Monthly Archives: December 2009

09TBILISI2307, GEORGIA: ELECTORAL CODE PASSES THIRD READING WITH

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
09TBILISI2307 2009-12-30 14:34 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Tbilisi

VZCZCXRO8086
OO RUEHDBU RUEHFL RUEHKW RUEHLA RUEHNP RUEHROV RUEHSL RUEHSR
DE RUEHSI #2307/01 3641434
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
O 301434Z DEC 09
FM AMEMBASSY TBILISI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 2649
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE PRIORITY

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 TBILISI 002307 
 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 12/30/2019 
TAGS: PGOV PHUM PREL GG
SUBJECT: GEORGIA: ELECTORAL CODE PASSES THIRD READING WITH 
A BIT OF CONTROVERSY 
 
REF: TBILISI 2170 
 
Classified By: DEPUTY CHIEF OF MISSION KENT LOGSDON REASONS:  1.4 (B) A 
ND (D). 
 
1.  (U)  Summary:  The Electoral Code (ref A) passed its 
third reading after a three day delay due to opposition 
Christian Democrats' objections about voter lists and voter 
registration procedures.  The only notable change to the code 
on the third reading was the adoption of an amendment that 
bars new residents of Tbilisi who register between January 15 
and June 1, 2010 from voting in Tbilisi during upcoming local 
elections -- apparently a concession from the ruling party in 
response to opposition concerns that the UNM would attempt to 
bring in new voters to beef up its rolls.  These residents 
remain eligible to vote in the municipality in which they 
previously resided.  The law will be sent to the Venice 
Commission for review.  End Summary. 
 
2.  (C)  Comment:  The passage of the code was expected. 
While the amendment to bar registration of new residents in 
the lead up to the 2010 Tbilisi mayoral elections is intended 
to curb fraud, it is unclear what if any impact it will have. 
 Depending on one's point of view, the whole episode either 
reveals that the opposition is already creating excuses for 
what according to recent polls looks to be potentially 
disappointing results, or confirmation that the UNM is 
engaging in systematic fraud that needs to be quickly 
addressed.  In any event, politically jockeying has begun in 
earnest six months ahead of local elections.  End Comment. 
 
Code Passes As Expected with a Minor Hitch 
 
3.  (C)  Opposition parties, led by the Christian Democrats, 
called for an emergency meeting with diplomats, NGOs and 
political party representatives after voicing objections to 
the Electoral Code which was expected to pass on December 25. 
 A meeting was held on December 28 that essentially consisted 
of the Electoral Law Working group plus NGOs and a smattering 
of the diplomatic community.  What transpired was largely a 
discussion between UNM representative Pavel Kubliashvili 
(Chairman of Parliamentary Legal Committee), Tina Khidasheli 
(Republican Party member and wife of Republican leader David 
Usupashvili) and CDM MP and Vice Speaker Levan Vepkhadze 
about verifying voter lists and registration.  The meeting 
was cordial with both sides raising their concerns, although 
no conclusions were reached.  Khidasheli and Vepkhadze 
articulated their concerns about the propriety of voter lists 
and creating mechanisms to discourage fraud.  UNM 
representative Kubliashvili expressed his concern that the 
opposition was trying to blame the UNM in advance for a 
potential poor showing during elections and called 
allegations of voter list rigging groundless.  Later the same 
day, Parliament passed the Electoral Code but did not gain 
the support of the Christian Democrats who abstained.  The 
Electoral Code will now be sent to the Venice Commission for 
review, with recommendations expected to be returned in March. 
 
4.  (C)  The code passed with an additional provision that 
bars new residents of Tbilisi who register residency between 
January 15 and June 1, 2010 from voting in Tbilisi.  The new 
Tbilisi residents will be able to vote in the districts in 
which they previously resided.  MP Guram Chakhvadze (National 
Democrats) expressed his concern that the amendment would 
unduly limit the ability of new residents who legitimately 
move to Tbilisi to vote.  An idea to close the voter list a 
month in advance of elections was rejected by the UNM who 
argued that parties have access to the voters lists from now 
Qargued that parties have access to the voters lists from now 
until the election and could verify names at any point so no 
such provision was necessary.  (Note:  While not yet 
officially scheduled, according to the electoral code, 
elections must take place before June 1.  End Note.) 
Kubliashvili added that political parties would receive extra 
budgetary resources to pay for monitoring and verification of 
voter lists. 
 
Effect of Anti-Fraud Amendment Questionable 
 
5.  (C)  Opposition members expressed skepticism that the 
amendment would prevent UNM fraud.  Deputy Speaker Vepkhadze 
(CDM) told Poloff that the amendment does nothing to stop 
fraudulent registrations occurring before the January 15 
deadline.  He stressed that the GoG controls the distribution 
of identification cards so they could easily create 
legitimate identification documents that were backdated to 
enable fraudulent participation in the elections, as well as 
create fake identities to pad the voters lists.  Kubliashvili 
highlighted to Poloff that nothing was currently preventing 
the opposition from bringing people to Tbilisi and applying 
for residence solely for the purpose of voting in the Tbilisi 
local election.  He expressed his displeasure that the UNM 
was already being accused of rigging elections without a 
 
TBILISI 00002307  002 OF 002 
 
 
concrete basis for these claims. 
 
Voter Lists Tough to Verify - Concrete Evidence Lacking 
 &#x0
00A;6.  (C)  Irakli Melashvili (National Forum) told Poloff that 
uncovering fraud in voter lists was an extremely difficult 
task.  Melashvili said that door to door checks could turn up 
anecdotal evidence of fraud but exposing widespread 
systematic fraud was difficult.  Melashvili explained that 
many people are legitimately not at home at the time of the 
verification; nobody was compelled to even open their door to 
speak to questioners; and those committing fraud are 
sophisticated enough not to admit it to anybody trying to 
uncover it.  Former Deputy Ombudsman (and current deputy 
chairman of GYLA) Giorgi Chkheidze told Poloff at least three 
weeks was needed to verify a voter list to come to any sort 
of conclusion -- making voter list verification daunting. 
Because of these factors, Melashvili said National Forum 
plans to propose that voters lists include biometric data 
such as a photo and/or fingerprints to be able to uncover 
fraud after the fact.  According to Melashvili, virtually all 
the opposition was ready to support this proposal. 
Melashvili said that the proposed measures should be 
incorporated into any future election cycle and if 
implemented would greatly reduce the ability to commit 
electoral fraud but added that as a technical (and political) 
matter the incorporation of such measures in the upcoming 
local election was not realistic. 
 
7.  (C)  Melashvili told Poloff that he had no conclusive 
evidence that widespread fraud was currently taking place. 
He said that National Forum would be looking for 
discrepancies in voter registration and voter lists as 
compared to previous elections to try to uncover any 
significant deviations.  Vepkhadze also told Poloff he was 
more concerned about potential fraud then fraud that was 
currently ongoing.  Melashvili concluded that the UNM had no 
need to commit electoral fraud due to its strong polling and 
Alasania's floundering campaign.  He lamented that as it 
stood today, the opposition would once again face electoral 
defeat due to their own internal disagreements regardless of 
whether the UNM engaged in systematic fraud or not. 
BASS

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09TBILISI2291, GEORGIA: DASD WALLANDER LEADS BILATERAL DEFENSE

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
09TBILISI2291 2009-12-29 12:42 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL//NOFORN Embassy Tbilisi

VZCZCXRO7085
PP RUEHDBU RUEHFL RUEHKW RUEHLA RUEHNP RUEHROV RUEHSL RUEHSR
DE RUEHSI #2291/01 3631242
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 291242Z DEC 09
FM AMEMBASSY TBILISI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 2640
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RHEHAAA/NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK PRIORITY 4973
RUEKJCS/OSD WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 04 TBILISI 002291 
 
NOFORN 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 12/21/2019 
TAGS: PREL PGOV MARR MOPS GG RS
SUBJECT: GEORGIA: DASD WALLANDER LEADS BILATERAL DEFENSE 
CONSULTATIONS 
 
REF: TBILISI 002103 
 
Classified By: Ambassador John R. Bass for reasons 1.4 (b) and (d)v 
 
1. (C) Summary and Comment.  On 19-20 November, Deputy 
Assistant Secretary of Defense Celeste A. Wallander 
co-chaired with First Deputy Minister of Defense Nikoloz 
Vashakidze the 2009 U.S.-Georgia Bilateral Defense 
Consultations (BDC) in Tbilisi, Georgia.  The BDC established 
the strategic direction in U.S-Georgia defense/military 
relations for 2010.  The two sides reviewed Georgia's defense 
reform progress since the 2008 Russia-Georgia war, charted 
progress in U.S.-Georgia defense cooperation and examined 
Georgia's NATO integration efforts through the ANP/PARP 
process.  U.S. briefings included a review of U.S. defense 
cooperation activities conducted in FY09 and up-coming FY10 
activities, as well as an overview of the Georgia Deployment 
Program-ISAF (GDP-ISAF).  Results included up-dating the 
strategic end-state for the Georgian Armed Forces, reviewing 
and prioritizing Ministry of Defense/Georgian Armed Forces 
(GAF) assistance requests, reaffirming Georgia's commitment 
to the "brains before brawn" approach, and prioritizing 
defense and security cooperation activities for 2010. 
Although there are visible signs of Georgian frustration 
their inability to procure lethal weaponry from the West and 
U.S., the Georgians clearly understand the need to deepen 
defense reforms.  End Summary. 
 
