Monthly Archives: August 2009

09TBILISI1634, GEORGIA: READING MISHA’S MIND: WHY A NEW DEFENSE

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
09TBILISI1634 2009-08-31 14:37 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Tbilisi

VZCZCXRO5185
PP RUEHDBU RUEHFL RUEHKW RUEHLA RUEHNP RUEHROV RUEHSL RUEHSR
DE RUEHSI #1634/01 2431437
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 311437Z AUG 09
FM AMEMBASSY TBILISI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 2122
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RHEHAAA/NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RUEKJCS/OSD WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 TBILISI 001634 
 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 08/31/2019 
TAGS: PREL MASS PTER RS GG
SUBJECT: GEORGIA: READING MISHA'S MIND: WHY A NEW DEFENSE 
MINISTER NOW? 
 
REF: TBILISI 1628 
 
Classified By: Ambassador John F. Tefft for reasons 1.4 (b) and (d). 
 
1.  (C)  Summary.  Since President Saakashvili tapped Bacho 
Akhalaia to replace Dato Sikharulidze as Minster of Defense 
on August 27, speculation on Saakashvili's motivations have 
swept through Tbilisi.  Senior Georgian officials have 
repeated to the Ambassador on multiple occasions in the last 
several days their concerns about the lack of discipline 
within the Georgian Armed Forces, a vulnerability that they 
believe could allow the Russians again to infiltrate the 
military, as they argue already occurred May 5 during the 
attempted tank commander mutiny at Mukhrovani.  Sikharulidze 
is poised to remain a close associate of Saakashvili and 
remains popular with the rest of the government; however, he 
has been criticized for not paying enough attention to the 
inclinations of certain military leaders, particularly with 
regard to the Mukhrovani mutiny attempt.  In conversations 
prior to Akhalaia's appointment, the Ambassador stressed 
emphatically the importance of continued reform efforts and 
expressed concern that the appointment of Akhalaia, with his 
background, could have a negative attempt o both Georgia's 
international reputation and our bilateral military 
cooperation.  DFM Bokeria, who first told us that the 
appointment was coming, assured the Ambassador that a strong 
hand was needed at Defense, but that Akhalaia will also 
continue reforms necessary for eventual NATO integration. 
End Summary. 
 
2.  (C) Comment.  This most recent move by Saakashvili seems 
to be motivated by his desire to establish a Ministry of 
Defense that is completely loyal to Georgia and to 
Saakashvili in order to keep the country safe from future 
Russian aggression, either overt or covert.  Although 
Sikharulidze was and is viewed as personally loyal, 
Saakashvili was not satisfied with his reaction to the 
Mukhrovani incident and efforts to root out those 
responsible, as well as those who may the Government believes 
may be involved with further efforts to destabilize Georgia. 
With the appointment of Akhalaia, Saakashvili has sent a 
clear signal that an "enforcer" is in charge. Senior Georgian 
officials have urged the international community to suspend 
judgment -- and to judge him based on his actions, not his 
caricature-reputation.  End Comment. 
 
WHY CHANGE NOW? 
 
3.  (C)  Since Akhalaia's August 27 appointment, local press, 
numerous NGO figures and non-parliamentary opposition leaders 
have expressed concern about his taking over at MOD.  On 
August 30 DFM Giga Bokeria told the Ambassador that he 
understands why people are concerned about the nomination of 
the new Minister of Defense.  However, according to Bokeria, 
the failed Mukhrovani mutiny was evidence of the threat that 
continues to be posed by Russia -- and that, although 
Sikharulidze is well-liked, he was not viewed as taking tough 
enough measures to root out those in the military who may be 
disloyal to Georgia.  Akhalaia is trusted by Saakashvili and 
his inner circle and is viewed by Saakashvili as effective. 
Bokeria stressed to the Ambassador that Akhalaia is "Misha's 
guy," not "Vano's guy" (Minister of Internal Affairs Vano 
Merabishvili) and he urged the United States not to view this 
appointment as MOIA moving in on MOD turf. 
 
4.  (C)  Saakashvili said publicly that he had appointed 
Akhalaia because he wants a "stricter hand" at the head of 
the MOD.  Mukhrovani was a wake up call to the GOG.  Rumors 
Qthe MOD.  Mukhrovani was a wake up call to the GOG.  Rumors 
persist that ethnically Georgian "thief-in-law" Tariel Oniani 
may have funded the failed revolt -- and it appears that 
senior members of the GOG fear Russian efforts to infiltrate 
military leadership through a less than firm MOD.  The 
Minister of Internal Affairs told the Ambassador August 27 
that Oniani was directly involved with the plotting behind 
the Mukhrovani mutiny attempt, along with several 
unidentified FSB officers.  Merabishvili also told the 
Ambassador that he has reason to belive that Oniani has 
provided as much as USD 500,000 to Badri Bitsadze, the 
husband of non-parliamentary opposition leader Nino 
Burjanadze, through a channel in Armenia.  (Embassy note: 
Merabishvili promised additional detail through liasion 
channels in the near future.  Embassy will report more on 
Burjanadze via septel. End note.) 
 
5.  (C) Sikharulidze is expected to remain in the government 
as an advisor to Saakashvili -- and at a social event on 
August 30, the head of the President's administration joked 
with Sikharulidze and Embassy officers that she would ensure 
he received prime real estate for his new office in the 
Presidency.  Sikharulidze seemed comfortable and confident 
 
TBILISI 00001634  002 OF 002 
 
 
with the government crowd.  Bokeria told the Ambassador, "We 
all like Sikharulidze -- this isn't about him.
" 
 
BACHO AKHALAIA BIOGRAPHY 
 
6.  (C)  Well-known Tbilisi political analyst Gia Nodia (and 
former Minister in Saakashvili's government) described 
Akhalaia as "a guy who knows how to get things done." He 
graduated in 2004 from Tbilisi State University's Faculty of 
law.  Akhalaia worked at the Liberty Institute from 2003 to 
2004, and from 2004 to 2005 he served as Deputy Public 
Defender.  In 2005 he began a three year appointment as the 
head of the Penitentiary Department of the Ministry of 
Justice, where he was criticized by former colleagues and 
outgoing Public Defender Sozar Subari for his performance. 
Akhalaia has been harshly criticized for his role responding 
to a 2006 prison riot in Tbilisi that ended with the death of 
seven inmates.  In December 2008, Akhalaia was named a Deputy 
Defense Minister, a position he held until his appointment on 
August 27 as Minister of Defense.  His brother Dato Akhalia 
is the head of the Constitutional Protection Department at 
MOIA. 
TEFFT

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09TBILISI1628, GEORGIAN MINISTER OF DEFENSE REPLACED

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
09TBILISI1628 2009-08-27 14:57 2011-08-30 01:44 UNCLASSIFIED Embassy Tbilisi

O 271457Z AUG 09
FM AMEMBASSY TBILISI
TO SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 2114
INFO EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE PRIORITY

UNCLAS TBILISI 001628 
 
 
E.O. 12958: N/A 
TAGS: PGOV PREL GG
SUBJECT: GEORGIAN MINISTER OF DEFENSE REPLACED 
 
1.  (U) On August 27, President Saakashvili removed Defense 
Minister Davit Sikharulidze from his position.  Saakashvili 
named Deputy Defense Minister Bacho Akhalaia the new Minister 
of Defense.  Sikharulidze, also the former Georgian 
Ambassador to the U.S., reportedly will remain in the 
government, perhaps as an advisor to the President. 
 
 
TEFFT

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09TBILISI1627, GEORGIA: LEGAL QUESTIONS SURROUNDING OCCUPIED AREAS

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
09TBILISI1627 2009-08-27 14:41 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Tbilisi

VZCZCXRO2510
PP RUEHDBU RUEHFL RUEHKW RUEHLA RUEHNP RUEHROV RUEHSL RUEHSR
DE RUEHSI #1627/01 2391441
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 271441Z AUG 09
FM AMEMBASSY TBILISI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 2111
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEHVEN/USMISSION USOSCE PRIORITY 2282
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK PRIORITY 4893
RHEHAAA/NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 TBILISI 001627 
 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 08/27/2019 
TAGS: PREL PBTS PHSA ETRD ETTC EWWT RS GG
SUBJECT: GEORGIA: LEGAL QUESTIONS SURROUNDING OCCUPIED AREAS 
 
REF: A. TBILISI 1587 
     B. 8/24/09 OLSON-GEHRENBECK EMAIL 
     C. TBILISI 1035 
     D. TBILISI 1543 
     E. 08 TBILISI 2071 
 
Classified By: Ambassador John F. Tefft for Reasons 1.4 (b) and (d). 
 
