1.  (SBU)  Summary and Comment:  On May 27, a day after large 
scale demonstrations, only a small group of protesters 
numbering roughly 1000-1500 gathered in front of Parliament. 
The crowd listened to largely subdued speeches by 
non-parliamentary leaders who have decided to continue 
protests in spite of the Patriarch's recent announcement that 
he did not support Saakashvili's resignation.  The smaller 
group led by Nino Burjanadze (Democratic Movement - United 
Georgia), Salome Zourabichvili (Georgia's Way), and Eka 
Beselia (United Georgia) addressed the crowd announcing that 
they would lead a march to the Mayor's office on May 28 to 
protest what they claim was his influence on the Patriarch to 
make remarks which they viewed as pro-Saakashvili and the 
antithesis of what the Patriarch actually believed.  Notably 
absent were Irakli Alasania (Alliance) and the National Forum 
who earlier in the day announced that they would no longer 
pursue the strategy of constant protests.  By mid-day May 28, 
only about 500 protesters were participating in the march on 
the mayor's office.  The opposition appears to be working out 
its next moves.  End Summary. 
 
Small Crowd Gathers - Defectors Asked to Reconsider 
 
2.  (SBU)  The speeches given by Burjanadze, Beselia, 
Zourabichvili, and Koba Davitashvili called on the crowd to 
struggle together jointly.  Beselia said that "now was not 
the time for engaging in the struggle versus the authorities 
separately."  Davitashvili said that the defectors from the 
group should reconsider but would be replaced by others if 
they did not come around.  Burjanadze indirectly slammed the 
defectors who would pursue dialogue saying that "not a single 
government can be changed through beautiful statements and 
especially when it comes to Saakashvili, whose regime cannot 
be changed through statements and delicate methods."  The 
remaining group of leaders indicated that protests would 
continue, and roads, highways, and railways would be blocked, 
but gave no specifics.  David Gamkrelidze (Alliance - New 
Rights) said he also supported blocking roads and railways 
and continued protests which put him at odds with nominal 
Alliance leader Alasania. 
 
Patriarch's Words Still Sting 
 
3.  (C)  Burjanadze, Beselia, Levan Gachechiladze, and Giorgi 
Gachechiladze (Singer Utsnobi) met the Patriarch on May 27 to 
attempt to convince him to change or modify his statement. 
No comment was given by anybody at the meeting and the 
Patriarchate has issued no further comments.  Subsequently, 
Burjanadze, Zourabichvili, and others made comments 
dismissing the Patriarch's statement saying that he should 
not be burdened with politics, or that the non-parliamentary 
opposition would not take orders from anybody including the 
Patriarch.  The current conspiracy circulating around Tbilisi 
among non-parliamentary faithful is that Tbilisi Mayor, Gigi 
Ugalava showed up at the mass to threaten the Patriarch to 
support Saakashvili.  A number of protesters in the May 27 
crowd repeated the rumor to Poloff and seemed to take this 
version of events as true as a matter of faith. 
 
Thursday's Plans in the Air 
 
4.  (C)  Although certain groups are forming among the 
formerly united non-parliamentary opposition (to be reported 
septel), confusion and uncertainty still reign.  A number of 
leaders including Alasania and the National Forum have not 
completely broken with the non-parliamentary opposition, but 
have publicly stated they would no longer participate in the 
rallies.  The split makes decision making easier for the 
Qrallies.  The split makes decision making easier for the 
hard-liners, but their ability to draw significant crowds 
remains in doubt and limits their ability to stage massive 
roadblocks and pickets.  The remaining group led by 
Burjanadze, Beselia, and Zourabichvili indicated that it 
would march from Sport Palace to the Tbilisi Mayor's ffice 
at 12pm on Thursday, but rainy cold weather thus far has 
limited turnout to about 500 protesters. 
TEFFT

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