GENERAL OVERVIEW 
 
2. (C) First Deputy Defense Minister Vashakidze opened the 
BDC, highlighting the link between the U.S.-Georgia Charter 
Commission Security Working Group and Bilateral Defense 
Consultations.  The latter provided an opportunity to 
establish the strategic direction of bilateral defense 
cooperation and implement the tenets of the Charter. 
Vashakidze expressed satisfaction with the strong level of 
defense cooperation since the 2008 BDC in Washington. 
Georgia's new security reality and analysis of lessons 
learned from the August war, however, dictates Georgia's need 
to develop a homeland defense capability in parallel with its 
NATO reforms and coalition contributions.  Vashakidze 
underscored Georgia's goal to boost reforms in 2010, 
referencing Georgia's commitment to the "brains before brawn" 
approach.  He stressed that Georgia will require targeted 
U.S. assistance to achieve its goals of defense modernization 
and reforms along Euro-Atlantic lines. 
 
3. (C)  DASD Wallander opened by reaffirming the U.S. 
commitment to Georgia's territorial integrity, sovereignty 
and independence.  The U.S. will continue to support robust 
areas of defense cooperation that will help Georgia modernize 
and reform its military along Euro-Atlantic lines.  She noted 
recognition that the Ministry of Defense and Armed Forces are 
undergoing significant changes in a difficult security 
environment.  The U.S. will continue to refine and harmonize 
its assistance efforts based on Georgia's needs, resource 
availability and regional security concerns.  Georgia has 
been the most progressive reformer in the region, and as a 
result, expectations were high for Georgia to accelerate and 
deepen those reform efforts.  DASD Wallander noted that 
although Georgia has shown commendable restraint in the 
current stand-off with Russia, this restraint must continue 
for as long as it takes to restore Georgia's territorial 
integrity by peaceful means.  The U.S. has made clear to 
Russia that the "reset" will not come at the expense of 
QRussia that the "reset" will not come at the expense of 
Georgia.  DASD Wallander reinforced the U.S. policy of 
supporting Georgia's NATO membership aspirations, noting 
there are multiple paths to NATO membership.  Georgia needed 
to take responsibility and complete necessary reforms to meet 
NATO's performance-based standards. 
 
U.S. Assistance 
 
4. (C)  DASD Wallander expounded on U.S. assistance efforts 
since the 2008 BDC.  The United States had reoriented its 
assistance focus and placed significant resources into 
supporting a "brains before brawn" approach which will lay 
the groundwork for Georgia's defense needs, reform process 
nd NATO aspirations.  The Armed Forces Assessment Team 
report is serving as a positive blueprint for Georgia's 
defense reform and modernization needs.  Much had been 
accomplished over the past year, with the U.S. supporting 
multiple mobile training teams, dozens of military to 
military events, over a dozen DoD senior level visits, 
several ship visits, dozens of conferences supporting 
Georgia's reform process and three major exercises 
(Cooperative Longbow, Cooperative Lancer, Exercise Immediate 
 
TBILISI 00002291  002 OF 004 
 
 
Response).  Along with the multi-million dollar Georgia 
Deployment Program-ISAF program, the U.S. was apportioning a 
significant amount of resources, manpower and time to 
support
ing Georgia's defense reform efforts, modernization 
and coalition contributions.  The establishment of the first 
ever Colonels Working Group and Charter Security Working 
Group provided additional opportunities to review and 
evaluate bilateral defense and security cooperation in 2010. 
All these pointed to a strong foundation of cooperation for 
2010-2011. 
 
5.  (C)  Reflecting Assistant Secretary of Defense Vershbow's 
message in Tbilisi a month prior, DASD Wallander reaffirmed 
the U.S. was prepared for a long term commitment and 
extensive process of engagement with Georgia on defense 
reform and modernization.  Georgia must understand, however, 
that U.S. defense and security assistance is tied to 
Georgia's political and security sector reform progress, as 
well as regional security.  If Georgia makes real progress 
and meets established benchmarks, bilateral defense 
cooperation could deepen; on the other hand, lagging reforms 
will hamper deepened cooperation. 
 
Georgian Progress and Assistance Needs 
 
6.  (C)  Deputy Minister of Defense Kharshiladze and Deputy 
Chief of Defense Nairashvili recognized the strength of U.S. 
engagement, which had resulted in concrete progress and 
institutional change in the MoD that will bring lasting 
success to the GAF.  The successful completion of Georgia's 
ANP, which NATO had highlighted, was a significant step 
forward.  Kharshiladze reviewed Georgia's reform successes, 
noting the focus was on updating strategic and doctrinal 
products.  The Georgian NSC is finalizing the Strategic 
Defense Review process, which should be completed in 2010. 
DCHOD Nairashvili reviewed Georgia's extensive assistance 
needs, which broke down into the following pools: 
professional military education, lessons learned, defense 
planning and capabilities development, doctrine development, 
training areas and simulations, command, control and 
communications development and intelligence. 
 
7.  (C)  The Georgian side agreed to provide a prioritized 
list of assistance requests after the BDC.  Minister 
Vashakidze requested increased U.S. support for the National 
Defense Academy (NDA) and training centers, noting Georgia is 
dedicating $1.5 million in national funds to develop the 
Joint Command and General Staff College by fall 2010. 
Georgian funds will be used for additional support from the 
U.S. Defense Advisory Team in developing the NDA program. 
Several times during the BDC, various Georgian interlocutors 
noted that the current U.S. focus on guidance, was not 
meeting dire assistance needs.  Georgia required more 
on-the-ground long-term assistance.  In order to better 
address lessons learned from 2008, Minister Kharshiladze 
requested specific U.S. assistance on creating a lessons 
learned system for the GAF.  Minister Vashakidze also 
reaffirmed the oft-repeated request for additional support on 
updating Georgia's General Defense Plan. 
 
8.  (C)  Land Forces Commander Janjgava referred to Georgia's 
inability to procure defensive capabilities since the August 
2008 conflict.  Expounding on a common refrain heard at the 
BDC, Janjgava stressed that the embargo imposed by Russia and 
the "silent embargo" imposed by NATO countries and Georgia's 
western partners had severely degraded Georgia's self-defense 
Qwestern partners had severely degraded Georgia's self-defense 
capabilities.  There was concern that Georgia could not 
maintain capabilities that it had developed prior to the 
August conflict.  Although Georgia's leadership understood 
the U.S. was not prepared to provide capabilities, the 
signals being sent to Russia that Georgia was effectively 
being disarmed, were dangerous.  Georgia also would have a 
difficult time preparing budget and force restructuring 
decisions without an understanding of what capabilities could 
be provided. 
 
Afghanistan 
 
9.  (C)  DASD Wallander expressed U.S. and NATO appreciation 
for Georgia's significant ISAF contributions.  Georgia's 31st 
battalion was doing an excellent job in training and the 
Marines were praising Georgia's performance.  DASD Wallander 
noted the U.S. has a detailed six month training program for 
Georgia's 31st battalion and plans to train and equip three 
successive Georgian battalions for follow-on deployments in a 
two year period.  The U.S. will stay deeply engaged in 
supporting these efforts.  DASD Wallander stressed that ISAF 
efforts in Afghanistan are a vital contribution to supporting 
 
TBILISI 00002291  003 OF 004 
 
 
international security and the U.S. appreciated Georgia's 
strong efforts to support this mission.  As the President 
would soon decide on how to move forward in Afghanistan, the 
U.S. appreciated that Georgia was ready to increase its 
support alongside the U.S., Allies and partner nations.  The 
U.S. also appreciated the assistance of the Government of 
Georgia on transit of goods for Afghanistan.  Cargo volumes 
on the Northern Distribution Network (NDN) were steadily 
increasing, as all involved gain experience with the process 
and the routes.  The U.S. expected that Georgia is about to 
see a significant increase in NDN container traffic. 
 
10. (C)  Colonel Cottrell, Commander of U.S. Marines Training 
and Advisory Group, provided a brief on the progress of 
Georgia's Afghanistan deployment.  He stressed that the 
Georgian contribution was vital to the effort in Afghanistan, 
noting that when Georgia is deployed and operating in 
full-spectrum operations in Afghanistan, they will represent 
approximately 20 percent of the combat power in Helmand 
province.  In two months, U.S. Marines had seen significant 
progress in the 31st battalion, all at surprising rate. 
Colonel Cottrell noted that when compared to other partners 
he had trained around the world, Georgia's soldiers had 
positive attitudes and were proving to be the best partner he 
had worked with thus far.  Georgia would need to be prepared 
for the U.S. sponsored Mission Rehearsal Exercise in Germany, 
January-February 2010, which will replicate conditions in 
Afghanistan and help validate Georgia's forces for their 
upcoming mission. 
 
Results 
 
11.  (C)  The following outlines the BDC results: 
 
--DoD expressed support for Georgia's NATO aspirations and 
will continue to use the NATO-Georgia Commission to 
facilitate Allies' support and assistance. 
 
--DoD welcomes Georgia's significant ISAF contributions and 
will continue to support the training and equipping of 
Georgia's battalions for ISAF. 
 
