91MOSCOW10849, BYZANTINE POLITICS THRIVE IN SOVIET GEORGIA

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
91MOSCOW10849 1991-04-16 22:02 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Moscow

P 162202Z APR 91
FM AMEMBASSY MOSCOW
TO SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 1069
INFO RUEHLN/AMCONSUL LENINGRAD
MOSCOW POLITICAL COLLECTIVE

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 05 MOSCOW 10849 
 
 
DEPT FOR EUR/SOV, C-ZOELLICK 
 
E.O.12356:DECL: OADR 
TAGS: PGOV UR PREL SOCI PINS
SUBJECT:  BYZANTINE POLITICS THRIVE IN SOVIET GEORGIA 
 
REF:  MOSCOW 10336 
 
1.  CONFIDENTIAL -- ENTIRE TEXT. 
 
SUMMARY 
/------ 
 
2.  DURING A MARCH 31 - APRIL 3 TRIP TO TBILISI, 
POLOFF MET WITH GEORGIAN SUPREME SOVIET CHAIRMAN 
ZVIAD GAMSAKHURDIA (PROTECT), OPPOSITION LEADERS, AND 
OTHER REPUBLIC RESIDENTS TO SORT OUT THE BYZANTINE 
POLITICS OF GEORGIA WHERE ACCUSATIONS FLY FREELY, 
ENEMIES ARE MADE EASILY, AND VIOLENT CONFRONTATION 
OCCURS DAILY.  DURING THE PAST MONTH GAMSAKHURDIA HAS 
MOVED TO CONCENTRATE MOST REPUBLIC POWERS IN HIS 
HANDS THROUGH THE CREATION OF A PREFECTURE SYSTEM AND 
A REPUBLIC PRESIDENCY.  GAMSAKHURDIA INSISTS THAT 
SUCH STEPS ARE NECESSARY BECAUSE THE CENTER IS 
WORKING WITH HIS ENEMIES -- THE NATIONAL CONGRESS AND 
THE SOUTH OSSETIANS -- TO UNDERMINE HIS GOVERNMENT'S 
POSITION.  OPPOSITION LEADERS FROM THE NATIONAL 
CONGRESS ACCUSE GAMSAKHURDIA OF DEPRIVING THEM OF 
THEIR HUMAN RIGHTS AND WORKING WITH THE CENTER 
AGAINST THE GEORGIAN PEOPLE.  VIRTUALLY ALL SIDES 
CLAIM THE OTHER SIDES ARE IN CAHOOTS WITH THE KGB. 
IN ADDITION, EACH SIDE, INCLUDING GAMSAKHURDIA'S 
ROUND TABLE, HAS ITS OWN PARAMILITARY GROUP OR GROUPS 
WHICH LAUNCH FREQUENT ATTACKS AGAINST EACH OTHER. 
END SUMMARY. 
 
3.  THIS IS THE SECOND IN A SERIES OF THREE CABLES ON 
POLITICS IN SOVIET GEORGIA.  THIS FIRST REPORT (REF) 
DEALT WITH GAMSAKHURDIA'S CONFRONTATION WITH THE 
CENTER AND THE SOUTH OSSETIANS.  THE THIRD WILL COVER 
A TRIP POLOFF MADE TO A KGB PRISON AND A CONVERSATION 
WITH THE IMPRISONED OSSETIAN LEADER KULUMBEGOV'S 
LAWYER. 
 
GEORGIAN POLITICS:  ETERNAL PLOTS AND COUNTER-PLOTS 
/-------------------------------------------- ------ 
 
4.  GEORGIAN POLITICS REMAIN TRUE TO THEIR BYZANTINE 
HERITAGE AND APPEAR SOMEWHAT BIZARRE TO MOST 
OUTSIDERS.  MOST OF THE RELATIVELY SMALL REPUBLIC'S 
LEADERS HAVE KNOWN EACH OTHER SINCE CHILDHOOD AND 
HAVE BUILT AN INTRICATE WEB OF FRIENDS AND ENEMIES 
THROUGH THE YEARS.  GEORGIAN POLITICS ARE HIGHLY 
EMOTIONAL AND LOGIC IS OFTEN CAST ASIDE IN FAVOR OF 
INFLAMMATORY RHETORIC AND HIGH DRAMA.  ACCUSATIONS OF 
KGB MEMBERSHIP, BETRAYAL, COLLUSION WITH MOSCOW, AND 
CLINICAL INSANITY ARE TRADED WITH EQUAL VENOM FROM 
ALL SIDES.  THE STORIES BECOME ENHANCED WITH TIME AND 
QUICKLY TAKE THEIR PLACES IN THE TWISTED AND 
BEWILDERING LORE OF GEORGIAN POLITICAL HISTORY. 
POLOFF HAS VISITED THE REPUBLIC FREQUENTLY DURING THE 
PAST TWO YEARS AND OCCASIONALLY DURING THE PAST 
DECADE AND HAS NEVER FAILED TO BE INTRIGUED BY THE 
PECULIAR BRAND OF POLITICS GEORGIANS PRACTICE. 
 
