09TBILISI1408, GEORGIA: MAJORITY NAMES LIKELY SUCCESSOR TO

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
09TBILISI1408 2009-07-31 14:37 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Tbilisi

VZCZCXRO9212
PP RUEHDBU RUEHFL RUEHKW RUEHLA RUEHNP RUEHROV RUEHSL RUEHSR
DE RUEHSI #1408/01 2121437
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 311437Z JUL 09
FM AMEMBASSY TBILISI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 1976
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE 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 001408 
 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 07/31/2019 
TAGS: PREL PGOV PHUM GG
SUBJECT: GEORGIA: MAJORITY NAMES LIKELY SUCCESSOR TO 
OMBUDSMAN POSITION 
 
TBILISI 00001408  001.3 OF 002 
 
 
Classified By: Ambassador John F. Tefft for reasons 1.4 (b) and (d). 
 
1. (SBU)  Summary:  The United National Movement (UNM) has 
nominated Giorgi Tugushi to replace Sozar Subari as 
ombudsman.  As the ruling party's candidate, Tugushi's 
confirmation by Parliament is all but guaranteed with a vote 
expected on July 31 (although it had not taken place by COB). 
 Although not a known public figure, Tugushi's resume appears 
to be a solid fit for this position of independent auditor 
and human rights advocate.  Because of Tugushi's well 
established reputation among NGOs and his solid academic 
background and work experience, the choice has elicited 
little public reaction.  The parliamentary opposition's 
candidate for the position, MP Dimitri Lordkipanidze, is not 
expected to garner much support.  Popular current ombudsman 
Sozar Subari is keeping quiet on what he will do next, but 
with his high approval ratings and open political ambitions, 
speculation is that he will enter the political fray in some 
manner, presumably as part of one of the political forces in 
opposition to President Saakashvili.  Subari has stated 
publicly that both Tugushi and Lordkipanidze would both be 
well qualified successors.  End Summary. 
 
2.  (C)  Comment:   The UNM's naming of Tugushi as the 
nominee for the office of Ombudsman appears to have been a 
smart political move, as his candidacy is supported by all 
sides.  Privately, NGO leaders and other commentators give 
Tugushi high marks, but worry that his experience as may not 
have fully prepared his to be a "street level" defender of 
human rights.  The Ombudsman's role under Subari's tenure 
shifted from its traditional strictly neutral arbiter role to 
one that mixed support for human rights and individual 
Georgians with a health dose of opposition to the GoG and the 
UNM.  However, based on recent polling, it appears that the 
Georgian public largely approved of the openly political role 
Subari played.  No matter how Tugushi chooses to orient the 
Ombudsman's office, he will likely be the target of 
criticism, either from the GoG who tired of Subari's open 
political role, or from the opposition and opposition-minded 
voters who considered Subari as an essential counterweight to 
what they viewed as GoG excess.  End Comment. 
 
WHO IS THIS GUY? 
 
3.  (SBU)  While not a household name, Tugushi is well-known 
in NGO and human rights circles.  Currently Tugushi works for 
an EU-funded project designed to support the Ombudsman 
office, making him intimately familiar with the work of the 
Ombudsman and its staff.  He is a member of the Council of 
Europe's Anti-Torture Committee, was a human rights officer 
for the OSCE Mission in 2004, and worked as legal expert for 
the UN Development Program in 2003.  His resume includes a 
stint as a senior legal expert at the Urban Institute/USAID 
office between 2000 and 2002 and time as the chief of staff 
for the Tbilisi City Council Chairman from 1999-2000.  His 
degrees include an LLM in international human rights law from 
the University of Lund in Sweden and a master's degree in 
public administration from the Institute of Public Affairs in 
Tbilisi.  During a recent television appearance Tugushi 
seemed confident and self assured.  In a statement to 
Parliament he said, "(t)he Ombudsman should be impartial, 
independent, and principled."  Tugushi has already announced 
that if elected, his priority as Ombudsman will be the 
treatment of prisoners. 
 
NGO'S LIKE HIM BUT DOES HE HAVE WHAT IT TAKES TO PRESS THE 
QNGO'S LIKE HIM BUT DOES HE HAVE WHAT IT TAKES TO PRESS THE 
GOVERNMENT? 
 
4.  (C)  Eka Siradze-Delaunay (International Society for Fair 
Elections and Democracy), Keti Khutsishvili (Open Society 
Georgia Foundation), and Tamar Khidasheli (Georgian Young 
Lawyers Association) told Poloffs that they liked and 
respected Tugushi.  All were of a similar opinion that 
Tugushi was a very intelligent and capable person who was an 
expert on human rights issues.  Similarly, all were concerned 
that he might not prove to be as forceful an advocate for 
human rights as was currently necessary.  Khutsishvili, 
Siradze-Delaunay, and Khidasheli all expressed disappointment 
that neither the UNM nor the parliamentary opposition 
consulted them about the picks, but they were not 
disappointed in the picks themselves.  All were encouraged by 
Tugushi's openness and willingness to attend an NGO scheduled 
roundtable to discuss human rights issues.  Setting such a 
short timeframe from nomination to confirmation concerned 
NGOs and opposition members alike.  Parliamentary Minority 
Leader, Giorgi Targamadze (CDM) asked to postpone the vote to 
allow for more public debate on the nominees, but the 
majority rejected the proposal.  The non-parliamentary 
opposition, for its part, has remained largely silent on the 
issue.  Team Leader for the EU project to support the public 
defender's office Pamela Fahey, who has worked with Tugushi, 
 
TBILISI 00001408  002.3 OF 002 
 &#x00
0A; 
was thrilled with his nomination and specifically stated to 
Poloff that they (the EU project) did not support the 
opposition candidate for the position. 
 
THE UNDERDOG 
 
5.  (SBU)  The parliamentary minority put forth MP Dimitri 
Lordkipanidze as their own candidate for the position. 
Lordkipanidze is a lawyer with experience as a human rights 
defender and is himself a member of the parliamentary 
opposition from the "On Our Own" party.  He declared the 
issue of illegal imprisonment as his own top priority if 
elected to the office.  Parliamentary opposition leader 
Targamadze said that "(i)f he (Lordkipanidze) loses it will 
be clear that the majority is not ready to support an 
opposition candidate."  However, Targamadze also stated 
publicly that he has no personal objection to the majority 
party candidate.  Despite being the opposition candidate, 
Lordkipanidze garnered boos from civil society members when 
he stated at an NGO roundtable that homosexuality should be 
punishable under the criminal code.  His statement will 
likely diminish his already meager support even among the MPs 
who nominated him.  At the same roundtable, Tugushi stated 
his view that discrimination based on sexual orientation was 
"completely unacceptable." 
 
WHAT'S NEXT FOR SOZAR? 
 
6.  (C)    Subari has refrained from taking sides and hailed 
the qualifications of both candidates.  What the highly 
popular Subari will do next is unclear, but speculation is he 
will enter politics in his own right or work for an NGO. 
Khutsishvili said she doubted that Subari had decided on what 
he would do next.  Siradze-Delaunay, Khidasheli and 
Khutsishvili praised Subari for his work but questioned 
whether his confrontational and public style had hindered his 
overall effectiveness.  All said that they would like Tugushi 
to play a more understated public role that would help 
de-politicize the office while possibly increasing the 
Ombudsman's effectiveness in holding the GoG accountable. 
TEFFT

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