--DoD and Georgia will endeavor in 2010 to conduct follow on 
working group-level consultations - in addition to Bilateral 
Defense Consultations - at the Charter Commission Security 
Working Group, Colonels Working Group and Bilateral Country 
Planning Conference. 
 
--Both sides acknowledged that deepening defense cooperation 
rests on Georgia's ability to continue its reform process and 
meet critical milestones that sup
port defense reform, 
modernization and professionalization along Euro-Atlantic 
lines. 
 
--U.S. and Georgia will continue to work together to 
implement defense and security cooperation activities that 
meet the established agreed upon end state for the Georgian 
Armed Forces: GAF that are trained, equipped and structured 
for territorial defense, while supporting Georgia's defense 
transformation priorities, NATO aspirations, and coalition 
contributions. 
 
--Both sides will explore options for expanding Georgia's 
training capacity. 
 
--U.S. and Georgia will focus on professional military 
education and training as top priorities for the GAF, two of 
which are reforming and modernizing the National Defense 
Academy and providing the GAF/MoD educational opportunities. 
 
--Georgia will continue to develop a defense reform process 
implementation plan and lessons learned program, with DoD 
assistance. 
 
--DoD will assist Georgia in developing necessary strategic 
and doctrinal products that facilitate transformation and 
Qand doctrinal products that facilitate transformation and 
modernization of the GAF along Euro-Atlantic lines. 
 
--DoD will continue to closely review Georgia's list of 
immediate needs and longer range transformation goals. 
--Based upon Georgian force structure decisions resulting 
from the SDR process, DoD will assist Georgia in identifying 
its capability gaps. 
 
--EUCOM informed the Georgian delegation of the concept 
approved by CDR USEUCOM to move Exercise IMMEDIATE RESPONSE 
to the Balkans and solicited Georgia's views on hosting 
Exercise SHARED HORIZON (SH) 11, a multi-year, interagency, 
 
TBILISI 00002291  004 OF 004 
 
 
consequence management exercise with a building block 
approach. 
 
--U.S. and Georgia updated the previously agreed upon 
strategic end-state for the Georgian Armed Forces, to include 
coalition contribution efforts:  Georgian Armed Forces that 
are trained, equipped, and structured for territorial 
defense, while supporting Georgia's defense transformation 
priorities, NATO aspirations, and coalition contribution 
efforts. 
 
--Georgia will identify the battalion for follow-on rotation 
by December 2009. 
 
--Recognized that assistance in defense planning and ISAF 
contributions are enduring priorities, and identified 
additional specific areas of assistance requests to include 
professional military education, lessons learned, doctrine 
development, training areas and simulations training 
capability development, command, control & communications, 
and intelligence. 
 
--Georgian delegation pledged to more effectively prioritize 
their requests for assistance. Both sides agreed to work 
together to identify priority activities for FY10 and 
intermediate objectives for FY11 in preparation for the 
U.S.-Georgia Colonel's Working Group in February 2011. 
 
--EUCOM and USAREUR exercise planners will follow up with 
additional consultations with Embassy Tbilisi on the proposed 
concept for Exercise SHARED HORIZON. 
 
COMMENT 
 
12.  (C)  The 2009 Bilateral Defense Consultations concluded 
successfully, setting the strategic direction of defense 
relations for the following year.  While the Georgians 
continue to request military hardware for territorial defense 
(mainly anti-tank, air defense and command and control 
systems), they haveembraced the U.S. sponsored "brains over 
brawn" approach to their defense transformation, and 
appreciate the U.S. efforts supporting reforms and 
modernization of the GAF.  Although there are visible signs 
of Georgian frustration over a perceived "silent arms 
embargo," they clearly understand at the highest levels of 
government the need to show progress on defense and political 
reforms.  Despite lingering concerns about Russia's presence 
in the occupied territories of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, 
and fears of another invasion, Georgia is looking to the 
future as MoD leadership remains positive about U.S. 
engagement, while staying focused on the task of facilitating 
U.S. efforts to train and equip their forces as they prepare 
for their first deployment to Afghanistan as a fighting unit 
with no caveats. 
 
13. (U) This message was cleared by Deputy Assistant 
Secretary of Defense Wallander. 
BASS

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09TBILISI2283, GEORGIA: DASD WALLANDER MEETING WITH MINDEF

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
09TBILISI2283 2009-12-24 10:05 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Tbilisi

VZCZCXRO5027
PP RUEHDBU RUEHFL RUEHKW RUEHLA RUEHNP RUEHROV RUEHSL RUEHSR
DE RUEHSI #2283/01 3581005
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 241005Z DEC 09
FM AMEMBASSY TBILISI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 2636
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RHMFISS/HQ USEUCOM VAIHINGEN GE PRIORITY
RHEHAAA/NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RUEHNO/USMISSION USNATO PRIORITY 4047
RHMFITT/JOINT STAFF WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RUEHMO/USDAO MOSCOW RS PRIORITY

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 TBILISI 002283 
 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 12/21/2010 
TAGS: PGOV PREL GG
SUBJECT: GEORGIA: DASD WALLANDER MEETING WITH MINDEF 
AKHALAIA 
 
Classified By: Ambassador John R. Bass for reasons 1.4 (b) and (d) 
 
1.  (C)  SUMMARY.  Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense 
Celeste Wallander laid out the results of the Bilateral 
Defense Consulations (BDC), reaffirming U.S. support for 
Georgia's defense reform and modernization along 
Euro-Atlantic lines in her meeting with Georgian Minister of 
Defense Bacho Akhalaia on the margins of the BDC in Tbilisi. 
Wallander asserted that assistance is a long-term process and 
a long-term commitment by the United States, which is 
contingent on Georgia's reform progress and ability to meet 
key milestones.  Minister of Defense Akhalaia appreciated the 
strong U.S. footprint at the 2009 BDC and reiterated 
Georgia's need for continued U.S. assistance as it goes 
through a wholescale reformation of its defense institutions. 
 Akhalaia laid out the short and long-term challenges faced 
by the Ministry of Defense, which included the need for 
increased resources focused on the General Defense Plan, 
developing doctrine, and curriculum development for the 
National Academy.  End Summary. 
 
DEFENSE PRIORITIES 
 
2.  (C)  Minister Akhalaia provided an in-progress update of 
developments in Georgia's defense reform process.  Noting the 
BDC provided the U.S. an opportunity to gauge Georgia's 
current focus and priorities, Akhalaia focused on the equal 
and interrelated problems in training, education and weapons 
procurement.  As the MoD is currently focused on educating 
and training its officer corps, military personnel and 
civilians, Akhalaia had decided to elevate the priority of 
education by apportioning additional national funds into 
establishing a National Military Academy (NMA).  At the 
current stage, the NMA needed serious attention and 
assistance, and U.S. support will be vital to ensure the 
institution can serve Georgia's vital needs.  Akhalaia 
admitted that Georgia has neither the intellectual nor 
financial resources to fully solve the educational capability 
gaps that exist.  Despite these shortcomings, the MoD will 
focus an increasing amount of its resources and energy into 
supporting an intellectual framework for the GAF.  Akhalaia 
asserted that without resolving the problem of education, it 
will be difficult to resolve the entire range of MoD 
problems.  Akhalaia concluded by noting that Georgia would 
appreciate increased assistance on developing its doctrine 
and defense plan. 
 
U.S. SUPPORT 
 
3.  (C)  DASD Wallander praised Georgia's progress since the 
2008 BDC.  Focusing on strategic documents had proven 
fruitful, as the ongoing National Security Review process 
will set the foundation for lasting security sector reforms. 
DASD Wallander underscored the array of U.S. assistance 
efforts since the 2008 BDC, noting how the U.S. had 
reoriented its focus and placed significant resources into 
supporting a "brains before brawn" approach which will lay 
the groundwork for Georgia's defense needs, reform process 
and NATO aspirations.  As the U.S. and Georgia continued to 
review areas of cooperation, it is vital that Georgia 
prioritize its assistance needs.  Georgia needs to ensure its 
budget process creates a transparent acquisition and planning 
system that best serves Georgia's multi-faceted needs. 
Qsystem that best serves Georgia's multi-faceted needs. 
Akhalaia agreed, noting specifically that Georgia is making 
moves to reform its acquisition system and had a unified 
budget plan for 2010 that recognized the government's limited 
resources and updated priorities.  Akhalaia described his 
efforts to decentralize administrative decision-making in the 
MoD to ensure an efficient reform process. 
 
PARTNERSHIP LINKED TO REFORMS 
 
4.  (C)  DASD Wallander described how the U.S.-Georgia 
defense partnership developed in the context of the larger 
bilateral relationship.  Development in the  U.S.-Georgia 
defense partnership is intrinsically linked to security and 
political developments in Georgia, as the focus, intensity 
and ability to cooperate depended on Georgia's restraint, 
reform progress and the political decisions Georgia makes. 
Georgia is under a microscope in Washington, and it is vital 
that Georgia deepens its commitment to democratic 
development, which can thereby enable a stronger defense 
cooperation relationship.  Akhalaia reiterated that Georgia 
 
TBILISI 00002283  002 OF 002 
 
 
has a chance of success only within the limits of democracy. 
There was no alternative source of development for Georgia, 
and Akhalaia reaffirmed that he would continue to support the 
government's efforts aimed at strengthening democracy. 
 