1. (U) This is an action message; please see paragraphs 9-11. 
 
2. (C)  Summary.  Recent seizures by the Georgian Coast Guard 
of Black Sea vessels suspected of violating various Georgian 
laws, including the Law on Occupied Territories, have raised 
questions about the legal basis for Georgia's enforcement of 
its laws.  Although Georgia has been taking similar 
enforcement actions for many years, the strong reaction of 
the Abkhaz de facto authorities, combined with the relatively 
new facts of Russia's recognition of the independence of 
Abkhazia and ongoing occupation, make a review of the legal 
environment, especially taking into account international 
legal obligations, worthwhile.  To provide a comprehensive 
perspective on Georgia's legal authority to enforce its laws, 
protect its borders and defend its sovereignty, it will also 
be important to examine Russia's role as a occupying force, 
its concomitant rights and responsibilities, and the legal 
status of such steps as the establishment of military 
facilities and economic activities in Abkhazia.  The Georgian 
government has welcomed the opportunity to discuss these 
issues with U.S. legal experts.  Post requests the Department 
send a team of such experts to Tbilisi, or make such a team 
available in Washington, to conduct this conversation.  End 
summary. 
 
A HISTORY OF SEIZURES 
 
3. (C) The recent seizures of two ships suspected of 
entering, or intending to enter, the waters off Abkhazia (ref 
A) have shone a spotlight on the long-established Georgian 
practice of interdicting unauthorized trade with Abkhazia. 
Coast Guard sources indicate the practice dates back at least 
ten years, well before the current Georgian administration 
took office.  Some changes have been implemented over the 
years.  Prior to 2005, for example, interdictions involved 
only administrative penalties (primarily fines), with no 
detentions or court proceedings; beginning in 2005, the Coast 
Guard began detaining vessels and submitting cases to the 
courts for judicial consideration.  In 2008, the Law on 
Occupied Territories was passed, which now serves as one of 
the possible bases for prosecution. 
 
4. (SBU) The Coast Guard provided post with the following 
list of incidents of vessels entering and departing Abkhaz 
ports dating from 1999.  All vessels were charged with 
Illegal State Border Crossing; additional charges were made 
against some, as noted.  Although Georgia clearly is focused 
on defending its sovereign right to determine who is 
authorized to enter Georgian territory, its concerns with 
customs and other violations also raise the important issue 
of controlling illicit trade.  There have been numerous 
allegations of criminal smuggling, including nuclear 
substances.  The USG provides substantial assistance to the 
Border Police and Coast Guard so that Georgia can protect its 
borders and prevent nuclear smuggling.  Abkhazia remains a 
region of great concern in this regard, and our own efforts 
to support the Georgians could be undermined without 
sufficient control of movements in and out of Abkhazia. 
 
1999 - 2 ships detained: 1 under Turkish flag, 1 under 
Russian flag. 
2000 - 2 ships detained: 1 under Russian flag, 1 under 
Q2000 - 2 ships detained: 1 under Russian flag, 1 under 
Turkish flag. 
2001 - 3 ships detained: 2 under Turkish flag (charges 
included violation of customs rules), 1 under Ukrainian flag. 
2002 - 1 ship detained under Estonian flag. 
2003 - No ships detained. 
2004 - 7 ships detained: 4 under Turkish flag (charges 
included illegal fishing, violation of navigation rules), 2 
under Ukrainian flag (charges included illegal fishing, 
violation of navigation rules), 1 under Greek flag (charges 
included violation of navigation rules). 
2005 - 2 ships detained under Turkish flag (charges included 
illegal fishing, violation of navigation rules). 
2006 - 4 ships detained: 3 under Turkish flag (charges 
included illegal fishing, violation of navigation rules), 1 
under Bulgarian flag (charges included violation of 
navigation rules). 
2007 - 5 ships detained: 2 under Cambodian flag (charges 
included violation of navigation and customs rules), 2 under 
Ukrainian flag (charges included illegal fishing, violation 
of navigation rules), 3 under Russian flag (charges included 
 
TBILISI 00001627  002 OF 003 
 
 
illegal fishing, violation of navigation rules). &#x000A
;2008 - 1 ship detained under Moldovan flag (charges included 
violation of navigation and customs rules). 
2009 - 5 ships detained: 2 under Turkish flag (charges 
included illegal fishing, violation of navigation and customs 
rules), 1 under Sierra Leone flag (charges included violation 
of navigation rules), 1 under Cambodian flag (charges 
included violation of navigation and customs rules), 1 under 
Panamanian flag (charges included violation of navigation and 
customs rules). 
 
5. (SBU) In addition to the threatening statements made by 
Abkhaz de facto "president" Bagapsh (ref A), de facto 
"foreign minister" Sergey Shamba, in August 20 comments to 
Interfax, made additional threats to "provide a proportional 
response, i.e., undertake the same actions that the Georgian 
side allows itself."  Alluding to similar incidents in the 
past, he said that Abkhaz naval forces had since increased 
their military capacity, suggesting that Abkhazia would do 
what might be necessary to defend shipments into Abkhazia. 
 
RUSSIA'S IMPACT 
 
6. (SBU) On August 26, 2008, Russia recognized the 
independence of Abkhazia and South Ossetia and has since 
developed its relationship with the two regions on that 
basis.  For example, Russia has signed what it calls 
international agreements with the two regions; established 
diplomatic missions to them; and stationed several thousand 
troops and announced intentions to establish relatively 
permanent military bases in them.  To date, only one other 
country, Nicaragua, has recognized the regions' independence. 
 Georgia considers its sovereign territory to be under 
Russian occupation, a position the Department has confirmed 
(ref B). 
 
7. (SBU) The Russian government has also encouraged Russian 
firms to conduct commerce with firms in both Abkhazia and 
South Ossetia, including trading with and investing in the 
two regions, in particular Abkhazia (refs C, D).  On August 
26, for example, Georgian press outlets reported that Rosneft 
had established a subsidiary in Abkhazia, "RN Shelf of 
Abkhazia," to begin oil prospecting on the Black Sea shelf 
and to set up a gas distribution network.  (Abkhaz de facto 
press outlet Apsnypress disputed that the subsidiary had been 
fully established.)  The area reportedly could contain as 
much as 500 million tons of oil.  On August 25, Georgian 
pres outlets reported that Abkhaz de facto authorities had 
signed a contract to lease Abkhaz railways to Russian 
Railways in an effort to enable international commerce. 
 
8. (SBU) Like the ships traveling to Abkhazia, such projects 
will presumably violate provisions of Georgia's Law on 
Occupied Territories (ref E) or other laws and regulations. 
Although it seems unlikely to post that Georgia would seek to 
enforce the law against Russian companies, it will likely ask 
the international community to evaluate Russia's actions, if 
not in the context of its own legislation, then at least in 
the context of international law.  Russia will likely 
maintain that its recognition of the territories renders any 
Georgian attempts to legislate activities in Abkhazia null 
and void.  (Interestingly, however, Russia has not taken a 
public position on Georgia's actions against ships trading 
with Abkhazia, as far as post is aware.)  If relatively small 
shipments of scrap metal and fuel cause friction, the ability 
to explore and develop oil fields could potentially lead to 
Qto explore and develop oil fields could potentially lead to 
major confrontations. 
 
U.S.-GEORGIA DISCUSSIONS 
 
9. (C) On August 21, in conversations with Foreign Minister 
Grigol Vashadze and National Security Advisor Eka 
Tkeshelasvili, the Ambassador noted the complicated legal 
questions arising out of the Black Sea seizures and asked 
whether the Georgian side would be interested in having a 
conversation with U.S. legal experts on the topic.  Both 
welcomed the idea.  Tkeshelashvili, who is herself an 
international lawyer, also reinforced Georgia's general 
position that Georgia is in a state of occupation by Russia, 
as did Vashadze. 
 
10. (C) Post believes it would be useful, for both the United 
States and Georgia, to clarify Georgia's legal authority to 
enforce its own laws and, more broadly speaking, defend its 
sovereignty under the conditions of occupied territory.  How 
should Georgia go about seeking to intercept vessels it has 
reason to believe are violating Georgian law or even pose a 
danger to its territory, for example, if it is prevented from 
engaging them within 24 nautical miles of the Abkhaz coast by 
a concern over potentially provoking the power occupying 
 
TBILISI 00001627  003 OF 003 
 
 
Abkhazia, Russia? 
 
