06MOSCOW857, RCFS DIRECTOR LIKELY TO BE CONVICTED

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
06MOSCOW857 2006-01-27 14:29 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Moscow

VZCZCXRO4487
RR RUEHDBU
DE RUEHMO #0857 0271429
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
R 271429Z JAN 06
FM AMEMBASSY MOSCOW
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 9932
INFO RUCNCIS/CIS COLLECTIVE
RUEHXD/MOSCOW POLITICAL COLLECTIVE

C O N F I D E N T I A L MOSCOW 000857 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 01/27/2016 
TAGS: PHUM PGOV EAID PREF RS
SUBJECT: RCFS DIRECTOR LIKELY TO BE CONVICTED 
 
REF: A) 05 MOSCOW 13160 B) 05 STATE 187966 C) 05 
     MOSCOW 10863 
 
Classified By: Political Minister-Counselor Kirk Augustine. 
Reasons 1.4 (b and d). 
 
1.  (C) The trial of Russian-Chechen Friendship Society 
(RCFS) Executive Director Stanislav Dmitriyevskiy is expected 
to conclude February 3.  Oksana Chelysheva, an RCFS staff 
member, and other human rights contacts have told us they 
expect Dmitriyevskiy to be convicted.  He is charged with 
inciting racial and ethnic hatred, and a conviction would 
carry a maximum five-year sentence.  Prosecutors charged 
Dmitriyevskiy with the publication of statements by Chechen 
separatists Aslan Maskhadov and Akhmed Zakayev in the group's 
newspaper in March 2004. 
 
2.  (C) Chelysheva said that she believes prosecutors will 
file tax evasion charges against Dmitriyevskiy shortly after 
the veridict in the present case.  The tax inspectorate 
claims RCFS owes more than 1 million rubles in back taxes on 
the grants it received from the National Endowment for 
Democracy (NED), the EU, and the Norwegian Government.  After 
briefly freezing RCFS bank accounts and withdrawing some of 
the RCFS funds, including money provided by NED, the tax 
inspectorate attempted in November to withdraw an additonal 
91,000 rubles (USD 3,250) on the basis of the back tax claim, 
in spite of a court injunction obtained by RCFS in October. 
Chelysheva said Dmitriyevskiy's conviction on charges of 
inciting racial hatred would make it easier for prosecutors 
to argue that RCFS was not entitled to any tax exemption as a 
charitable organization.  If convicted of tax evasion, 
Dmitriyevskiy could be sentenced to two more years in prison. 
 (NOTE:  A Nizhny Novgorod judge ruled in favor of RCFS in 
dismissing a Ministry of Justice suit to de-register the 
organization in the fall.  END NOTE) 
 
3. (C) Chelysheva told us she appreciated the international 
support RCFS has received, but the trial's Nizhy Novgorod 
location had allowed the authorities to conduct it in near 
isolation.  Amid the press coverage of the British spying 
scandal and the passage of the NGO law, Dmitriyevskiy's case 
has largely gone unnoticed by the international media.  RCFS 
has managed to bring some international observers and Russian 
human rights activists to the trial, but Russian border 
guards refused to admit well-known British human rights 
lawyer William Bowring into the country in November.  Our 
human rights contacts have not pointed to any particular 
violations in the conduct of the trial, but they say that the 
judge has clearly leaned toward the prosecution.  There are 
discussions among foreign embassies in Moscow about sending 
observers to hear the verdict as a show of support, but thus 
far no embassy has committed to do so.  Contacts at the 
European Union mission have told us the Austrian Presidency 
is aware of the case, and there could be an EU reaction when 
the verdict is delivered although no decision has yet been 
made.  The European Parliament on January 19 adopted a 
resolution on Chechnya and civil society in Russia that calls 
for the charges against Dmitriyevskiy to be dropped.  We 
understand that Amnesty International plans to designate 
Dmitriyevskiy a prisoner of conscience after his conviction. 
 
4.  (C) COMMENT:  Our contacts are convinced that a guilty 
verdict is pre-ordained.  We cannot rule out the possibility 
of an acquittal, but it seems unlikely.  For more than a 
year, RCFS and its staff have been subjected to an intense 
array of investigations, legal actions, and personal threats. 
 Some human rights contacts have suggested that the action 
against RCFS is an experiment in how best to silence an NGO. 
We do not know if RCFS's travails portend GOR efforts against 
the broader NGO community, but a guilty verdict and 
additional criminal charges against Dmitriyevskiy will 
further add to the nervousness many NGOs feel.  Embassy will 
continue to track this case closely. 
BURNS

Wikileaks

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