GEORGIA DEPLOYMENT PROGRAM-INTERNATIONAL SECURITY ASSISTANCE 
FORCE (ISAF), AFGHANISTAN 
 
5.  (C)  DASD Wallander turned to the Afghanistan deployment, &#x000A
;describing her visit to the Krtsanisi Training Facility. 
Wallander reported that the training was going extremely well 
and U.S. Marine trainers were pleased with Georgia's 
progress.  DASD Wallander noted that it was a privilege to 
visit the training, as witnessing Georgia's personnel 
standing side-by-side with U.S. forces only reinforced the 
significance of Georgia's offer and efforts to support ISAF. 
The U.S. will continue to ensure that Georgia is trained and 
equipped for its efforts in Afghanistan.  Akhalaia thanked 
the U.S. for its continuing assistance and support for 
preparing Georgia's personnel.  He further stated it was 
essential that Georgian forces joining their ISAF 
counterparts be prepared for the difficult challenges that 
awaited them, and Akhalaia appreciated U.S. efforts to train 
and equip Georgia's forces.  Akhalaia said Georgia is 
prepared to stand by the U.S. no matter what decision was 
taken in Afghanistan regarding U.S. presence. 
 
STATE PARTNERSHIP 
 
6.  (U)  Georgia National Guard Adjutant General Nesbitt 
described the 15-year U.S.-Georgia state partnership, which 
had successfully provided a mechanism for strong bilateral 
cooperation.  General Nesbitt remarked that over the past 
fifteen years he had personally watched Georgia develop at a 
remarkable pace.  Viewed in perspective, Georgia's progress 
gave the U.S. confidence that it would succeed and build a 
strong democratic state along Euro-Atlantic lines.  The 
Georgia National Guard will continue to work closely with the 
Georgian Armed Forces, and the new Chief of Georgia's 
National Guard has a solid vision and reform plan.  The State 
of Georgia will engage wherever it can in support and looks 
forward to hosting the 2010 Bilateral Defense Consultations. 
 
 
7.  (U) Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense Celeste 
Wallander has cleared this cable. 
BASS

Wikileaks

09TBILISI2280, GEORGIANS PREPARED TO COMPROMISE WITH RUSSIA IN

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
09TBILISI2280 2009-12-23 13:59 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Tbilisi

VZCZCXRO4080
PP RUEHDBU RUEHFL RUEHKW RUEHLA RUEHNP RUEHROV RUEHSL RUEHSR
DE RUEHSI #2280/01 3571359
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 231359Z DEC 09
FM AMEMBASSY TBILISI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 2632
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEHBJ/AMEMBASSY BEIJING PRIORITY 0347
RUEKJCS/OSD WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RHMFISS/DEPT OF ENERGY WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RHEHAAA/NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RUEAORC/US CUSTOMS AND BORDER PROTECTION WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 TBILISI 002280 
 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: DECLQ2/17/2019 
TAGS: PREL PGOV PBTS AM RS GG
SUBJECT: GEORGIANS PREPARED TO COMPROMISE WITH RUSSIA IN 
ORDER TO OPEN KAZBEGI-LARSI CROSSING 
 
REF: A. TBILISI 1101 
     B. MOSCOW 2737 
 
Classified By: Ambassador John R. Bass for reasons 1.4 (b) and (d). 
 
1. (C) Summary.  The Governments of Georgia and Russia are 
continuing quiet talks regarding the opening of the land 
border crossing at Kazbegi-Larsi.  Georgian FM Vashadze told 
the Ambassador that Georgia, Russia and Armenia will meet 
December 23-24 to continue the discussions begun in Yerevan 
in October.  President Saakashvili has publicly stated his 
intention to pursue reopening Q border, and since the 
October meeting, Georgia has made the strategic choice to 
agree to Russia's stipulation that the crossing serve only 
trade between Russia and Armenia and thaQeorgian citizens 
be banned from participation.  According to FM Vashadze, 
Georgia is ready to compromise and meet many of Russia's 
conditions in order to help Armenia by facilitating trade 
with Russia.  Other Georgian officials told us that the 
reason the government wants the border open is because they 
believe it will negatively affect any future Russian invasion 
plans of Georgia.  Opposition leaders and the local 
population have raised concerns that such a move would not 
benefit Georgia in any way and could actually allow Russia to 
gain a foothold in the region.  End summary. 
 
2. (C) Comment.  Georgia's willingness to concede to Russia's 
demands in order to help Armenia, when Georgia itself would 
not directly benefit, reveals the Georgia's commitment to 
supporting its neighbor.  Georgia's leaders likely hope that 
agreeing to these stipulations will garner favor in the 
region and show their maturity on an international level. 
Howeer, the government may have to do more to gain domestic 
support, as much of the local population in the Kazbegi 
region is concerned about what benefits the reopening of the 
border crossing for trade with Armenia will bring to them. 
End comment. 
 
REACHING OUT ON THE BORDER CROSSING 
 
3. (C) The topic of reopening the border was initially raised 
in May 2009, when Russia, through the Swiss Embassy, conveyed 
to Georgia that it had completed reconstruction of their 
facility at the crossing and was ready to start negotiations 
on reopening the border (ref A).  Georgian MFA Deputy 
Director of European Affairs Kakha Chitaia told us that 
within ten days, the Georgians agreed to negotiations, with 
the stipulation that the Swiss be present at any talks. 
Russia never formally replied, but told the Swiss that that 
such a condition made talks impossible.  Eventually, 
Saakashvili decided the checkpoint should be opened and 
tasked Foreign Minister Vashadze to call a meeting with the 
Russians in Yerevan, with Armenian participation. 
 
NEGOTIATIONS BEGIN IN YEREVAN 
 
4. (C) According to Chitaia, who led the delegation to 
Yerevan in October, the initial three hours of the meeting 
were spent with Chitaia asking basic logistical questions, 
such as the types of vehicles that would be allowed to cross 
the border and the operating hours of the checkpoint.  The 
Russian side did not respond substantively until after a 
coffee break, during which time Chitaia speculated calls were 
placed to Moscow for instructions.  After providing answers 
to Chitaia's questions, the Russians then stipulated that the 
crossing should not be open to Georgian citizens, although 
Qcrossing should not be open to Georgian citizens, although 
Abkhaz and South Ossetian "citizens" should be allowed to use 
it.  At this point, Chitaia ended the negotiations, noting 
that this was an impossible concession for Georgia to make. 
 
SAAKASHVILI SUPPORTS OPENING THE CROSSING 
 
5. (C) During a National Security Council meeting on November 
13, Saakashvili referred to the talks in Yerevan and 
discussed reopening of the checkpoint with government members 
and opposition representatives.  In televised remarks after 
the meeting, Saakashvili said that the parliamentary 
opposition had expressed some fears regarding the possible 
reopening, but Saakashvili promised them that he would keep 
them fully briefed on the situation. 
 
GEORGIA CONCEDES TO RUSSIAN DEMANDS 
 
6. (C) Vashadze told the Ambassador that Georgia has agreed 
to reopen the crossing only to transit trade between Russia 
and Armenia, and that Georgian citizens would not be allowed 
 
TBILISI 00002280  002 OF 002 
 
 
to participate in moving goods in any way, not even, for 
example, as truck drivers or as owners of Georgian trucking 
firms.  (Embassy note: It is not yet clear if Georgia will be 
allowed to inspect the vehicles or charge tariffs.  End 
note.)  Vashadze said that while Georgia did not like th
ese 
demands, it was willing to agree in order to help Armenia. 
He also said that Russia had been pushing for a legal 
agreement to formalize the transit, but the Georgians have 
not consented, fearing that since it would only cover this 
border crossing, it could be used to help legitimize the 
status of Abkhazia and South Ossetia.  According to the 
Foreign Minister, the two sides agreed to continue 
negotiations on December 23-24. 
 
LOCAL POPULATION NERVOUS 
 
7. (C) On November 21 Christian Democrat leader Giorgi 
Targamadze met with residents of the Kazbegi region, who have 
expressed concerns about North Ossetian territorial claims on 
the region and possible Russian encroachment; there have been 
reports of North Ossetian allegations that Kazbegi was 
originally part of North Ossetia and was given to Georgia 
artificially. Targamadze told journalists after the meeting 
that while the country's national security should be taken 
into account, the checkpoint had to be opened due to the 
potential positive social and economic impact and development 
of local infrastructure. 
BASS

Wikileaks

09TBILISI2277, GEORGIA: WWII MEMORIAL RELOCATION IN KUTAISI ENDS

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
09TBILISI2277 2009-12-23 05:32 2011-08-30 01:44 UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY Embassy Tbilisi

VZCZCXRO3597
OO RUEHIK
DE RUEHSI #2277/01 3570532
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 230532Z DEC 09
FM AMEMBASSY TBILISI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 2628
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEKJCS/OSD WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RHEHAAA/NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 TBILISI 002277 
 
SENSITIVE 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: N/A 
TAGS: PREL PGOV PHUM RS GG
SUBJECT: GEORGIA: WWII MEMORIAL RELOCATION IN KUTAISI ENDS 
TRAGICALLY - DRAWS CRITICISM 
 
TBILISI 00002277  001.2 OF 002 
 
 
1. (SBU)  Summary/Comment:  The planned relocation of a 
bronze Soviet-era memorial and destruction of its backdrop 
took a tragic turn when the explosion designed to demolish 
the backdrop killed two and injured others.  The memorial was 
removed to make way for the construction of a new parliament 
building to accommodate a plan to move some parliamentary 
functions from Tbilisi to Kutaisi sometime in the future.  A 
mother and 11 year old child were killed and several others 
sustained injuries from the flying debris.  President 
Saakashvili immediately sacked the governor of the region but 
the ham-handed handling of the whole affair has given Russian 
critics more rhetorical fodder and sparked some small scale 
protests.  Drawing on incorrect information that the whole 
memorial was slated to be demolished, Russian news sources 
have criticized Georgia's plans for the past few weeks. 
Kutaisi residents seem to be at a loss as to why and how the 
monument was destroyed and question the hasty nature in which 
the episode transpired.  End Summary/Comment. 
 
