91MOSCOW35835, GEORGIAN REPUBLIC’S RELATIONS WITH MOSCOW

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
91MOSCOW35835 1991-12-13 20:40 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Moscow

P 132040Z DEC 91
FM AMEMBASSY MOSCOW
TO SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 4479
INFO MOSCOW POLITICAL COLLECTIVE

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 MOSCOW 035835 
 
 
DEPT FOR D, P, C/E, S/P, AND EUR/SOV 
 
E.O. 12356:  DECL:OADR 
TAGS: PGOV PNAT PREL UR
SUBJECT:  GEORGIAN REPUBLIC'S RELATIONS WITH MOSCOW 
 
1.  CONFIDENTIAL - ENTIRE TEXT. 
 
2.  SUMMARY:  GEORGIANS SEE UKRAINIAN INDEPENDENCE 
SEALING THE FATE OF THE SOVIET UNION AND RESULTING 
IN, AT MOST, A MINOR ADVISORY ROLE FOR THE CENTER. 
REPUBLIC LEADERS CONTINUE TO PRESS FOR U.S. 
DIPLOMATIC PRESENCE IN TBILISI AND FOR OUR 
MORAL/POLITICAL SUPPORT FOR GEORGIAN INDEPENDENCE. 
OPINION ON YEL'TSIN AND RUSSIA IS DIVIDED.  MOST SEE 
THE RUSSIAN GOVERNMENT AS LESS THREATENING THAN THE 
SOVIET, BUT FEAR ADDITIONAL COUPS COULD UNSEAT MOSCOW 
REFORMERS.  DISTRUST OF SHEVARDNADZE IS GROWING.  END 
SUMMARY 
 
--------------------------------------------- --------- 
END OF THE SOVIET UNION 
--------------------------------------------- ---------- 
 
3.  DURING DECEMBER 4-7 VISIT BY EMBOFFS TO TBILISI, 
GEORGIAN INTERLOCUTORS OPINED THE DEMISE OF THE 
SOVIET UNION IN THE WAKE OF THE UKRAINIAN 
REFERENDUM.  BOTH GOVERNMENT AND OPPOSITION SOURCES 
FELT THE UKRAINIAN VOTE FOR INDEPENDENCE OPENED THE 
FINL ACT FOR THE SOVIET UNION.  THE DIRECTOR OF THE 
GEORGIAN NEWS AGENCY, IRAKLI KENCHASHVILI, SAID 
GORBACHEV WAS FIGHTING AGAINST A HISTORICAL PROCESS, 
SINCE EMPIRES CANNOT SURVIVE INTO THE 21ST CENTURY. 
OPPOSITION PARLIAMENTARIAN AND FORMER HEAD OF THE 
FOREIGN AFFAIRS COMMITTEE, TEDO PAATASHVILI, SAID 
THAT IN PRACTICAL TERMS NO REPUBLIC REALLY NEEDS THE 
CENTER.  HE PREDICTED THE MOST CENTER OFFICIALS COULD 
HOPE FOR IS A VERY LOOSE ASSOCIATION, PROVIDING 
SUGGESTIONS TO INDEPENDENT STATES. 
 
--------------------------------------------- ---------- 
REQUEST FOR U.S. MORAL AND POLITICAL SUPPORT 
--------------------------------------------- ---------- 
 
