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10TBILISI205, GEORGIA: SCENESETTER FOR EWG AND VISIT OF EEB A/S

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
10TBILISI205 2010-02-18 14:29 2011-08-30 01:44 SECRET Embassy Tbilisi

VZCZCXRO6764
PP RUEHDBU RUEHFL RUEHKW RUEHLA RUEHNP RUEHROV RUEHSL
DE RUEHSI #0205/01 0491429
ZNY SSSSS ZZH
P 181429Z FEB 10
FM AMEMBASSY TBILISI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 2889
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUCPDOC/DEPT OF COMMERCE WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RUEATRS/DEPT OF TREASURY WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY

S E C R E T SECTION 01 OF 04 TBILISI 000205 
 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 02/15/2020 
TAGS: ECON EINV PGOV PREL GG
SUBJECT: GEORGIA: SCENESETTER FOR EWG AND VISIT OF EEB A/S 
FERNANDEZ 
 
Classified By: Ambassador John R. Bass for reasons 1.5 (b) and (d). 
 
1.  (C) SUMMARY:  Once infamous for its rampant corruption 
and organized crime, Georgia is now a model of reform among 
post-Soviet economies.  The economy and Georgia's 
pro-business orientation are top priorities for President 
Saakashvili and he is quick to highlight his government's 
successes.  Managing a weakened economy that is starting to 
rebound from the August 2008 conflict with Russia and the 
world economic crisis remains the biggest domestic challenge 
for the Government.  However, as the Government focuses on 
finding new sources of financing and investment, it risks 
backsliding on the very reforms that define its success. 
Because the Saakashvili government in office only until 2013, 
there is a feeling that time is short and reform must happen 
now; if it is delayed, the opportunity might pass.  As the 
prime initiator of economic reform, the Government is pushing 
ahead at all costs, and even public comment on laws sometimes 
remains a luxury policymakers believe they can not afford. 
Your visit and the Economic Working Group provide 
opportunities to encourage the government to stay the path of 
reform, but to also bring others into the process.  Despite 
recent missteps, Georgia values its international reputation 
and listens carefully to its international partners and the 
business community.  The Economic Working Group is a great 
venue to deliver a straightforward message: without 
implementation of promised reforms, increased transparency 
and greater predictability, and further development of rule 
of law, Georgia will struggle to attract legitimate, serious 
western investors.  END SUMMARY. 
 
CHALLENGES ) WAR, FINANCIAL CRISIS 
 
2. (C) After several years of double digit GDP growth and 
deepening economic reforms following the 2003 Rose 
Revolution, 2008 and 2009 were difficult, both politically 
and economically, for Georgia.  In addition to the loss of 
20% of Georgia's territory, the Georgian economy was hit hard 
during the August 2008 war with Russia.  Russian troops 
controlled the country's major port and cross-country 
highway, stopping commerce into the region.  More than 30,000 
new internally displaced persons (IDPs) added to the stress 
on the Georgian budget, as the government struggled to 
quickly house these people before winter.  Although most 
foreign investors stayed in place, inflows of new foreign 
direct investment slowed to a trickle as plans for new 
investments were put on hold or shelved.  A few months later, 
the global financial crisis caused an even greater shock to 
the economy, with unemployment increasing sharply and 
investment and government revenues dropping precipitously. 
While pledges of assistance helped mitigate the worst of the 
financial crisis, led by the U.S. with our pledge of $1 
billion in post-conflict aid, the economy shrunk four percent 
in 2009.  The Georgian Government was further challenged by 
domestic protests from April to July 2009 that negatively 
affected tax collection and discouraged investors.  GDP is 
projected to grow by two percent in 2010, assuming continued 
global economic growth and the return of international 
investments. 
 
A CALMER GEORGIA, BUT INSECURITY RULES 
 
3. (S) While today Georgia is calmer and more stable, these 
improvements are far from durable and a palpable sense of 
insecurity permeates society and politics.  Miscalculations 
and provocations - domestically, in the territories or north 
Qand provocations - domestically, in the territories or north 
across the mountains - could easily spark renewed crisis. 
With a stabilized economy and no viable rival, President 
Saakashvili is stronger politically but paradoxically more 
insecure, burdened by the fear history will judge him to have 
lost irrevocably the occupied territories and concerned that 
our measured approach to defense cooperation and engagement 
with Moscow presage a deeper reorientation of U.S. interests. 
 These concerns are reinforced by a steady drumbeat of 
Russian accusations about the legitimacy and behavior of his 
government and comparative silence from the West about 
Moscow's consolidation of its position in the territories. 
In this hothouse environment, your visit is an important, 
visible manifestation of our commitment to support Georgia's 
reform and Euro-Atlantic aspirations - and an opportunity to 
remind the government that realization of those aspirations 
ultimately depends on a renewed commitment to deeper 
democratic and economic reforms.  Saakashvili continues to 
cast about for the "one big thing" that will secure Georgia's 
place in the west.  Our challenge is to convince President 
Saakashvili that the "one big thing" is a renewed commitment 
to Georgia's democratic and economic development, even while 
we work to prevent a slide back into conflict and instability. 
 
GEORGIA ) A MODEL FOR ECONOMIC REFORM 
 
TBILISI 00000205  002 OF 004 
 
 
 
4. (C)
Although often overshadowed by political crisis and 
conflict over the separatist territories, reform and 
modernization of the Georgian economy has been one of the 
most tangible successes of the Rose Revolution.  When it came 
to power in early 2004, the Saakashvili government inherited 
a barely functioning economy rampant with corruption and 
controlled by organized crime.  The government quickly took 
steps, including a complete overhaul of the police and an 
aggressive no-tolerance policy for organized crime, to 
legitimize the economy.  This led to increased jobs, 
increased tax collection and increased government revenue, 
fueled by large inflows of foreign direct investment and an 
aggressive privatization program. 
 
5.  (SBU) The Saakashvili government inherited a broken 
energy sector, where even in the capital electricity and gas 
were often unavailable.  The government worked hard to 
diversify energy supplies and decrease its dependence on 
Russia.  Georgia now has long-term energy agreements with 
Azerbaijan to provide natural gas.  Thanks to a renewed 
government focus on developing Georgia's plethora of 
hydropower resources, the country is now a net exporter of 
electricity, selling kilowatts to Russia, Turkey and the 
larger Caucasus region.  Planned infrastructure projects 
funded by the United States as well as other international 
donors and financial institutions will further strengthen 
Georgia's energy infrastructure, allowing for greater energy 
security and increased exports to energy starved markets in 
Eastern Turkey. 
 
