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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
06MOSCOW3115 2006-03-28 10:31 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Moscow

DE RUEHMO #3115/01 0871031
R 281031Z MAR 06

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 MOSCOW 003115 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 03/28/2016 
REF: 05 MOSCOW 15657 
Classified By: Minister-Counselor for Political Affairs Kirk 
Augustine. Reasons 1.4 (b and d). 
1. (C) SUMMARY.  On March 6 President Putin signed a bill "On 
Counteracting Terrorism" that had hastily moved through the 
Duma and Federation Council in the preceding days.  Passed on 
its first reading in December 2004 (reftel) after the Beslan 
tragedy, the bill was then shelved because of several 
controversial provisions.  It again gained urgency early this 
year because it was essential to implement Putin's February 
16 decree establishing the National Counterterrorism 
Committee (NCC), to be headed by Federal Security Service 
(FSB) Chief Patrushev, which will coordinate all federal 
counterterrorism policies and operations.  Many observers 
view the NCC decree and the law primarily through the prism 
of internal Kremlin politics, with Patrushev and the FSB seen 
as having gained a vote of confidence from Putin and having 
bested Internal Affairs (MVD) Minister Nurgaliyev for control 
of counterterrorism efforts.  Human rights activists worry 
that the Kremlin -- and especially the FSB -- has gained 
instruments that could potentially be abused for political 
ends.  END SUMMARY. 
New National Counterterrorism Committee 
2. (C) After the Beslan tragedy in 2004, President Putin 
vowed to develop an effective counterterrorism strategy and 
mechanisms to implement it.  However, the issue quickly 
stalled because of government infighting about who would take 
ultimate responsibility for counterterrorism activities.  The 
main competition was between the FSB, led by Nikolay 
Patrushev, and the Interior Ministry, led by Rashid 
Nurgaliyev.  Moscow Carnegie Center regional expert Nikolay 
Petrov told us the February 16 Presidential Decree "On 
Measures to Counteract Terrorism," which granted the FSB full 
control over the fight against terrorism, was significant 
primarily as a victory for Patrushev against Nurgaliyev. 
Given that rumors have long swirled that the FSB chief might 
soon be removed, Petrov continued, the latest decision also 
marks Putin's vote of confidence in Patrushev.  On the other 
hand, Federation Council member Vladimir Slutsker, who has 
long been sharply critical of Patrushev to us in private, 
told us March 15 that the latest developments marked an 
institutional victory for the FSB, rather than a personal 
victory for its current chief. 
3. (SBU) Putin's decree created a "vertical of security" 
running from Regional Counterterrorism Commissions (RCCs) 
headed by governors to the NCC at the national level.  The 
decree also established operational headquarters for both the 
NCC and RCCs: the former will be overseen by the deputy chief 
of the FSB and the latter will be led by regional FSB heads. 
Three hundred specialists assigned to the NCC will be based 
at the FSB.  The NCC will include the ministers of Interior, 
Emergency Situations, Health, Communications, Foreign 
Affairs, Justice, and Transportation, the chair of the 
foreign intelligence service, and the deputy speakers of the 
State Duma and Federation Council.  The Armed Forces Chief of 
Staff will represent the Defense Ministry on the NCC.  Also 
included on the list of committee members will be a deputy 
head of the Presidential Administration (PA), and speculation 
is that Igor Sechin, rather than Vladislav Surkov, will serve 
in that role, given Sechin's prominence in the Kremlin's 
"power group."  In the event of a terrorist incident, all 
governmental agencies represented on the committee would be 
required to implement NCC decisions.  The FSB Director is 
empowered to develop further details, including the 
regulations and procedures under which the committees will 
work.  In addition, he is to appoint the person responsible 
for informing the public of the committee's operations. 
