06MOSCOW4435, AMBASSADOR’S MEETING WITH KREMLIN ADVISOR

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
06MOSCOW4435 2006-04-25 14:24 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Moscow

VZCZCXRO4031
PP RUEHDBU RUEHFL RUEHKW RUEHLA RUEHROV RUEHSR
DE RUEHMO #4435/01 1151424
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 251424Z APR 06
FM AMEMBASSY MOSCOW
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 4847
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEHXD/MOSCOW POLITICAL COLLECTIVE PRIORITY

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 MOSCOW 004435 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 09/20/2014 
TAGS: PREL PGOV RS
SUBJECT: AMBASSADOR'S MEETING WITH KREMLIN ADVISOR 
YASTRZHEMBSKIY 
 
 
Classified By: Ambassador William J. Burns, for reasons 1.4 (B & D) 
 
1. (C)  Summary.  Ambassador met April 25 with Sergey 
Yastrzhembskiy, President Putin's Special Representative for 
Issues of Development of Relations with the European Union. 
Yastrzhembskiy said preparations for the EU-Russia summit in 
Sochi in late May were going well, and identified several 
agreements that would be signed.  He discussed at some length 
his dissatisfaction with Russia's inability to project a 
favorable image abroad of its activities, noting its failure 
to do so in the "gas war" with Ukraine, with the 
controversial NGO law now going into effect, and on the 
Northern European gas pipeline project.  Asked about how the 
U.S. might best be able to provide useful assistance to 
people in the North Caucasus, Yastrzhembskiy recommended 
continuing to work closely with Presidential Representative 
Dmitriy Kozak to identify needs that were not being filled, 
and to provide concrete assistance first and only then to 
talk publicly about it.  End Summary. 
 
The Sochi Summit 
---------------- 
 
2. (C)  Yastrzhembskiy said preparations for the Russia-EU 
Summit in Sochi on May 25 were "going well" despite a few 
problems and reflected a "very positive trend" in overall 
Russia-EU relations.  He expected at least two agreements, 
one facilitating visa arrangements between Russia and 
Schengen Agreement countries and the other concerning 
readmission to Russia of people who had transited it en route 
to the EU.  "Perhaps some of our 'siloviki' may not be happy" 
with the readmission agreement, Yastrzhembskiy said, but 
President Putin's personal support for the agreement had 
overridden their objections   The agreement's relatively 
short (two-year) phase-in period was a "very good stick" to 
force action from "lazy bureaucrats," and better 
border-management arrangements with countries like Kazakhstan 
and China would be a benefit. 
 
3. (C)  While less certain than the first two agreements, 
negotiations had also been completed for a new TASIS 
agreement, and there were "no political objections" to it. 
However, there was "ideologically one point of disagreement" 
that Yastrzhembskiy did not identify, but said there was 
adequate time left to resolve it.  There also would be the 
launch of a "Europa college" affiliated with existing Russian 
institutions of higher education and co-financed equally by 
the EU and Russian sides.  It had already sparked huge 
interest from many young people working in Russian 
governmental institutions. 
 
4. (C)  In addition to those concrete results, there would be 
discussion at the Sochi summit of a range of political 
issues:  Iran, the Middle East (Hamas), perhaps 
implementation of the Kyoto Protocol, probably Belarus and 
other issues of the post-Soviet space, Russian-EU 
disagreements about trans-Siberian airline flights, and the 
EU-Russia energy charter. 
 
5. (C)  The Ambassador noted that the Sochi summit would also 
play an important role in setting the atmosphere for the St. 
Petersburg G-8 summit in July.  Yastrzhembskiy agreed. 
 
Polishing Russia's Image 
------------------------ 
 
6. (C)  Noting that Yastrzhembskiy had at one time been 
Russia's Presidential Spokesman and also dealt for several 
years with public information aspects of the Chechnya 
conflict for the Presidential Administration, the Ambassador 
asked him for his thoughts on recent GOR attempts to improve 
Russia's image internationally and to deal with issues such 
as the "gas war" with Ukraine and the controversy surrounding 
the NGO law.  Yastrzhembskiy said Russia's PR efforts had 
been a "big headache" because they had not been very 
successful.  He had closely studied USG experience in, e.g., 
Operation Desert Storm and had concluded that while the U.S. 
was much more sophisticated than Russia in this area, even 
the U.S. had been able to show very modest results for the 
substantial resources it had expended.  When he had worked 
under President Yeltsin, trying to improve Russia's image 
abroad had been almost hopeless.  It was like "sitting on top 
of a volcano," with a weak state, huge budget problems, and 
the various branches of government feuding among themselves. 
 