11. (C) Such clarification could help the international 
community evaluate the situation in Georgia more accurately, 
thereby enabling a more substantive exchange during the 
Geneva talks, for example, or at the UN.  It could help 
Georgia formulate an implementation plan for its Law on 
Occupied Territories, long overdue, that will relieve the 
concerns of international donors.  Perhaps most importantly, 
it could help Georgia determine a general policy that will 
protect its interests, both now and in the future, while 
avoiding unnecessarily provocative and explosive 
confrontations.  Post recommends that the Department assemble 
a team of legal experts to send to Tbilisi, or to meet with 
appropriate Georgian counterparts in Washington, to undertake 
these discussions. 
TEFFT

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09TBILISI1625, GEORGIA: IRI FOCUS GROUPS – ROSNER POLL INDICATE

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
09TBILISI1625 2009-08-27 14:26 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Tbilisi

VZCZCXRO2484
PP RUEHDBU RUEHFL RUEHKW RUEHLA RUEHNP RUEHROV RUEHSL RUEHSR
DE RUEHSI #1625/01 2391426
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 271426Z AUG 09
FM AMEMBASSY TBILISI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 2108
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE PRIORITY

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 TBILISI 001625 
 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 08/19/2019 
TAGS: PGOV PHUM PREL GG
SUBJECT: GEORGIA: IRI FOCUS GROUPS - ROSNER POLL INDICATE 
SAAKASHVILI STABLE 
 
Classified By: AMBASSADOR JOHN F. TEFFT.  REASONS:  1.4 (B) AND (D). 
 
1.  (C)  Summary:  Recent IRI focus groups along with a 
United National Movement (UNM) poll indicate that President 
Saakashvili enjoys solid support and a large majority view 
that it is likely he will serve out his presidential term 
which ends in 2013.  According to the August 8-12 UNM poll 
conducted by Greenberg, Quinlan and Rosner, the Christian 
Democratic Movement (CDM), and the Irakli Alasania-led 
Alliance for Georgia are the second and third most popular 
parties respectively.  The poll also indicated that the 
Georgian public appear more upbeat. Anecdotal evidence from 
International Republican Institute (IRI) focus groups, as 
well as the UNM polling data indicated that the April to June 
protests are largely viewed as being pointless and 
counterproductive.  End Summary. 
 
2.  (C)  Comment:  The results offered nothing terribly 
surprising but further supported growing conventional wisdom 
that only thing achieved by the protests was a drop in 
popularity for those who participated, and a bump for the UNM 
and GoG.  The polling data and focus groups showed a lack of 
support for Saakashvili's resignation and indicated that 
autumn protests to push for a resignation would not have 
popular support.  Finally, Alasania's general inability to 
garner much interest in the focus groups coupled with his 
fairly modest polling numbers show that while Alasania made 
an immediate splash, he has significant political legwork 
ahead of him if he is going turn his party (Our Georgia - 
Free Democrats) into a consolidated, effective political 
movement.  End Comment. 
 
Focus Groups Consistent That Protests Failed, Misha to Serve 
Out Term 
 
3.  (C)  IRI conducted four focus groups made up of eight 
Tbilisi residents each on August 10 and 11.  The individuals 
were not party members and were self-identified as one 
pro-GoG group, two neutral groups, and one anti-GoG (or 
pro-opposition) group.  All the groups agreed that the 
protests failed to accomplish anything.  Most viewed the 
aftermath as a political victory for the GoG with pro and 
neutral groups generally praising the GoG's handling of the 
protests.  The pro and neutral groups viewed the placing of 
cells on roads and radical actions as mistakes.  Many 
participants described the cells as ridiculous, stupid, and 
worse.  All the groups felt like the non-parliamentary 
opposition had no plan, no vision and was wholly ineffective. 
 The anti-GoG group was the most harsh in its criticism of 
the non-parliamentary opposition who described leaders as 
"feckless", "phony", and "just as bad as Misha".  One 
participant said that "if you are serious about your cause, 
you don't take vacations or days off" which received 
widespread agreement from the rest of the anti group. 
 
4.  (C)  All the groups considered it highly likely that 
Saakashvili would serve out his term with most expressing a 
belief that there were not many credible challengers or much 
public support for his removal.  Even many of the 
pro-opposition echo these ideas. Nonetheless, even the 
pro-GoG group agreed that the government needed to follow 
through on the promised concrete reforms.  All groups liked 
the idea of the direct Tbilisi mayoral elections but stressed 
the need for real budgetary and other authority to be given 
to the mayor, otherwise the participants deemed the 
initiative a stunt.  All groups feared that upcoming 
by-elections could bring more political turmoil and were 
hopeful that elections would not cause further polarization. 
Qhopeful that elections would not cause further polarization. 
Irakli Alasania was barely mentioned when the groups 
discussed politicians who they saw as a potential mayor or 
political counterweight to Saakashvili.  In contrast, every 
group had positive things to say about Giorgi Targamadze 
(CDM) with many saying they liked what they have seen but 
want to see more. 
 
Rosner Poll - Four Factors Dictate Upswing In UNM Numbers 
 
5.  (C)  According to pollster Jeremy Rosner (of Greenberg, 
Quinlan, and Rosner, who regularly conducts polls for UNM) 
four factors have influenced a positive upswing in UNM 
numbers.  The first is a perception of a more stable security 
situation in large part due to President Obama's message 
about Georgia at the Moscow summit; VP Biden's visit to 
Georgia; and a general lower perception of threat of war. 
(Embassy Note:  Regarding President Obama's visit to Moscow, 
78 percent of Georgians said they paid close attention to the 
visit with 78 percent viewing his visit as positive versus 5 
percent negative.  Numbers on VP Biden's visit are almost 
identical with 76 percent saying they paid close attention to 
the visit with 76 percent viewing his visit as positive and 6 
percent as negative.  End Note.)  Rosner said he believed 
President Obama's clear message from Moscow on Georgia's 
 
TBILISI 00001625  002 OF 002 
 
 
territorial integrity reassured Georgians which in part 
translated into better numbers for the incumbent UNM
. 
 
6.  (C)  The second major factor was a sense of relief at the 
end of the protests.  The poll showed that only 27 percent 
approved of the protests while 59 percent disapproved. 
Despite generally higher opposition support in Tbilisi, the 
numbers in the capital were similar with 35 percent approval, 
and 50 disapproval.  The GoG's handling of the protests also 
seem to be perceived positively.  Those polled viewed 
individuals and institutions involved in the GoG's handling 
of the protests more favorably as a result - President 
Saakashvili (51 more favorably as a result of the protests 
versus 32 less); Police (49 more 36 less); MoIA (44 more 37 
less); GoG (43 more 36 less); Tbilisi Mayor Gigi Ugalava (41 
more 32 less).  According to Rosner, the third major factor 
was that the public viewed the handling of the anniversary of 
the war in a positive way, which likely lead to patriotic 
feelings influencing the numbers.  The fourth factor Rosner 
mentioned was the positive reaction to President 
Saakashvili's parliamentary speech outlining further 
political and democratic reforms.  This speech was viewed 
positively by 42 percent, while only 16 percent viewed it 
negatively. 
 
Misha's Numbers Solid 
 
7.  (C)  Saakashvili's job performance numbers improved to 68 
percent approval/30 percent disapproval from 65/32 when 
polled in early May.  When asked generically whether Georgia 
should continue on the current course set by Saakashvili 
versus pursuing a different course 51 percent said current 
course versus 43 percent who preferred a different direction. 
 May polling numbers for the same question were 47 percent 
current course/49 percent different course.  When asked if 
Saakashvili will finish his presidential term, 71 percent 
said yes with 63 percent believing strongly that he will 
serve out his term.  13 percent believed he would not serve 
out his term, while only 8 percent felt strongly that he 
would not complete his current term. 
 