4. (SBU) Creation of the vertical of security has generated 
some serious concerns among civil society activists.  Head of 
the All-Russia Movement for Human Rights Lev Ponomarev argues 
that the decree is dangerous as it creates "a new organ 
headed by the FSB that operates like a parallel government to 
the cabinet of ministers and whose decrees will be obeyed by 
all the structures that form the committee."  Viktor 
Ilyukhin, a Duma deputy from the Communist Party and the 
former head of the State Duma Security Committee, shared that 
view, telling "Nezavisimaya Gazeta" that the "NCC will have 
the opportunity to intervene in the work of any authority, 
whether federal, regional, or municipal, and one should not 
rule out that it will do so not only in the interests of 
fighting terrorism." 
Parliament Approves Law "On Counteracting Terrorism" 
--------------------------------------------- ------- 
MOSCOW 00003115  002 OF 003 
5. (SBU) The law "On Counteracting Terrorism" was introduced 
by Duma members and quickly passed its first reading in 
December 2004 in the wake of the Beslan tragedy.  It was then 
shelved fo
r more than a year because of concerns over several 
provisions, including strict limits on the right of the media 
to cover a terrorist attack and an unclear understanding of 
the term "terrorism danger regime."  Both the PA's legal 
office and civil society groups reportedly strongly opposed 
the bill.  However, Putin's February 16, 2006, decree 
creating the NCC made the law essential, and it was revived 
and rushed through the Duma and Federation Council.  On 
February 26, the bill was adopted almost unanimously by the 
Duma -- 423 votes in favor, one against, and eight 
abstentions ) and it passed unanimously in the Federation 
Council four days later. 
6. (SBU) According to "Gazeta.Ru," Duma Security Committee 
member Gennadiy Gudkov said that almost ninety percent of the 
bill had been rewritten in response to the president's 
decree.  In the first draft, authority to fight terrorism had 
been given to a Federal Counterterrorism Commission under the 
prime minister.  Now, the law replicates almost in its 
entirety the text of the presidential decree creating the 
NCC.  The new legislation establishes a single chain of 
command in counterterrorism operations, specifies all actions 
for security structures, and holds the people in charge 
personally accountable.  In addition, the law significantly 
expands the concept of terrorism.  It emphasizes that 
terrorist activity goes beyond "organizing, planning, 
preparing, financing, or perpetrating an act of terrorism," 
and also covers promoting "terrorist ideas" and distributing 
materials or information that encourage terrorist activity or 
incite individuals to commit an act of terrorism. 
7. (SBU) Other counterterrorist measures provided in the law 
in the event of a terrorist attack include: 
--removing persons from specified locations or buildings; 
--conducting ID checks and body-searches; 
--monitoring telephone conversations and other information 
transmitted through telecommunication channels; 
--limiting the movement of vehicular traffic and pedestrians; 
--introducing a "legal regime for counterterrorist 
operations" with restrictions on residents of the region or 
city where it is in force; 
--relocating residents temporarily from the region where a 
legal regime for counterterrorist operations is in force; 
--negotiating with terrorists for the purpose of saving lives 
or preventing injuries, but without giving in to political 
demands; and 
--authorizing the Armed Forces to shoot down planes or sink 
ships, even with civilian hostages on board, as well as to 
fight terrorism outside of Russia's borders. 
8. (SBU) Other provisions establish procedures for paying 
compensation for damages sustained in a terrorist attack and 
for social rehabilitation for victims.  The law specifies 
that "killing an individual committing an act of terrorism, 
injuring him, or damaging his property is considered lawful." 
 There is also a list of benefits for military personnel and 
executive branch personnel who participate in 
counterterrorist operations. 