7. (C)  In Soviet times, Yastrzhembskiy continued, there had 
been many institutions designed to affect international 
public opinion, but they were "just very aggressive and not 
very smart."  In post-Soviet Russia those institutions had 
been largely destroyed, but nothing had been created to 
replace them.  Some "islands" of the Soviet period (like 
 
MOSCOW 00004435  002 OF 002 
 
 
RIA-Novosti, and ITAR-TASS) still existed, but they were not 
effective.  There was a need for a new system that would not 
be focused on one-day or one-month campaigns, but that would 
work instead on the basis of a ten-year strategy, with 
sufficient funding.  Now there was no system and no 
coordination. 
 
8. (C)  Yast
rzhembskiy cited the adoption of the NGO law as 
one example of how the Russian system did not work 
effectively.  There had been no sense in taking the draft NGO 
law to the Council of Europe only after it had become an 
international public issue; Russia should have gone to the 
COE first, which would have put in a better position to 
disarm the critics.  The "gas war" with Ukraine had also been 
mishandled publicly by Gazprom, and the same was true of the 
Northern European gas pipeline project.  Public support for 
that effort should have been launched earlier, and now it had 
to be done "after the fact."  Part of the problem had been 
the need to work with a German government that first was tied 
up in an election campaign and then in lengthy cabinet 
formation.  Schroeder was now talking about the need to worry 
about Russia's image abroad in this connection, but he should 
have thought of that from the beginning.  The problem was not 
just with Gazprom, but also with the Russian state. 
 
9. (C)  The Ambassador said the GOR could still take helpful 
steps on the new NGO law, if the MFA, Ministry of Justice and 
other relevant bodies were to pro-actively call NGOs and the 
media together to explain in detail how the registration 
process would unfold and where people could turn for answers 
to their questions.  Similarly, President Putin could use his 
"Poslaniye" (state of the nation address, now expected to be 
delivered at some time in May) to be clearer about his 
long-term plans for Russia's political and economic 
modernization and to speak out on the issue of xenophobia and 
the unacceptability of attacks on ethnic or religious 
minorities in Russia.  To the degree that Putin could 
communicate a vision of a long-term Russian strategy showing 
how it planned to realize common G-8 values in the Russian 
context, that could help the St. Petersburg summit be a 
success, as President Bush had made clear he wanted. 
 
10. (C)  Yastrzhembskiy agreed in principle but said many in 
Russia had concluded that "criticism of Russia is a permanent 
process."  The level of skepticism about the good will of the 
West was "so high, even on the President's team," that it was 
hard to get consideration of proposed steps in a more open 
direction.  He would consider the possibilities, however, and 
see if there were three or four points that he could propose. 
 
North Caucasus 
--------------- 
 
11. (C)  The Ambassador asked whether Yastrzhembskiy could 
suggest a strategy by which U.S. efforts to provide concrete 
help to people in the North Caucasus could be favorably 
considered by the GOR.  Yastrzhembskiy laid out several steps 
to that end.  First, he said, forget about focusing on things 
like the provision of food or tents; the time for that kind 
of assistance had passed.  Second, continue to work with 
Presidential Representative for the Southern Region Dmitriy 
Kozak and his deputy Pochinok.  Kozak was "very sensible" 
(even compared with federal officials in Moscow, because he 
was "on the ground") and "a good ally."  The U.S. should work 
with him to identify spheres in which there were unmet public 
needs (he cited the example of providing internet facilities 
to school and university libraries).  What the U.S. should 
avoid was the mistake that the EU had made:  it had talked 
for two years about help it was going to provide, but during 
that time implemented nothing.  The U.S. should first provide 
help and only then start talking about what it had done.  The 
Ambassador said he would follow up again with Kozak to 
further explore how the U.S. might be helpful.  After the 
meeting concluded, Yastrzhembskiy's assistant Aleksandr 
Machevskiy suggested deferring a further conversation with 
Kozak until mid-May, to let the negative reaction in Moscow 
to the recent Jamestown Foundation seminar on the North 
Caucasus blow over. 
BURNS

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