RUSSIAN EMBARGO HAMPERS THEN STRENGTHENS ECONOMY 
 
6.  (C) An additional roadblock was thrown into Georgia's 
path towards economic development in 2006, when Russia ) its 
largest trading partner ) put into place a complete embargo 
on all Georgian goods.  Georgian companies struggled to find 
new markets for Georgian goods, including its famous wine. 
Although Russia still prohibits the import of Georgian 
products, the Georgian economy has more than rebounded.  It 
has diversified with new markets throughout the former Soviet 
Union and Europe, and has increased the overall quality of 
its goods to better compete.  Georgia is a member of the WTO 
and is currently discussing a free trade agreement with the 
European Union.  Georgia benefits from the U.S. General 
System of Preferences program and is keen to discuss the 
possibility of free trade with the United States.  We are in 
the process of discussing a new Bilateral Investment Treaty 
with Georgia to help promote further U.S. investments. 
 
CHALLENGES REMAIN ) TRANSPARENCY, PREDICTABILITY 
 
7.  (C) In spite of the global financial crisis, Georgia's 
economy is stronger and more resilient than it was five years 
ago.  Many business people you will meet during your visit 
will highlight the importance of Georgia's reforms and the 
improvements to the business climate during the past five 
years.  They will point out that Georgia is now 11th on the 
World Bank's "Ease of Doing Business Report," and was 
recognized internationally in 2009 for its sustained 
performance in reforming the laws and regulations that 
determine the business enabling environment.  In fact, the 
GoG deserves great credit for simplifying the process of 
opening a business, and has streamlined taxes and engaged the 
business community in a constructive dialogue.  It has fought 
against low-level corruption and won.  The government has 
successfully harvested the low-hanging fruit of reform and 
Qsuccessfully harvested the low-hanging fruit of reform and 
reaped the benefits. 
 
IMPLEMENTATION AND PERCEPTION 
 
8.  (C) Now, Georgia must tackle the harder issues - 
including transparency, predictability, and rule of law.  As 
Georgia's share of the economic pie has shrunk, there have 
been more accusations of higher-level corruption and an 
increase in government control of and intervention into the 
market.  Businesses perceive the government to be weighted in 
favor of companies that are willing to bend the rules, and do 
not believe the Georgian legal system can protect them. 
While Georgia has quickly adopted legislation to improve the 
judicial system, it has been slower to implement these 
protections.  Increased aggressiveness and lack of 
transparency in tax collections during the past six months 
worry the business community, as Georgia seems to be backing 
away from the reforms that brought it success.  Your visit 
provides an ideal opportunity to stress to all that Georgia 
must hold strong on its path of economic reform if it is to 
succeed in transforming this formerly failed state.  If 
Georgia wants the foreign investment it so desperately seeks, 
it must complete its reform of the legal system; it must also 
 
TBILISI 00000205  003 OF 004 
 
 
present and protect a transparent, level-playing field where 
businesses can compete.  In business, perceptions are as 
important as reality.  If serious western investors hear that 
they can not get a fair shake in Georgia, they will look to 
other more predictable markets.  The competition for 
investment dollars is fiercer than ever, and Georgia has to 
show both the political will and the willingness to tackle 
the hard issues if it wants to win. 
 
CONFLICT AND INSECURITY 
 
9.  (C) It is hard to overestimate the extent to which an 
intense climate of insecurity permeates Georgian society and 
political culture.  Russian forces, located as close as 25 
miles to Tbilisi, are building permanent bases and Georgians 
confront a steady drip of Russian statements alleging 
Georgian aggression or announcing the latest step in 
incorporating Abkhazia into Russia's economy.  Moscow's 
statements suggesting that Georgia is planning provocations 
in the North Caucasus have raised fears among Georgian 
officials that Russia is looking for another pretext for 
armed conflict.  Tbilisi, in turn, is overly focused on 
weapons acquisition as an antidote to its jitters. It fears 
our approach to defense cooperation (heavily focused on 
developing the structures and processes to assess threats, 
develop appropriate responses and make informed decisions 
about use of force before moving to acquisition) is a 
trade-off to secure Russian cooperation on other issues, such 
as Iran. 
 
10.  (C) The immediate security environment has stabilized, 
with fewer incidents along the administrative boundaries with 
the separatist territories of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. 
Shootings and explosions still occur, but much less 
frequently; detentions are the major source of tension, 
especially around South Ossetia.  Overall the Abkhaz de facto 
authorities have proven more interested in engaging with 
international partners.  The South Ossetians are steadfastly 
uncooperative, even when proposals would benefit their own 
residents. 
 
DOMESTIC POLITICAL CHALLENGES 
 
11.  (SBU) The Saakashvili-led United National Movement (UNM) 
continu
es to hold a constitutional majority in Parliament, 
and its current poll numbers reflect broad popular support. 
The government's restrained handling of the months-long 
opposition protests in 2009 reinforced Saakashvili's and his 
party's popularity throughout the country and reduced support 
for opposition leaders.  The government has made tangible 
democratic progress, including the passage of a new electoral 
code in December, 2009, which will set rules for upcoming May 
2010 municipal elections. The divergent positions and motives 
of the opposition precluded the kind of grand bargain which 
could have turned the electoral code into an engine for new 
democratic reforms.  In the current zero-sum environment, the 
government did not stretch itself, either.  The revised code 
has been sent to the Council of Europe's Venice Commission to 
assess its adherence to international standards.  Substantial 
government influence, if not outright control, over broadcast 
and other media pose significant challenges to the 
opposition.  In addition, the government has formed a 
constitutional commission to review ideas for constitutional 
change to lessen the power of the president. 
 
MEDIA ENVIRONMENT 
 
13. (SBU) Georgian media at present reflect the polarized 
political environment in the country, largely divided into 
pro-government and pro-opposition operations.  Nationwide 
Qpro-government and pro-opposition operations.  Nationwide 
television channels remain the main source of information for 
most people.  Television content is limited, resulting in a 
majority of the population that is poorly informed about a 
variety of issues and everyday concerns.  There are no hard 
walls separating the editorial and management sides of media 
organizations.  The media market is small, creating financial 
challenges.  Journalists are low-paid and practice 
self-censorship. 
 
RELATIONS WITH RUSSIA 
 
13. (SBU) While official relations between Russia and Georgia 
remain contentious, the two governments reached a preliminary 
agreement in December to reopen a border crossing for transit 
traffic to Armenia and limited access for Georgians, and the 
government has indicated that it is willing to sign a 
protocol as early as March.  Georgian Airways ran a few 
charter flights to Moscow and St. Petersburg in January -- 
the first direct commercial flights since a brief period in 
2008 -- and is negotiating for permission for more regular 
 
TBILISI 00000205  004 OF 004 
 
 
flights.  The Russian embargo remains in place against 
Georgian products, though Russian goods are readily available 
in Georgia. 
 