5.  VENDETTAS, PARTICULARLY IN RETALIATION FOR PUBLIC 
CRITICISM, ARE QUITE COMMON IN GEORGIA.  GEORGIANS 
ARE QUICK TO TAKE UMBRAGE AND TURN ON ANY CRITICAL 
PARTIES.  THIS COMBINED WITH THE GEORGIAN FLARE FOR 
DRAMA AND HYPERBOLE SOMETIMES LEAD TO RATHER 
STARTLING ACCUSATIONS.  GEORGIAN POLITICAL LEADERS, 
ESPECIALLY GAMSAKHURDIA, HAVE TRIED TO APPLY THESE 
TACTICS TO THE OUTSIDE WORLD WITH DISASTROUS PUBLIC 
RELATIONS RESULTS.  GAMSAKHURDIA, FOR EXAMPLE, 
RECENTLY LABELLED RADIO LIBERTY AND THE WALL STREET 
JOURNAL "INSTRUMENTS OF THE KREMLIN" BECAUSE THEY 
CRITICIZED HIM.  WHEN POLOFF POINTED OUT THAT THIS 
WAS NOT EVIDENCE OF COLLUSION WITH THE KREMLIN, 
GAMSAKHURDIA APPEARED SURPRISED.  GAMSAKHURDIA ALSO 
HAS MADE MANY OUTRAGEOUS CLAIMS AGAINST HIS MAJOR 
OPPOSITION, THE NATIONAL CONGRESS.  THESE CLAIMS 
INCLUDE BEARING OR FATHERING ILLEGITIMATE CHILDREN, 
COLLUSION WITH IRAQ IN THE GULF WAR, AND OTHER 
APOCRYPHAL ACCUSATIONS. 
 
6.  THE OPPOSITION REACTS IN MUCH THE SAME WAY. 
NATIONAL DEMOCRATIC PARTY LEADER GHIA CHANTURIA 
(PROTECT) HAD EQUALLY OUTRAGEOUS STORIES ABOUT HOW 
GAMSAKHURDIA WAS ACTUALLY COLLUDING WITH THE CENTER, 
PARTICULARLY THE KGB, AGAINST THE GEORGIAN PEOPLE. 
IN ADDITION, CHANTURIA AND HIS WIFE AMD FELLOW 
POLITICAL ACTIVIST, IRINA SARISHVILI (PROTECT), WHO 
WERE ONCE FELLOW DISSIDENTS WITH GAMSAKHURDIA, SHOWED 
POLOFF ALLEGED OFFICIAL PROOF OF GAMSAKHURDIA'S 
INSANITY.  THE "PROOF" CONSISTED OF A "SECRET" 
CERTIFICATE FROM A PSYCHIATRIC CLINIC WHERE 
GAMSAKHURDIA WAS CONFINED WHEN HE WAS A POLITICAL 
PRISONER.  WHEN POLOFF ASKED WHERE THEY HAD OBTAINED 
THESE AND OTHER DOCUMENTS, CHANTURIA REPLIED THAT 
FORMER KGB MEMBERS HAD PASSED THE DOCUMENTS TO THEM 
IN FRANCE LAST YEAR. 
 
