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08TBILISI1554 2008-09-11 14:50:00 CONFIDENTIAL//NOFORN Embassy Tbilisi
Cable title:  

GEORGIA: SITREP 29: UN ASSISTANCE CONVOY GAINS

Tags:   PGOV PREL PHUM RU GG 
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1. (C) Summary. The UN announced that a humanitarian
assistance convoy was allowed to pass the Georgian checkpoint
at Karaleti September 11, delivering four tons of assistance
to the Georgian village of Patara Garadjivari. Georgia's
Reintegration Minister formally announced a freeze on
development projects in Abkhazia and South Ossetia.
President Saakashvili stated his readiness to share some
powers with the Anti-Crisis Council and accepted
responsibility for the events leading up to the Russian
aggression. OSCE monitors heard from Russian troops outside
Poti that they planned to withdraw September 14, although
Post has heard conflicting reports on actual moves toward
departure. Georgia has lifted some restrictions on Russian
websites in Georgia, but continues to block major Russian
news agencies. Former Minister of Defense, Irakli
Okruashvili, will not be extradited to Georgia from France.
End Summary.

UN HUMANITARIAN CONVOY GETS THROUGH CHECKPOINTS


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2. (U) After being blocked for 15 days in a row, a UN
convoy containing four tons of humanitarian supplies was
permitted to enter the Russian-controlled area in Georgia
proper north of Gori on September 11. The assistance was
delivered to the ethnic Georgian village of Patara
Garadjivari. According to the UN, many of the village's 1500
residents have already returned.

GOVERNMENT FREEZES DEVELOPMENT PROJECTS IN REGIONS


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3. (SBU) Post received a copy of a letter from Minister for
Reintegration Yakobashvili, also sent to other implementing
partners, announcing a decision by the government to "freeze
indefinitely all rehabilitation and economic development
projects that are already running in (Abkhazia and South
Ossetia)." It seems to suggest that such programs could
resume in some form in the future, stating that the Ministry
will review such programs to determine their "applicability
against declared goals in the current situation." It makes
clear that for now, however, partners must tread carefully:
"Any attempt from international governmental and/or
nongovernmental organizations, State and private companies to
legitimize criminal regimes in Sokhumi and Tskhinvali through
cooperation and engagement with them by avoiding the Georgian
Government will be considered as an utmost unfriendly step
and will bear consequences according to Georgian legislation
and international law." A copy of the letter has been sent
to EUR/CARC.

SAAKASHVILI TAKES STEPS ON DOMESTIC POLITICAL SCENE


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4. (SBU) Press reports indicate President Saakashvili has
instructed Interior Minister Merabishvili to oversee
post-conflict reconstruction projects, but claimed the
Anti-Crisis Council should be the major decision-making body.
Saakashvili is ready to give executive powers to the
Council, including the right to sign documents. Saakashvili
claimed the Council could send representatives to various
ministries to rebuild the country together and show the
aggressors that Georgia is united and effective. He
expressed the hope that about 20,000 displaced persons would
be able to return back to their homes in the areas north of
Gori after the Russian troops withdraw within a month.
Saakashvili also accepted full responsibility for the events
that led Georgia to its current situation. "I want to state
with full responsibility that I am personally responsible and
I assume full personal responsibility for each and every
event that led us to and which preceded the Russian
aggression against Georgia. I also assume full personal
responsibility for rebuilding and establishing peace in
Georgia," he stated at a meeting with the local
administration in the town of Gori.

RUSSIAN TROOPS TO LEAVE POTI SEPTEMBER 14


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5. (SBU) An OSCE patrol traveled along the main east-west
highway all the way to Poti September 10, encountering no
difficulties. They spoke with Russian forces at the three
checkpoints outside Poti, hearing at one that Russian forces
were planning to depart all three on Sunday, September 14.

TBILISI 00001554 002 OF 002


The same patrol visited a Georgian airbase in Senaki, where
Georgian forces reported more unexploded ordnance, such as
missiles and grenades, than originally thought, with cleanup
underway.



6. (SBU) According to media sources, Russian occupying forces
have began dismantling wire entanglements around the
checkpoints in Khobi, Samegrelo region and in Poti. Four
empty trucks were also driven to the Teklati checkpoint to
remove alleged stolen goods. However, the Georgian Ministry
of Internal Affairs claims that as of September 8, these
checkpoints had been reinforced. UNOMIG sources have not yet
been able to confirm any concrete progress on departure.



7. (SBU) The OSCE successfully passed Russian checkpoints
outside South Ossetia again on September 11, reaching
villages a few kilometers south of Tskhinvali.

GEORGIA EASES RESTRICTIONS ON RUSSIAN WEBSITES


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8. (SBU) According to the press, Georgia unblocked websites
on the .ru domain on 9 September, but restrictions on some
websites remain. Russian television news stations such as
Itar-Tass, RIA Novosti, and Interfax remain blocked. They
are still available and accessible on satellite, although
most viewers in Georgia view them through cable.

OKRUASHVILI'S APPEAL TO AVOID EXTRADITION UPHELD


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9. (SBU) The press reported that former Georgian Defense
Minister Irakli Okruashvili and his lawyers welcomed the
French appellate court's decision not to extradite him to
Georgia. Okruashvili was sentenced in absentia to eleven
years in prison on corruption charges accusing him of abuse
of office, negligence, and money laundering.
TEFFT