Now Here's the Party Numbers 
 
8.  (C)  Rosner used three models when looking at party 
numbers: raw, likely voters, and allocated (which 
extrapolates the results to predict parliamentary election 
results if held today).  The raw numbers showed UNM at 35 
percent (28 in May); CDM at 9 percent (12 in May); Alliance 
for Georgia at 9 percent (12 in May); Labor at 7 percent (9 
in May); National Forum at 4 percent (5 in May); and the 
United Opposition (including Gachechiladze, Burjanadze, 
Zourabichvili etc.) at 4 percent (9 in May).  The likely 
voter model followed a similar pattern showing UNM at 41 
percent (32 in May); CDM at 13 percent (15 in May); Alliance 
for Georgia at 10 percent (14 in May); Labor at 6 percent (9 
in May); National Forum at 4 percent (5 in May); and United 
Opposition at 4 percent (8 in May).  The allocated voter 
model showed UNM would win 47 percent (37 in May); CDM 
winning 15 percent (16 in May); Alliance for Georgia winning 
11 percent (16 in May); Labor winning 7 percent (9 in May); 
National Forum winning 6 percent (5 in May); and United 
Opposition winning 5 percent (9 in May). 
TEFFT

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09TBILISI1602, GEORGIA SEEKS U.S. HELP IN PROMOTING UNGA IDP

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
09TBILISI1602 2009-08-25 14:29 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Tbilisi

VZCZCXRO0614
OO RUEHDBU RUEHFL RUEHKW RUEHLA RUEHNP RUEHROV RUEHSL RUEHSR
DE RUEHSI #1602 2371429
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
O 251429Z AUG 09
FM AMEMBASSY TBILISI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 2100
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE IMMEDIATE
RHEHAAA/NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL WASHINGTON DC IMMEDIATE
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK IMMEDIATE 4892
RHEHWSR/WHITE HOUSE SITUATION ROOM WASHINGTON DC IMMEDIATE
RUEHVEN/USMISSION USOSCE IMMEDIATE 2281

C O N F I D E N T I A L TBILISI 001602 
 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 08/25/2019 
TAGS: PREL PREF UNGA RS GG
SUBJECT: GEORGIA SEEKS U.S. HELP IN PROMOTING UNGA IDP 
RESOLUTION 
 
REF: A. TBILISI 1236 
     B. TBILISI 1078 
 
Classified By: Ambassador John F. Tefft for Reasons 1.4 (b) and (d). 
 
1.  (SBU) Director of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs 
International Organizations Department Sergi Kapanadze told 
emboffs on August 25 that the EU has decided to support the 
draft UN General Assembly resolution entitled "Status of 
Internally Displaced Persons and Refugees from Abkhazia, 
Georgia and Tskhinvali Region/South Ossetia, Georgia."  He 
expressed optimism that the resolution would pass, noting 
that the support of the full EU would itself provide more 
affirmative votes than were cast for last year's successful 
resolution (62/249 of May 2008; see ref A).  Nevertheless, he 
said that Georgia could not assume that even the EU's backing 
would be sufficient to ensure passage and therefore sought 
U.S. assistance in securing additional support. 
 
2. (C) Kapanadze reported that Georgia's mission in New York 
has already approached over 100 countries on the resolution. 
Although some have already indicated their intention, 
Kapanadze noted that most had still not committed to vote one 
way or the other.  He said that the U.S. support would be 
particularly helpful with countries whose New York missions 
have already recommended support to their capitals, but have 
not yet heard back from capitals.  Countries in this group 
include Australia, New Zealand, a number of the Pacific 
island nations, Thailand, Malaysia, Pakistan, and Bangladesh. 
 Another group of countries with which Georgia would 
especially appreciate U.S. help is Argentina, Brazil and 
Colombia, in order to set a precedent for other undecided 
South American countries.  U.S. support would also be 
particularly helpful with India, which voted against the 2008 
resolution, admittedly in response to Russian lobbying. 
India's New York mission told the Georgians its position 
would "not be the same" this year, but it did not offer any 
additional details.  U.S. intervention might also be 
particularly helpful with Egypt. 
 
3. (C) Beyond the above countries, Kapanadze indicated 
Georgia would also appreciate any help the U.S. can offer 
with the following list.  (Notes from Kapanadze appear in 
parentheses.) 
 
-- Europe: Iceland, Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Andorra, 
Turkey, Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Macedonia. 
 
-- Oceania: Papua New Guinea, Micronesia, Marshall Islands, 
Palau, Nauru, Tuvalu. 
 
-- Asia: Singapore, Brunei, Indonesia, Afghanistan, Nepal. 
(Abstention from Burma would be extremely positive.) 
 
-- Middle East: Lebanon, Israel, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, 
Oman, United Arab Emirates, Bahrain. 
 
-- Africa: Cameroon, Nigeria, Namibia, South Africa, Niger, 
Rwanda, Uganda, Kenya, Ethiopia, Somalia.  (Nigeria and South 
Africa seem promising, but have not yet committed. 
Abstention from Sudan would be important.) 
 
-- Americas: Canada, Mexico, Uruguay, Paraguay, Peru, Chile, 
Belize, El Salvador, Costa Rica, Panama, Trinidad and Tobago. 
 (Central American and Caribbean states are very important to 
counterbalance possible negative votes by Nicaragua and 
Venezuela.) 
 
COMMENT: KEEPING THE FOCUS ON GEORGIA 
 
4. (C) During his June 2009 visit to Georgia, EUR Assistant 
Secretary Gordon agreed with local diplomatic colleagues on 
the importance of aintaining the UN's focus on Georgia 
should UNOMIG close, thereby removing the situation in 
Qshould UNOMIG close, thereby removing the situation in 
Georgia from the Security Council's regular agenda (ref B). 
This resolution, with its call for a Secretary General's 
report on the implementation of the resolution, will not only 
maintain the UN's formal attention to the issue, but will 
ensure that the ongoing plight of the hundreds of thousands 
of IDPs, both from the early 1990s and the 2008 conflict, is 
not forgotten amidst discussions of such higher profile 
issues as political status or the potential for renewed 
violence.  In fact, the Secretary General's still-unissued 
report called for in the 2008 resolution may not appear in 
time for the UN General Assembly discussions, so this new 
resolution becomes even more important in keeping the world's 
attention on Georgia. 
TEFFT

Wikileaks

09TBILISI1599, OPIC FINANCING FOR JSC BASISBANK PROJECT

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
09TBILISI1599 2009-08-25 12:12 2011-08-30 01:44 UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY Embassy Tbilisi

VZCZCXRO0491
RR RUEHAG RUEHAST RUEHDA RUEHDBU RUEHDF RUEHFL RUEHIK RUEHKW RUEHLA
RUEHLN RUEHLZ RUEHNP RUEHPOD RUEHROV RUEHSK RUEHSL RUEHSR RUEHVK
RUEHYG
DE RUEHSI #1599 2371212
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 251212Z AUG 09
FM AMEMBASSY TBILISI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 2098
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE

UNCLAS TBILISI 001599 
 
DEPT FOR EUR/CARC, EEB 
 
SENSITIVE 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: N/A 
TAGS: EINV EFIN GG
SUBJECT: OPIC FINANCING FOR JSC BASISBANK PROJECT 
 
REF:  STATE 80984 
 
1. Summary:  Per reftel, Post's inquiries did reveal any derogatory 
information about JSC BasisBank that would inhibit OPIC financing to 
the project.  End Summary. 
 
2. JSC BasisBank has a strong, credible reputation among Georgian 
banks.  Former Prime Minister of Georgia Lado Gurgenidze, while 
serving as head of Georgia's leading bank - Bank of Georgia 
commented to Embassy officials that out of Georgia's existing banks 
he would love to acquire BasisBank as it was "clean, neat and 
well-managed." 
 
3. Post uncovered no information to question the financial stability 
of BasisBank.  Recently BasisBank along with two other Georgian 
banks (VTB and Peoples Bank) won a government tender to issue cheap, 
government supported credits for SME development. 
 
4. Post uncovered no information that Basisbank has any link to 
corruption, money laundering or terrorism.  The majority of the 
private shareholders in the bank are friends connected to each-other 
through graduate study at Moscow State University.  Additionally, 
Post is unaware of any government connections. 
 
5.  BasisBank has been very careful in its credit policy, avoiding 
risky lending especially in the construction and residential 
mortgage sectors.  The bank does not accept residential houses or 
apartments under construction as collateral, and its existing 
residential mortgage portfolio is considered stable. 
 
