99MOSCOW2479, SHARIA LAW IN CHECHNYA: THE VEIL OF EXTREMISM

WikiLeaks Link

To understand the justification used for the classification of each cable, please use this WikiSource article as reference.
Discussing cables
If you find meaningful or important information in a cable, please link directly to its unique reference number. Linking to a specific paragraph in the body of a cable is also possible by copying the appropriate link (to be found at theparagraph symbol).Please mark messages for social networking services like Twitter with the hash tags #cablegate and a hash containing the reference ID e.g. #99MOSCOW2479.
Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
99MOSCOW2479 1999-02-04 16:41 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Moscow

O 041641Z FEB 99
FM AMEMBASSY MOSCOW
TO SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 4494
INFO CIS COLLECTIVE
MOSCOW POLITICAL COLLECTIVE

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 MOSCOW 002479 
 
DEPT FOR S/NIS AND EUR/RUS 
 
E.O. 12958:  DECL:  2/5/09 
TAGS: PGOV PREL RS
SUBJECT:  SHARIA LAW IN CHECHNYA: THE VEIL OF EXTREMISM 
 
CLASSIFIED BY MINISTER-COUNSELOR FOR POLITICAL AFFAIRS 
JOHN M. ORDWAY.  REASONS: 1.5 (B) AND (D). 
 
------- 
SUMMARY 
------- 
 
1.  (C) ON WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 3, CHECHEN PRESIDENT 
ASLAN MASKHADOV DECLARED A STATE OF SHARIA (ISLAMIC) 
LAW TO BE IN EFFECT IN CHECHNYA.  ACCORDING TO RUSSIAN 
PRESS REPORTS, MASKHADOV ASKED THE CHECHEN LEGISLATURE 
AND THE COUNCIL OF MUFTIS TO DRAFT A SHARIA 
CONSTITUTION WITHIN ONE MONTH'S TIME.  OFFICIAL 
REACTIONS TO THE INTRODUCTION OF SHARIA LAW IN CHECHNYA 
HAVE BEEN VARIED, BUT ANALYSTS SUGGEST SHARIA LAW MAY 
BE PREFERABLE TO WAHHABIST EXTREMISM WHICH HAS 
THREATENED THE REGION FOR MONTHS.  NEVERTHELESS, 
OBSERVERS HERE AGREE THAT MASKHADOV'S IMPLEMENTATION OF 
SHARIA LAW, IN FACT, IS A THINLY-VEILED EFFORT TO 
NEUTRALIZE HIS POLITICAL OPPONENTS BY IMPLEMENTING DE 
FACTO ABSOLUTE RULE IN CHECHNYA.  END SUMMARY. 
 
--------------------- 
SHARIA ON THE HORIZON 
--------------------- 
 
2.  (U) ON FEBRUARY 3, FULL-SCALE SHARIA LAW WENT INTO 
EFFECT IN CHECHNYA, THE INITIATIVE OF CHECHEN PRESIDENT 
ASLAN MASKHADOV.  INTERFAX REPORTED THAT MASKHADOV 
SIGNED SEVERAL DECREES STIPULATING THAT ALL LOCAL 
LEGISLATION MUST BE BROUGHT INTO LINE WITH THE KORAN 
AND SHARIA REGULATIONS.  THE INTRODUCTION OF SHARIA LAW 
IN CHECHNYA IS INTENDED TO STRIP THE CHECHEN 
LEGISLATURE OF ITS LEGISLATIVE FUNCTIONS, LEAVING THE 
ELECTED BODY WITH NOTHING BUT SELECT OVERSIGHT 
RESPONSIBILITIES.  IRONICALLY, THE LEGISLATORS HAVE 
BEEN ORDERED BY MASKHADOV TO WRITE A SHARIA 
CONSTITUTION FOR REVIEW IN ONE MONTH'S TIME.  MASKHADOV 
ALSO INSTRUCTED THE CHECHEN COUNCIL OF MUFTIS TO ASSIST 
THE PARLIAMENTARIANS WITH THIS TASK. 
 
----------------------------------- 
"IF IT'S ISLAMIC, IT CAN'T BE GOOD" 
----------------------------------- 
 
3.  (U) THE OFFICIAL REACTION TO THE INTRODUCTION OF 
SHARIA LAW IN CHECHNYA HAS BEEN MIXED.  IVAN RYBKIN, 
FORMER SECRETARY OF RUSSIA'S SECURITY COUNCIL, TOLD THE 
PRESS THAT MASKHADOV'S DECISION IS IN DIRECT 
CONTRADICTION TO THE CHECHEN CONSTITUTION DRAFTED 
DURING THE PRESIDENCY OF DZHOKHAR DUDAYEV.  UNDER THE 
DUDAYEV CONSTITUTION, THE CHECHEN REPUBLIC IS SUPPOSED 
TO BE A SECULAR STATE, AND THE EQUALITY OF ALL 
RELIGIONS IS EMPHASIZED.  THE DUDAYEV CONSTITUTION ALSO 
STATES THAT THE LAWFULLY ELECTED PARLIAMENT OF THE 
REPUBLIC HAS NO RIGHT TO BE DISSOLVED BY ANYONE, NOR IS 
IT ABLE TO DISSOLVE ITSELF.  RYBKIN STATED THAT "ONE 
CANNOT EXPECT ANYTHING GOOD...FOLLOWING THE ADOPTION OF 
SUCH A DECISION." 
 
