09TBILISI1514, GEORGIA: MARKING THE AUGUST 7 ONE-YEAR ANNIVERSARY

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
09TBILISI1514 2009-08-07 14:14 2011-08-30 01:44 UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY Embassy Tbilisi

VZCZCXYZ0008
OO RUEHWEB

DE RUEHSI #1514/01 2191414
ZNR UUUUU ZZH (CCY AD9A36B6 MSI4584-695)
O 071414Z AUG 09
FM AMEMBASSY TBILISI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 2003
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE

UNCLAS TBILISI 001514 
 
SENSITIVE 
SIPDIS 
 
C O R R E C T E D COPY CAPTION 
 
E.O. 12958: N/A 
TAGS: PGOV PREL PBTS GG
SUBJECT: GEORGIA: MARKING THE AUGUST 7 ONE-YEAR ANNIVERSARY 
OF THE WAR 
 
REF: TBILISI 468 
1.  (U)  Summary:  Georgians commemorated the one-year 
anniversary of the August 2008 conflict with numerous events 
around the country, including a mid-day visit by President 
Saakashvili to a cemetery containing the bodies of soldiers 
killed in the war, a nationwide moment of silence at 3 pm, an 
open-air "occupation museum" on Tbilisi's Rustaveli Avenue 
depicting centuries of Russian aggression, and an official 
ceremony led by President Saakashvili at Gori Castle in honor 
of those killed last summer, that included representatives of 
the diplomatic corps.  Samagrelo Governor Gorozia opened the 
Ganmakhuri Pioneer camp, located near the Abkhaz 
administrative boundary line, with little national fanfare. 
On the eve of the anniversary, the GoG released a report 
offering an historical overview of Georgian-Russian 
antagonism beginning with fall of the Soviet Union through 
last August's war.  The mood in Tbilisi was subdued with 
events taking place in a somber atmosphere under gray skies. 
End Summary. 
 
GOG RELEASES REPORT ON AUGUST 2008 CONFLICT 
 
2.  (U)  Minister for Reintegration Temuri Yakobashvili 
released a report on the August 2008 war with Russia on the 
eve of the one-year anniversary of the conflict.  Published 
in Georgian and English, the 80-page report entitled, "The 
Aggression by the Russian Federation Against Georgia," offers 
the GoG's broad historical overview of Georgian-Russian 
antagonism beginning with fall of the Soviet Union.  Part of 
the report's contents parallels the information the GoG 
provided to the Heidi Tagliavini Commission (see reftel), 
which is investigating the causes of the August conflict. 
Yakobashvili presented the report on August 6, 2009, to 
members of the diplomatic community, the press, civil 
society, academia, and the public; the Ministers of Foreign 
Affairs and Defense were also in attendance.  The 
presentation included actual Russian missile parts recovered 
from the war, videos showing scenes of the conflict, and 
posters illustrating a chronology of events.  Yakobashvili 
commented that although Russia still issues "alarming 
statements," Georgia is now in the international spotlight, 
which "enables us to deter Russia's aggression and not to 
allow reoccurrence of the bloodshed that our country passed 
through last August." 
 
DIFFERING VIEWS OF THE SAME STORY 
 
3.  (U)  The parties to the conflict continue to deflect 
blame for igniting hostilities last summer.  On August 6, 
2009, President Saakashvili published an Op-Ed in the 
Washington Post entitled, "Georgia, On the Rebound," in which 
he states that "Russia's 58th Army crossed over Georgia's 
internationally recognized borders," beginning "a 
long-planned invasion aimed at toppling my government and 
increasing Moscow's control over our region."  In contrast, 
in an article entitled, "The West's Moral Failure over 
Georgia," featured in the August 6, 2009, issue of the 
Guardian, de facto Abkhaz and South Ossetian leaders Sergei 
Bagapsh and Eduard Kokoity assert that "(t)he truth is that 
on 7 August 2008 an irrational Georgian leader used US 
military support to launch a brutal attack on South Ossetia, 
hours after publicly assuring Ossetian civilians that he had 
ordered a ceasefire....only Russian intervention prevented an 
even greater atrocity." 
 