The Memorial at Issue 
 
2.  (U)  The memorial consisted of a monument of a horseman 
and a 46 meter high backdrop commemorating those who fought 
against Nazis in WWII.  According to MFA officials, the 
horseman was slated to be moved to a new site while the 
backdrop, a large stone wall, was to be destroyed.  The 
relocation/destruction project was necessitated by a GoG 
decision to move some parliamentary functions to Georgia's 
economically depressed second city, Kutaisi, in order to 
stimulate economic and political activity in the region. 
According to press reports, the Russian MFA issued statements 
in advance of the relocation/destruction condemning the 
decision calling it "disrespectful" to WWII veterans.  Local 
opposition groups in Kutaisi objected to the decision to 
relocate/destroy the memorial without taking into 
consideration the local population's views or the views of 
memorial designer Merab Berdzenishvili.  The Georgian MFA 
issued a statement on December 18, criticizing the Russian 
statement and its "immoral habit of permanently interfering 
in other countries' internal affairs." 
 
What Happened - Why 
 
3.  (U)  On December 18, the horseman was removed for 
relocation to a different site and workers placed explosives 
at the bottom of the 46 meter backdrop. Local residents were 
supposed to have been evacuated, but not all got the message 
leaving a number in the area of the explosion.  Flying debris 
struck nearby dwellings and residents injuring a number of 
people and killing a mother and her 11-year-old daughter. 
Local journalist Keti Berdzenishvili (Radio Dzveli Kalaki) 
told Emboff that local residents were highly critical of what 
they viewed as a hasty, secretive decision to demolish the 
memorial and obvious disregard for proper safety measures. 
Nato Gubeladze (Newspaper P.S.) told Poloff that residents 
support the relocation of Parliament to Kutaisi but are of 
the general opinion that the monument and new Parliament 
building could easily have fit without destroying the 
monument.  Gubeladze noted that she had not met a single 
resident who supported the destruction of the monument. 
Gubeladze added that the memorial was in terrible physical 
shape but the decision to destroy it was at odds with local 
authorities' promises to restore the monument and surrounding 
park. 
 
The Aftermath 
 
4.  (U)  The press reported that President Saakashvili cut 
Q4.  (U)  The press reported that President Saakashvili cut 
short his trip to Copenhagen to return to Georgia and 
immediately sacked the governor of Imereti region (where 
Kutaisi is located), Mikheil Chogovadze.  Presidential 
spokesperson, Manana Mangaladze confirmed the dismissal was 
related to the "tragic incidents" but provided no further 
context.  Chief prosecutor Murtaz Zodelava commented that 
"(a)ccording to the preliminary information, safety measures 
were not met" and stated that an investigation had been 
launched.  The chief technician of SakPetkMretsvi, the 
demolition company hired to do the work, already has been 
arrested.  The Georgian press publicized the statement from 
the Russian MFA calling the demolition "an act of state 
vandalism, insulting the feeling of any civilized person." 
It continued to call the destruction "a disgraceful act by 
the current leadership in Tbilisi in its maniacal drive to 
erase historical memories of its own people."  The Georgian 
MFA has not released any statement since the explosion and 
the GoG has remained largely silent on the incident. 
 
Protests Take a Strange Turn 
 
 
TBILISI 00002277  002.2 OF 002 
 
 
5.  (U)  A small group of non-parliamentary opposition 
protesters led by former PM Zurab Noghaideli (For Fair 
Georgia), Salome Zourabichvili (Georgia's Way), Koba 
Davitashvili (People's Party) and Gubaz Sani
kidze (National 
Forum) traveled to Kutaisi to protest the decision to 
dismantle the monument.  Speakers called on the GoG to 
restore the memorial and build an Orthodox church on the site 
to commemorate the death of the mother and child. 
Controversy erupted when a number of local Kutaisi residents 
started shouting at the Tbilisi-based opposition speakers not 
to "politicize" the issue for their own purposes and heckled 
them, telling them to return to Tbilisi.  Journalist 
Berdzenishvili said there were more opposition activists at 
the sight than Kutaisi residents. 
BASS

Wikileaks

09TBILISI2276, GEORGIA: RUSSIAN SERVICEMAN SEEKS ASYLUM IN GEORGIA

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
09TBILISI2276 2009-12-22 14:23 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Tbilisi

VZCZCXRO2907
PP RUEHDBU RUEHFL RUEHKW RUEHLA RUEHNP RUEHROV RUEHSL RUEHSR
DE RUEHSI #2276/01 3561423
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 221423Z DEC 09
FM AMEMBASSY TBILISI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 2626
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RHEHAAA/NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK PRIORITY 4971

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 TBILISI 002276 
 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 12/21/2010 
TAGS: PGOV PREL PHUMRU RU GG
SUBJECT: GEORGIA: RUSSIAN SERVICEMAN SEEKS ASYLUM IN GEORGIA 
 
REF: TBILISI 001237 
 
Classified By: Deputy Chief of Mission Kent Logsdon for reasons 1.4 (b) 
 and (d) 
 
1.  (C)  Summary.  According to Ministry of Refugee Affairs 
(MRA) officials, a Russian contract soldier, Vitaliy Khripun, 
crossed the administrative border line (ABL) from the 
breakaway region of South Ossetia into undisputed Georgia 
December 20.  The European Union Monitoring Mission (EUMM) 
and United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) have 
been involved in the case since the soldier first crossed the 
ABL.  Khripun is currently in Tbilisi and has begun the 
process of seeking asylum in Georgia.  Russian officials are 
seeking consular access to Khripun.  Little is known about 
the family background of the serviceman, despite various 
press reports about family members.  This is the third 
defection by a Russian soldier since the August 2008 war (ref 
A).  The asylum seeking process in Georgia takes 
approximately four months and the previous two Russian asylum 
seekers were both granted asylum and are now resident in 
Tbilisi.  End Summary. 
 
Khripun Crosses the ABL, Alcohol May Have Been a Motivator 
 
2.  (C)   MRA told emboff that Khripun is a 25 year old 
Russian contractor with the Russian "border protection army" 
(sic), part of the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) and 
has been employed as such since 2008. Khripun appeared in a 
police station on the undisputed Georgian side of the ABL not 
far from the Perevi checkpoint on December 20, and was 
reportedly inebriated at the time.  He slept in a police 
station for a number of hours, and when he awoke said he did 
not want to return to South Ossetia or Russia. The Georgians 
contacted the Georgian Ministry of Internal Affairs (MOIA) 
who in turn contacted the Ministry of Refugees and 
Accommodation (MRA).  The MRA brought Khripun to Tbilisi on 
December 21, where he was interviewed by an MRA asylum 
specialist with a UNHCR asylum specialist present.  In the 
preliminary interview Khripun declared his intention to begin 
the asylum process, and after the interview MRA and UNHCR 
worked together to coordinate private lodging in Tbilisi, as 
the standard refugee center was deemed unsafe in such a 
sensitive situation. UNHCR is funding the private 
accommodations.  Georgian press got wind of the situation the 
evening of December 21 and began publicizing the Russian's 
defection, including reporting from the MRA. 
 
Russians Activate Hotline; EUMM Interviews Khripun 
 
3.  (C)  On December 22, Khripun was interviewed again by the 
MRA as well as representatives of the European Union 
Monitoring Mission (EUMM).  The EUMM's role is unclear and 
the EUMM Human Rights Officer who did the interview said only 
that the meeting was held because EUMM was concerned about 
what the outcome of the case will be.  Another EUMM official, 
the Head of Operations, was contacted by Russian officials 
via the hotline and was asked to meet with the head of the 
FSB working in South Ossetia in Ergneti, a village in 
undisputed Georgia next to the ABL and very close to 
Tskhinvali.  At this meeting the EUMM official was asked to 
help facilitate a meeting between the Russian serviceman and 
a consular representative of the Russian interest section in 
Tbilisi. The EUMM official conveyed the message to the asylum 
seeker who is considering a meeting with a Russian consular 
official. The EUMM confirmed that the soldier is continuing 
the asylum process. 
 
4.  (C)  Russian and Georgian press reports have been telling 
Q4.  (C)  Russian and Georgian press reports have been telling 
various stories about the background of the servceman, his 
family, and his intentions.  Thus far according to UNHCR and 
EUMM the serviceman has not yet met with his family, although 
they could not confirm whether he has been in contact with 
them by phone.  Although not focused on personal information, 
UNHCR officials believe that the serviceman is unmarried and 
has contact with his mother and sister.  Though some media 
reports have circulated about the serviceman's father, EUMM 
reports that his father died in 2002. 
 