9. (SBU) Finally, the law bans "establishing or operating any 
organization whose goals or actions aim to promote, justify, 
or support terrorism or crime."  It notes that "an 
organization will be recognized as a terrorist organization 
and subject to closure following a court decision based on a 
statement from the Prosecutor General's office."  The 
property of such an organization will be subject to 
confiscation and acquisition by the state.  (NOTE: The 
concept of "confiscation" is not yet covered in the Criminal 
Code; it is one of many legislative acts -- others include 
laws on transport security, the media, the Tax Code, the 
Federal Security Service, the status of servicemen, and 
prevention of political, ethnic, and religious extremism -- 
that will need to be changed or amended to correspond to the 
new law. END NOTE.)  Additionally, the Duma decided to 
include a special provision that "this article applies to 
foreign or international organizations, along with their 
departments, branches, and representative offices in the 
Russian Federation." 
10. (C) Many experts agree that the law as passed marks an 
improvement over the 2004 version, which was widely 
considered as too draconian.  Aleksander Petrov of Human 
Rights Watch told us that "it could have been worse" and 
that, in the post-Beslan environment, the authorities could 
have passed anything they wanted.  One of the law's main 
drafters, Chairman of the State Duma Subcommittee on 
MOSCOW 00003115  003 OF 003 
International Cooperation in Combating International 
Terrorism and Transnational Organized Crime Igor Barinov, 
told us the law had been purposely "watered down to take into 
account possible international and domestic criticism," and 
he said many in the Duma and the government believe that "the 
law doesn't give nearly enough powers to the FSB."  In 
contrast, according to Georgiy Dzhibladze of the Center for 
the Development of Democracy and Human Rights, the law gives 
huge powers to the security forces without providing any 
public control of them.  Dzhibladze said it was similar to 
what the government could do under a state of emergency, with 
no check on the GOR's authority.  He maintained that the law 
might be "tested" in various regions to see how suspension of 
the rule of law would work. 
FSB Chief Patrushev Defends New Law 
11. (SBU) On March 21 FSB Chief Patrushev gave a lengthy and 
detailed front-page interview to "Rossiiskaya Gazeta" in 
which he vigorously defended the new law.  Admitting that 
serious improvement was needed in the way counterterrorism 
operations were conducted in Russia, he said the new law 
would help prevent, fight, and minimize the consequences of 
terrorist acts by involving not only the security services, 
but federal executive branch bodies, regional government 
bodies, and local government bodies.  The two main issues 
that he said demanded immediate attention were detecting and 
eliminating financial sources of terrorism and creating 
socioeconomic conditions that would prevent recruitment of 
new terrorists.  He said those issues were particularly 
relevant for the Caucasus -- normalization of the situation 
there would come about faster by pooling the efforts of all 
levels of government.  Finally, he emphasized that the law 
met international standards, saying that there was a 
difference between "abuses" and restrictions on civil 
liberties.  He maintained that restrictions were permitted by 
the Russian Constitution and that "even the European 
Convention on Human Rights states that rights are inviolate 
save for when restrictions are necessitated by considerations 
of state or public security, prevention of crime, etc." 
12. (C) COMMENT.  In the fight against terrorism, a strong, 
centralized institution to prevent, counter, and mitigate the 
consequences of terror
ist attacks and take responsibility for 
counterterrorist operations makes sense.  The string of 
deadly terrorist incidents, beginning with the Moscow 
apartment bombings in 1999 and including the now-household 
names of Dubrovka, Beslan, and Nalchik, required that Russia 
retool its government to respond.  Its new mechanisms may 
prove a more effective tool for coordinating the GOR's 
response to terrorism, and the marked increase in the 
willingness of GOR agencies to cooperate with the U.S. 
bilaterally to improve their capabilities is but one example 
of a real recognition that Russia must improve its 
capabilities and performance.  As with the recently enacted 
NGO law, however, the danger is in how the GOR may use its 
powerful new counterterrorism tools.  In a country without 
effective checks on central power -- from the courts, 
legislature, or media or any tradition of limited powers 
within the executive branch -- the temptation to abuse those 
tools at the expense of civil liberties will be powerful. 
The only effective oversight of the activities of the NCC 
will come from the President, and in practice the FSB is 
likely to have nearly unlimited power in a declared terrorist 


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