Monthly Archives: May 2006


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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
06MOSCOW5760 2006-05-31 14:25 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Moscow

DE RUEHMO #5760/01 1511425
P 311425Z MAY 06

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 MOSCOW 005760 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 05/29/2016 
Classified By: Political Minister-Counselor Kirk Augustine.  Reason 1.4 
 (b, d) 
1. (C) SUMMARY.  In a May 29 meeting with Mikhail Lebedev, 
Acting Director of the MFA Department on Humanitarian 
Cooperation and Human Rights, DRL Deputy Assistant Secretary 
Barks-Ruggles underscored USG concerns that the new NGO law 
be implemented fairly and transparently.  Barks-Ruggles also 
emphasized the importance of religious freedom issues, in 
particular USG concerns about the treatment of religious 
minorities and the possible inclusion of religious groups as 
NGOs under the new NGO law.  She noted the upcoming Smith 
Amendment decision and the June visit to Russia of the U.S. 
Commission on International Religious Freedom.  Barks-Ruggles 
and Lebedev agreed that the opening session of the UN Human 
Rights Council should focus on procedural issues.  They 
shared concerns about problems with the Declaration on the 
Rights of Indigenous Peoples and the Convention on Enforced 
Disappearances.  He also indicated that the GOR might oppose 
efforts to terminate or substantially change the 
Sub-Commission on Human Rights.  END SUMMARY. 
2. (C) On May 29 DRL Deputy Assistant Secretary Erica 
Barks-Ruggles met with Mikhail Lebedev, Acting Director of 
the MFA Department on Humanitarian Cooperation and Human 
Rights, his deputy, Grigoriy Lukyantsev, and Tatyana Smirnova 
also of the same department, as well as MFA officials from 
other departments. 
3. (C) Barks-Ruggles expressed concern over the lack of 
clarity in the implementation process of the new NGO 
legislation.  One of the areas that remained unclear was how 
the law would affect religious organizations.  She stressed 
that the law should not overburden NGOs with excessive paper 
work requirements and that the requirements on NGOs be 
clarified.  Smirnova agreed that many NGOs were worried about 
the lack of clarity.  While noting that the MFA does not have 
primary jurisdiction over the law's implementation, Lebedev 
expressed hope that few problems would arise.  He said the 
MFA was in contact with the Ministry of Justice (MOJ) on the 
issue.  NGOs with problems could address a number of 
different government bodies including the MFA, the MOJ, and 
the Presidential Administration.  The law was not created to 
prohibit NGOs, but to bring clarity to the sector, Smirnova 
argued, adding that tens of thousands of organizations listed 
as NGOs were either non-existent or had been created as 
fronts for business operations to gain tax benefits. 
4. (C) Barks-Ruggles noted that it was important not to 
create problems for legitimate NGOs.  She expressed concern 
that the law could be used too restrictively and that 
legitimate but controversial NGOs could run into problems 
with the law.  She noted that in the U.S. NGOs were often 
critical of the USG, but it was important for their voices to 
be heard.  The treatment of NGOs in Russia would continue to 
be a sensitive topic, and Barks-Ruggles said the USG wanted 
to continue our dialogue with the GOR on the issue. 
5. (C) Turning to religious freedom issues, Barks-Ruggles 
noted that a final decision on the Smith Amendment was 
pending and outlined the ramifications of the law.  She also 
noted that the U.S. Commission on International Religious 
Freedom would be coming to Russia in June and would want to 
discuss issues such as the treatment of religious minorities 
in Russia and the implications of the new NGO law for 
religious groups.  Barks-Ruggles said that Congress in 
particular would be examining religious freedom in Russia 
this year because of the G8 Summit.  The strong condemnation 
of the January 11 synagogue attack and follow-up 
investigation by the GOR had been noted and appreciated in 
the U.S., but the issue of violence was still a concern. 
6. (C) Smirnova noted that the synagogue attack had shocked 
many people in Russia.  Especially because Russia was a 
multi-confessional society, it was important for different 
religious groups to coexist peacefully in Russia.  Government 
agencies like the Ministry for Regional Development and the 