5.  (C)  UNHCR independently confirmed December 22 that the 
serviceman is continuing to proceed with the asylum process, 
and expects that his next interview will not take place until 
January.  The process of seeking asylum in Georgia takes 
about four months, so the resolution of this case will not 
come within the next few days.  A UNHCR official also 
commented that the Georgians are, in general, handling the 
case well, and seem to have learned from previous cases how 
to better handle these delicate situations. 
 
Update on Previous Asylum Requests 
 
 
TBILISI 00002276  002 OF 002 
 
 
6.  (C)  The previous two asylum seekers (ref A) were both 
granted asylum by the Georgian government and possess 
Georgian residency permits. The MRA reports that they l
ive in 
Tbilisi, though the asylees are not required to report their 
whereabouts to the MRA and are free to travel in Georgia as 
they wish. 
BASS

Wikileaks

09TBILISI2257, GEORGIA: TWO TEENAGERS HELD SINCE NOVEMBER 4

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
09TBILISI2257 2009-12-21 13:32 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Tbilisi

VZCZCXRO1882
PP RUEHDBU RUEHFL RUEHKW RUEHLA RUEHNP RUEHROV RUEHSL RUEHSR
DE RUEHSI #2257 3551332
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 211332Z DEC 09
FM AMEMBASSY TBILISI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 2620
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RHEHAAA/NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK PRIORITY 4970
RUEKJCS/OSD WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY

C O N F I D E N T I A L TBILISI 002257 
 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 12/21/2010 
TAGS: PGOV PREL GG
SUBJECT: GEORGIA: TWO TEENAGERS HELD SINCE NOVEMBER 4 
RELEASED 
 
REF: TBILISI 002131 
 
Classified B: Deputy Chief of Mission Kent Logsdon for reasons 1.4 (b) 
 and (d) 
 
1.  (C)  Three Georgians youths were released by the South 
Ossetian de facto authorities on Saturday December 19th, 
including two teenagers detained on November 4th and one 16 
year old boy detained in July (ref A).  Council of Europe 
Human Rights Commissioner Thomas Hammarberg met on December 
17 with the de facto authorities in South Ossetia to secure 
their release.  Hammarberg had previously negotiated with the 
de factos the week of November 29th, at which time two other 
Georgian teenagers were released.  During that visit, 
Hammarberg announced his expectation that the two remaining 
teenagers would be released within ten days, or by December 
12 (ref A). 
 
2.  (C)  On December 18th, the European Monitoring Mission 
(EUMM) and OSCE reports indicated that the South Ossetian de 
factos had altered their previous position, stating on the 
18th that the release of the two was never previously agreed. 
 Unexpectedly, former Prime Minister Zurab Noghaideli, who 
had returned from a recent high-profile trip to Moscow, met 
with de facto authorities in South Ossetia on December 17th 
and attended the hand over of the released prisoners. 
Noghaideli appeared at a press conference with de facto 
"president" Eduard Kokoity, Russian Human Rights Ombudsman 
Vladimir Lukin, and Hammarberg. 
 
3.  (C)  Georgian political figures broadly welcomed the 
release of the Georgian teenagers but were skeptical of ex-PM 
Noghaideli's role in the process.  Both majority and minority 
parliamentarians suggested that Noghaideli's involvement 
amounted to Russian control of the process, with some MPs 
asserting that it was an attempt to discredit the Georgian 
government in the eyes of the people. 
BASS

Wikileaks

09TBILISI2255, GEORGIA: SOUTH OSSETIANS SPURN OSCE WHILE

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
09TBILISI2255 2009-12-21 12:11 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Tbilisi

VZCZCXYZ0010
PP RUEHWEB

DE RUEHSI #2255/01 3551211
ZNY CCCCC ZZH (TAO)
P 211211Z DEC 09
FM AMEMBASSY TBILISI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 2617
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEHBJ/AMEMBASSY BEIJING PRIORITY 0344
RUEKJCS/OSD WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK PRIORITY 4967
RHEHAAA/NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY

C O N F I D E N T I A L TBILISI 002255 
 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 12/18/2019 
TAGS: PREL PGOV MARR MOPS EPET RS KZ GG
SUBJECT: GEORGIA: SOUTH OSSETIANS SPURN OSCE WHILE 
KAZAKHSTANI SPECIAL REP STANDS BY 
 
REF: A. TBILISI 1810 
     B. TBILISI 2131 
     C. GENEVA 1038 
 
Classified By: Deputy Chief of Mission Kent Logsdon for reasons 1.4 (b) 
 and (d). 
 
1. (C)  Summary and comment.  During a December 11 trip 
Tskhinvali, South Ossetian de facto representatives made 
clear to outgoing Greek OSCE Chairman Special Representative 
Christopoulos and his incoming Kazakh successor Bolat 
Nurgaliyev their lack of interest in an OSCE roving team, 
their tough (and inconsistent) stance on detentions, and 
their unwillingness to participate in the Incident Prevention 
and Response Mechanism (IPRM) in the near future.  Nurgaliyev 
showed a deference to the de facto authorities, and an 
unwillingness to encourage the Russians to use their 
influence on the South Ossetians, which raised red flags 
among the OSCE staff.  Christopoulos proposed a new idea for 
OSCE participation in the IPRM that had not been coordinated 
with other participants, including the EUMM and Georgia, an 
idea which will not go anywhere, but could complicate future 
conversations, including at Geneva.  Gas for Akhalgori 
remains a pipe dream, with the Georgians insisting it be 
provided to local civilians only, not Russian forces, and the 
South Ossetians refusing to accept the condition.  The South 
Ossetians seem to discern no compelling reason to cooperate 
on virtually any level or any issue with the international 
community, unless they perceive the opportunity to gain a bit 
more stature.  If this initial performance is any indication, 
it appears Nurgaliyev's tenure as OSCE special representative 
may not yield breakthroughs in re-establishing a constructive 
role for the OSCE in Georgia or encouraging the South 
Ossetians to change their attitude.  End summary and comment. 
 
TOUGH TALKS -- AND A SYMPATHETIC NURGALIYEV 
 
2. (C) Ambassador Christopoulos accompanied Ambassador 
Nurgaliyev on the latter's first trip to South Ossetia.  An 
OSCE staff member who went along, Rasa Ostrauskaite, provided 
the following readout of the visit.  She said that Boris 
Chochiev, special representative of the South Ossetian de 
facto "president" (who represents the de facto authorities at 
the Geneva talks), initially expressed great respect for the 
OSCE as an institution and interest in having an OSCE 
presence in South Ossetia.  He changed his tone radically, 
however, when responding to the actual proposal on the table. 
 Christopoulos has been trying to negotiate an arrangement 
whereby a small number of OSCE staffers would be based in 
Vienna, but would travel to Georgia on a regular basis and 
would rove between Tbilisi and Tskhinvali. 
 
3. (C) The plan has met various stumbling blocks from both 
the Georgian and the South Ossetian sides (see ref A), but 
the OSCE staff had some hope that the sides were close to a 
compromise plan.  For example, the South Ossetians had 
objected to OSCE staff traveling into South Ossetia in OSCE 
vehicles -- even if they carried Austrian (as opposed to 
Georgian) plates.  For their part, the Georgians objected to 
an alternate plan, whereby OSCE staff would travel in UNHCR 
vehicles that entered South Ossetia from the northern border 
with Russia.  Rasa explained that the Georgians had recently 
shown flexibility on this point by agreeing in principle to 
the UNHCR vehicles coming from the north, as long as it was 
kept quiet.  In the December 11 meeting, however, Chochiev 
Qkept quiet.  In the December 11 meeting, however, Chochiev 
objected to the plan on different grounds: he said the de 
facto authorities could only accept visits from high-level 
(i.e., ambassadorial) representatives, such as Christopoulos 
and Nurgaliyev, but not from working-level staff alone. 
Since the team concept envisaged the regular presence being 
provided by working-level staff, this objection effectively 
killed the proposal.  Christopoulos pushed hard for the plan, 
but Chochiev was adamant in his position. 
 
4. (C) Ostrauskaite saw two possible explanations for the 
South Ossetian position.  First, they like to build up the 
public relations aspect of any visits to South Ossetia, with 
ample press coverage, because such visits from the 
international community can be construed as bestowing a 
certain amount of legitimacy on the de facto authorities.  It 
would be hard to use regular working-level visits in this 
way.  Second, the more frequently working-level staff are 
present inside South Ossetia, the less control the de facto 
authorities might have over what they see and learn, and the 
South Ossetians are unlikely to be interested in providing 
real transparency. 
 
5. (C) At this point in the conversation, according to 
KAZAKH
STANI SPECIAL REP STANDS BY 
 
Ostrauskaite, Ambassador Nurgaliyev strayed far afield from 
the established OSCE position, which he had seemed to accept 
during their pre-visit brief.  He expressed understanding for 
the South Ossetian position, reflecting respect for the South 
Ossetians as full-fledged, legitimate parties to the 
discussion, and indicated the OSCE was in no position to 
question or try to influence their stand.  Nurgaliyev 
accepted Chochiev's position and said there was no need for 
formal arrangements for the OSCE.  (In later internal OSCE 
discussions, he made clear to Ostrauskaite that he also did 
not consider it appropriate, or even useful, to approach the 
Russians about weighing in with the South Ossetians, because 
the South Ossetians were essentially an independent entity, 
and it was incorrect to assume that the Russians had any 
influence with them.) 
 
