06MOSCOW1219, DANISH CARICATURE CONTROVERSY PRODUCES FALLOUT IN

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
06MOSCOW1219 2006-02-08 14:14 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Moscow

VZCZCXRO0151
PP RUEHDBU
DE RUEHMO #1219/01 0391414
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 081414Z FEB 06
FM AMEMBASSY MOSCOW
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 0394
INFO RUCNCIS/CIS COLLECTIVE
RUEHXD/MOSCOW POLITICAL COLLECTIVE

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 MOSCOW 001219 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 02/08/2016 
TAGS: PGOV PHUM PREL PINR RS
SUBJECT: DANISH CARICATURE CONTROVERSY PRODUCES FALLOUT IN 
CHECHNYA 
 
 
Classified By: A/Polcouns Bruce Donahue.  Reasons: 1.4 (b/d). 
 
1. (C) SUMMARY:  On February 6, Chechnya's controversial 
Acting Prime Minister, Ramzan Kadyrov, announced that Danish 
NGOs would be banned in his republic because of the insult to 
Muslims caused by the caricatures in a Danish newspaper.  GOR 
officials distanced themselves from Kadyrov's position, while 
Danish officials said closure of the Danish Refugee Council, 
apparently the only NGO affected so far, resulted from 
concerns for the safety of its staff rather than from 
Kadyrov's announcement.  An attack on a Danish citizen in 
Moscow appears unrelated to the controversy.  Kadyrov's 
political strength has been growing in recent months, and his 
announcement appears to be part of his bid to become the 
republic's president.  END SUMMARY. 
. 
KADYROV STATEMENT LEADS TO SUSPENSION OF DRC ACTIVITY 
--------------------------------------------- -------- 
 
2. (SBU) In a February 6 statement, the Chechen Republic's 
Acting PM, Ramzan Kadyrov, accused Danes of insulting Muslims 
through the publication of the controversial caricatures in a 
Danish newspaper.  Asserting that everything from Denmark 
would be banned in (predominantly Muslim) Chechnya, Kadyrov 
singled out NGOs. 
 
3. (SBU) A Danish emboff told us February 7 that the Danish 
Refugee Council (DRC) appeared to be the only casualty of 
Kadyrov's announcement to date.  The DRC is one of the 
largest providers of humanitarian aid in the North Caucasus, 
reportedly providing food to some 250,000 people in the 
region, primarily in Chechnya.  The UN Office of the 
Coordinator of Humanitarian Assistance (OCHA) told us that it 
had received a letter from the Chechen government advising 
that the DRC should suspend its activities because the 
government could not guarantee the safety of the NGO's staff. 
 DRC Country Director Per Ilsaas told us that though he had 
not received a copy of that letter, he was aware of it and 
his organization had suspended its field operations and 
stopped sending expatriates into Chechnya.  DRC was also 
considering bringing its eight or nine expats working in the 
region to Moscow.  (Note:  The DRC also has approximately 340 
local staff members.  End Note.)  Ilsaas said the suspension 
of DRC activity would not immediately create a 
life-threatening situation for its aid recipients.  The DRC 
publicly underscored that the organization had no control 
over the Danish press and that it did not associate itself 
with any statements that might offend religious feelings. 
. 
GOR OFFICIALS DISTANCE SELVES FROM KADYROV STATEMENT 
--------------------------------------------- ------- 
 
4. (SBU) Russian officials were quick to disassociate 
themselves from Kadyrov's statement.  State Duma Speaker 
Boris Gryzlov said on February 7 that Kadyrov's words should 
be seen as "private views" rather than those of the Chechen 
government.  Mikhail Barshchevskiy, the GOR representative to 
the Constitutional, Supreme and Higher Arbitration Courts, 
questioned the constitutionality of Kadyrov's statement. 
Privately, a Chechen contact in the Presidential 
Administration in Moscow acknowledged to us that there was no 
relationship between the NGO and Danish newspapers, but he 
did not comment further on the issue. 
. 
DANES TAKE LOW-KEY APPROACH 
--------------------------- 
 
5. (C) The Danish emboff told us February 8 that his 
government hoped the suspension would be short-lived.  His 
embassy had chosen not to comment publicly in order to avoid 
sparking further controversy.  It also was not seeking 
clarification from federal officials as to whether Kadyrov 
had the authority to ban the NGO, since this might lead to 
unpleasant questions as to how much control the Russian 
government was able to exercise in Chechnya.  In the view of 
our Danish contact, Kadyrov had made his announcement as a 
tactical move to satisfy internal political constituents. 
. 
MOSCOW ATTACK APPEARS UNRELATED 
------------------------------- 
 
6. (SBU) The media reported February 6 that a Danish citizen 
had been hit by a pellet from an air pistol fired by a 
Caucasian man in a brawl in central Moscow in which an Amcit 
had also been involved.  While the incident was not initially 
related to anti-Danish sentiment, later reports suggested the 
shooting had been sparked by ill feelings over the Danish 
caricature.  Our Danish embassy colleague told us February 8 
that there was no indication of any such connection. 
. 
COMMENT 
 
MOSCOW 00001219  002 OF 002 
 
 
------- 
 
7. (C) The Danish caricature controversy sparked ill feelings 
among Russia's sizable Muslim population, and Ramzan 
Kadyrov's statement sought to exploit those feelings. 
Kadyrov's political strength has been on the rise, and he is 
widely seen as likely to become Chechnya's president when he 
turns thirty, the constitutionally mandated minimum age for 
assuming that posi
tion.  Although his statement may be 
dismissed as that of a "loose cannon," as has long been his 
reputation, it may also have been calculated to reinforce the 
message that he is already in charge of his republic and not 
prepared to be outflanked in Muslim zeal by his Islamist 
opposition. 
BURNS

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