A TOUGH NEIGHBORHOOD 
 
14. (C) Georgia is concerned by a significant increase in 
military supplies from Russia to Armenia planned for 2010 
primarily via overflights between Russia and Armenia. 
Although Georgia has continued to allow the flights to 
maintain a good relationship with Armenia, it does not 
believe Armenia has the capacity to use these shipments 
itself and fears that such armaments as large-caliber 
ammunition for aircraft could be intended for Russian forces 
in Armenia, instead of the Armenian military.  Not only could 
such shipments disrupt the balance in the Nagorno-Karabakh 
conflict, but they could potentially be used to squeeze 
Georgia from the south as well. 
 
15. (S) Georgia is also trying to manage its relationship 
with Iran.  Georgia agrees with many of our concerns about 
Iran's policies, and has been willing to raise those concerns 
directly with the Iranians.  Georgia still faces lingering 
anger from Tehran for extraditing an Iranian arms smuggler to 
the United States several years ago.  At the same time, it 
cannot afford to alienate a powerful regional neighbor and a 
potential major commercial partner -- especially as it seeks 
to prevent any further recognitions of the breakaway regions. 
 Although the government has assured us that a proposed hydro 
project does not involve Iranian banks, we continue to 
monitor the deal. 
BASS

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10TBILISI146, GEORGIA: RESPONSE TO REQUEST FOR INFORMATION ON

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
10TBILISI146 2010-02-02 14:42 2011-08-30 01:44 SECRET Embassy Tbilisi

VZCZCXRO4232
PP RUEHDBU RUEHFL RUEHKW RUEHLA RUEHNP RUEHROV RUEHSL
DE RUEHSI #0146 0331442
ZNY SSSSS ZZH
P 021442Z FEB 10
FM AMEMBASSY TBILISI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 2804
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE PRIORITY

S E C R E T TBILISI 000146 
 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 02/02/2020 
TAGS: PGOV PREL PINR MOPS KG KZ TI TX UZ GG
SUBJECT: GEORGIA: RESPONSE TO REQUEST FOR INFORMATION ON 
NORTHERN DISTRIBUTION NETWORK, C-RE9-02185 
 
REF: A. 09 STATE 123007 
     B. 09 TBILISI 2239 
 
Classified By: DCM Kent Logsdon for reasons 1.4 (b) and (d). 
 
1.  (S/NF)  In response to ref A the following is further 
information regarding the Northern Distribution Network in 
Georgia. 
 
A.  (C)  PLEASE DESCRIBE THE HOST COUNTRY LEADER VIEWS ON THE 
US MILITARY LOCAL PURCHASE PLAN'S PROGRESS AND ANY BENEFIT TO 
THE HOST COUNTRY'S ECONOMY. HOW SATISFIED ARE HOST COUNTRIES 
WITH THIS PROGRAM? 
 
There is no U.S. Military local purchase plan in Georgia. 
DLA has reviewed outlets to purchase goods in Georgia and 
Georgian companies ar interested in pursuing opportunities 
to sell goods to the U.S. military. 
 
B.  (C)  PLEASE DESCRIBE ANY INSTANCES OF HOST COUNTRY GRAFT 
AND CORRUPTION IN THE US LOCAL PURCHASE PLAN, INCLUDING ANY 
INDICATIONS THAT HOST COUNTRY SENIOR LEADERSHIP IS INVOLVED. 
WHO IN THE HOST COUNTRY -- LEADERS, MINISTRIES, CLANS -- 
BENEFITS THE MOST? 
 
There are no known instances of host country graft, as there 
is no purchase plan. 
 
C.  (C)  HOW DO HOST COUNTRIES LEADERS VIEW EXPANDING THE NDN 
TO INCLUDE TRANSITING MILITARY SUPPLIES CONSIDERED "LETHAL"? 
 
The GOG is eager to expand their transport of military 
supplies and has put no restrictions on cargo. 
 
D.  (C)  PLEASE DESCRIBE ANY EXTERNAL POLITICAL OR ECONOMIC 
PRESSURE FROM RUSSIA, CHINA, ETC., TO ALTER OR TERMINATE 
PARTICIPATION IN THE NDN. 
 
Given the tense relations with Russia and Russia's own supply 
transit role, the Russians would be pleased for Georgia to 
cease participating in the Northern Distribution Network. 
However, Post is unaware of Russian pressure on Georgia on 
this particular issue.  Russia and Georgia broke diplomatic 
relations after the August 2008 war. 
 
E.  (C)  WHAT PLANS DO HOST COUNTRIES HAVE IN PLACE FOR 
RESPONDING TO ATTACKS AGAINST COALITION SUPPLY LINES? HOW 
WOULD TERRORIST ATTACKS OR OTHER SABOTAGE INCIDENTS AGAINST 
SUPPLY LINES INFLUENCE THE HOST COUNTRY'S RESOLVE TO CONTINUE 
PARTICIPATING IN THE NDN? 
 
There are no specific plans in place to repair supply lines, 
but the GOG would act quickly to repair any kind of damaged 
infrastructure (for example, rail lines) in the case of 
damage.  They have demonstrated their willingness and ability 
to do this as recently as the war in August of 2008, and we 
would expect the same in case of a terrorist attack. 
 
F.  (C)  WHAT ARE THE MOST VULNERABLE POINTS -- POLITICAL, 
ECONOMIC, SOCIAL, OR PHYSICAL INFRASTRUCTURE -- IN THE HOST 
COUNTRY THAT, IF CHALLENGED, WOULD AFFECT ITS WILLINGNESS TO 
CONTINUE NDN COOPERATION WITH THE US? 
 
None of the aforementioned potential vulnerabilities affect 
Georgia's willingness to participate in the Network. Georgia 
is eager to demonstrate its continued willingness to 
contribute to the Allied effort in Afghanistan, including by 
committing a battalion (approximately 750) of troops to serve 
alongside the U.S. Marines in Afghanistan with no caveats 
(ref B), so we would not expect any of the factors listed to 
deter Georgia from participating. 
BASS

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09TBILISI2013,

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09TBILISI2013 2009-11-16 13:25 2011-08-30 01:44 SECRET Embassy Tbilisi

VZCZCXYZ0001
PP RUEHWEB

DE RUEHSI #2013 3201325
ZNY SSSSS ZZH
P 161325Z NOV 09
FM AMEMBASSY TBILISI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 2425
INFO RHEHAAA/NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RUEHNO/USMISSION USNATO PRIORITY 4045


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09TBILISI1674, GEORGIA: WHAT IS GOING ON WITH NINO BURJANADZE?

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
09TBILISI1674 2009-09-08 14:27 2011-08-30 01:44 SECRET Embassy Tbilisi

VZCZCXRO0439
OO RUEHDBU RUEHFL RUEHKW RUEHLA RUEHNP RUEHROV RUEHSL
DE RUEHSI #1674/01 2511427
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FM AMEMBASSY TBILISI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 2168
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RHEHAAA/NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RUEKJCS/OSD WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY

S E C R E T SECTION 01 OF 02 TBILISI 001674 
 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 09/02/2019 
TAGS: PGOV PHUM PREL GG
SUBJECT: GEORGIA: WHAT IS GOING ON WITH NINO BURJANADZE? 
 