NO MOVEMENT ON DETENTIONS OR THE IPRM 
 
6. (C) Ostrauskaite said Chochiev took a hard stand on 
detentions as well.  He denied that de facto officials had 
reached an agreement with Council of Europe Human Rights 
Commissioner Thomas Hammarberg to release the two remaining 
teenagers of the four who had originally been detained; he 
demanded that Georgia would have to release additional 
individuals before the two could be released (Note: the two 
teenagers were released 12/19.  Reported septel.  End note). 
He admitted that de facto "president" Kokoity may have 
mentioned something about a pardon for the two, but this was 
not a concrete offer or commitment.  Chochiev also denied 
that there been any agreement about the six woodcutters who 
remain in South Ossetian detention.  (Note: Hammarberg, who 
brought five released South Ossetian residents to Tskhinvali 
the day the first two teenagers were released, portrayed for 
us a very different understanding of his previous meetings 
with the South Ossetians; he told the Ambassador that Kokoity 
had promised to release the final two teenagers, and he told 
the DCM they were leaning toward releasing the six 
woodcutters.  See ref B.)  Ostrauskaite said what the South 
Ossetians really wanted was an all-for-all exchange for 
detainees dating back to the detention of Dudayev back in 
2002, which she thought would be a non-starter for the 
Georgians, since Dudayev was a hardened criminal, while most 
of the current detainees were innocent villagers who had 
wandered across the administrative boundary line.  During the 
meeting, Chochiev and his deputy, Merab Chigoev, openly 
disagreed on the number of outstanding detainees; Chigoev 
thought it was 27, while Chochiev insisted it was 40. 
 
7. (C) Ostrauskaite said Chochiev also made it clear that the 
de facto authorities would not participate in any further 
meetings of the IPRM until the three missing persons cases 
from October 2008 were resolved and their own concerns about 
the IPRM procedures were addressed.  Chigoev said that the de 
facto authorities had recently received information that the 
three may in fact be alive, that they were brought from 
Akhalgori to the Pankisi Gorge and recently to Georgia's 
Isolator Number 1, where they were currently being held. 
They had shared this information with the EUMM, who received 
permission from the Georgians to search the latter facility; 
they found no sign of the three.  Chigoev was not satisfied 
with the EUMM's actions, however, and asked for additional 
Qwith the EUMM's actions, however, and asked for additional 
assistance in investigating the case.  (Note: The EUMM has 
confirmed their search of the facility.  The sudden hope that 
the three were alive seemed odd to EUMM staff, however, who 
noted that the de facto officials have insisted for about a 
year that the three are dead.  EUMM Head of Mission Haber 
speculated that a family member heard a rumor about the three 
and insisted that the de facto authorities investigate.  In 
his conversation with the Ambassador, Hammarberg agreed, 
describing the de facto authorities as under intense pressure 
from family members; he thought the rumors they gathered 
about their missing family members were based more on hope 
than on reliable, useful information.) 
 
8. (C) According to EU Monitoring Mission (EUMM) political 
advisor Rosaria Puglisi, who attended a meeting with 
Christopoulos December 13, Christopoulos then went beyond his 
brief by proposing a revised plan for the IPRM that had not 
been agreed to by any other IPRM participants, including the 
EUMM and the Georgians.  He suggested that the OSCE 
chairman's special representative (Nurgaliyev, as of January) 
could personally attend every IPRM meeting and, in addition, 
travel to Tskhinvali to meet with the de facto authorities 
before and after each meeting.  In a conversation with us, 
Puglisi called a process foul, objecting that Christopoulos 
offered such a compromise with the de facto authorities 
before clearing it with his counterparts from legitimate 
entities.  She also objected to the substance of the 
KAZAKHSTANI SPECIAL REP STANDS BY 
 
proposal, arguing that it would create a separate forum, a 
mini-version of the IPRM with only liited participants, that 
would open the door to all kinds of abuse -- and the Kazakh 
OSCE representative who would conduct the meetings was at 
this point a little-known quantity.  We pointed out that such 
a proposal was unlikely to go anywhere, but agreed raising it 
with the South Ossetians was unhelpful, because they could 
later -- such as at Geneva -- adopt a stance of being 
flexible enough to accept an OSCE idea that the Georgians 
would (presumably) reject. 
 
GAS FOR AKHALGORI ALSO STUCK 
 
9. (C) The OSCE team also explored the issue of providing gas 
to the Akhalgori region of South Ossetia, which has emerged 
as a contentious issue; the Russians and South Ossetians 
accuse the Georgians of withholding gas from the region in 
order to score political points, but at the expense of the 
local (ethnically Georgia) population (see ref C).  During 
the trip, the OSCE staffers met with the owner of the gas 
pipeline inside Akhalgori, who informed them that he was 
willing to sell or rent the line to the de facto authorities; 
Itera Georgia is reportedly willing to supply the gas for a 
market price.  At the beginning of the meeting with the de 
factos, Chigoev began to say he thought a deal could be 
worked out, but Chochiev cut him off.  Chochiev informed the 
OSCE delegation that the cash was available to pay for the 
gas.  He refused to pay for the use of the pipeline, however, 
calling it a strategic asset of the "country."  Under such 
conditions, the owner would presumably refuse to allow the 
use of the pipeline.  Ostrauskaite thought this obstacle was 
surmountable, however, if a price were negotiated that 
included sufficient padding to cover the cost of compensating 
the line owner. 
 
10. (C) More problematic is the question of who will have 
access to the gas.  The Georgians have indicated their 
willingness to allow gas to flow if it is distributed only to 
th
e local civilian population, and not to Russian forces 
based in the region.  The South Ossetian de facto 
authorities, however, refused to accept this condition, and 
during the November 11 Geneva talks, Ostrauskaite said they 
even admitted that some of the gas would flow to the 
Russians.  At this point, Ostrauskaite does not see a 
solution in the near term, so the local population will 
continue to rely on firewood to heat their homes. 
BASS

Wikileaks

09TBILISI2254, GEORGIA: IRI POLL SHOWS UGULAVA AS FRONT RUNNER

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
09TBILISI2254 2009-12-21 11:44 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Tbilisi

VZCZCXYZ0000
PP RUEHWEB

DE RUEHSI #2254/01 3551144
ZNY CCCCC ZZH (TAO)
P 211144Z DEC 09
FM AMEMBASSY TBILISI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 2615
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEKJCS/OSD WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RHEHAAA/NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY

C O N F I D E N T I A L TBILISI 002254 
 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 12/21/2019 
TAGS: PGOV PREL PHUM ECON GG
SUBJECT: GEORGIA: IRI POLL SHOWS UGULAVA AS FRONT RUNNER 
FOR MAYOR 
 
Classified By: Deputy Chief of Mission Kent Logsdon for reasons 
1.4 (b)  and (d). 
 
1.  (C)  Summary/Comment:  A recent International Republican 
Institute (IRI) poll of Tbilisi residents showed likely 
United National Movement (UNM) candidate and current mayor 
Gigi Ugulava with a significant lead on the field of probable 
Tbilisi mayoral candidates in upcoming local elections 
scheduled for May, 2010.  Likewise, UNM maintains a 
substantial lead in popularity in the race for Tbilisi local 
council elections.  President Saakashvili also enjoys a very 
strong favorability rating in opposition-leaning Tbilisi. 
Irakli Alasania and the Alliance for Georgia polled a distant 
second in both the race for mayor and city council which 
indicates that Alasania has significant work to do to turn 
his positive favorability into electoral support. 
Nonetheless, Ugulava's numbers do not make him unassailable. 
With a number of opposition parties vowing to sit out the 
race, Alasania could still capture enough of the opposition 
electorate to challenge Ugulava, although current numbers 
indicate he has a lot of work to do.  IRI releases polling 
results to the Government and opposition parties; however, 
with regard to favorability ratings for parties and 
candidates, IRI shares only the result for the individual 
party being briefed.  End Summary/Comment. 
 
The Poll 
 
2.  (C)  IRI conducted an opinion poll from November 25 - 
December 3 which interviewed 800 Tbilisi residents 18 years 
and older who are currently registered to vote in Tbilisi. 
Most notable, apart from the ballot test and favorability 
ratings of various politicians, was the apparent apathy of 
those polled.  For example, when asked to name a specific 
failure of Mayor Gigi Ugulava during his tenure as mayor, 70 
percent of those polled were unable to generate a response. 
Confirming a lack of grass roots political participation in 
the absence of elections, 90 percent of those polled say they 
have not participated in a municipal meeting of any kind. 
When asked hypothetically why one would approach the local 
government for help, 60 percent responded "do not know". 
However, respondents generally felt that the government was 
not doing its part in actively communicating what it was 
doing to the public.  Of those who did feel sufficiently 
informed of what the government was doing or had 
accomplished, 83 percent learned about its activities through 
television.  The findings suggest that the communication gap 
between the Tbilisi government and its residents is a two-way 
street. 
 