4. EXECUTIVE AND LEGISLATIVE BRANCH SOURCES REQUESTED 
U.S. MORAL AND POLITICAL SUPPORT FOR GEORGIA'S 
INDEPENDENCE, CLAIMING THE UNITED STATES AND EUROPE 
ARE BEHIND THE CURVE ON THE SOVIET DEMISE. 
PROCURATOR GENERAL ABAKELIA STATED THERE IS NO REASON 
FOR THE U.S. TO RECOGNIZE THE UKRAINE, BUT NOT 
GEORGIA.  IN A SESSION WITH PARLIAMENTARIANS, THE 
FATHER OF JAILED OPPOSITION JOURNALIST GEORGIY 
HAINDRAVA TOLD EMBOFFS THE U.S. HAD HISTORICALLY LET 
GEORGIA DOWN, BEING IN 1920 THE ONLY GREAT POWER NOT 
TO RECOGNIZE ITS INDEPENDENT STATUS, AND NOW AVOIDING 
ANY STATEMENT CONGRATULATING GEORGIA'S DECLARATION OF 
INDEPENDENCE.  IN APPEALING FOR U.S. SUPPORT, 
GEORGIANS OF ALL STRIPES POINTED OUT THAT GEORGIA 
CONTAINS A SEPARATE PEOPLE, LANGUAGE, RELIGION AND 
CULTURE FROM RUSSIA; HAS AN OLD TRADITION OF 
STATEHOOD; AND CONSTITUTES NO THREAT TO ITS 
NEIGHBORS.  BY SUPPORTING THE REPUBLICS, THEY ARGUE, 
THE U.S. CAN DEMONSTRATE THERE IS NO LONGER ANY NEED 
OF EMPIRES.  THEY CLAIMED AN INDEPENDENT, &HRISTIAN 
GEORGIA, LOCATED IN THE MIDST OF MOSLEM NEIGHBORS, 
COULD POSITIVELY INFLUENCE EVENTS IN TURKEY, IRAN, 
AND THE REST OF THE MOSLEM WORLD.  THEY ALSO ARGUED 
THAT AN INDEPENDENT GEORGIA COULD PLAY A GREATER ROLE 
IN CONFLICT RESOLUTION IN AZERBAIJAN AND ARMENIA.  IN 
ARGUING FOR A U.S. DIPLOMATIC MISSION IN TBILISI, THE 
GEORGIAN OPPOSITION STATED THAT ISOLATION FROM THE 
WEST WOULD NOT HELP THE LOCAL HUMAN RIGHTS 
SITUATION.  A U.S. MISSION, THEY SAID, COULD 
INFLUENCE LOCAL EVENTS AND "CONSTRAIN THE 
DICTATOR." 
 
--------------------------------------------- ---------- 
HOPE FOR RUSSIAN MODERATION 
--------------------------------------------- ---------- 
 
5.  OPINION WAS DIVIDED ON RUSSIA'S RELATIONS WITH 
THE REPUBLICS.  SOME SOURCES, LIKE PRESIDENTIAL CHIEF 
OF STAFF, MERAB KLIMIASHVILI, SEEMED LESS WORRIED 
ABOUT YEL'TSIN AND THE RUSSIAN GOVERNMENT, FEELING 
THAT ITS IMPERIAL AMBITIONS, UNLIKE THE SOVIET 
GOVERNMENT'S, HAVE FINALLY BEEN LAID TO REST.  AS HE 
PUT IT, "THANK GOD RUSSIA FINALLY WANTS TO LIVE ON 
ITS OWN."  KLIMIASHVILI STILL HAD SOME CONCERNS, 
HOWEVER, SINCE HE SAW DEMOCRATS IN MOSCOW IN THE 
MINORITY.  HE PERCEIVED A CONTINUING DANGER "THAT 
HEIRS OF THE SOVIET SYSTEM WITH TOTALITARIAN, 
IMPERIALIST, NON-DEMOCRATIC TENDENCIES COULD REASSERT 
THEMSELVES."  THIS SENTIMENT WAS ECHOED BY OPPOSITION 
PARLIAMENTARIAN PAATASHVILI, WHO DID NOT FEAR A 
STRONG RUSSIAN REPUBLIC "IF IT SAYS IT DOESN'T WANT 
TERRITORIES BEYOND ITS BORDERS."  CITING YEL'TSIN'S 
MODERATE PUBLIC RESPONSE TO THE UKRAINIAN REFERENDUM, 
PAATASHVILI SAID THAT RUSSIA, UNLIKE THE CENTER, IS A 
LARGE COUNTRY IN ITS OWN RIGHT, AND IS NOT RELIANT ON 
AN ARTIFICIAL EMPIRE.  HOWEVER, HE ADDED THE CAVEAT 
OF UNCERTAINTY OVER FUTURE DEVELOPMENTS, SAYING "THE 
POSSIBILITY EXISTS THAT MORE SERIOUS COUPS COULD LEAD 
TO CONTROL BY A MILITARY LEADER WHO WOULD TRY TO 
RESTORE EVERYTHING."  HE ALSO ADMITED THAT SMALL 
NATIONS WITHIN THE RUSSIAN REPUBLIC HAVE MORE TO FEAR 
THAN THE SEPARATE REPUBLICS. 
 