REF: A. TBILISI 0852 
     B. TBILISI 1568 
     C. TBILISI 1634 
 
Classified By: AMBASSADOR JOHN F. TEFFT.  REASONS:  1.4 (B) AND (D). 
 
1.  (C)  Summary/Comment:  Despite her almost complete lack 
of political support, Burjanadze, likely because of her past 
international role as Georgia's acting President (twice) and 
well-known Speaker as well as the on-going activities of her 
husband, still commands the GoG's attention.  A growing 
amount of evidence indicates that Burjanadze's husband, 
former Head of the Border Police, Badri Bitsadze is receiving 
large amounts of financing from ethnic Georgians based in 
Russia, some of whom may be part of a crime syndicate. 
Burjanadze's autumn plans are unclear but political 
engagement with the GoG is certainly not on her radar screen. 
 Bitsadze's intentions are more murky and of significant 
concern to the GoG, which believes Bitsadze played a role 
supporting the failed Mukhrovani coup (ref A).  Complicating 
matters is the GoG's apparent vindictive tax prosecution of 
Burjanadze for a property she received in 2008 for the price 
of GEL 1 (USD 60 cents) (ref B).  Burjanadze garners little 
sympathy and no public support for her tax predicament, but 
she appears to have a legitimate gripe regarding the legality 
of the tax prosecution.  End Summary/Comment. 
 
Where Is Nino - What Is She Doing? 
 
2.  (C)  Irakli Alasania (Our Georgia - Free Democrats) told 
the Ambassador that Burjanadze was working with Eka Beselia 
(United Georgia) and Salome Zourabichvili (Georgia's Way) to 
try to organize a new wave of autumn protests to force 
President Saakashvili's resignation.  Alasania said that 
Burjanadze was trying to convince Giorgi Gachechiladze 
"Utsnobi", brother of former presidential candidate Levan 
Gachechiladze to join the protests.  Alasania said his 
Alliance (New Rights and Republicans) would not participate, 
and added that he was relatively sure Levan Gachechiladze 
also would not participate.  According to Alasania, 
Burjanadze knows she has little popular appeal so she has 
been trying to co-opt Utsnobi to provide the street level 
credibility to autumn protests.  (Embassy Comment:  Courting 
the radical Utsnobi, who lead the May 6 storming of a police 
station, is not a positive sign that Burjanadze intends to 
lead peaceful, issue-based protests.  End Comment.)  Alasania 
also said Burjanadze was trying to make the recent arrest of 
Beselia's son and brother into a political issue.  Alasania 
described both of them as petty hooligans and said he (and 
most others in opposition) would not support this. 
 
3.  (S)  Burjanadze has spent a large portion of the summer 
quietly traveling abroad.  (Embassy Note:  A Poloff contact 
spotted her in Ukraine recently.  End Note.)  Minister of 
Internal Affairs Vano Merabishvili told the Ambassador that 
he had solid evidence that Bitsadze received USD 500,000 from 
Tariel Oniani (ref C) who had ties to the Mukhrovani coup 
attempt.  Merabishvili said that Bitsadze had recently met 
Oniani in Belarus.  According to Merabishvili, Bitsadze has 
received significant funds funneled through Armenia from 
ethnic Georgian Thieves-In-Law based in Moscow.  Merabishvili 
also noted that both Burjanadze and Bitsadze were traveling 
frequently to Europe to meet with various Thieves-In-Law. 
 
Nino Might Have a Point on Taxes 
 
4.  (C)  Burjanadze met Poloff to explain her version o the 
legal dispute regarding her dacha (ref B).  Contrary to press 
reports, Burjanadze said the Ministry of Finance was not 
Qreports, Burjanadze said the Ministry of Finance was not 
attempting to collect property tax, but rather tax the 
property as unearned income.  Burjanadze explained her case 
calmly and rationally telling Poloff that she did not dispute 
that she needed to pay taxes on the receipt of the property. 
She handed Poloff the 2008 official appraisal of the property 
which put the value of the property at GEL 2,769,325 (USD 
1.64 million).  Burjanadze said she was still prepared to pay 
income tax on the basis of the 2008 appraisal.  She noted 
that it strained credibility that the value of her land 
increased six fold in the middle of an economic downturn, as 
tax authorities allege.  Burjanadze said that she was tipped 
off that the GoG was preparing to sanction her for a false 
declaration of value if she paid her taxes on the basis of 
the 2008 official appraisal, rather than a new valuation 
which was only recently provided to Burjanadze.  Burjanadze 
described a lose-lose scenario in which she would be blamed 
for not paying taxes or found guilty of misrepresentation and 
tax evasion in a "kangaroo court" style proceeding.  She said 
that paying a political price for not paying taxes was the 
preferably choice; therefore, she requested an extension to 
sort the matter out in the courts.  (Embassy Comment: 
According to lawyers at DLA Piper who are tax specialists but 
 
TBILISI 00001674  002 OF 002 
 
 
unrelated to the case, seeking an e
xtension and paying a 
small fine (less than USD 20) plus interest is normal 
practice in tax cases.  The lawyers at DLA Piper were 
unanimously of the opinion that Burjanadze was correct in 
claiming she only owed a lesser amount in income tax and the 
government's overall legal case against her was highly 
dubious.  End Comment.) 
 
5.  (C)  Burjanadze explained that her lawyers have not been 
not allowed to cross examine the government witness who 
valued the property at over USD 12 million.  Burjanadze also 
said she was denied the opportunity to introduce evidence 
that shows that the USD 12 million valuation was severely 
inflated.  Burjanadze further provided Poloff with a copy of 
the newly amended tax code provision (on July, 17, 2009) 
which allows for the sale of property at auction after an 
initial court ruling.  This provision previously allowed the 
government to take properties with tax liens to auction only 
after all appeals were exhausted.  Burjanadze noted the 
curious timing of the amendment and offered her conclusion 
that the provision would be quickly repealed after her dacha 
was auctioned.  For her part, Burjanadze seemed to understand 
that, as a political matter, she had very little public 
sympathy for her predicament having accepted the property for 
GEL 1 - about 60 cents.  Nevertheless, Burjanadze told Poloff 
she would continue to fight because she believed the law was 
on her side.  Burjanadze told Poloff she had little hope of 
winning but would appeal to the European Court of Human 
Rights in Strasbourg.  Burjanadze added that the GoG would 
come after her for something else even if she decided to quit 
and pay the amount in question so litigating the case was her 
only option. 
 