TEFFT

Wikileaks

09TBILISI1589, GEORGIA: STRUCTURE AND ORGANIZATION OF THE POLICE

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
09TBILISI1589 2009-08-25 05:05 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Tbilisi

VZCZCXRO1142
PP RUEHDBU RUEHFL RUEHKW RUEHLA RUEHNP RUEHROV RUEHSL RUEHSR
DE RUEHSI #1589/01 2370505
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 250505Z AUG 09 ZDK CITE NUMBEROUS SERVICES
FM AMEMBASSY TBILISI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 2089
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE
RUEKJCS/OSD WASHINGTON DC
RHEHAAA/NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL WASHINGTON DC

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 04 TBILISI 001589 
 
SIPDIS 
 
DEPT FOR EUR/CARC 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 08/17/2019 
TAGS: PGOV SNAR KBTS KCRM GG
SUBJECT: GEORGIA:  STRUCTURE AND ORGANIZATION OF THE POLICE 
(PART 1) 
 
REF: TBILISI 0207 
 
TBILISI 00001589  001.3 OF 004 
 
 
Classified By: AMBASSADOR JOHN F. TEFFT FOR REASONS 1.4 (B) AND (D) 
 
1.  (C) SUMMARY.  The reform of Georgia's police forces has 
been one of Georgia's most significant successes since the 
Rose Revolution, resulting in a decrease in corruption and 
improved public image for the police.  However, because of 
the many agencies and branches with overlapping 
jurisdictions, it is often difficult to tell which divisions 
are involved in any particular event.  This first half of a 
two-part message describes the organization of Georgia's 
uniformed police and how different agencies and branches work 
together.  The bulk of the police branches operate under the 
Ministry of Internal Affairs (MOIA), which can be split into 
broad groups of 'core' units and 'specialty' units.  Core 
units form a hierarchical system of information gathering and 
response - Neighborhood Police personally get to know the 
residents of an area and can quickly gather information on 
suspects; Patrol Police respond to active crime scenes and 
conduct preliminary investigations; City Police take over 
bigger, non-routine issues in urban areas; and Criminal 
Police are brought in for more severe violent crimes.  The 
Border Police were reformed to focus on green borders, while 
the Patrol Police guard official points of entry.  Specialty 
units include the Special Operative Department (which 
includes a counter-narcotics unit, anti-TIP unit, 
surveillance, organized crime unit, etc.), and a host of 
branches with specific goals such as counter-terrorism, 
intelligence gathering, and diplomatic security.  Meanwhile, 
the Special State Protection Service (SSPS), the President's 
version of the Sec ret Service, is an independent agency that 
guards the President, members of Parliament, and foreign 
dignitaries.  The second cable in the series will address 
challenges facing Georgia's security structures.  END SUMMARY. 
 
BACKGROUND 
 
2.  (C) After the Rose Revolution, the Georgian Government 
implemented a sweeping set of reforms that fundamentally 
transformed the country's law enforcement bodies and the 
Ministry of Internal Affairs.  First, the Ministry of State 
Security merged with MOIA, eliminating Soviet-style parallel 
power centers.  Police officers were provided with new cars, 
police stations in the capital and the regions were repaired, 
and bases were built near the conflict zones in Zugdidi and 
Gori to train special forces.  Emergency and Civil Security 
forces modernized according to European standards, and 
salaries of the Ministry's employees significantly increased. 
 MOIA installed hundreds of cameras to control traffic 
movement and record criminal activity in Tbilisi and Batumi. 
The MOIA police academy curriculum was completely reformed 
and the physical plant upgraded with robust support from the 
State-INL program, as well as modest support from the OSCE 
and other international donors. 
 
MINISTRY OF INTERNAL AFFAIRS 
 
3.  (SBU) Officially, every department in MOIA has a head who 
reports separately to the Minister.  There is also an 
unofficial hierarchy of police units that is designed to 
incrementally respond to increasingly grave crimes.  This 
section list units in this unofficial order, and explains the 
coordination between core police sections and the specialty 
units designed to support them. 
 
NEIGHBORHOOD POLICE 
 
4.  (C) Head:  Zurab Tvauri 
 
Originating from Soviet times when police were required to 
QOriginating from Soviet times when police were required to 
keep track of people's movements and actions, the 
Neighborhood Police is an ear-to-the-ground force that 
complements other divisions and is found in all major cities. 
 In each neighborhood, these police officers are charged with 
personally getting to know the local population, how the 
community is organized, and general neighborhood business. 
When a crime occurs, other police forces first come to the 
Neighborhood Police for suggestions on possible suspects or 
people to interview.  Because of their personal relationship 
with the population, the Neighborhood Police are frequently 
able to obtain facts or data that other police units cannot 
quickly collect.  Their auxiliary function is to deal with 
small-scale conflicts in the neighborhood, such as petty 
hooliganism or noise complaints, as well as more serious 
instances of domestic violence.  In many cases, residents 
will first call the Neighborhood Police, who investigate and 
then decide whether or not other departments should become 
 
TBILISI 00001589  002.3 OF 004 
 
 
involved. 
 
PATROL POLICE 
 
5.  (C) Head:  Giorgi (Goga) Grigalashvili 
 
The Patrol Police are the standard, most visible police unit 
with numerous regional offices.  They are charged with 
stopping violence, respon
ding to crimes in real time, traffic 
control, protection of public order, and border security and 
control at official ports of entry.  These officers conduct 
preliminary investigations and have a liaison relationship 
with other branches.  They are also responsible for 
processing and evaluating video footage from traffic control 
cameras, as well as respond to the emergency hotline (similar 
to 911).  The Patrol Police conduct vehicle and foot patrols, 
with foot crews handling the metro area, public spaces and 
crossroads.  (Comment: One source who works closely with the 
Patrol Police says that Saakashvili, known for his love of 
publicity, has encouraged the Patrol Police to invite camera 
crews and seek publicity for Georgia's law enforcement, 
occasionally at the expense of undercover sting operations. 
End Comment.) 
 
CITY POLICE 
 
6.  (C) Head:  Devi Tchelidze 
 
Present in large cities such as Batumi and Tbilisi, the City 
Police gather evidence and identify suspects in criminal 
cases.  This branch works closely with the Patrol Police and 
Neighborhood Police.  When a crime is reported, the patrol 
police respond first, dealing with the matter if it involves 
traffic and other routine issues.  For more serious cases, 
the Patrol Police will generally transfer responsibility to 
the City Police, who will then begin more extensive 
investigations and work with the Neighborhood Police. 
 
CRIMINAL POLICE 
 
7.  (C) Head:  Vano Tsiklauri 
 
The next step up from the City Police are the Criminal 
Police, who respond to major cases such as shootings and 
murders.  City and criminal police functions overlap.  For 
example, while a violent murder would clearly be assigned to 
the Criminal Police, a bank robbery may be dealt with by 
either the City or Criminal police, depending on the 
circumstances and level of violence. 
 
BORDER POLICE 
 
8.  (C) Head:  Zaza Gogava 
 
Previously charged with handling all ports of entry into the 
country, the Border Police were significantly reduced in size 
and function as of January 1, 2009, when the Border Police 
Command and Control Center was restructured into two units 
directly under the MOIA: the Operational Management and 
Border Technology Center in the Operational Technical 
Department, and the Operational Support Office in the 
Information Analytical Department (reftel).  Some analysts 
suggest that there was a political reason behind the 
reduction - the Border Police had been widely considered to 
have a greater degree of independence from the government, 
and the opposition held influential positions there (for 
example, their former chief is the husband of opposition 
leader Nino Burjanadze).  However, the Border Police also 
have an established reputation for corruption, as opposed to 
the Patrol Police, who have cultivated a new culture of 
integrity in police operations.  The current function of the 
Border Police is to guard "green borders," or land crossings 
without official points of entry.  In 1998, the Coast Guard 
became a sub-unit of the Border Police.  The January reforms 
dissolved the Georgian Navy and integrated it into the Coast 
Guard.  However, while the Coast Guard protects open waters, 
the United Transportation Administration under the Ministry 
Qthe United Transportation Administration under the Ministry 
of Infrastructure is responsible for protecting Georgia's 
naval ports, alon with the Patrol Police and Ministry of 
Finance customs agents. 
 
SPECIAL OPERATIVE DEPARTMENT (SOD) 
 
9.  (C) Head:  Irakli Kodua 
 
Following the breakup of the Soviet Union, the GoG merged 
several security agencies, including the state security 
forces and some police units, into the SOD.  A source working 
 
TBILISI 00001589  003.3 OF 004 
 
 
closely with the police describes this as "like merging water 
and oil."  Today, SOD has several regional offices and 
handles narco-trafficking, human trafficking, money 
laundering and counterfeiting, weapons and cargo smuggling, 
organized crime and the mafia.  Additionally, SOD has 
sub-units which handle surveillance, counter-intelligence and 
technical device operations. 
 
SPECIAL OPERATIONS CENTER (SOC) 
 
10.  (C) Head: Lt. Colonel Mamuka Toidze 
 
Not to be confused with the Special Operative Department, SOC 
fills a relatively specialized niche and is significantly 
smaller than SOD (approximately 300).  It has a special 
forces team that assists the City and Criminal Police with 
bomb squads and hostage rescue teams, as well as provides a 
CT capability and biowarfare response to a CT action.  This 
section is under the control of Deputy Minister of Internal 
Affairs Shalva Janashvili. 
 
