Congressional Delegation in Georgia: Meeting with President Gamsakhurdia’s Opposition

News | Memory and Disinformation Studies | Publications | Analysis | Article 18 May 2017

IDFI continues to publish declassified secret documents from U.S. institutions. This time we present document sent from U.S. Embassy in Moscow to the State Department in September 1991. The document describes meeting of the congressional delegation with the representatives of the opposition.


According to released agenda, U.S. congressional delegation should have arrived in Georgia on September 7. The meetings were planned with the Georgian government, President, the Helsinki Union, parliamentary opposition – “Democratic Center”, and non-parliamentary opposition – ‘National Congress”.  On September 8 trip to Tskhinvali was planned


Congressional Delegation in Georgia: Meeting with President Gamsakhurdia’s Opposition


September 12, 1991


Congressman Hoyer with congressional delegation visited Georgia on 7-8 September 1991. The cable describes the delegation’s meeting with the Georgian opposition: members of the National Congress, and former members of Gamsakhurdia’s government.


The opposition accused Gamsakhurdia of cooperation with the organizers of August 1991 coup. They claimed that Gamsakhurdia agreed to implement all decisions of the Emergency Committee. In exchange for support, Gamsakhurdia consented to disband all informal military groups, including the National Guard; dismiss local governments and fire mayors and prefects.


Former Prime Minister Tengiz Sigua asserted that representatives of Gamsakhurdia met with Yanayev[1] on evening of August 18. The head of the National Guard Tengiz Kitovani told congressional delegation that although legally he should obey the president, he distrusts Gamsakhurdia, and answers “only to the Georgian People”. Sigua blamed Gamsakhurdia for not maintaining election promise of Democracy, and turning Georgia into dictatorship. He said that Gamsakhurdia is “trying to create a country like Albania”.


Former Foreign Minister Giorgi Khoshtaria stated that democracy and independence could not be separated, and Georgia could not survive without one or the other. In May, after he returned from U.S., Khoshtaria proposed Gamsakhurdia to strengthen democracy by removing restrictions on critical press, giving air time to opposition leaders, and accelerate the process of privatization. Initially, Gamsakhurdia agreed but then recanted and “betrayed Georgia”. Khoshtaria suggested to forget previous differences and   bring back Eduard Shevardnadze to Georgia, so his international reputation would help in establishment of independent Georgia. As world renown personality, according to Khoshtaria, Shevardnadze could play positive role during transition. Khoshtaria said that Gamsakhurdia refuses to cooperate with Shevardnadze.


The cable notes that a similar statement was made on September 11 in Moscow, during the meeting of U.S. Embassy officer with (the name classified) who declared that opposition forces in Georgia regard Shevardnadze as “their greatest hope for democracy and independence”.


The members of opposition told Congressman Hoyer that the Georgian TV misinterpreted his statement during the meeting with Gamsakhurdia to show his strong support for the President.


The chairman of the Popular Front Nodar Natadze accused President of usurping the powers of parliament, censoring media, and violating the election law.


The National Congress members emphasized the violations during presidential campaign. On the question, why the international observers have not noticed those irregularities, the opposition members answered that the observers detected it but choose to be silent, because they were selected by the Foreign Ministry of Georgia. The press secretary of the National Democratic Party, Irina Sarishvili clarified that the observers arrived on election day, and had no opportunity to observe previous period. Moreover, she added that only 25% of eligible voters in Tbilisi turn out to vote, and “democratic elections do not guarantee democracy”. Sarishvili asserted that many newspapers published in Moscow are prohibited from entering Georgia, and several local newspapers closed down.


According to the document, the members of opposition provided little evidence for alleged collaboration of Gamsakhurdia with Yanayev and the Emergency Committee.   


The document notes that, on September 7, pro-government rally was held in Tbilisi. Opposition accused Gamsakhurdia of bussing his supporters.


On September 11, members of the National Independence party started to erect barriers in front of their headquarters. The leader of party, Irakli Tsereteli told journalists that “this is the only way to demonstrate to the people that a dictator has taken power”.     


[1] Gennady Yanayev - the Vice President of the Soviet Union in 1990-1991. During August coup of 1991, assumed powers of the President of Soviet Union.  



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