7.  LEGITIMATE GRIEVANCES ARE BURIED IN EACH SIDE'S 
LITANY OF ACCUSATIONS AND COMPLAINTS.  GREAT EFFORT 
AND MUCH PATIENCE, HOWEVER, IS REQUIRED TO MINE THESE 
NUGGETS OF TRUTH FROM THE TANGLED TERRAIN OF GEORGIAN 
POLITICS.  CONSISTENCY IS NOT A HIGHLY REGARDED 
VIRTUE WHEN IT COMES TO STATISTICS AND AN INTERVIEWER 
WILL OFTEN RECEIVE WILDLY FLUCTUATING ESTIMATES FROM 
THE SAME PERSON IN THE COURSE OF A SINGLE DAY.  FOR 
EXAMPLE, GAMSAKHURDIA ESTIMATED THE NUMBER OF 
GEORGIAN MVD PERSONNEL AT 10,000 ONE MORNING AND 
20,000 LATER THAT DAY.  NATIONAL CONGRESS LEADERS 
EXHIBITED THE SAME CAVALIER ATTITUDE TOWARD 
STATISTICS BY CHANGING THEIR ESTIMATES OF MEMBERSHIP 
BY SEVERAL THOUSAND ON EACH OF THE THREE OCCASIONS 
POLOFF SPOKE TO THEM DURING THE TRIP. 
 
SPRINGTIME FOR G
AMSAKHURDIA 
/-------------------------- 
 
8.  ON APRIL 14, GAMSAKHURDIA HELD AN EMERGENCY 
SESSION OF THE GEORGIAN PARLIAMENT, WHICH CREATED A 
REPUBLIC PRESIDENCY WITH SWEEPING POWERS AND 
UNANIMOUSLY ELECTED GAMSAKHURDIA PRESIDENT UNTIL 
REPUBLIC-WIDE ELECTIONS ON MAY 26.  DURING A 
TELEPHONE CONVERSATION THAT SAME DAY, GAMSAKHURDIA 
TOLD POLOFF THAT HE REQUIRED SUCH POWERS TO BRING 
ORDER TO THE REPUBLIC AND ROUT THE CENTER'S 
ACCOMPLICES.  THROUGH THE CREATION OF THE PRESIDENCY, 
GAMSAKHURDIA HAS GAINED VIRTUALLY UNRESTRAINED 
POWER.  ALTHOUGH THE REPUBLIC LAW ON THE PRESIDENCY 
STIPULATES THAT THREE-QUARTERS OF THE PARLIAMENT CAN 
IMPEACH HIM AT ANY TIME, GAMSAKHURDIA HAS THE PRESENT 
GEORGIAN SUPREME SOVIET FIRMLY UNDER HIS CONTROL. 
 
9.  GAMSAKHURDIA WILL PROBABLY WIN THE PRESIDENTIAL 
ELECTIONS ON MAY 26.  HE PROBABLY SET AN EARLY DATE 
FOR THE ELECTIONS SO THAT THE FRAGMENTED OPPOSITION 
WOULD NOT HAVE TIME TO PREPARE AN ELECTION CAMPAIGN. 
WHILE GAMSAKHURDIA CERTAINLY HAS AUTHORITARIAN 
TENDENCIES, HE IS ALSO QUITE POPULAR -- AS EVEN HIS 
RIVALS WILL ADMIT.  HE IS STILL ABLE TO DRAW LARGE 
CROWDS AND GEORGIANS, WHO ARE QUITE NATIONALISTIC, 
REVERE HIM FOR HIS MANY YEARS AS A POLITICAL 
DISSIDENT AND HIS STRONG CHALLENGES TO THE CENTER. 
HIS MARCH 31 REFERENDUM ON GEORGIAN INDEPENDENCE WAS 
A RESOUNDING SUCCESS AS EVEN THE MEMBERS OF THE 
NATIONAL CONGRESS PARTICIPATED AND VOTED IN FAVOR OF 
REPUBLIC INDEPENDENCE.  ONE OF THE POSTERS URGING 
REPUBLIC CITIZENS TO PARTICIPATE IN THE REFERENDUM 
BORE A PHOTOGRAPH OF GAMSAKHURDIA EXTENDING HIS ARM 
FORWARD IN A CLENCHED FIST AS A SIGN OF DEFIANCE 
AGAINST THE CENTER.  THE GESTURE BORE A CHILLING 
RESEMBLANCE TO THE NAZI SALUTE -- A FACT THAT DID NOT 
ESCAPE HIS DETRACTORS BUT EVIDENTLY DID GAMSAKHURDIA 
NO HARM. 
 
 
10.  ONE OF GAMSAKHURDIA'S MOST CONTROVERSIAL 
POLICIES HAS BEEN THE ESTABLISHMENT OF A SYSTEM OF 
LOCAL GOVERNMENT STRUCTURES CALLED PREFECTURES. 
ACCORDING TO THIS SYSTEM, GAMSAKHURDIA APPOINTS 
PREFECTS WHO ADMINISTER THE LOCAL GOVERNMENT IN PLACE 
OF THE SOVIETS OR COUNCILS OF THE FORMER SYSTEM. 
GAMSAKHURDIA SAID THAT ALTHOUGH HE APPOINTED THE 
FIRST GROUP OF PREFECTS IN JANUARY, HE HOPED THAT BY 
NEXT YEAR THEY WOULD BE ELECTED.  HE CLAIMED THAT 
SOME OF THESE ELECTIONS WERE HELD AT THE SAME TIME AS 
THE MARCH 31 GEORGIAN REFERENDUM ON INDEPENDENCE. 
ACCORDING TO THE APRIL 14 LAW ON THE PRESIDENCY, 
HOWEVER, THE GEORGIAN PRESIDENT WILL HAVE THE POWER 
TO APPOINT AND REMOVE PREFECTS.  GAMSAKHURDIA SAID HE 
WOULD TRY THE SYSTEM FOR SIX MONTHS AND "IF THE 
PEOPLE DO NOT LIKE IT, WE WILL GET RID OF IT." 
GAMSAKHURDIA  COMPARED THIS SYSTEM TO THE FRENCH AND 
ITALIAN GOVERNMENT SYSTEMS, WHICH HE SAID HE USED AS 
EXAMPLES TO CREATE THE PREFECTURES.  CRITICS HAVE 
ACCUSED GAMSAKHURDIA OF SETTING UP A NON-DEMOCRATIC 
SYSTEM BY APPOINTING PREFECTS TO CIRCUMVENT THE LOCAL 
GOVERNMENT ESPECIALLY IN AREAS CONTROLLED BY THE 
NATIONAL CONGRESS. 
 
11.  GAMSAKHURDIA PLANS TO CONTINUE HIS PUSH FOR "THE 
RENEWAL OF GEORGIA'S INDEPENDENCE BASED ON THE 1918 
GEORGIAN DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE."  HE SAID HE 
UNDERSTANDS THAT THIS IS A GRADUAL BUT INEVITABLE 
PROCESS.  ON APRIL 9, THE ANNIVERSARY OF THE TRAGIC 
GEORGIAN DEATHS AT THE HANDS OF SOVIET TROOPS, THE 
GEORGIAN SUPREME SOVIET OFFICIALLY DECLARED ITS 
INTENTION TO RENEW ITS INDEPENDENCE BASED ON THE 1918 
DECLARATION JUST AS GAMSAKHURDIA HAD PLANNED. 
 
DOUBLE-SPEAK ON HUMAN RIGHTS 
/--------------------------- 
 
12.  DURING POLOFF'S VISIT, GAMSAKHURDIA CONTINUED TO 
JUSTIFY HIS SUPPRESSION OF HUMAN RIGHTS, SUCH AS 
FREEDOM OF ASSEMBLY AND SPEECH, AS "NECESSARY 
MEASURES" TO FIGHT THE CENTER'S "PROVOCATION."  AT 
OTHER TIMES, HE GAVE POLOFF OBVIOUSLY TRANSPARENT 
EXCUSES.  FOR EXAMPLE, WHEN POLOFF ASKED WHY HE HAD 
CLOSED DOWN "MOLODEZH GRUZII," A NEWSPAPER CRITICAL 
OF THE GEORGIAN GOVERNMENT, GAMSAKHURDIA SAID THAT 
GEORGIA WAS EXPERIENCING A PAPER SHORTAGE AND 
"THEREFORE, UNFORTUNATELY SOME OF THE NEWSPAPERS HAD 
TO BE SHUT DOWN." 
 
13.  GAMSAKHURDIA INSISTED THAT HE WOULD ALLOW 
CRITICISM OF HIMSELF AND HIS GOVERNMENT IN THE PRESS, 
"BUT NOT SLANDER."  HIS DEFINITION OF "SLANDER" 
SEEMED EXCESSIVELY WIDE-RANGING.  HE CLAIMED THAT 
CHANTURIA HAD WANTED TO PRINT ARTICLES "WITH OBSCENE 
WORDS IN THEM AND OF COURSE, WE CANNOT ALLOW SUCH 
THINGS."  IN REALITY, CHANTURIA HAD TRIED TO PRINT AN 
ARTICLE CRITICAL OF GAMSAKHURDIA IN THE REPUBLIC 
NEWSPAPER AND THE EDITOR WAS NOT ALLOWED TO PRINT 
IT.  GAMSAKHURDIA ALSO SAID HE DID NOT BELIEVE THE 
POLITICAL GROUPS OF THE NATIONAL CONGRESS SHOULD BE 
ALLOWED TO PUBLISH OR SAY WHATEVER THEY WANTED 
"BECAUSE THEY WOULD JUST PROVOKE VIOLENCE." 
 
