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Identifier
Created
Classification
Origin
09TBILISI909
2009-05-13 13:42:00
CONFIDENTIAL
Embassy Tbilisi
Cable title:  

GEORGIA: PROTESTS - SOME BLUSTER, LITTLE ACTION

Tags:   PGOV  PHUM  PREL  GG 
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VZCZCXRO3287
OO RUEHDBU RUEHFL RUEHKW RUEHLA RUEHNP RUEHROV RUEHSR
DE RUEHSI #0909/01 1331342
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
O 131342Z MAY 09
FM AMEMBASSY TBILISI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 1556
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 SECTION 01 OF 02 TBILISI 000909 

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 05/13/2019
TAGS: PGOV PHUM PREL GG
SUBJECT: GEORGIA: PROTESTS - SOME BLUSTER, LITTLE ACTION

REF: TBILISI 0906

Classified By: AMBASSADOR JOHN F. TEFFT. REASONS: 1.4 (B) AND (D).

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 TBILISI 000909

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 05/13/2019
TAGS: PGOV PHUM PREL GG
SUBJECT: GEORGIA: PROTESTS - SOME BLUSTER, LITTLE ACTION

REF: TBILISI 0906

Classified By: AMBASSADOR JOHN F. TEFFT. REASONS: 1.4 (B) AND (D).


1. (C) Summary: A small crowd of 2000-2500 appeared in
front of Parliament Tuesday May, 12 for what was scheduled to
be a major announcement on the non-parliamentary opposition's
new action plan in response to their meeting with
Saakashvili. No announcement of blocking roads or other near
term actions was made. Levan Gachechiladze said that on May
26, (Georgian Independence Day) the non-parliamentary
opposition would gather 100,000 protesters to block the
traditional military parade on Rustaveli avenue. Meanwhile,
Irakli Alasania (Alliance) stated that although there were
disagreements between the non-parliamentary opposition and
the GoG, dialogue was needed. The American Chamber of
Commerce issued a statement calling for dialogue stating that
businesses are suffering from blocked roads and ongoing
protests. Speaker David Bakradze is scheduled to hold a
diplomatic corps briefing on the GoG's reform plans on the
afternoon of Wednesday, May 13. End Summary.


2. (C) Comment: The non-parliamentary opposition
backtracked significantly on its promises to cripple the
country with road blockages and expanded protests, despite
issuing defiant statements. Shifting their focus to disrupt
a national holiday two weeks away seems more like a last
ditch effort to provoke some sort of confrontation than a
part of a coherent strategy. For the time being, the GoG
still seems perfectly content to allow the protesters to
block Rustaveli Avenue, stop the annual parade, and suffer
the negativ political fallout that is sure to ensue.
Meanwhile, non-parliamentary leaders face what has to be an
unpalatable choice for many to negotiate or continue street
action which is much more likely to lead to their own
political irrelevance than Saakashvili's resignation. End
Comment.

The Opposition Considers Its Options


3. (C) According to Alasania, the non-parliamentary group
intended to meet to discuss its response to Saakashvili's
proposals. Apparently, Alasania did not attend the meeting

and Post is unaware of any concrete outcome other than the
non-parliamentary opposition met for four hours. Speaker
Bakradze told the Ambassador he was unclear as to what was
transpiring. The non-parliamentary opposition has at least
temporarily shelved its plans to block major highways and
ports of entry. Instead, they issued statements about
organizing 100,000 people to block plans to celebrate
Georgian Independence Day festivities on May 26. (Embassy
Comment: Alasania told the Ambassador that a group headed by
Nino Burjanadze hoped for conflict, even violent conflict on
May 26. End Comment.) A clearly frustrated Levan
Gachechiladze said that protesters would gather at Paichadze
National Stadium which holds 60,000 so skeptics could not
question their numbers. (Embassy Comment: Post finds that
the non-parliamentary opposition seems to believe their often
wildly exaggerated protests numbers. Gachechiladze's comment
seems to echo the frustration that independent observers do
not agree. End Comment.) Bakradze expressed his confusion
as to Gachechiladze's position, saying that it was his
impression that Gachechiladze was leaning towards
negotiations.


4. (C) Press reports claimed that the GoG planned to clear
the cells on May 16 which led to a fiery response by Eka
Beselia who said force would be met with force. (Embassy
QBeselia who said force would be met with force. (Embassy
Note: Although the press reported the statement, we have no
indications that the GoG is planning any action. End Note.)
The non-parliamentary opposition has applied to extend its
protest permit to at least May 26, the answer is still
pending with the Mayor's office but is expected on May 13.
As of now, the non-parliamentary opposition has shifted its
strategy to focus on May 26 possibly to force some sort of
street conflict. The logic behind the strategy is somewhat
curious considering that Saakashvili explicitly told the
non-parliamentary opposition (according to both Alasania and
Bakradze) that he would take no action against the
protesters, though it may be a stalling tactic to buy more
time to consider a response to Saakashvili's offer of
dialogue.

AmCham Speaks Up


5. (C) AmCham-Georgia, which had been reluctant to comment
on the ongoing situation, issued a statement calling for
dialogue but said that "(r)esidents of Tbilisi and visitors
to the city have been inconvenienced by the blocking of major
traffic arteries since April 9, and businesses are suffering
from both the direct effects of these blockades and from the

TBILISI 00000909 002 OF 002


picture of political uncertainty and instability that they
present to partners, customers and investors." The statement
went on to say that "(w)e encourage both sides to demonstrate
their respect for the Georgian people, and their concern for
the viability of the country's economy and institutions, by
immediately allowing the life and commerce of the capital to
resume unhindered, and to cooperate with each other towards
agreement on long term political solutions that will
stabilize the situation and benefit the country as a whole."
(Embassy Comment: The statement, though moderate represents
the privately expressed view of the vast majority of AmCham
members that the protests hurt businesses and need to end.
End Comment.)
TEFFT