Council on Religious Entities were trying to strengthen 
inter-confessional dialogue.  The xenophobic attacks against 
religious, ethnic, and racial minorities represented only a 
small segment of the general population.  Lebedev noted that 
MOSCOW 00005760  002 OF 002 
Putin had given the green light for the government to fight 
against extremist groups and, it had taken a multi-agency 
approach to the problem. 
7. (C) Lebedev suggested the OSCE should take a more visible 
role in dealing with the problem of religious tolerance. 
Noting previous Russian attempts to com
bine the three 
representatives of the Chairman-in-Office that combat 
anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, and discrimination against 
Christians into one position, he said the GOR would likely 
raise this issue again in October in Vienna.  He said the GOR 
had seen few results after two years of their work, and such 
an approach might make them more efficient. 
8. (C) Barks-Ruggles said that although the U.S. was not on 
the UN Human Rights Council (HRC), it would be an active 
participant and observer in its first year, starting with the 
June 19 opening session.  She noted that the first session of 
the HRC in June should address procedural issues and make 
decisions on how the work of the HRC would proceed.  It would 
set a bad precedent for the HRC to take on contentious issues 
such as the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples 
(DRIP) and the Convention on Enforced Disappearances at its 
first session.  On the DRIP, Barks-Ruggles noted that the 
current draft did not address issues that Russia, the USG, 
and others had been raising for ten years.  Lebedev agreed 
that the opening session of the HRC should focus on 
procedural issues.  He noted that the GOR had problems with 
the DRIP, on which no consensus had been reached.  As a 
result it was difficult to accept the DRIP in its current 
form, and it therefore may be necessary to call for a vote on 
it.  (Note: He implied Russia would do so and vote no.  End 
Note.)  He also expressed concern about the Convention on 
Enforced Disappearances. 
9. (C) Barks-Ruggles said that the HRC should shift more of 
its funding to technical assistance.  One way to do so would 
be to try and divert more resources to implementation rather 
than ineffective experts such as the Sub-Commission on Human 
Rights.  The Sub-Commission had a budget four times the size 
of the HRC.  A slimmed down Sub-Commission would be more 
practical, allowing resources to be used in the field to 
produce more tangible results.  Barks-Ruggles noted that the 
USG supported the UN Office of the High Commissioner for 
Human Rights (OHCHR) expanding its field offices in countries 
like Nepal and Pakistan that had requested assistance. 
Lebedev said the Sub-Commission had done some useful work and 
called for a balanced approach to the issue.  He expressed 
concern about the expansion of the field office in Russia. 
10. (C) In response to Barks-Ruggles' question about Russia's 
position on the peer review process, Lebedev said that "no 
one imagined it as a topic to be discussed" in the upcoming 
meeting of the HRC.  He expressed concerns that the peer 
review process would lead to duplication of existing treaty 
obligation and submission of lengthy reports.  Barks-Ruggles 
noted that the USG did not want the issue of peer review to 
dominate the HRC and suggested that discussion of this issue 
should, perhaps, begin in Geneva after the first June 
11. (C) Barks-Ruggles reiterated A/S Lowenkron's invitation 
from his January meeting at the MFA (reftel) to have the 
Director of the Department on Humanitarian Cooperation and 
Human Rights visit Washington.  Lebedev welcomed the idea of 
a more regularized dialogue, but said a trip to Washington 
would best be undertaken once a permanent Director for the 
Department on Humanitarian Cooperation and Human Rights was 
in place. 
12. (C) Lebedev clearly was uncomfortable addressing issues 
concerning the implementation of the NGO law, and tried to 
defer to other ministries and the Presidency.  On the HRC, it 
is likely that Russia will try to insist on some continuation 
of an experts group even if the Sub-Commission is disbanded. 
It will be helpful to clarify in Geneva that our support for 
expanded OHCHR field operations will be to provide assistance 
to countries that have requested it -- not to target 
countries like Russia. 
13. (U) DAS Barks-Ruggles has cleared this cable. 