CONSTITUTIONAL PROTECTION DEPARTMENT (CPD) 
 
11.  (C) Head:  Soso Topuridze (Acting) 
 
This branch is charged with investigating and handling 
threats to the Constitution and the political system, 
although it is somewhat ambiguous as to what that entails. 
Ostensibly, CPD investigates cases of sabotage against the 
GoG and corruption in high-ranking officials.  Most CPD 
officers are not uniformed, and their office is located next 
to SOD.  (Note:  Reportedly Topuridze is only nominally in 
charge of CPD, and the former head, Dato Akhalaia, who was 
forced to step down following criminal allegations, remains 
in control of the unit.  End Note.) 
 
COUNTER-TERRORISM CENTER 
 
12.  (C) Head: Dato Tabutsadze 
 
The Counter-Terrorism Center handles counter-terrorism 
operations and monitors groups suspected of having terrorist 
affiliations.  It also closely coordinates with CPD and SOD. 
 
EMERGENCY SITUATION DEPARTMENT 
 
13.  (C) Head: Irakli Kadagidze 
 
This department handles "force majeure" cases such as 
natural disasters, rescue squads, and contingency plans for 
events such as nuclear material emergencies.  This section is 
also under the control of Deputy Minister Janashvili. 
 
SECURITY POLICE DEPARTMENT 
 
14.  (C) Head:  Kakha Legashvili 
 
This branch handles diplomatic security, and guards banks, 
ministries and official government buildings, with the 
exception of the Parliament building and the President's 
office (see below).  It also protects railways, marine and 
air objects, cargo transportation, power and energy plants. 
These police can be hired on a contractual basis to provide 
security for private organizations.  While laws prevent 
private individuals or companies from carrying weapons, the 
protection police are an official police force and are not 
bound by this restriction, ensuring their popularity with 
bigger firms and private banks. 
 
SPECIAL TASK FORCE 
 
15. (C) Overseen by Deputy Minister Janashvili 
 
A paramilitary force, this unit protects the &#x0
00A;Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline and responds to bomb threats in 
Tbilisi.  Additionally it can serve as a riot police and 
perimeter defense force. 
 
STRATEGIC PIPELINE PROTECTION DIVISION (SSPD) 
 
16. (C) Overseen by Deputy Minister Janashvili 
 
This unit handles strategic energy assets; they also protect 
BTC, as well as the South Caucasus Gas Pipeline and Supsa oil 
terminal. 
 
NON-MOIA POLICE FORCES: SPECIAL STATE PROTECTION SERVICE 
(SSPS) 
 
TBILISI 00001589  004.3 OF 004 
 
 
 
17.  (C)  Head: Otar Kvelidze 
 
This is the Government's "Sec ret Service" and is not part of 
MOIA.  In the past, SSPS handled protection of VIPs and 
buildings, diplomatic security, and guarding pipelines.  Four 
years ago, the service was downsized and these functions were 
mostly given to the Security Police.  Now, SSPS focuses on 
guarding the Presidential residence and the Parliament 
building.  Additionally, SSPS officers serve as bodyguards 
for the U.S. Ambassador and are escorts for high-level 
visitors.  SSPS has its own sub-unit, the Operative Technical 
Service, which has a canine unit, a bomb squad, and similar 
specialty forces. 
TEFFT

Wikileaks

09TBILISI1588, GEORGIA: MINISTER OF ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT SACKED

WikiLeaks Link

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
09TBILISI1588 2009-08-24 15:13 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Tbilisi

VZCZCXRO9760
OO RUEHDBU RUEHFL RUEHKW RUEHLA RUEHNP RUEHROV RUEHSL RUEHSR
DE RUEHSI #1588 2361513
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
O 241513Z AUG 09
FM AMEMBASSY TBILISI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 2088
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE PRIORITY

C O N F I D E N T I A L TBILISI 001588 
 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 08/23/2019 
TAGS: ECON PGOV PREL GG
SUBJECT: GEORGIA: MINISTER OF ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT SACKED 
 
Classified By: Ambassador John F. Tefft for reasons 1.4 (b) and (d). 
 
1.  (C) Summary:  Prime Minister Nika Gilauri fired Minister 
of Economic Development Lasha Zhvania on August 21, 
ostensibly for poor performance.  Zhvania held a near 
simultaneous press conference in which he announced he was 
resigning from the Ministry due in part to interference by 
others in the government.  Gilauri and Zhvania have been 
involved in an ongoing power struggle since the two were 
appointed late last fall.  The announcement comes as no real 
surprise, and a close associate of Zhvania's confirmed that 
Zhvania himself long expected to be ousted given his close 
relationship with Irakli Alasania and his attempts to remake 
what has been a fairly dysfunctional ministry.  End Summary. 
 
2.  (C) Zhvania and Gilauri clashes began in late 2008 while 
Gilauri was still Finance Minister.  At the time the 
disagreements appeared to be based on rivalry between the 
ministries.  When Gilauri became PM in February 2009, the 
disagreements continued and increased in intensity in the 
last two months.  In a rarity for Georgian press, the media 
even began to cover the disintegrating relationship.  Many 
believe Zhvania was appointed Minister in late 2008 to stop 
him from creating a parliamentary faction supporting Irakli 
Alasania.  Despite his lack of economic credentials, Zhvania 
immediately began trying to reform the Ministry of Economic 
Development (MOED), tackling conventional wisdom that 
economc policy was controlled by key personalities within 
the Chancellery, namely Kakha Bendukidze. Within a month of 
taking office, Zhvania had fired all of Bendukidze's people 
inside the Ministry, including Deputy Ministers Tamara 
Kovziridze and Vato Lezhava.  Both quickly found positions as 
senior advisors to the PM, where they essentially maintained 
all of their responsibilities and created a shadow ministry. 
Zhvania himself told econoff that he had to replace these 
deputy ministers, as they were reporting everything back to 
Bendukidze who then would try to scuttle Zhvania's work. 
Zhvania said he met resistance in particular to attempts to 
develop a comprehensive economic policy to encourage export 
and domestic manufacturing.  (Comment:  Such efforts would 
run contrary to many, including Bendukidze's, libertarian 
laissez faire theory of economics.  End Comment.) 
 
3.  (C) Last week, Deputy Minister of Economic Development 
Irakli Gachechiladze expressed frustration to econoff that 
the PM's office stymied progress on all fronts.  He 
complained that he could not address European concerns in 
order to initiate free trade negotiations because the PM,s 
office refused to address serious deficiencies in Georgia's 
non-competition policy.  Gachechiladze said that given 
Georgia's lack of progress on these issues, he expects the EU 
will not recommend opening free trade negotiations in 2009. 
Zhvania in his statement to the press specifically mentioned 
a disagreement with the Prime Minister on the PM's lack of 
support for &speeding up a comprehensive free trade 
agreement with the European Union.8 
 
4.  (C) In addition to assigning tasks normally fundamental 
to a Ministry of Economy, such as trade negotiations and 
policy, to the PM's office, many of the Ministry,s other 
tasks had recently been reassigned.  The Ministry of Finance 
founded a new Investment Risk Management Agency (IRMA) that 
nominally was tasked with researching options for insurance 
for investors.  However, IRMA Director Zurab Simonia told 
econoff that according to the Finance Minister, he and the 
Ministry of Finance would soon take over GNIA.  Also, 
QMinistry of Finance would soon take over GNIA.  Also, 
according to Zhvania, the Minister of Health had been tasked 
with negotiating a new investment treaty with the Czech 
Republic, something out of line with his normal 
responsibilities.  In the PM's announcement he specifically 
mentioned Zhvania's failure with the Czech agreement, and 
criticized Health Minister Sandro Kvitashvili as well. 
 
5.  (C)  Gilauri pledged to name a new minister within two 
weeks as required by law.  The press is speculating that the 
current Ambassador to Spain Zurab Pololikashvili will soon be 
named to replace Zhvania.  Pololikashvili, a former banker at 
TBC Bank, is reported to be a &Saakashvili team member.8 
He also served as Deputy Foreign Minister prior to his 
appointment as Ambassador to Spain. 
 