6.  OTHER SOURCES WERE MORE CAUTIOUS ON THE RUSSIAN 
REPUBLIC.  IN GENERAL, SOVIET, RATHER THAN RUSSIAN, 
TROOPS WERE CASTIGATED FOR INCITING TROUBLES IN 
OSSETIA (SEPTEL), PROMPTING A CURRENT BILL BEFORE THE 
LEGISLATURE TO REMOVE SOVIET INTERIOR MINISTRY AND 
NAVAL ELEMENTS FROM GEORGIAN TERRITORY.  AT THE SAME 
TIME, HOWEVER, RUSSIAN NEWSPAPERS WERE SEEN AS 
PROVIDING DISINFORMATION IN SUPPORT OF THE SOVIETS. 
FORMER PRIME MINISTER TENGIZ SIGUA BLAMED BOTH RUSSIA 
AND THE CENTER FOR PR
OBLEMS IN OSSETIA, SAYING 
COMPETITION BETWEEN THE MOSCOW "WHITE HOUSE" AND THE 
KREMLIN LEAVES LOCAL SOVIET INTERIOR MINISTRY AND KGB 
FORCES BEYOND ANYONE'S CONTROL.  SEVERAL 
INTERLOCUTORS ALSO IMPLIED LINGERING FEAR OF RUSSIAN 
EXPANSIONISM.  ONE GEORGIAN LEGISLATOR CLAIMED THAT 
EVEN DEMOCRATS IN RUSSIA NEVER UNDERSTOOD SMALL 
NATIONS LIKE GEORGIA.  NEWS DIRECTOR KENSCHASVILI HAD 
NO USE FOR THE CENTER OR RUSSIA.  HE SAID "EARLIER WE 
NEEDED GORBACHEV, THEN WE NEEDED YEL'TSIN, NOW WE 
DON'T EVEN NEED HIM."  ONE OPPOSITION SOURCE TOLD 
CIRCUIT RIDERS HE FEARED YEL'TSIN AS WELL, SAYING THE 
RUSSIAN PRESIDENT WILL "SHOW HIS TEETH YET." 
 
7.  THERE WAS ALSO SOME DISTRUST OF SHEVARDNADZE 
WHOSE RE-EMERGENCE AS SOVIET FOREIGN MINISTER WAS 
SEEN BY THE NEWS DIRECTOR AND OTHERS AS 
OPPORTUNISTIC.  BOTH PRESIDENT GAMASHKURDIA (SEPTEL) 
AND OPPOSITION LEADERS LABELLED SHEVARDNADZE A 
REMNANT OF THE BREZHNEV SYSTEM, REMEMBERED FOR HIS 
ROLE AS REPUBLIC FIRST SECRETARY.  GAMSAKHURDIA 
CALLED SHEVARDNADZE "A GREAT ACTOR" WHO FEIGNED A 
SPLIT WITH GORBACHEV SO HE COULD RETURN TO GEORGIA 
AND HOLD IT IN THE UNION.  THE GEORGIAN PRESIDENT 
ADDED THAT SHEVARDNADZE IS TO THIS DAY STILL LEADING 
THE FIGHT AGAINST GEORGIA'S NATIONAL GOVERNMENT, 
USING THE LOCAL COMMUNIST MAFIA TO CREATE DISSENT AND 
ECONOMIC INSTABILITY. 
 
 
COLLINS

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