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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
06MOSCOW5742 2006-05-31 13:26 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Moscow


DE RUEHMO #5742 1511326
P 311326Z MAY 06

C O N F I D E N T I A L MOSCOW 005742 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 05/31/2016 
REF: STATE 79658 
Classified By: Minister-Counselor for Political Affairs Kirk Augustine. 
  For Reasons 1.4 (B/D). 
1.  (C)  We discussed reftel May 25 with MFA Romanian Section 
Chief Igor Inyushkin.  He agreed that the U.S. and Russia 
shared common interests in the Black Sea region and 
appreciated Washington's endorsement of existing regional 
institutions, underlining Russia's hope that Moscow would be 
able to reinvigorate the Black Sea Economic Cooperation 
organization during its chairmanship.  Inyushkin reserved 
comment on BLACKSEAFOR and other questions on security 
2.  (C)  Turning to the Black Sea Forum, Inyushkin said 
Russia was likely to send its Ambassador in Bucharest to 
attend the Forum as an observer.  Moscow still had questions 
about the Forum's value and regarded it as essentially 
duplicative of existing groups, but wanted to make sure it 
understood what the Forum was trying to accomplish before 
making any final decisions about Russia's role in the 
organization.  Inyushkin was not sure whether the Romanians 
would accept observers at the Forum's initial meeting. 



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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
06MOSCOW5741 2006-05-31 13:22 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Moscow


DE RUEHMO #5741 1511322
P 311322Z MAY 06

C O N F I D E N T I A L MOSCOW 005741 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 05/31/2016 
REF: A. STATE 78740 
     B. MOSCOW 2864 
Classified By: Minister-Counselor for Political Affairs Kirk Augustine. 
  For Reasons 1.4 (B/D). 
1.  (C)  Responding to a May 26 demarche (ref A) by 
Australian, New Zealand and U.S. emboffs on the draft UN 
Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (DRIP), 
Grigoriy Lukyantsev, Head of the UN Division of the MFA's 
Department of Humanitarian Cooperation and Human Rights said 
that Moscow had procedural and substantive objections to the 
draft text.  Moscow thought that acceptance of the so-called 
consensus text would set a bad precedent for the newly formed 
UN Human Rights Council.  It did not reflect a consensus on 
the controversial subject matter, but instead reflected the 
Working Group Chairman's proclivities. 
2.  (C)  According to Lukyantsev, Moscow objected to the 
treatment of the issues of self-determination, territorial 
integrity and control of land and natural resources.  Russia 
would likely vote against the draft if it were brought to a 
vote, but Lukyantsev indicated Russia was not looking to 
assume the lead in opposing DRIP.  He suggested that our 
respective delegations in Geneva coordinate a joint approach 
to avoid a vote, renew the Working Group's mandate, and send 
the text back to the Group. 



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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
06MOSCOW5740 2006-05-31 13:15 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Moscow
Appears in these articles:

DE RUEHMO #5740/01 1511315
R 311315Z MAY 06

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 05 MOSCOW 005740 



E.O. 12958: DECL: 05/19/2016 

REF: A. 2005 MOSCOW 14734 
B. MOSCOW 5000 
C. MOSCOW 3335 

Classified By: Minister-Counselor for Political Affairs Kirk Augustine. 
Reasons: 1.4 (B/D). 

1. (C) SUMMARY. Adding fuel to already intense speculation 
about who will succeed him, President Putin confirmed to 
state media May 13 that he will endorse a candidate before 
the March 2008 election. Both Kremlin-connected and 
independent analysts believe Putin's choice will be driven by 
a desire to ensure his physical and financial security, to 
maximize the likelihood of continuity in his policies, and to 
preserve the current political system, in which he is the 
final arbiter of disputes among rival groups (a role he 
likely intends to play even after leaving office). Our 
contacts generally think Putin will consult about possible 
successors with his closest advisers but make the final 
decision alone, without involving elites outside the Kremlin 
or relying heavily on public opinion surveys, as former 
President Boris Yeltsin did. The conventional wisdom remains 
that First Deputy Prime Minister Dmitriy Medvedev and Deputy 
Prime Minister/Defense Minister Sergey Ivanov are the two 
front-runners, but other horses of varying shades of darkness 
are believed to be at least potentially in the running. 
Putin's interest lies in prolonging uncertainty to avoid a 
premature slippage of power away from him and toward a 
perceived successor, but that uncertainty encourages 
competitive jockeying for position among the candidates and a 
feeding-frenzy among those who fear their snouts could soon 
be torn from the trough. END SUMMARY. 