6.  (C)  Comment:  Zhvania's removal comes as a surprise to 
no one.  He has rapidly been sidelined from key economic 
decisions and has watched his ministry's responsibilities 
shrink.  Members of Zhvania's inner circle believe that 
Zhvania simply tried to make too many changes and that many 
in the government hoped he would be just another figurehead 
minister at MOED.  His aggressive efforts to take on the 
circles of influence of those &unofficially8 running the 
Georgian economy only made him more unpopular with GOG 
insiders. 
TEFFT

Wikileaks

09TBILISI1587, GEORGIAN COAST GUARD CRACKS DOWN ON ABKHAZIA

WikiLeaks Link

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
09TBILISI1587 2009-08-24 14:48 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Tbilisi

VZCZCXRO9704
PP RUEHDBU RUEHFL RUEHKW RUEHLA RUEHNP RUEHROV RUEHSL RUEHSR
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FM AMEMBASSY TBILISI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 2085
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RUEHZP/AMEMBASSY PANAMA PRIORITY 0020
RUEHPF/AMEMBASSY PHNOM PENH PRIORITY 0008
RUEKJCS/OSD WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RHEHAAA/NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK PRIORITY 4889

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 TBILISI 001587 
 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 08/24/2019 
TAGS: PREL PBTS PHSA PGOV EWWT ETRD CB FR PM RS
SY, TU, GG 
SUBJECT: GEORGIAN COAST GUARD CRACKS DOWN ON ABKHAZIA 
SHIPMENTS 
 
Classified By: Ambassador John F. Tefft for Reasons 1.4 (b) and (d). 
 
1.  (C)  Summary and comment.  On August 15 and 18 the 
Georgian Coast Guard detained two vessels for violations of 
the Law on Occupied Territories and other infractions, 
including for traveling in restricted Black Sea waters off 
the coast of Abkhazia.  Although both vessels were stopped 
more than 24 nautical miles beyond Georgia's coast, the Coast 
Guard maintains both their suspicions of previous criminal 
activity and the principle of hot pursuit gave them the 
authority to take action.  The MFA also asserts the 
detentions took place within what Georgia considers its 
broader maritime space; FM Vashadze assured the Ambassador 
that there was no Georgian intention to take more provocative 
actions such as stopping Russian ships.  Abkhaz de facto 
"president" Bagapsh reacted strongly, issuing an open letter 
to the UN, EU and French President Sarkozy accusing Georgia 
of destabilizing the situation, demanding international 
condemnation of Georgia's action, and threatening vague 
consequences otherwise.  EU officials, including Special 
Representative Morel, took initial interest in the story, but 
the lack of any public response by Russia seems to have 
reduced concerns.  Although the Abkhaz could still carry 
through on Bapapsh's threats, including at Geneva, it seems 
unlikely at this point.  End summary and comment. 
 
THE GEOGRAPHY 
 
2. (SBU) As Georgian Coast Guard sources told EmbOff, the 
Georgian government divides the waters off the Georgia into 
three zones: territorial waters, which extend 12 nautical 
miles from the coast; the contiguous zone, which extends 
another 12 nautical miles beyond the territorial waters; and 
an exclusive economic zone, which extends from the contiguous 
zone in a rough triangle out into the Black Sea.  The 
economic zone roughly encompasses the area defined by one 
imaginary line extending from the Georgia/Russia border and 
another such line extending from the Turkey/Georgia border. 
The Georgian government calls this area the "maritime space 
of Georgia."  In terms of maritime jurisdiction, Georgia does 
not distinguish the area off the coast of Abkhazia from the 
area off the coast of the rest of Georgia.  It does consider 
the Port of Sukhumi closed, however, and the Law on Occupied 
Territories, among other pieces of Georgian law and 
regulation, declares movements in and out of Sukhumi that 
have not been properly registered with the Georgian 
government to be unlawful. 
 
THE INCIDENTS 
 
3. (C) Information on the following incidents was provided by 
the Georgian Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) and Coast 
Guard sources (provided in part to EUR/CARC electronically). 
On August 18, the Georgian Coast Guard seized the 
Cambodia-flagged "Afro Star," en route from Sukhumi to 
Turkey, carrying 1,255 tons of scrap metal.  The crew 
consisted of seven Syrian citizens.  Coast Guard sources told 
post they tracked the vessel by radar from Sukhumi; during 
the time it was in Georgian territorial waters off Abkhazia, 
its Automatic Identification System (AIS) was turned off, in 
violation of international regulations.  Once it passed 
beyond the contiguous zone, it turned its AIS system back on. 
Qbeyond the contiguous zone, it turned its AIS system back on. 
 Somewhere beyond that point, but within the exclusive 
economic zone, the Coast Guard, which had evidence of 
previous criminal activity on the part of the Afro Star, 
stopped the vessel on the basis of that evidence.  Upon 
searching the boat, it found documentary evidence that it had 
entered the Port of Sukhumi; the Coast Guard then took the 
vessel into custody at the Port of Poti on that basis.  The 
Coast Guard noted to post that it had tracked the vessel by 
radar from Sukhumi, so it also had the right to stop the 
vessel on the basis of hot pursuit.  Authorities have opened 
an investigation into the ship's possible violation of 
Article 322, Part II, sub-paragraph A of the Criminal Code of 
Georgia, which concerns the rules for entering the occupied 
territories of Georgia. 
 
4. (C) On August 15, the Georgian Coast Guard stopped the 
Panama-flagged "Buket," en route from Izmit, Turkey to 
Sukhumi, carrying 2,088 tons of gasoline and 700 tons of 
diesel fuel.  The crew consisted of 13 Turkish and four 
Azerbaijani citizens.  Coast Guard sources told post they had 
evidence of previous criminal activity on the part of the 
Buket and therefore stopped it on that basis.  In searching 
 
TBILISI 00001587
002 OF 003 
 
 
the vessel, they found documentary evidence of the vessel's 
intention to sail to Sukhumi, and the Coast Guard took the 
Buket into custody at the Port of Poti on that basis.  The 
sources told post that part of the evidence of previous 
criminal activity was a pattern of turning off the vessel's 
AIS while within Georgia's contiguous zone and territorial 
waters off Sukhumi, similar to that shone by the Afro Star. 
Authorities have opened an investigation of the same 
provision of Georgia law as for the Afro Star. 
 
THE REACTION 
 
5. (SBU) After the August 18 seizure, Abkhaz de facto 
"president" Bagapsh reacted swiftly, releasing an open letter 
dated the same day.  Addressed to the Chairman of the UN 
Security Council, John Sawers, the EU High Representative for 
the Common Foreign and Security Policy, Javier Solana, and 
the President of the French Republic, Nicolas Sarkozy, the 
letter denounces the August 17 seizure of a tanker sailing 
under the Turkish flag, by which he apparently means the 
(Panama-flagged) Buket, which had Turkish crew members.  It 
calls the Georgian act "piracy" and intentional 
destabilization and calls on the international community to 
assess the incident adequately -- i.e., to declare how 
destabilizing it is.  Absent such an assessment, the letter 
hints that the Abkhaz de facto authorities will reevaluate 
their participation in the Geneva talks and the Incident 
Prevention and Response Mechanism (IPRM).  It also states 
that, unless the international community helps Abkhazia 
recover the vessels and their cargoes, the de facto 
authorities reserve "the right to undertake proportional 
measures on protecting the cargoes going to Abkhazia, and 
lays the blame for possible consequences on the Georgian 
side." 
 
6. (C) Shortly after Bagapsh's letter appeared, Head of the 
EU Monitoring Mission (EUMM) Hansjoerg Haber noted that the 
de facto authorities had not appealed to the Russian 
Federation for assistance in this matter, and that Russia had 
not reacted in any official capacity.  To Haber, this 
suggested that Bagapsh's vague threat of retaliation was an 
empty one.  An EU official in Tbilisi said on August 24 that 
fairly senior EU officials, including Special Representative 
Pierre Morel, initially expressed concerns about the 
situation, but the lack of any further developments since the 
letter appeared served to reduce anxieties.  The fact that 
such seizures have happened before, without any significant 
consequences, was also reassuring.  Morel, who is a French 
diplomat, was apparently especially concerned because 
President Sarkozy was one of the addressees.  At this point, 
the official said that the EU is unlikely to respond to the 
letter. 
 
THE JUSTIFICATION 
 
7. (SBU) In a non-paper (provided to EUR/CARC 
electronically), the Georgian MFA outlined the government's 
legal argument in support of its actions.  Citing Article 2 
of the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, the paper notes 
the principle of a state having sovereignty over adjacent 
waters.  Citing Article 3 of the Georgian constitution and 
Article 15 of the Law on Maritime Space, it explains the 
government's definition of the maritime territory under 
Georgian jurisdiction.  Citing the Georgian Law on State 
QGeorgian jurisdiction.  Citing the Georgian Law on State 
Borders, it notes the general principle that unauthorized 
travel into Georgian waters is a violation.  Citing Georgian 
Presidential Decrees 140 (1996) and 313 (2004) and Article 2 
of the Law on Occupied Territories, it indicates that the 
waters off Abkhazia in particular are closed to all 
navigation.  Finally, citing Article 111 of the UN 
Convention, it takes note of the principle of "hot pursuit." 
When the Ambassador asked FM Vashadze about the incidents, 
the Foreign Minister noted that these actions were not new 
and suggested that the Georgians would not take any 
provocative acts such as stopping Russian vessels attempting 
to enter the port of Sukhumi. 
 