4.  (U)  In Tbilisi, Maestro TV aired an anti-Saakashvili 
segment that claimed that the President had signed a 
"capitulation treaty" under which Georgia lost more villages 
in Abkhazia and South Ossetia to Russian control after the 
war.  Imedi TV aired a lengthy interview with Saakashvili on 
Qwar.  Imedi TV aired a lengthy interview with Saakashvili on 
August 6, 2009, in which the President admitted, "yes, Russia 
has taken over several dozen villages... but Russia's 
eventual goal was full annihilation of Georgia."  He stated 
that the Georgian army could have resisted the Russian 
invasion and protected areas that eventually came under 
Russian control, but "that would have meant destruction of 
the Georgian army and there would have been no one to protect 
Tbilisi."  "Those saying that Georgia launched the war are a 
marginalized group of politicians in Georgia," he added. 
 
OPPOSITION ATTENDS NSC MEETING 
 
5.   (SBU)  The National Security Council (NSC) met on the 
eve of the conflict's anniversary to discuss external threats 
and Russian aggression.  President Saakashvili also used the 
NSC session as an opportunity to address opposition leaders' 
concerns about attacks on their activists by inviting several 
opposition leaders to attend; Irakli lasania (Our 
Georgia-Free Democrats), Konstantine Gamsakhurdia (Freedom 
Party), Zurab Tkemaladze (Industrialists Party), Akaki 
Asatiani (Traditionalists), Petre Mamradze (Fair Georgia - 
 
the party of former PM Noghaideli), and Bachuki Kardava 
(National Democratic Party) of the non-parliamentary 
opposition and MPs Paata Davitaia (We Ourselves), Levan 
Vepkhvadze (Christian Democrats), and Gia Tortladze 
(Democratic Party) of the parliame
ntary opposition accepted 
the invitation.   A separate meeting between opposition 
leaders and law enforcement authorities to discuss these 
attacks has been set for August 12, 2009. 
 
EVENTS IN GORI AND TBILISI MARK ANNIVERSARY 
 
6.  (U)  Georgians marked the anniversary of the war with 
numerous events around the country, particularly in Gori and 
Tbilisi.  Commemorations in Gori reportedly began at midnight 
August 7 with the lighting of "bonfires of unity."  Bonfires 
were lit in other cities around the country with the goal of 
being seen by those in South Ossetia and Abkhazia.  Rustaveli 
Avenue in Tbilisi was closed for the duration of the day and 
transformed into an "occupation museum."  According to 
organizers, the "museum" or "street theater" features Soviet 
military equipment and other exhibits portraying "two 
centuries of Russian aggression" against Georgia beginning in 
1783 with the signing of the Georgievsk Treaty, which made 
eastern Georgia a protectorate of the Russian empire. 
Samagrelo Governor Zaza Gorozia opened the Ganmarkhuri 
Pioneer camp for several hundred IDP children.  The camp, 
located near the Abkhazia administrative boundary line on the 
northern side of the Enguri River, was destroyed in the 
August 2008 conflict.  There was no media coverage of the 
event in Tbilisi. 
 
REMEMBERING THOSE WHO DIED 
 
7.  (SBU)  At 3 pm on August 7, 2009, a nationwide moment of 
silence was held in honor of those killed in last year's war. 
 Embassy employees participated in this event.  In addition, 
senior GoG officials will gather in Gori to lay the 
foundation for a monument depicting the names of victims of 
the war.  At 8:30 pm at Gori Castle, President Saakashvili is 
scheduled to attend a ceremony commemorating those killed 
last August.  Ambassador Tefft and other members of the 
diplomatic corps will attend. 
TEFFT

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