|08TBILISI749||2008-05-05 13:53:00||UNCLASSIFIED||Embassy Tbilisi|
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UNCLAS TBILISI 000749
1. This cable contains current items of political,
economic, and social interest concerning Georgia during the
weeks of April 19-May 2.
Two New Ministers, One New Deputy for Reintegration
2. Even before voters go to the polls, the May 21 parliamentary
elections are affecting the composition of the Georgian government
as some officials resign to run for Parliament while outgoing MPs
move into the government. On May 1, Prime Minister Gurgenidze
appointed Bakur Kvezereli the new Minister of Agriculture and Irakli
Gvaladze the new Minister of Environment. Prior to their
appointments, both were deputy ministers in the same ministries they
have now been appointed to lead. The previous ministers had
resigned to run for majoritarian seats in Parliament. MP Elene
Tevdoradze, who chairs the Human Rights Committee in the outgoing
Parliament, will be appointed a Deputy State Minister for
Reintegration after her MP mandate expires. She will focus on human
rights and will take laed responsibility for a new element of the
State Ministry - minorities. Tevdoradze has been an MP since 1999
but was not included on the ruling National movement's list for the
upcoming election. Tevdoradze is respected by the public thanks to
her well-known advocacy of prisoners' rights, although she has also
sometimes been a subject of some ridicule due to her poor Georgian.
The position of Foreign Minister remains unfilled following David
Bakradze's resignation to head the National Movement's list.
Governor of Imereti Resigns for Second Time
3. Akaki Bobokhidze, governor of the Imereti region (which includes
Kutaisi, Georgia's second-largest city) has resigned to run for a
majoritarian seat in Parliament. Bobokhidze replaced the
previously announced candidate of the ruling National Movement for
this seat, Gogita Gegelashvili. Gegelashvili had been nominated by
Speaker Nino Burjanadze, and following Burjanadze's unexpected
withdrawal from the parliamentary race, Gegelashvili also withdrew
his candidacy. Bobokhidze has been replaced as governor by Mikheil
Chogovadze, Chief Prosecutor of Imereti. This is the second time
Bobokhidze has resigned from the influential governor's position.
The first time was after a 2005 incident in which Bobokhidze beat
journalist Irakli Imnaishvili, breaking his nose, following a
political talk-show on local television.
Russia Resumes Mail Links with Georgia
4. According to an April 21 announcement from the Georgian Ministry
of Economic Development, Russia resumed direct postal communication
with Georgia on that day. Russia had severed postal links in early
October 2006 during a spat over arrested Russian spies in Georgia.
The Ministry said it had received an official letter from the
Russian Postal Service (no word how it was delivered) giving notice
that both mail service and postal money transfers would be resumed.
However, because there are still no legal land transit points
between Georgia and Russia, air mail is the only postal service
available. These are the latest in a series of Russian steps to
roll back the October 2006 sanctions. On March 25 the two countries
resumed the direct air service and on March 28 they resumed maritime