14.  DURING THE LAST WEEK IN MARCH, THE GEORGIAN 
SUPREME SOVIET PASSED A RESOLUTION BANNING 
DEMONSTRATIONS IN FRONT OF THE GEORGIAN SUPREME 
SOVIET BUILDING.  INTERESTINGLY, THIS IS WHERE 
GAMSAKHURDIA HIMSELF HELD MANY LARGE RALLIES LAST 
YEAR.  CHANTURIA TOLD POLOFF THAT THIS WAS OBVIOUSLY 
GAMSAKHURDIA'S PLOY TO LIMIT THE AMOUNT OF DIRECT 
POLITICAL CRITICISM OF GAMSAKHURDIA IN ONE OF THE 
MOST POPULAR GATHERING PLACES IN THE CITY. 
GAMSAKHURDIA TOLD POLOFF THAT HE HAD DECIDED TO BAN 
THE DEMONSTRATIONS ON THE BUILDING'S GROUNDS BECAUSE 
THE DEMONSTRATIONS "BLOCKED MY EXIT FROM THE BUILDING 
AND I COULD NOT GO HOME BECAUSE I WAS TRAPPED.  THEY 
ARE FREE TO DEMONSTRATE ANYWHERE ELSE." 
 
THE UNDERDOG OPPOSITION TRIES TO FIGHT BACK 
/------------------------------------------ 
 
15.  THE MAJOR OPPOSITION, THE NATIONAL CONGRESS, 
CONSISTS OF SIX BLOCKS OF ORGANIZATIONS WITH AN 
AVERAGE OF TEN PARTIES IN EACH BLOCK.  MANY OF THESE 
PARTIES HAVE ONLY A COUPLE HUNDRED MEMBERS.  THE 
LARGEST PARTIES ARE THE NATIONAL DEMOCRATIC PARTY, 
WHICH HAS ABOUT 5000 MEMBERS, AND THE NATIONAL 
INDEPENDENCE PARTY, WHICH HAS ABOUT 2000 MEMBERS. 
THE NATIONAL CONGRESS HAS A MORE RADICAL APPROACH TO 
ACHIEVING INDEPENDENCE THAN GAMSAKHURDIA'S ROUND 
TABLE.  THEY BELIEVE THAT GAMSAKHURDIA SHOULD TAKE AN 
EVEN MORE CONFRONTATIONAL APPROACH TO THE CENTER. 
FOR EXAMPLE, DAVID ONANASHVILI (PROTECT), NATIONAL 
INDEPENDENCE PARTY ACTIVIST, TOLD POLOFF THAT HIS 
BLOCK OF PARTIES HAD BEEN HOLDING DEMONSTRATIONS TO 
GET THE GEORGIAN SUPREME SOVIET TO BAN THE PRESENCE 
OF ALL SOVIET TROOPS IN GEORGIA.  WHILE ITS MEMBERS 
AGREE ON THE NEED TO ACCELERATE THE INDEPENDENCE 
PROCESS, THEY DISAGREE ON WHAT KINDS OF TACTICS TO 
USE.  NOW THAT THE REPUBLIC IS PREPARING TO HOLD 
PRESIDENTIAL ELECTIONS AS EARLY AS MAY 26, IT IS 
DOUBTFUL THAT THE OVER 60 PARTIES WILL BE ABLE TO 
SETTLE ON A CANDIDATE AND MOUNT AN EFFECTIVE 
CAMPAIGN TO CHALLENGE GAMSAKHURDIA'S BID FOR THE 
PRESIDENCY. 
 