4.  (C) THE INTRODUCTION OF SHARIA LAW IN CHECHNYA HAS 
RECEIVED CAUTIOUSLY OPTIMISTIC REACTIONS FROM REGIONAL 
ANALYSTS.  ALEKSEY MALASHENKO OF THE MOSCOW CARNEGIE 
CENTER CALLED SHARIA LAW "A COMPROMISE BETWEEN ANARCHY 
AND ANARCHY."  MALASHENKO BELIEVES THAT WITHOUT A 
FIRMER GRIP ON THE SITUATION IN THE REPUBLIC, MASKHADOV 
WILL NEVER BE ABLE TO DO MORE THAN KEEP THE POLITICAL 
SITUATION AT A CONSTANT LOW BOIL.  THE ALTERNATIVE TO 
MASKHADOV, ACCORDING TO MALASHENKO, IS A MENTALLY 
UNSTABLE GROUP OF OPPOSITION FIELD COMMANDERS HEADED BY 
SALMAN RADUYEV, SHAMIL BASAYEV, AND KHUNKOR-PASHA 
ISRAPILOV.  MALASHENKO NOTES THAT THE MOST IMPORTANT 
FACTOR IN A BASAYEV/ RADUYEV/ ISRAPILOV POWER OPTION IS 
THAT IT MOST LIKELY WILL BE FUNDED BY EX-FIELD 
COMMANDER AL-KHATTAB.  AL-KHATTAB IS A SAUDI NATIONAL 
WITH WAHHABIST TENDENCIES WHO FAVORS A MORE MILITANT 
VERSION OF ISLAMIC LAW THAN SHARIA.  (NOTE:  AL- 
KHATTAB, IN CONJUNCTION WITH FORMER FIELD COMMANDER 
ARBI BARAYEV, IS WIDELY BELIEVED TO BE RESPONSIBLE FOR 
MOST HOSTAGE-TAKING IN THE REGION AS WELL AS THE 
BEHEADING OF THE FOUR WESTERN HOSTAGES IN DECEMBER 
1998.  AFTER THE HOSTAGE'S HEADS WERE DISCOVERED, 
MASKHADOV'S GOVERNMENT EXPRESSED ITS DESIRE TO EXPEL 
AL-KHATTAB FROM CHECHNYA, BUT HAS BEEN UNABLE TO DO SO. 
END NOTE) 
 
5.  (U) VALENTIN VLASOV, FORMER HOSTAGE AND RUSSIAN 
REPRESENTATIVE TO THE REGION, TOLD THE RUSSIAN MEDIA 
THAT "NO FUSS SHOULD BE RAISED ABOUT THE DECISION" TO 
INSTITUTE A STATE OF SHARIA LAW IN CHECHNYA.  FORMER 
CHECHEN FOREIGN MINISTER MOVLADIY UDUGOV CALLED 
MASKHADOV'S MOVE THE "MOST CORRECT DECISION," AND 
STATED HIS BELIEF THAT THE INTRODUCTION OF SHARIA LAW 
WILL ALLOW MASKHADOV TO GAIN CONTROL OF THE CURRENT 
SITUATION. 
 
------- 
COMMENT 
------- 
 
6.  (C) MASKHADOV'S SEEMINGLY SNAP DECISION TO 
INTRODUCE SHARIA LAW IS BEING VIEWED WITH MUCH 
SKEPTICISM BY CHECHEN OPPOSITION FORCES AS WELL AS 
CHECHNYA'S NEIGHBORS.  ALTHOUGH THE TRUE NATURE OF 
CHECHEN SHARIA LAW WILL NOT BECOME APPARENT UNTIL AFTER 
A CONSTITUTION IS DRAFTED, PRESUMABLY SOME MEASURES OF 
ISLAMIC INFLUENCE WILL BECOME MORE EVIDENT, IF ONLY AS 
A FACADE.  ISLAMIC EXTREMISM ON ITS BORDERS IS 
SOMETHING WHICH RUSSIA CONTINUES TO FEAR.  MASKHADOV'S 
MOVE COULD TOUCH OFF NEW FEARS IF HE IS UNABLE TO 
CONTROL THE ISLAMIC EXTREMIST INFLUENCE. 
 
7.  (C) THE CAUTIOUS OPTIMISM WITH WHICH ANALYSTS ARE 
VIEWING MASKHADOV'S MOVE IS PERHAPS MORE REALISTIC AND 
DEVOID OF THE EMOTIONAL BIAS AGAINST ALL FORMS OF ISLAM 
WHICH PREVAILS IN RUSSIAN SOCIETY TODAY.  RUSSIAN 
POLITICIANS (E.G. PM PRIMA
KOV, MINISTER FOR 
NATIONALITIES ABDULATIPOV, AND DEPUTY PM FOR REGIONAL 
AFFAIRS GUSTOV) HAVE INVESTED IN MASKHADOV'S GOVERNMENT 
BY OPENING NEGOTIATIONS AND DISCUSSING PLANS FOR 
IMPROVING THE ECONOMIC SITUATION IN THE REGION WITH 
HIM.  FOR SEVERAL MONTHS, MASKHADOV HAS FACED SERIOUS 
AND GROWING CHALLENGES TO HIS AUTHORITY AND ABILITY TO 
GOVERN CHECHNYA.  MASKHADOV HAS BEEN UNABLE TO MAINTAIN 
ANY SEMBLANCE OF ORDER IN CHECHNYA.  THE INTRODUCTION 
OF SHARIA LAW IN CHECHNYA MAY BE VIEWED AS MASKHADOV'S 
ATTEMPT TO CO-OPT HIS ISLAMIC EXTREMIST OPPOSITION, 
WHILE AT THE SAME TIME CREATING THE CONDITIONS IN WHICH 
HE CAN IMPOSE AN ACCEPTABLE LEVEL OF ORDER WITH A 
MODERATE LEVEL OF POPULAR SUPPORT. 
 
COLLINS

Wikileaks

Advertisements
Post a comment or leave a trackback: Trackback URL.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: