06MOSCOW1043, UZBEKS REFUSED ASYLUM IN RUSSIA

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
06MOSCOW1043 2006-02-02 14:10 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Moscow

VZCZCXRO0802
RR RUEHDBU
DE RUEHMO #1043 0331410
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
R 021410Z FEB 06
FM AMEMBASSY MOSCOW
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 0180
INFO RUEHXD/MOSCOW POLITICAL COLLECTIVE
RUCNCIS/CIS COLLECTIVE
RUEHGV/USMISSION GENEVA 4663

C O N F I D E N T I A L MOSCOW 001043 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 01/30/2016 
TAGS: PREF PHUM PREL RS
SUBJECT: UZBEKS REFUSED ASYLUM IN RUSSIA 
 
REF: BISHKEK 79 AND PREVIOUS 
 
Classified By: A/POL Bruce Donahue.  Reasons 1.4 (b and d). 
 
1.  (C) The Russian Federal Migration Service has refused to 
grant asylum to 13 Uzbeks whom the Government of Uzbekistan 
wants extradited for alleged connections to the uprising in 
Andijon last May.  The group's lawyer, at the urging of 
UNHCR, has appealed that decision to Russian courts and will 
file separate appeals to the European Court of Human Rights 
(ECHR) in Strasbourg.  Thus far, none of the Uzbeks is in 
imminent danger of deportation, and the appeals should 
provide further protection while the courts consider their 
claim.  The appeals could be heard in the Russian court as 
early as February 13.  Appeals to the ECHR should be filed 
shortly, and the ECHR should issue a ruling in one week. 
 
2.  (C) UNHCR Senior Protection Officer Gang Li said that 
UNHCR has not received access to the 13 despite repeated 
requests to the Office of the Procurator General.  UNHCR 
Moscow has asked the migration service and the Ministry of 
Foreign Affairs to weigh in with the procuracy on its behalf, 
and UNHCR headquarters in Geneva has raised the issue with 
the Russian mission there.  Although MFA officials have 
informally been somewhat supportive, Li said Russian 
officials have questioned the legal basis for UNHCR's 
involvement in the case.  All 13 have been resident in Russia 
for several years and had not sought refugee status until 
after they were arrested, a fact Russian officials constantly 
stress in their discussions with UNHCR.  The initial Russian 
response to UNHCR's request for access was that UNHCR should 
ask permission from Uzbek authorities, a response that left 
UNHCR baffled.  The MFA has subsequently asked UNHCR to 
formally submit a justification for its involvement in the 
case.  Li said UNHCR would argue that the men faced 
persecution, torture, and worse if returned to Uzbekistan. 
(NOTE:  Of the 13, 12 are citizens of Uzbekistan, and one is 
a citizen of Kyrgyzstan.  Authorities arrested another ethnic 
Uzbek with Russian citizenship and then released him.  He 
fled to Ukraine after the GOR began proceedings to strip him 
of his citizenship.  He has sought UNHCR protection there. 
END NOTE.) 
 
3.  (C) Li remained hopeful that UNHCR would gain access to 
them.  It was trying to use its good relationship with the 
Federal Migration Service and the April visit of High 
Commissioner for Refugees Guterres as leverage with the MFA 
to convince prosecutors to allow a UNHCR visit.  UNHCR would 
be prepared to work quickly in making a resettlement 
determination once it can interview the 13.  Li said that 
UNHCR is also looking at contingency plans that would allow 
UNHCR to designate them as refugees without an interview and 
seek their immediate resettlement.  Li said UNHCR did not 
know whether the GOR would release them from detention and 
allow them to leave the country, however.  Li said he thought 
that Russian authorities will closely watch what the 
Government of Kyrgyzstan does with four Uzbeks still in its 
custody whom the GOU wants extradited (reftel).  Human Rights 
Watch's (HRW) Aleksander Petrov also thought that the Kyrgyz 
Government's decision would influence the GOR's handling of 
these cases.  Petrov said HRW has offered advice to the 
group's lawyer in drafting the appeals based on its reporting 
of what happened in Andijon.  HRW would soon begin a public 
campaign urging the GOR not to return them to Uzbekistan. 
 
4.  (C)  COMMENT:  UNHCR has thus far found nothing to 
suggest that the 13 were involved in the uprising in Andijon. 
 We understand that the GOU warrants are based on claims that 
they had provided financial or other support to the uprising 
or that members of their families were involved in it.  The 
GOR now finds itself with a dilemma; it can meet its 
international obligations or preserve the recent warming in 
its bilateral relationship with the GOU. 
BURNS

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