09TBILISI1024, GEORGIA: PROTESTS MEAGER – MOIA CONFIRMS FIRING

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
09TBILISI1024 2009-06-03 12:01 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Tbilisi

VZCZCXRO9348
OO RUEHDBU RUEHFL RUEHKW RUEHLA RUEHNP RUEHROV RUEHSR
DE RUEHSI #1024 1541201
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
O 031201Z JUN 09 ZDK
FM AMEMBASSY TBILISI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 1659
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 TBILISI 001024 
 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 08/25/2018 
TAGS: PGOV PHUM PREL GG
SUBJECT: GEORGIA: PROTESTS MEAGER - MOIA CONFIRMS FIRING 
PROJECTILES ON MAY 6 
 
Classified By: AMBASSADOR JOHN F. TEFFT.  REASONS:  1.4 (B) AND (D). 
 
1.  (C)  Summary:  A few hundred protesters rallied in front 
of Parliament on June 2; prior to that a joint statement was 
read at the Ministry of Defense condemning Saakashvili for 
what it called a "purposeful destruction" of the Georgian 
military.  The statement called upon diplomats to monitor the 
situation.  Cells have been removed from Rustaveli Avenue 
except for those in front and behind Parliament.  The 
Ministry of Internal Affairs (MoIA) confirmed that it used 
"projectiles" against the protest crowd that attempted to 
enter a police station on May 6.  End Summary. 
 
2.  (C)  Comment:  The protests continue to dwindle and 
enthusiasm appears to be waning further.  Even the MoIA 
revelations, which further muddle the events surrounding May 
6, have so far failed to produce much of a response.  The 
non-parliamentary opposition's joint statement does not seem 
to be tied to any specific event or larger purpose and may 
simply be designed to serve as a boilerplate complaint to 
keep some protest momentum going while the non-parliamentary 
opposition decides what to do next.  End Comment. 
 
Little Signs of Life 
 
3.  (C)  A small group of protesters gathered both at the 
Ministry of Defense and Parliament on June 2.  A joint 
statement was read that said in part that Saakashvili was 
engaged in a "purposeful destruction" of the Georgian armed 
forces and was pursuing "purposeful punitive measures in the 
army."  The statement criticized the appointment of Bacho 
Akhalaia as Deputy Defense Minister in the fall of 2008.  The 
statement alleged that the mutiny was a GoG cover up and 
those involved were not mutineers, but simply those who 
disobeyed Saakshvili's orders to use army units to break up 
the protests.  The only major party which was not represented 
at the reading of the statement was the National Forum. 
Alasania representative Zurab Abashidze attended as did Nino 
Burjanadze (Democratic Movement - United Georgia), Salome 
Zourabichvili (Georgia's Way), Eka Beselia (United Georgia), 
David Gamkrelidze (Alliance - New Rights), Tina Khidasheli 
(Republicans), Zviad Dzidziguri (Conservatives), and Levan 
Gachechiladze. 
 
MoIA Confirms Use of Projectiles - Not Rubber Bullets 
 
4.  (C)  According to Georgian magazine Liberali, MoIA 
officers fired projectiles at protesters attempting to enter 
a police station on May 6.  The magazine reported that FN 303 
less lethal launchers manufactured by FN Herstal were used. 
MOIA officials confirmed to emboffs that the report was 
correct and that these projectiles had been fired at the 
crowd on May 6.  (Embassy Comment:  Embassy observers had 
earlier reported that rubber bullets were not used on May 6, 
and maintain that view.  The same observers note that rubber 
bullets are shot from firearms like regular rounds and make a 
similar noise; however, the FN 303 projectiles are shot using 
compressed air which would not have been audible to observers 
in the chaos surrounding May 6th's event.  The claims of the 
non-parliamentary opposition that the GoG used "rubber 
bullets" is technically untrue but in normal parlance, rubber 
bullets likely referred to any non-lethal projectile which is 
fired for crowd control.  In this case, the general claim 
that the GoG fired crowd control projectiles is true.  End 
Comment.) 
TEFFT

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