COMMENT: MUCH ADO ABOUT NOT MUCH? 
 
8. (C) These incidents are not the first such cases of 
Georgia seizing vessels bound to or from Abkhazia.  The Coast 
Guard, for example, provided a list of nine other such 
incidents from 2007 to the present.  What seems to be 
different in this case, and therefore to have gotten the 
 
TBILISI 00001587  003 OF 003 
 
 
attention of some, is the strongly worded reaction of de 
facto "president" Bagapsh.  Any follow-through from Bagapsh 
on his threats, either on the Black Sea or the Geneva 
talks/IPRM context, would of course be significant.  Judging 
from the relative lack of reaction from the Russian side, 
however -- the one country in the region that would 
presumably agree with Bagapsh's assessment of the incidents 
as violations of Abkhazia's "sovereignty" -- it seems likely 
that his bluster was meant more for domestic political 
consumption than anythin else, as Abkhazia prepares for its 
"presidential" elections in December. 
TEFFT

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09TBILISI1582, GEORGIA: FUTURE ENGAGEMENT WITH ABKHAZIA AND UN

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
09TBILISI1582 2009-08-24 04:56 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Tbilisi

VZCZCXRO9281
PP RUEHDBU RUEHFL RUEHKW RUEHLA RUEHNP RUEHROV RUEHSL RUEHSR
DE RUEHSI #1582/01 2360456
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 240456Z AUG 09
FM AMEMBASSY TBILISI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 2080
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEHBJ/AMEMBASSY BEIJING PRIORITY 0276
RUEKJCS/OSD WASHINGTON DC 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 001582 
 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 08/17/2019 
TAGS: PGOV PREL GG
SUBJECT: GEORGIA: FUTURE ENGAGEMENT WITH ABKHAZIA AND UN 
MISSION DISCUSSED 
 
Classified By: Ambassador John F. Tefft for reasons 1.4 (b) and (d). 
 
1.  (C) Summary and Comment.  In recent meetings, UN Special 
Representative Johann Verbeke and other European diplomats 
have proposed various ideas on the future of the 
international community's engagement with the breakaway 
regions, and a possible new role for the UN.  Expressing 
satisfaction that the EUMM has extended its mandate for one 
year, German Ambassador Flor stated that the EUMM is "only a 
stabilizer for a status quo that isn't satisfactory," 
emphasizing the need for action on a renewed UN presence in 
the breakaway regions.  Verbeke reported that broad support 
exists for the idea of a rotating team of UN international 
staff based in Geneva.  French Charge Baran saw a clear 
"difference in opportunities" between Abkhazia and South 
Ossetia, with multiple options for Abkhazia and no options 
for engagement in South Ossetia.  All indications are that 
the Abkhaz would welcome a UN presence; de facto "foreign 
minister" Sergei Shamba even omitted the phrase "in light of 
new realities" when encouraging a new UN human rights 
presence in Abkhazia.  All of these thoughts are useful as we 
consider how the USG should approach the question of 
engagement with the separatist regions.  End Summary and 
Comment. 
 
GERMAN AMBASSADOR CALLS FOR UNIFIED APPROACH 
 
2.  (C) In an August 9 meeting with DAS Bryza, German 
Ambassador Flor strongly supported a unified position for 
Western allies for future engagement with the breakaway 
regions.  Now could be an opportune time to seek that 
engagement, according to Flor.  A Lutheran church leader who 
recently visited the small German Lutheran church in Sochi 
told us that the Abkhaz are becoming more restive and 
uncomfortable with Russia's approach; although they want 
security, they do not want it at the price of a loss of all 
freedom of movement and loss of their identity.  As 
Ambassador Flor pointed out, with a generous estimate of 
90,000 Abkhaz living in the breakaway territory, in ten years 
this could easily shrink to one fifth of the region's 
population, and they are very conscious of their potential 
minority status. (Note: Estimates of the size of the ethnic 
Abkhaz population vary widely, but most observers agree the 
Abkhaz are already outnumbered by other ethnic groups. End 
note.)  Direct engagement also poses the challenge of knowing 
who is really pulling the strings on the Abkhaz side, and 
there was little confidence that it would be the Abkhaz de 
facto authorities.  Practical issues present big challenges, 
such as the question of whether a university in Tbilisi would 
recognize a diploma from a university in Abkhazia. 
Ambassador Flor suggested that if any of the Western 
Ambassadors travel to Abkhazia, they should go together as a 
group, and encouraged coordinated positions on engagement 
with both breakaway regions. 
 
UN SECRETARY GENERAL'S SPECIAL REPRESENTATIVE'S VIEW ON THE 
FUTURE FOR THE UN IN ABKHAZIA 
 
3.  (C)  In a separate August 9 meeting Johann Verbeke, the 
UN Secretary General's Special Representative, proposed a 
rotating team of five international staff to replace the 
former UNOMIG operation.  Verbeke reported that he will be in 
his position until the end of December, based out of Geneva, 
and will likely be seized with implementing this "light 
structure" for the UN in Georgia.  Verbeke reported that 
broad support seems to exist for this idea.  This structure, 
Qbroad support seems to exist for this idea.  This structure, 
which would be based in Geneva, answers the question of where 
to base the team, and where to accredit them.  According to 
Verbeke the UN would have one person always in Geneva, with 
the rest of the team in Tbilisi or Abkhazia, for a total of 
five members.  The team would support the Incident Prevention 
and Response (IPRM) meetings and provide a UN presence on the 
ground.  As Verbeke described it, the team would focus on 
human rights issues, but would not have it as an official 
title.  The envisioned team could identify gaps in a variety 
of areas, including poverty and human rights, and then the UN 
could send in expert groups from Geneva, New York, or 
possibly the EU as needed. According to Verbeke, the Russians 
have said they do not want a renewed presence connected to 
the Geneva talks, and the final home base for the team has 
not been decided.  Once such a team is established, it would 
be watched carefully and modified as needed. 
 
POSSIBLE WAYS FORWARD PRESENTED BY FORMER UNOMIG HUMAN RIGHTS 
OFFICER 
 
4.  (C)  In separate meetings on August 12 and 13 with 
Poloffs, Ryszard Komenda, former head of UNOMIG human rights 
office in Abkhazia, described four possible ways to 
 
TBILISI 00001582  002 OF 002 
 
 
re-establish a human rights presence in Abkhazia, or an even 
broader UN presence. His possible options are outlined below: 
 
 
A)  Establish in the Gali region of Abkhazia one 
international staff -- a human rights officer reportin
g to 
Vladlen Stefanov, (the Human Rights Advisor in the South 
Caucasus for the Office of the High Commissioner for Human 
Rights ((OHCHR)), and reports to the High Commissioner.) 
Stefanov did not previously report on Abkhazia because of the 
existing OHCHR presence (Komenda) as part of UNOMIG.  In 
addition to the one international staff member of OHCHR based 
in Gali, one or two local staff are envisioned.  One would be 
a professional (lawyer) and one administrative staff member. 
There would also be perhaps one local national staff in 
Sokhumi. According to Komenda, the UN did not want the new 
presence to appear to be a replacement presence for UNOMIG 
(Comment: the Abkhaz have expressed support for a renewed UN 
presence in Abkhazia. The Russian attitude is unclear.  End 
comment). 
OTHER OPTIONS 
B)  One OHCHR officer linked with the Geneva support team (as 
described by Verbeke, above).  This person would be a 
combined political/human rights officer and would rotate and 
administratively function the same as the rest of the team. 
C)  A new regional office for the South Caucasus and Black 
Sea region. This could possibly be based in Istanbul to cover 
the entire South Caucasus and Black Sea region.  This would 
include all "entities" i.e. N-K, Abkhazia, S. Ossetia, plus 
all states in the region. OHCHR currently has no presence in 
Kiev or Turkey. 
D)  More politically difficult, but with the broadest mandate 
for capacity building, would be a freestanding office, a 
model of which exists the Palestinian territories. According 
to Komenda this would be best for projects, but difficult to 
achieve with opposition expected from both Georgia and Russia. 
5.  (C)  At the same time, UNHCR has approached the USG for 
funding to support stationing four "UN Protection Officers" 
in Gali under UNHCR auspices.  The goal of this initiative 
would be to provide continued UN support for Gali residents 
once the human rights office in Abkhazia, which is connected 
to the expired UNOMIG mandate, closes. 
TEFFT

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