16.  NATIONAL DEMOCRATIC PARTY LEADER GHIA CHANTURIA 
TOLD POLOFF THAT IT WAS MUCH HARDER FOR THE NATIONAL 
CONGRESS TO FIGHT AGAINST
 THE ROUND TABLE THAN IT WAS 
FOR THEM TO STRUGGLE AGAINST THE COMMUNIST PARTY 
BECAUSE THE ROUND TABLE IS GEORGIAN.  CHANTURIA AND 
OTHERS ADMITTED THAT THEIR SUPPORT AND NUMBERS HAD 
DWINDLED.  INDEED, POLOFF NOTICED THAT THE TWO 
DEMONSTRATIONS SHE ATTENDED WERE MUCH SMALLER THAN 
PREVIOUS NATIONAL CONGRESS DEMONSTRATIONS LAST YEAR. 
EVEN THEN, HOWEVER, NATIONAL CONGRESS GATHERINGS 
TENDED TO BE SMALLER THAN ROUND TABLE RALLIES. 
 
17.  THE NATIONAL CONGRESS GROUPS FEAR GAMSAKHURDIA 
AND HAVE LEGITIMATE GRIEVANCES ABOUT LACK OF ACCESS 
TO THE MEDIA AND VIOLATIONS OF THEIR FREEDOM OF 
SPEECH.  CHANTURIA TOLD POLOFF THAT GAMSAKHURDIA HAD 
WARNED IN A PUBLIC SPEECH THAT HE WOULD "PHYSICALLY 
DESTROY" THEM.  HE ALSO SAID THAT GAMSAKHURDIA HAD 
PREVENTED THEM FROM GETTING HARD CURRENCY TO PAY FOR 
A TRIP THEY PLANNED TO MAKE TO THE U.S.  IRINA 
SARISHVILI TOLD POLOFF THAT SHE WAS AFRAID THAT 
GAMSAKHURDIA WAS PREPARING TO HAVE HER ARRESTED 
BECAUSE SHE WROTE ARTICLES AND MADE SPEECHES CRITICAL 
OF HIS GOVERNMENT. 
 
18.  SARISHVILI CALLED GAMSAKHURDIA "A CRUEL MAN" AND 
TOLD POLOFF THAT GAMSAKHURDIA HAD FABRICATED MANY 
ACCUSATIONS AGAINST HER ABOUT COLLABORATING WITH IRAQ 
AND HAVING SEVERAL ILLEGITIMATE CHILDREN IN 
ORPHANAGES.  CHANTURIA SAID THAT WHEN THEY TRIED TO 
CHALLENGE GAMSAKHURDIA TO A DEBATE ON TELEVISION, 
GAMSAKHURDIA REFUSED AND WOULD NOT ALLOW THEM TO EVEN 
PRESENT THEIR VIEWS. 
 
19.  INTERESTINGLY, GAMSAKHURDIA AND CHANTURIA HAD 
BEEN FELLOW GEORGIAN DISSIDENTS AT ONE TIME AND HAD 
WORKED TOGETHER AGAINST THE COMMUNISTS.  ALTHOUGH 
THEY NOW CLAIM THAT THEY HAVE NEVER BEEN CLOSE, 
POLOFF CLEARLY REMEMBERS BOTH MEN SINGING EACH 
OTHER'S PRAISES SEVEN YEARS AGO. 
 
PARAMILITARY GROUPS WAGE POLITICAL BATTLES 
/----------------------------------------- 
 
20.  ACCORDING TO MOST ESTIMATES, ABOUT 25 
PARAMILITARY GROUPS FUNCTION IN GEORGIA.  ABOUT HALF 
OF THESE ALLEGEDLY BELONG TO POLITICAL GROUPS LOYAL 
TO GAMSAKHURDIA'S ROUND TABLE AND THE OTHER HALF 
BELONG TO POLITICAL GROUPS LOYAL TO THE NATIONAL 
CONGRESS.  DURING THE PAST SEVERAL MONTHS, 
GAMSAKHURDIA HAS ATTEMPTED TO DISARM THE NATIONAL 
CONGRESS' PARAMILITARY GROUPS AND TRIED TO SLOWLY 
INCORPORATE HIS GROUPS INTO THE GEORGIAN NATIONAL 
GUARD.  THESE TROOPS IN GREEN FATIGUES AND BURGUNDY 
BERETS ARE MOST VISIBLE AROUND THE GEORGIAN SUPREME 
SOVIET BUILDING AND AT THE AIRPORT.  A WESTERN 
JOURNALIST TOLD POLOFF THREE MONTHS AGO THAT 
ACCORDING TO A SOVIET MILITARY GENERAL IN GEORGIA, 
GAMSAKHURDIA HAD TRIED TO MAKE A DEAL WITH THE SOVIET 
ARMY TO DISARM THE NATIONAL CONGRESS' GROUP IN 
EXCHANGE FOR SOME COOPERATION ON DRAFTING YOUNG 
GEORGIANS INTO THE ARMY. 
 