The Dacha and More - A Former Insider Adds Context 
 
6.  (C)  Former Burjanadze confidant and advisor, Thea 
Gogvadze-Apfel (strictly protect) told Polchief that she and 
others had confronted Burjanadze when they heard she was 
going to accept the dacha over a year ago.  According to 
Gogvadze-Apfel, Burjanadze initially denied that she had any 
intentions of accepting the property.  Gogvadze-Apfel found 
out later that Burjanadze signed the necessary papers the 
same day she had denied that she was going to accept the 
property.  Gogvadze-Apfel described the incident as a painful 
betrayal.  Nevertheless, Gogvadze-Apfel, who left the 
Burjanadze camp in early 2009, still defends her former boss. 
 According to her, all of Burjanadze's questionable political 
decisions are a result of taking advice from her father Anzor 
Burjanadze (former director of the state bread enterprise and 
Shevardnadze confidante) and her husband.  She opined that 
Burjanadze, left to her own devices, was an honest, sensible 
person. 
 
7.  (C)  Gogvadze-Apfel said that she believed Bitsadze and 
Anzor Burjanadze had convinced Burjanadze to accept the dacha 
and were behind her increasing political desperation and 
radicalism.  She said that contrary to the accepted wisdom, 
Anzor Burjanadze, who made a fortune as the "bread czar" and 
later as a Shevardnadze ally, was broke.  Burjanadze's 
parents are currently living in the disputed dacha which 
likely helps explain Burjanadze's position on the issue, not 
wanting to have to move her parents from the residence. 
Gogvadze-Apfel said she did not know what Burjanadze's future 
political plans were but suspected Burjanadze was only 
listening to her father and husband for advice which 
essentially assured her political decisions would be to 
Qessentially assured her political decisions would be to 
defend their interests, not the promotion of democratic 
values. 
TEFFT

Wikileaks

09TBILISI1559, GEORGIA: BLUE LANTERN LEVEL 3: PRE-LICENSE END-USE

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
09TBILISI1559 2009-08-18 12:02 2011-08-30 01:44 SECRET Embassy Tbilisi

VZCZCXRO5161
OO RUEHDBU RUEHFL RUEHKW RUEHLA RUEHNP RUEHROV RUEHSL
DE RUEHSI #1559 2301202
ZNY SSSSS ZZH
O 181202Z AUG 09
FM AMEMBASSY TBILISI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 2054
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE PRIORITY

S E C R E T TBILISI 001559 
 
SIPDIS 
 
PM/DTCC FOR KYLE M. BALLARD 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 08/18/2019 
TAGS: ETTC KOMC SE UP BU GG
SUBJECT: GEORGIA: BLUE LANTERN LEVEL 3: PRE-LICENSE END-USE 
CHECK ON LICENSE 050180371 
 
REF: SECSTATE 79547 
 
Classified By: Ambassador John F. Tefft for Reasons 1.4 (b) and (d). 
 
1. (S)  In response to reftel questions, Post provides the 
following answers. 
 
A.  Can the Georgian Ministry of Defense (MOD) confirm the 
order of the rifles and grenade launchers listed on this 
license application? MOD's Letter of Intent and End-Use 
Certificate date back to 2007 and 2008, respectively.  Are 
these documents still considered valid by MOD?  Do these 
documents still reflect MOD's intention to continue with this 
transaction? 
-- The requirement remains a valid one for the MOD.  While 
this was a needed order when made, it is no longer an 
immediate need for MOD.  However, Deputy Minister of Defense 
for Acquisitions Otar Berdzenishvili told DATT that there is 
no provision in the contract for return of Georgian funds if 
the license is not approved.  Thus, Bel Trading would keep 
the total value of the contract whether the goods are 
delivered or not.  According to Berdzenishvili, the only 
provision for return of the funds is if the M4s and/or M203s 
do not meet military specifications; a sub-standard product 
apparently is cause for voiding the contract while denial of 
license is not. Since there is nothing to be gained by 
denying the license, we ask PM/DTCC not/not to deny it even 
though the need is not urgent. 
B.  What role is Seychelles-based Bel Trading and Consulting 
playing in this transaction?  How were you first introduced 
to Bel Trading and Consulting?  What are the terms of the 
agreement between MOD and Bel Trading and Consulting in this 
transaction?  Is Bel Trading and Consulting receiving any 
commissions for its services in this transaction? 
-- According to Deputy Defense Minister Berdzenishvili, Bel 
Trading is an Ukrainian company based in the Seychelles.  Bel 
Trading and the Georgian Ministry of Defense have had a 
business relationship since 2006 and MOD has executed a large 
number of contracts with the company.  Berdzenishvili is 
not/not satisfied with the performance of the company and is 
actively seeking to terminate the relationship without losing 
any Georgian government funds already paid.  Berdzenishvili 
expressed concern with Bel Trading's contracts (specifically 
how contracts are written and executed).  He noted examples 
including a lack transparency, a lack of accountability 
mechanisms, and a high commission rate to Bel Trading without 
any performance standards.  Bel Trading has also deceived the 
MOD about the status of some of its signed contracts. 
Berdzenishvili suspected Bel Trading of keeping large sums of 
Georgian funds even though sales contracts are not moving 
forward, and in some cases, licenses have been denied.  He 
does not intend to use Bel Trading again, but wants to 
complete the contracts that are pending in order to not lose 
already committed funds. 
C. To your knowledge, are there any other companies involved 
in this transaction aside from Bel Trading and Consulting and 
the U.S. vendor?  Are any other parties receiving fees or 
commissions for services rendered in this transaction? 
-- None known, but the contract does not specify. 
TEFFT

Wikileaks

09TBILISI1524, GEORGIA: AMBASSADOR FRIED DISCUSSES GEORGIAN

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
09TBILISI1524 2009-08-11 11:45 2011-08-30 01:44 SECRET Embassy Tbilisi

VZCZCXRO9514
PP RUEHDBU RUEHFL RUEHKW RUEHLA RUEHNP RUEHROV RUEHSL
DE RUEHSI #1524/01 2231145
ZNY SSSSS ZZH
P 111145Z AUG 09
FM AMEMBASSY TBILISI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 2014
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE PRIORITY

S E C R E T SECTION 01 OF 02 TBILISI 001524 
 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 08/08/2019 
TAGS: PREL PGOV GG
SUBJECT: GEORGIA: AMBASSADOR FRIED DISCUSSES GEORGIAN 
ACCEPTANCE OF GUANTANAMO DETAINEES 
 
Classified By: Charge d'Affaires Kent D. Logsdon for Reasons 1.4 (b) an 
d (d). 
 
