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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
06MOSCOW873 2006-01-30 11:25 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Moscow

DE RUEHMO #0873/01 0301125
P 301125Z JAN 06

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 MOSCOW 000873 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 01/30/2016 
MOSCOW 00000873  001.2 OF 002 
Classified By: Minister Counselor for Political Affairs Kirk Augustine. 
  Reason 1.4 (b, d) 
1. (C) Summary:  Few local officials in Kabardino-Balkaria 
are willing to talk about the October 13-14 attacks in 
Nalchik by Islamic extremists against government, law 
enforcement and security sites.  Those who did during a 
January 25-26 visit to the Republic by Embassy officers cited 
joblessness as the main factor in extremism, and swiftly 
changed the subject to economic assistance. 
Parliamentarians viewed questions on the attacks as criticism 
(though we couched them as part of a shared problem), and 
responded with attacks on the U.S.   Joblessness remains a 
major issue; despite an innovative team at the Ministry of 
Economic Development and Trade, Soviet-era thinking dominates 
this field in the Republic.  End summary. 
The Mufti:  Victory 
2. (C)  During a January 25-26 visit to Kabardino-Balkaria, 
we found only the Republic's Chief Mufti Anas Pshikhachev 
willing to talk about the October 13-14 attacks that left at 
least 136 dead, with 91 of them identified as militants. 
Pshikhachev saw the participation of "only" a couple of 
hundred locals in the violence as a victory for moderate 
Islam.  He and other official imams had worked with youths 
sympathetic to the extremist cause, persuading many of them 
away from armed action.  Pshikhachev termed the participants 
"unemployed youths;" he dodged the question of whether they 
were in fact mostly university students.  He said the 
attackers were well-financed:  they drove new cars; and when 
the corpses of two attackers - "boys I knew" - were stored 
for a while in Pshikhachev's gleaming new mosque, their 
pockets yielded new Russian passports for international 
travel and large amounts of American dollars. 
3. (C)  Pshikhachev said there was no persecution of Islam in 
Kabardino-Balkaria.  He had seen the press reports of mosque 
closings, but assured us that no mosques had been closed; 153 
were functioning throughout the Republic.  (Comment: 
Technically, this may be true.  However, in certain 
neighborhoods mosques are reportedly allowed to open only 
during actual hours of prayer and are padlocked the rest of 
the day.  End Comment.)  Pshikhachev said Nalchik's Higher 
Islamic School was one of the best in Russia, and some 
students studied abroad at al-Azhar in Cairo as well as in 
Damascus, Riyadh and Malaysia.  Pshikhachev himself had 
studied four years in Syria followed by five in Libya.  Of 
his studies, Pshikhachev said only that he and his fellow 
non-Arabs were incensed by a class in Tripoli on 
"Arabo-Islamic culture."  As far as they were concerned, 
Islamic culture was one thing, Arab culture another, and the 
Arabs had no special claim to Islam, he said. 
Parliament:  Bad U.S., Bad Georgia 
4. (C)  Other government officials and parliamentarians 
refused to comment on the October attacks beyond asserting 
that the organizations behind them had been "neutralized." 
They then changed the subject.  Members of the Parliamentary 
Presidium (the 22 committee chairs and deputy chairs who sit 
on a permanent basis) attacked the U.S. for opposing the 
appointment of provincial governors and limitations on NGO 
activity.  "Everyone here understands the need for such 
measures," one Member said.  "Why can't you in the West 
understand?"  They linked these to U.S. involvement in Iraq 
and the Balkans, alleging U.S. unwillingness to let other 
countries practice democracy in their own way (we made 
suitable reply to such references to democracy a la Saddam 
and Milosevic). 
5. (C)  Most striking during our conversation with the 
Parliamentary Presidium and others was the strong local 
opposition to U.S. support for Georgia.  Kabardians had 
streamed to Abkhazia in 1992 to fight against Georgia 
alongside their ethnic cousins, the Abkhaz.  (Comment:  They 
were also fighting alongside Shamil Basayev, a fact they 
would sooner forget these days.  End comment.)  They said 
they would do so again if the Georgians carried out their 
"warlike" schemes.  A Parliamentarian warned that a renewal 
of fighting would pull in Turkey and Russia, igniting a 
region-wide conflagration. 
Government:  Jobs, Jobs, Jobs 
6. (C)  Government officials, in contrast, turned the 
MOSCOW 00000873  002.2 OF 002 
conversation to jobs, citing unemployment as the most 
significant factor contributing to radicalism.  The Soviet 
government had founded "high-tech" defense factories in 
Kabardino-Balkaria (as in neighboring republics) in the 
1970s.  All of those factories were interlinked, all were 
dependent on orders from the Defense Ministry, and all were 
now defunc
t.  Unemployment - and drug use, alcoholism and 
extremism - were reportedly even higher in the villages now 
than in Nalchik. 
7. (C)  Kabardino-Balkaria showed a curious dichotomy in 
economic thinking.  The Ministry of Economic Development and 
Trade boasted young, smart, modern thinkers implementing 
their own innovative programs for computer literacy, business 
incubation and micro-finance - and eager for more programs 
from the U.S.  Other officials, however, were stuck on the 
Republic's presumed tourist potential, which they see as 
re-attracting Soviet-era workers to cramped and primitive 
spas to take the waters.  (In fairness, Mt. Elbrus -- 
Europe's highest peak -- could attract more skiers if 
enormous sums were invested in infrastructure, though today's 
Russians prefer the Alps.  And climbers continue to flock to 
the Bezengi Wall and other Meccas of alpinism.)  In the 
mountain mining center of Tyrnyauz, the provincial 
administration center still sported a statue of Lenin in the 
lobby, and its chief bemoaned the loss of jobs at the town's 
tungsten and molybdenum mines and processing plant.  He 
castigated this generation's lack of respect for hard work, 
even though the workers were earning only a "medium" salary 
of 6500 rubles (USD 232) per month.  He let slip that this 
meant an "effective" salary of 3500 rubles (USD 125).  He 
noted, however, that the town's processing plant had just 
been acquired by oligarch Oleg Deripaska's Bazovyy Element 
conglomerate, and would soon be refining two million tons per 
year (though the capacity was 8.5 million tons).  He lamented 
that the plant would need a staff of only 540. 
8. (C)   We were unable to visit the Nalchik neighborhood of 
Volnyy Aul, reportedly a "wahhabist" stronghold; nor did we 
get the chance to speak to anyone who would shed more light 
on the attacks which left numerous bullet holes still evident 
in buildings in the center of the city.  The parts of Nalchik 
we saw were calm and showed no heightened security presence. 
We have heard that the attack came as a complete surprise to 
the security services, and that had a detachment of fighters 
not been engaged - by pure chance - before it reached the 
town, the fighting might have been even more serious.  We 
have also heard, including from locals outside the Republic, 
that there are still large, strong and well-organized groups 
of extremists in Kabardino-Balkaria.   But inside the 
Republic, the public face is one of denial. 


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