21.  GAMSAKHURDIA HAS FOCUSSED PARTICULARLY ON 
DISBANDING THE MKHEDRIONI GROUP SOMETIMES KNOWN AS 
"THE HORSEMEN" OR THE "KNIGHTS OF MKHEDRIONI." 
INTERESTINGLY, THE MKHEDRIONI WAS FORMED BY BOTH 
GAMSAKHURDIA'S ROUND TABLE AND GROUPS PRESENTLY 
BELONGING TO THE NATIONAL CONGRESS DURING THE SUMMER 
OF 1989 TO PROTECT GEORGIANS DURING CONFLICTS WITH 
THE ABKHAZIANS AND THE AZERBAYDZHANIS.  AFTER THE 
ROUND TABLE AND THE NATIONAL CONGRESS GROUPS SPLIT, 
THE MKHEDRIONI THREW THEIR SUPPORT TO THE NATIONAL 
CONGRESS. 
 
22.  THE MKHEDRIONI LEADER, JOSELIANI, WAS RECENTLY 
ARRESTED WITH ABOUT 70 OTHER MKHEDRIONI MEMBERS AND 
HAS BEEN AWAITING TRIAL ON CHARGES OF ILLEGAL 
POSSESSION OF WEAPONS.  JOSELIANI'S SUPPORTERS ADMIT 
THAT HE HAS SERVED FOUR PRISON SENTENCES FOR ARMED 
ROBBERY AND THAT PRIOR TO HIS MOST RECENT ARREST, HE 
HAD NOT BEEN A POLITICAL PRISONER.  NATIONAL CONGRESS 
MEMBER IRINA SARIASHVILI TOLD POLOFF, "WE ACKNOWLEDGE 
THAT HE HAS BEEN A CRIMINAL SO IT IS NOT A PROBLEM. 
HE DOES NOT HIDE IT.  GAMSAKHURDIA UNJUSTLY ARRESTED 
HIM ON CHARGES OF ILLEGALLY POSSESSING WEAPONS.  OF 
COURSE, HE HAD THOSE WEAPONS, BUT IF YOU USE THAT 
CRITERIA YOU COULD IMPRISON EVERYONE WHO LIVES IN 
GEORGIA."  INTERESTINGLY, GEORGIAN MINISTRY OF 
FOREIGN AFFAIRS OFFICIAL LEVON GOGOBERIDZE (PROTECT) 
DEFENDED JOSELIANI'S CHARACTER BY POINTING OUT THAT 
HE WAS CLEVER ENOUGH TO GET INTO MOSCOW STATE 
UNIVERSITY AFTER OBTAINING ONLY A SEVENTH GRADE 
EDUCATION.  HE ALSO TOLD POLOFF THAT MANY GEORGIANS 
THOUGHT OF JOSELIANI AS AN INTELLECTUAL. 
 
23.  ALTHOUGH GAMSAKHURDIA MAINTAINS THAT ALL THE 
PARAMILITARY GROUPS LOYAL TO THE ROUND TABLE HAVE 
BEEN DISBANDED, POLOFF SAW AND HEARD ENOUGH EVIDENCE 
TO INDICATE THAT AT LEAST SOME OF THESE GROUPS WERE 
STILL ACTIVE.  IN AREAS OUTSIDE TBILISI, ARMED GROUPS 
FROM THE MERAB KOSTAVA SOCIETY, THE LEAGUE OF 
GEORGIAN EAGLES, THE WHITE KNIGHTS OF GEORGIA 
(ROUNDTABLE SPINOFF FROM THE MKHEDRIONI), AND THE 
ILYA THE RIGHTEOUS SOCIETY HAVE BATTLED THE NUMEROUS 
PARAMILITARY GROUPS OF THE NATIONAL CONGRESS. 
ACCORDING TO DAVID ONANASHVILI (PROTECT), A NATIONAL 
CONGRESS ACTIVIST, MOST OF THE MORE THAN 20 GROUPS IN 
THE NATIONAL CONGRESS HAVE THEIR OWN PARAMILITARY 
GROUPS. 
 
24.  LENINGRAD MINIMIZE CONSIDERED. 
 
 
COLLINS

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