1.  (S)  SUMMARY:  During his August 5-6 visit to Tbilisi, 
Special Envoy for Guantanamo Bay Ambassador Daniel Fried 
discussed with a wide-range of Senior Georgian officials the 
details of how Georgia planned to implement its offer to 
accept a number of detainees currently detained at Guantanamo 
Bay who have been approved for transfer to a third country. 
In each meeting, the Georgian government response was one of 
openness and availability to assist the U.S. in closing 
Guantanamo through the placement of specific detainees into 
Georgia.  Logistical details remain; however, it is clear 
that Georgia is prepared to accept at least some of the seven 
candidates presented to them during the Special Envoy,s 
visit and expects to complete its review process and reach 
agreement on transfer by the end of September.  While in 
Tbilisi, Ambassador Fried met with Minister of Foreign 
Affairs Grigol Vashadze, Secretary of the National Security 
Council Eka Tkeshelashvili, Minister of Internal Affairs Vano 
Merabishvili (whose ministry is in the lead on this issue), 
and Minister of Defense David Sikharulidze.  END SUMMARY 
 
Meeting with Foreign Minister Vashadze 
 
2.    (S)  In a broad discussion Special Envoy Ambassador 
Fried provided an overview of the current situation at 
Guantanamo Bay, U.S. government attempts to move, resettle, 
and repatriate current detainees for whom continued detention 
is deemed unnecessary,  and other countries, efforts to 
assist.  In particular, Ambassador Fried focused on the 
efforts of European Union nations to accept detainees. 
Ambassador Fried stressed that UNHCR had concurred with U.S. 
efforts to resettle some detainees and noted the availability 
of a dedicated letter from UNHCR to the Georgian government. 
In an effort to allay concerns that Georgia would be isolated 
in its willingness to accept detainees, Ambassador Fried 
described the willingness of some European nations such as 
Portugal, Ireland, Spain and Belgium and Switzerland (the 
latter two countries want their offers to remain private for 
now), and stressed throughout the meeting that Georgia would 
count itself among many European nations  should it choose to 
assist the United States in this matter.  Ambassador Fried 
stated that the detainees being considered for resettlement 
to Georgia were Tunisians and Libyans, and he noted in the 
interest of full disclosure, that at least one had expressed 
interest in traveling to Chechnya at some point in the past. 
 
3.    (S) Foreign Minister Vashadze emphasized Georgia's 
willingness to assist the U.S. in this area, and noted that 
the Georgian government was prepared to accept detainees 
whenever the logistical details could be worked out between 
MOIA and the State Department.  Specifically, he stated that 
Georgia would take &nearly everybody8 requested.  Vashadze 
strongly believed that openness with regard to the media was 
the best course of action, but deferred to the MOIA.  The 
Foreign Minister stated that there was broad international 
support for closing Guantanamo, and thus no reason not to be 
open and public about the situation. 
 
National Security Council Also Supportive 
 
4.    (S) In a lunch meeting with Secretary of the National 
Security Council Eka Tkeshelashvili, Ambassador Fried covered 
the same points as with the Foreign Minister, while also 
noting details of the background of the prospective detainees 
for Georgia and any potential security risks.  Tkeshelashvili 
was pleased to hear that the plan was not to place the 
Qwas pleased to hear that the plan was not to place the 
detainees in prison while in Georgia, and instead were 
recommended for release with necessary measures implemented 
by the internal security services.  She assured Ambassador 
Fried that Georgia was quite capable and willing to handle 
any detainees which are chosen for resettlement in Georgia. 
 
Meeting with Defense Minister Sikharulidze 
 
5.  (S) Ambassador Fried stressed to Defense Minister 
Sikharulidze the deep involvement of President Obama and Vice 
President Biden in the efforts to close Guantanamo.  He 
appreciated the offer of MoIA Minister Vano Merabashbili two 
months ago, in which he proposed Georgia as a possible 
country for resettlement.  Fried mentioned that seven 
detainee files were already at the MoIA and that he would 
cover the details with Minister Merabishvili.  He stated that 
the proposed detainees are "not saints," but were low level 
fighters of Tunisian and Libyan origin.  Fried further stated 
that if Georgia would prefer "a better group of detainees," 
they could consider the Uighurs, but that that could cause 
them trouble with China. 
 
Merabishvili Ready to Move Quickly -- No to the Uighurs 
 
 
TBILISI 00001524  002 OF 002 
 
 
6.  (S)  In a meeting with Merabishvili, Fried thanked the 
MOIA for its willingness to accept some detainees and 
reiterated points he had made to the other ministers. 
Merabishvili asked what U.S. expectations were for the 
d
etainees and Fried explained that the United States did not 
expect them to remain in custody.  Merabishvili said that it 
would be important to work closely with Minister of 
Corrections and Legal Assistance Dimitry Shashkin whose 
ministry is responsible for probation efforts.  Merabishvili 
was concerned that problems securing Georgia's borders -- 
particularly those with the separatist regions -- could 
present an opportunity for escape.  Fried told the Minister 
that the MOIA may wnt to initially implement strict 
guidelines on travel, as have other European countries 
prepared to accept detainees.  Fried recommended that the 
MOIA plan to interview detainees in Guantanamo (which the USG 
would arrange) and Merabishvili agreed that he would send a 
team in early September.  When asked about the need to 
provide a resettlement package for the detainees, Fried told 
the Minister that the United States has modest funding 
available to assist with the costs of resettling detainees. 
Merabishvili said that the Georgian government would be 
willing to provide an amount commensurate with state 
pensions, but it would be politically difficult to provide 
more to the detainees than to state pensioners. 
 
7.  (S)  Head of the MoIA Analytical Department Shota 
Utiashvili asked if the detainees would apply for asylum in 
Georgia.  Fried responded that the detainees would need a 
category for admittance under Georgian law.  Fried told the 
minister that Uighurs would be an easier project for the MOIA 
but noted potential problems from the Chinese.  Minister 
Merabishvili said that Georgia could not accept Uighurs -- 
China was too important to Georgia, particularly on issues 
related to Central Asia.  Fried told the minister that the 
United States is seeking residences for the detainees with 
security services that are mature enough to handle them in a 
civilized way -- and he noted that at least one of the 
proposed detainees for Georgia had expressed a desire to 
visit Chechnya in the past.  Fried said that we did not want 
to generate additional headaches for Georgia with Russia. 
When asked whether the detainees home countries would accept 
them -- Ambassador Fried said that the Libyans have expressed 
no interest in their citizens return.  Tunisia had expressed 
interest, but given their track record of poor treatment of 
previously-repatriated detainees, it is currently not an 
option for repatriation. 
 
8.  (S)  On a way forward, Merabishvili said that his team 
would develop a list of questions regarding the proposed 
detainees which would be delivered through liaison channels. 
After receiving a response, MoIA would send a team to 
Washington and to Guantanamo Bay in early September to 
continue evaluating the detainees under consideration.  The 
Minister expected to make final decisions by the end of 
September.  Fried again expressed appreciation for Georgia's 
efforts to resettle detainees and acknowledged the 
possibility that those resettled could find a way to leave 
Georgia, though Georgia has the existing infrastructure to 
keep a close watch on the returned detainees which the U.S. 
expected Georgia would employ.  Fried told Merabishvili he 
understood his position on the Uighurs. 
 
