09TBILISI1212, GEORGIA: WEEKEND MEDIA REVIEW: PROTEST RALLY

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
09TBILISI1212 2009-07-01 14:17 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Tbilisi

VZCZCXRO3796
PP RUEHDBU RUEHFL RUEHKW RUEHLA RUEHNP RUEHROV RUEHSL RUEHSR
DE RUEHSI #1212/01 1821417
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 011417Z JUL 09
FM AMEMBASSY TBILISI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 1844
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 TBILISI 001212 
 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 06/30/2019 
TAGS: PGOV PHUM PREL GG
SUBJECT: GEORGIA: WEEKEND MEDIA REVIEW: PROTEST RALLY 
PLANNED DURING VP VISIT 
 
REF: TBILISI 1176 
 
Classified By: Ambassador John F. Tefft for reasons 1.4 (b) and (d). 
 
1.  (C)  Summary:  Non-parliamentary opposition leaders 
announced plans to hold a large-scale rally during Vice 
President Biden's visit to Georgia in July to demonstrate the 
opposition's strength and Georgia's "democratic aspirations." 
 The non-parliamentary opposition's credibility suffered this 
weekend when reviled former Minister of Interior Kakha 
Targamadze and opposition leader Davit Gamkrelidze (New 
Rights Party) were unable to quell the controversy 
surrounding their meetings in Berlin (reftel), despite ample 
opportunity to do so.  Aleksandre Ebralidze, a Georgian 
businessman in St. Petersburg with alleged close ties to 
organized crime and Russian authorities, announced publicly 
that he would be happy to fund the non-parliamentary 
opposition.  In another opposition-related scandal, Salome 
Zourabichvili (Georgia's Way) and Zviad Dzidziguri 
(Conservative Party) denounced the discovery of listening 
devices in their parties' offices and accused the Ministry of 
Internal Affairs (MoIA) of planting them.  MOIA Deputy 
Minister Eka Zguladze has denied MOIA involvement. End 
Summary. 
 
ZOURABICHVILI PROMISES LARGE-SCALE RALLY PLANNED DURING VP'S 
VISIT 
 
2.  (SBU)  After meeting on June 29, non-parliamentary 
opposition leaders announced plans to hold a large-scale 
rally during the Vice President's visit in late July to 
demonstrate to the international community the opposition's 
strength in Georgia.  Salome Zourabichvili (Georgia's Way) 
explained that the rally will "get the country back on the 
democratic track" and will "demonstrate Georgia's pro-Western 
stance" and "democratic aspirations."  Zourabichvili gave no 
other specifics.  Levan Gachechiladze announced that the 
non-parliamentary opposition would rally in front of the 
Czech Embassy on July 1 during a Czech reception to mark the 
end of their EU presidency.  Gachechiladze also announced 
that he would make a statement on July 4 to reaffirm plans to 
protest during VP Biden's visit. 
 
KAKHA TARGAMADZE FALLOUT 
 
3.  (C)  The non-parliamentary opposition's reputation and 
credibility appeared to further deteriorate this weekend. 
Gamkrelidze and Targamadze's uneven performances on talk 
shows in which both claimed the Kremlin had ordered Russian 
businessmen to stop funding the non-parliamentary opposition 
was quickly refuted.  The president of a Georgian diaspora 
union in Russia, Mikheil Khubutia, denied Gamkrelidze's claim 
that the Russian authorities have prevented local Georgian 
businessmen from financing opposition activities in Georgia, 
maintaining that such businessmen are free to send money to 
Georgia for this purpose.  As if in response to Gamkrelidze 
and Targamadze, Ebralidze, an ethnic Georgian businessman and 
Russian citizen based in St. Petersburg who has an admitted 
criminal past; connections to the Russian authorities; and 
has announced his intentions to run for president of Georgia; 
stated his willingness to fund the non-parliamentary 
opposition.  Overall, Targamadze appeared via satellite and 
gave a convoluted forty-minute interview on Inga Grigolia's 
popular talk show without clarifying why he met with 
Gachechiladze and Gamkrelidze abroad.  Targamadze later 
stated that he had information that Gachechiladze might be 
assassinated but provided no specifics, hinting that such an 
assassination could be done by those looking to cause chaos 
in Georgia. 
 
4.  (C)  Gamkrelidze appeared evasive during a twenty-minute 
interview on Positsiya, in which he criticized President 
Qinterview on Positsiya, in which he criticized President 
Sakashvili instead of answering questions about his contact 
with Targamadze.  Following the interview, Gamkrelidze told a 
newspaper that he barely knew Kakha Targamadze having met 
only once in Parliament.  (Embassy Comment:  Gamkrelidze's 
assertion is strange in that it is common knowledge that when 
Targamadze was Minister of Interior, Gamkrelidze used his 
relationship with Targamadze to create a virtual monopoly on 
car insurance.  It is rumored that both made considerable 
money through the Aldagi Insurance Company.  End Comment.) 
Parliamentary opposition leader and Vice-Speaker Levan 
Vephkhvadze (Christian Democratic Movement) slammed 
Gamkrelidze and questioned his credibility saying that 2001 
might be repeating itself.  Vephkhvadze said that "Badri 
Patarkatsishvili once told me that he had funded the creation 
of New Rights and that Kakha Targamadze was a mediator in the 
process". 
 
OPPOSITION OFFICES BUGGED? 
 
5.  (SBU)  In another opposition-related scandal, on June 29, 
 
TBILISI 00001212  002 OF 002 
 
 
Zourabichvili denounced the discovery of hidden listening 
devices in electrical sockets in her party's main office. 
She stated that the bugs were found in a room where 
opposition leaders usually hold meetings.  She accused MoIA 
of planting the bugs, likening the event to Watergate. 
Police inspected the office and have opened an i
nvestigation 
into the case.  Dzidziguri demanded that the Minister of 
Internal Affairs, Vano Merabishvili resign after he 
discovered bugs in the Conservative Party office on June 30. 
Ombusdman Sozar Subari said he was sure the MoIA had planted 
bugs in every political party and NGO office.  Deputy 
Minister of Interior, Eka Zguladze said that the type of bugs 
found can be bought on the open market and that the MoIA had 
not used such bugs for over six years. 
TEFFT

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