United National Movement the Party of Choice 
 
3.  (C)  UNM continues to be the most popular party with 29 
percent of respondents choosing it as their choice for city 
council if elections were held immediately.  Alliance for 
Georgia came in second with 13 percent, followed by the Labor 
Party with 9 percent, National Forum with 8 percent, and the 
Christian Democratic Movement (CDM) with 6 percent.  Notably, 
28 percent responded to the question as to their choice for 
city council with "none" or "did not know."  Alliance for 
Georgia Leader, Irakli Alasania was the most popular 
political figure (63 percent favorable - 30 unfavorable) 
followed by Ugulava (62 - 31), former Ombudsman (and current 
member of Alasania's party Our Georgia - Free Democrats) 
Sozar Subari (60 - 31), President Saakashvili (60 - 34), 
co-National Forum leader Gubaz Sanikidze (50 - 38), and CDM 
leader Giorgi Targamadze (48 - 43).  The only other leader 
Qleader Giorgi Targamadze (48 - 43).  The only other leader 
with a positive favorability rating in Tbilisi was 
co-National Forum leader Kahka Shartava (47-37).  Other 
notables included New Rights Leader (and Alliance for Georgia 
member) David Gamkrelidze (40 - 51), Labor Leader Shalva 
Natelashvili (40 - 52), Republican Leader (and Alliance for 
Georgia member) David Usupashvili (38 - 49), Levan 
Gachechiladze (35 - 56), Georgia's Way leader Salome 
Zourabishvili ( 26 - 65), and Democratic Movement - United 
Georgia leader Nino Burjanadze (17 - 75). 
 
Mayoral Election - Ugulava Popular, Economy the Issue 
 
4.  (C)  Residents continue to view unemployment (60 percent 
first mention, 75 percent all mentions when asked to name the 
three most important issues facing Tbilisi) and the general 
state of the economy (8 percent, 21 percent) as the most 
pressing issues facing Tbilisi.  Social problems, a feeling 
of instability, the price of goods and medical services 
rounded out the respondents' top concerns.  Nevertheless, a 
slight majority felt the city is headed in the right 
direction.  The major issues Tbilisi residents thought the 
mayor needed to address were creating jobs and solving social 
problems, followed by improving the appearance of the city. 
 
Respondents listed the improved appearance of the city as the 
biggest accomplishment of Mayor Gigi Ugulava's term. 
Overall, the results reveal support for Ugulava's election in 
the upcoming mayoral race.  Respondents chose Ugula
va as the 
favorite if the mayoral election were held tomorrow.  Ugulava 
received 35 percent, Alasania came in second at 14 percent, 
Sanikidze followed at 9 percent, trailed by Gogi Topadze 
(Industrialists) and Gachechiladze who both received 4 
percent.  Already announced non-parliamentary opposition 
candidates Zviad Dzidziguri (Conservatives) and Koba 
Davitashvili (People's Party) both polled at 3 percent with 
13 percent responding either "none" or "do not know." 
 
Television Dominates Information Exchange 
 
5.  (C)  Tbilisi residents are heavily dependent upon TV to 
deliver political information (94 percent name it as a source 
of political information) followed distantly by newspapers 
(19 percent), relatives and friends (13 percent), radio (9 
percent), internet (8 percent) and magazines (7 percent). 
When asked to list a newspaper they read, 71 percent of those 
polled could not name one.  Radio faired even worse with 81 
percent of those polled responding that they could name a 
radio station they use as a source of political information. 
Rustavi 2 and Imedi continue to be the dominant and most 
trusted news sources within the country.  Rustavi 2 was named 
as the most regularly viewed (84 percent), followed by Imedi 
(80 percent), Channel 1 (33 percent), Kavkasia (32 percent), 
and Maestro (17 percent).  Rustavi 2 was listed as the most 
trusted (35 percent first mention, 62 percent all mentions), 
with Imedi (22 percent first, 61 percent all), Kavkasia (16 
percent first, 24 percent all), Channel 1 (3 percent first, 
18 percent all) and Maestro (3 percent first, 10 percent all) 
following.  Of those surveyed, 15 percent trusted no news 
source and 5 percent did not know.  When asked if Georgian 
media is free to express varying political views, 41 percent 
felt that mass media was either not very free or not free at 
all, while 52 percent thought the media was either totally 
free or somewhat free with 7 percent responding that they did 
not know. 
BASS

Wikileaks

09TBILISI2241, GEORGIA: FIRST H1N1 DEATHS REPORTED; PUBLIC

WikiLeaks Link

To understand the justification used for the classification of each cable, please use this WikiSource article as reference.
Discussing cables
If you find meaningful or important information in a cable, please link directly to its unique reference number. Linking to a specific paragraph in the body of a cable is also possible by copying the appropriate link (to be found at theparagraph symbol).Please mark messages for social networking services like Twitter with the hash tags #cablegate and a hash containing the reference ID e.g. #09TBILISI2241.
Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
09TBILISI2241 2009-12-16 13:58 2011-08-30 01:44 UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY Embassy Tbilisi

VZCZCXRO7771
PP RUEHIK
DE RUEHSI #2241 3501358
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 161358Z DEC 09
FM AMEMBASSY TBILISI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 2611
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE PRIORITY

UNCLAS TBILISI 002241 
 
SENSITIVE 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: N/A 
TAGS: TBIO EAID AMED SOCI GG
SUBJECT: GEORGIA:  FIRST H1N1 DEATHS REPORTED; PUBLIC 
CONCERNED 
 
1.  (U)  Summary.  Georgia reported its first confirmed 
deaths due to H1N1 the week of December 14.  As of December 
16, there are five confirmed deaths.  The reported number of 
confirmed and unconfirmed H1N1 cases vary widely among the 
different sources.  The reported confirmed cases range from 
530 to 635, while the unconfirmed cases range from 1,500 to 
1,750; the National Center for Disease Control (NCDC) 
estimates a rate of unconfirmed cases as 435 per 100,000 
people.  There is a growing concern among the population 
which is being fueled by the constant media reports about 
H1N1; however, thus far there is no sense of panic with 
schools open and no lines at local pharmacies.  Nonetheless, 
some parents are keeping their children home from school and 
some Georgians have started wearing medical face masks as a 
preventative measure.  Opposition politicians are making 
public statements about the "outbreak" and are calling on the 
government to declare a state of emergency, close schools and 
start issuing free medical care to those with H1N1.  End 
Summary. 
 
2.  (SBU)  Comment.  Concern has risen with the first deaths 
reported in Georgia from H1N1, but there is no sense of 
panic.  Health Unit visits to local hospitals and clinics 
have seen an increase in the number of patients.  The Embassy 
community has seen a rising number of patients sick with 
flu-like symptoms, ranging from mild to moderate, but so far, 
none have tested positively for H1N1.  The Embassy community 
has remained calm, but is keeping an eye on local conditions. 
 We continue to review our pandemic tripwires and update them 
as necessary.  End Comment. 
 
3. (U)  As of Wednesday, December 16, there have been five 
confirmed deaths from H1N1 in Georgia.  Georgia's NCDC has 
confirmed the five deaths and reports that there are now 635 
confirmed cases in country.  The five deaths reported were in 
the following cities: one in Kutaisi, two in Batumi and two 
in Tbilisi.  The NCDC estimated the unconfirmed rate is 435 
cases per 100,000 people.  This rate is calculated at the end 
of every week with the last calculation undertaken  December 
11.  According to USAID's Office of Health and Social 
Development, as of December 15, 530 cases have been confirmed 
with around 1,500 unconfirmed cases of flu-like symptoms. The 
Georgian Ministry of Health reported that there are 1,750 
unconfirmed cases; the Georgian press is reporting over 530 
cases of H1N1 with the unconfirmed cases to be over 1,700. 
 
4. (U)  The deaths have raised the level of concern among the 
general population, although there are no signs of panic. 
Some parents are choosing to keep their children t home 
rather than sending them to school. This has caused some 
schools to close due to the lack of students, but there has 
been no Government decision to close schools.  Opposition 
politicians are calling on the government to issue a state of 
emergency, are demanding that all schools be closed and 
proposing free medical treatment for all with flu-like 
symptoms.  The Georgian media has reported that the high cost 
of Tamiflu, 50 lari (about 30 dollars), may be keeping people 
from purchasing the medicine; there are also rumors 
circulating that there might be a shortage of the medicine 
and of medical face masks, increasing the anxiety of local 
residents.  The Ministry of Health is urging citizens with 
flu-like symptoms to wash their hands often, isolate those 
that are sick, wear masks while in public and seek medical 
help sooner rather than later.  The Ministry of Health has 
not called for school closings, have not issued a state of 
Qnot called for school closings, have not issued a state of 
emergency because the numbers are still rather low and claim 
to be well stocked with Tamiflu and that hospitals are ready. 
 
5. (U)  Press reports from Abkhazia have further added to 
Georgian public concerns.  According to the press, in 
Sukhumi, de facto authorities have declared a state of 
emergency in Abkhazia and have closed all schools due to 
H1N1.  They report that over 200 people have been 
hospitalized, but the hospitals lack the necessary equipment 
to treat the patients properly and there are no reliable 
estimates available of the number infected. Russia has 
promised to provide assistance and Georgia has also offered 
medical help. 
 
6. (SBU)  Among the American Embassy community, around 50 
Americans and about 20 Foreign Service Nationals have 
reported to the Health Unit with mild to moderate flu-like 
symptoms or upper respiratory symptoms, but none have tested 
as or been confirmed as H1N1.  Although some in the Embassy 
community have expressed concern, the atmosphere remains calm. 
BASS

Wikileaks