9. (U)  Ambassador Fried has cleared this cable. 
LOGSDON

Wikileaks

09TBILISI912, GEORGIA: FOLLOW-UP COMMENTS ON CS-137 DISCOVERY

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
09TBILISI912 2009-05-14 12:00 2011-08-30 01:44 SECRET Embassy Tbilisi

VZCZCXRO4513
PP RUEHDBU RUEHFL RUEHKW RUEHLA RUEHNP RUEHROV
DE RUEHSI #0912 1341200
ZNY SSSSS ZZH
P 141200Z MAY 09 ZDK
FM AMEMBASSY TBILISI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 1561
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RHMFISS/US CUSTOMS AND BORDER PROTECTION WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RUEHUNV/USMISSION UNVIE VIENNA PRIORITY 0045
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RUEANFA/NRC WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RHMCSUU/FBI WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RHMFISS/DEPT OF ENERGY WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RHMFITT/JOINT STAFF WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RULSDMK/NSA US WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY

S E C R E T TBILISI 000912 
 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 05/08/2019 
TAGS: KNNP MNUC ASEC KCRM PARM PINR PREL GG
SUBJECT: GEORGIA: FOLLOW-UP COMMENTS ON CS-137 DISCOVERY 
 
REF: A. STATE 032944 
     B. TBILISI 0449 
     C. TBILISI 0314 
 
Classified By: AMBASSADOR JOHN F. TEFFT FOR REASONS 1.4 B AND D 
 
1. (S) As requested in ref A, poloff obtained additional 
information from the Government of Georgia regarding its 
response to the discovery of four Cs-137 sources buried near 
Kopitnari Airport.  While not completely ruling out the 
possibility that the material was abandoned by smugglers, the 
government is not pursuing the case as a criminal matter. 
The road on which the sources were detected is a historic and 
modern smuggling route for many illicit activities, including 
narcotics and human trafficking.  While the Nuclear and 
Radiation Safety Service (NRSS) was not fully confident that 
the material was buried without any intention of transporting 
it in the future, it stressed that this was unlikely. 
 
2. (S) There are many other cases in Georgia of radioactive 
material discovered buried at previously unknown locations. 
This is especially true on former Soviet military bases, 
where containers would be emptied out to sell for scrap 
metal, and the radioactive sources simply buried as a means 
of disposal.  For example, in 1997 at Lilo, eleven border 
patrol guards received serious injuries from radiation 
exposure when over ten Cs-137 sources were discovered after 
the property was transferred to the Georgians.  Another 
example is at Vaziani in 1999, during transfer of the base to 
the Georgians, when a highly radioactive Cs-137 source was 
found buried under 30 cm of soil, and another fourteen 
sources of strontium found buried at a tank polygon.  There 
are also several cases of Cs-137 being discovered buried at 
formerly state-owned property during the transfer to private 
ownership.  According to NRSS, such burial of radioactive 
sources is usually linked to disposal of material and not to 
criminal intention.  The February discovery of Cs-137 near 
Kopitnari Airport is assessed by NRSS to be a similar case; a 
matter of ignorant disposal and not criminal intent. 
 
3. (S) As explained in ref B, the Georgians assess that the 
sources were buried two or three years ago, based on two 
pieces of evidence.  First, an IAEA aerial survey conducted 
in 2000 covered the area, and no traces of radioactive 
material were detected at that time.  Second, the sources 
were discovered buried next to a transformer that was 
installed about four or five years ago.  The Georgians assess 
that if the sources had been buried at the location at the 
time of the installation, the sources would have been 
disturbed.  NRSS now assesses that the sources are likely 
industrial sources, and because of the multitude of disused 
industrial sources located throughout the country, NRSS has 
little confidence that it could determine he origin. 
 
4. (S) Comment.  While they did not follow the procedure 
agreed upon in the Addendum to the Joint Document of Georgian 
and U.S. Delegations Georgia's Priority Needs to Improve Its 
Capabilities to Combat Nuclear Smuggling when responding to 
the incident, as detailed in ref A, the Georgians did 
successfully recover the radioactive sources and now seem 
Qsuccessfully recover the radioactive sources and now seem 
content to put the matter to rest.  They sources have been 
transferred to the storage facility in Mtskheta, and the 
Government is not planning to pursue the case further.  Lack 
of proper response procedures to such incidents is an ongoing 
problem in Georgia.  This will likely be a main theme during 
the Preventing Nuclear Smuggling Program (PNSP) Scenario 
Based Workshop scheduled for May 20-21 in Tbilisi, which will 
be a key event for the Georgians in learning how to improve 
these procedures.  End comment. 
TEFFT

Wikileaks

09TBILISI793, GEORGIA INFORMED ON PENDING TRANSFER OF SEIZED HEU

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
09TBILISI793 2009-04-24 12:26 2011-08-30 01:44 SECRET Embassy Tbilisi

VZCZCXYZ0000
PP RUEHWEB

DE RUEHSI #0793 1141226
ZNY SSSSS ZZH
P 241226Z APR 09
FM AMEMBASSY TBILISI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 1435
INFO RUEHMO/AMEMBASSY MOSCOW PRIORITY 8235
RHMCSUU/FBI WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY

S E C R E T TBILISI 000793 
 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 04/24/2019 
TAGS: PARM PREL KNNP MNUC RS GG
SUBJECT: GEORGIA INFORMED ON PENDING TRANSFER OF SEIZED HEU 
SAMPLE TO RUSSIA 
 
REF: A. MOSCOW 1052 
     B. 4/22/09 YOUNG-GEHRENBECK EMAIL 
     C. STATE 38943 
 
Classified By: AMBASSADOR JOHN F. TEFFT FOR REASONS 1.4 (b) and (d). 
 
1. (S) Per ref B, on April 24, poloff informed Shalva 
Burduli, Head of Division for New Threats and Arms Control of 
the Georgian MFA, of the pending transfer to Russia of a 
ten-gram sample of the HEU seized in a 2006 nuclear smuggling 
sting operation in Georgia.  Poloff explained that he 
transfer was contingent on logistical and other arrangements, 
but that the transfer was expected to occur soon.  Burduli 
had no immediate reaction but promised to inform senior MFA 
officials. 
TEFFT

Wikileaks

09TBILISI449, GEORGIA: CESIUM-137 SOURCES RECOVERED NEAR

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
09TBILISI449 2009-03-06 14:37 2011-08-30 01:44 SECRET Embassy Tbilisi

VZCZCXRO2250
PP RUEHDBU RUEHFL RUEHKW RUEHLA RUEHNP RUEHROV
DE RUEHSI #0449/01 0651437
ZNY SSSSS ZZH
P 061437Z MAR 09
FM AMEMBASSY TBILISI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 1121
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RHMFISS/US CUSTOMS AND BORDER PROTECTION WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RHMFITT/JOINT STAFF WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RUEANFA/NRC WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RHMCSUU/FBI WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RULSDMK/NSA US WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RHMFISS/DEPT OF ENERGY WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RUEHUNV/USMISSION UNVIE VIENNA PRIORITY 0042

S E C R E T SECTION 01 OF 02 TBILISI 000449 
 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 03/05/2019 
TAGS: MNUC ASEC PARM PINR KNNP KCRM ZJ GG
SUBJECT: GEORGIA: CESIUM-137 SOURCES RECOVERED NEAR 
KOPITNARI AIRPORT 
 
REF: A. STATE 17212 
     B. TBILISI 00314 
 
Classified By: AMBASSADOR JOHN F. TEFFT FOR REASONS 1.4 B AND D 
 
1. (S) Summary. On Thursday, February 26, the recovery of 
four Cesium-137 sources, discovered near the 
Kutaisi-Samtredia central highway (ref B), was successfully 
accomplished by a joint MOIA and Nuclear and Radiation Safety 
Service (NRSS) team.  Officials from NRSS had assumed that 
there was just one source present, however, the team 
recovered four Cesium-137 sources.  They were safely 
transported to the storage facility in Mtskheta.  As 
requested ref A, additional details regarding the excavation 
and the sources are detailed below.  End summary. 
 
INITIAL RESPONSE 
 
2. (S) In response to the inadvertent detection of elevated 
radiation level against the background level off of the 
Kutaisi-Samtredia central highway near the town of Samtredia 
through the use of a USG-donated pager (mini rad-D, serial 
number 105786) by Georgian customs officers, NRSS sent two 
field missions, on February 10 and 12, in cooperation with 
local authorities and the Emergency Response Department of 
the Ministry of Interior.  The teams took measurements to 
identify the risk level, identified the safety area, 
installed indicators and informed the appropriate authorities 
of their findings.  An immediate removal without a special 
operation was deemed impossible due to the high dose rate of 
what was determined to be Cesium-137.  At this point, it was 
assumed to be just one source.  Relevant IAEA divisions were 
formally notified of the discovery. 
 
PLANNING AND RECOVERY 
 
3. (S) NRSS, jointly with the Emergency Services Department, 
elaborated a recovery operation plan.  They determined they 
would need fifteen to seventeen people to conduct the 
operation, and each person could be exposed to the source for 
no more than ten to twelve minutes.  The source was assumed 
to be in solid state, however, they did plan for the 
contingency that the source was not solid.  Necessary medical 
examinations of the recovery team and off-site training were 
held.  Due to both the need for planning and weather 
conditions, the recovery operation was delayed until February 
26.  They began the excavation at 1100 and concluded at 1445 
local time.  The recovery was accomplished by both machine 
and manual means.  A backhoe was used to initially excavate 
small amounts of dirt, which was then transferred onto a 
sheet and checked for elevated radiation levels.  If elevated 
levels were found, then the dirt was manually separated. 
During the operation, four separate Cesium-137 sources were 
discovered, compactly buried under approximately thirty 
centimeters of soil.  According to an NRSS official, it 
appeared that the sources had simply been discarded there. 
All were in solid state with no destruction.  No container 
was present, and all but one source was completely caked in 
mud.  The one not covered in mud was considered to be an odd 
shape, described as a bowler hat.  Each was onlya few 
centimeters in size.  Initial estimated measurements of 
activity indicate that one source had activity of about three 
Qactivity indicate that one source had activity of about three 
Ci and the three others were all less than one Ci.  The 
sources were transported by vehicle in a source storage 
container to the storage facility in Mtskheta.  Further 
analysis has not yet been conducted.  Officials promised to 
provide poloff with any details of analysis that is 
conducted, as well as pictures of the sources. 
 
LOCATION AND ORIGIN 
 
4. (S) The location of the site is four to five kilometers 
east of the town of Samtredia, twenty kilometers west of 
Kutaisi and fifty meters from the highway.  There have been 
no prior incidents of this nature near this site.  There is 
no permanent presence of humans in the immediate risk area 
and it was determined that there was no significant risk of 
past exposure at the location.  An aerial survey conducted 
together with the IAEA in 2000 covered this location, but 
showed no traces of the presence of the source at that time. 
In addition, the sources were discovered next to a 
transformer installed four to five years ago.  Due to these 
 
TBILISI 00000449  002 OF 002 
 
 
facts, NRSS officials estimated that the source was probably 
abandoned at this site about two or three years ago.  NRSS 
informed poloff that such cases with orphan sources are 
usually linked with former Sovie
t military equipment, or on 
rare occasion, with former industrial gauges.  However, at 
this time, they have no indication of the origin of the 
sources and are not optimistic that they will ever obtain 
such information.  It is not currently being handled as a 
criminal case. 
 
5. (U) Pictures of the site and recovery operation have been 
emailed to EUR/CARC.  Poloff will continue to follow-up on 
this incident and will report any further information. 
Please contact Nicole O'Brien on obriennl@state.sgov.gov with 
any questions. 
TEFFT

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09TBILISI333, GEORGIA: REQUESTING IAEA INSPECTION OF SUKHUMI

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
09TBILISI333 2009-02-18 12:45 2011-08-30 01:44 SECRET Embassy Tbilisi

VZCZCXYZ0000
PP RUEHWEB

DE RUEHSI #0333 0491245
ZNY SSSSS ZZH
P 181245Z FEB 09 ZDK
FM AMEMBASSY TBILISI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 0958
INFO RUEHMO/AMEMBASSY MOSCOW PRIORITY 8228
RUEHUNV/USMISSION UNVIE VIENNA PRIORITY 0038

S E C R E T TBILISI 000333 
 
SIPDIS 
 
DEPARTMENT FOR ISN/WMDT, EUR/PRA, EUR/RUS, EUR/CARC 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 02/18/2019 
TAGS: KNNP PARM PGOV PREL RS GG
SUBJECT: GEORGIA: REQUESTING IAEA INSPECTION OF SUKHUMI 
 
REF: A. A. STATE 13989 
     B. B. TBILISI 121 
     C. C. STATE 3902 
     D. D. 08 MOSCOW 3605 
     E. E. 08 STATE 126999 
     F. F. 08 TBILISI 2172 
 
Classified By: Charge d'Affaires a.i. Kent Logsdon for reasons 1.4 (B) 
AND (D). 
 
1. (S) Poloff delivered Reftel A demarche to Nestan 
Bejanishvili, MFA's Second Secretary of the Security Policy 
and Euro-Atlantic Integration Department on February 17. 
Bejanishvili thanked poloff for the information.  In response 
to poloff's point that representatives from the Russian 
Mission in Vienna informed the IAEA of the removal of all 
sources in Sukhumi, Bejanishvili informed poloff that the 
Georgian Mission in Vienna has been instructed to request an 
IAEA inspection of the Sukhumi Institute of Physics and the 
Sukhumi Institute for Experimental Pathology to confirm the 
removal (based on discussion in Reftel B). 
LOGSDON

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