2. (C) Most of our contacts take for granted that Putin's 
own physical and financial security and social status 
post-2008 loom large in his succession calculations. 
XXXXXXXXXXXX told us that financial 
considerations would drive Putin's thinking. 
XXXXXXXXXXXX  agreed, describing  the Russian
presidency as a business and saying that Putin's  decision
on a successor would be based on his sense of who  would
best be able to protect the wealth he and his  associates
had acquired. Equally important to Putin,  according to
XXXXXXXXXXXX, is preserving the elite-based political
system in which ad hoc interest groups vie for political
clout and  control over economic resources, with Putin as the
ultimate  arbiter. XXXXXXXXXXXX said Putin feared the
system would  collapse without him at its center, and therefore
intended to remain active behind the scenes while leaving
day-to-day  governance to his successor. XXXXXXXXXXXX
agreed, saying that preserving the current balance of power
among competing elite  groups was of great importance to Putin. 

3. (C) XXXXXXXXXXXX  told us that Putin needs to choose a 
strong successor who is not beholden to any one group and who 
has already amassed a personal fortune during Putin's tenure. 
Such a figure, XXXXXXXXXXXX explained, would have a vested 
interest in maintaining the status quo in order to protect 
his own wealth and standing. XXXXXXXXXXXX disagreed,
arguing  that a strong successor would inevitably side with
one group  or another, and succumb to the temptation to crush
his  rivals. Such a turn of events would not only disrupt the 
precarious balance of clans and lead to a redistribution of 
assets, but also undermine Putin's role as arbiter of the 
competing groups. XXXXXXXXXXXX offered another 
perspective, saying that a succession candidate's "strength" 
or "weakness" would be of only secondary interest to Putin; 
the overriding criterion would be loyalty to Putin personally. 

4. (C) Many of our contacts believe that, having weakened 
all his potential rivals and atomized the elite, Putin will 
be able to make the choice of his successor alone, without 
needing to consult extensively with political and economic 
elites to ensure their support. XXXXXXXXXXXX expects
Putin to discuss the issue informally with his closest advisers,
but to reveal his final decision to them only shortly before
going public, in order to maintain strict secrecy. The broader
elite and the general public would learn of Putin's decision 
simultaneously. XXXXXXXXXXXX concurred, saying Putin
would consult only a handful of close advisers, including
Medvedev,  Sergey Ivanov, and Deputy PA head Igor Sechin.
XXXXXXXXXXXX  expected that on questions of succession,
Sechin's opinion  would carry more weight than Medvedev's or
Ivanov's, because  Putin would consider that as possible
successors, the latter  two could not give disinterested advice. 

5. (C) Asked whether Putin, by not consulting more broadly, 
would not risk alienating those whose financial resources and 
media outlets would be central to ensuring a smooth 
succession, XXXXXXXXXXXX
 predicted that the elites, on
hearing  the name of Putin's preferred successor, would fight
each  other to be first to pledge allegiance to his choice. If 
elite opinion mattered to Putin, XXXXXXXXXXXX added
pointedly,  former Yukos CEO Mikhail Khodorkovskiy would
still be free.  Instead, XXXXXXXXXXXX said, Putin was confident
elites have  learned from the Khodorkovskiy case the severe 
consequences  of defying the Kremlin. XXXXXXXXXXXX
agreed, saying that despite  real divisions within the elite, there
remains a profound  corporate interest in maintaining the existing
contours of political and economic power, and that can best be
done by  falling in line behind Putin's choice, whoever it may be. 

6. (C) Given how extensively former President Yeltsin's team 
used public opinion polls to identify an electable successor, 
many have assumed Putin would do the same.
XXXXXXXXXXXX, however, told us the Kremlin would 
not poll to determine what  qualities the public wants to see in
Russia's next president,  since the results would be meaningless:
respondents in such a  poll would simply describe Putin when
asked what their ideal  president would be like -- reversing the
pattern from 1999, when respondents listed as desirable qualities
those that the deeply unpopular Yeltsin lacked
 XXXXXXXXXXXX also argued that the Kremlin's control over
major media outlets would not be sufficient in itself to build a
mass following for a  presidential candidate -- the key to
winning public support  would be to find a way to "resonate
with the public," as  Putin did when he gave an emotional speech
in September 1999 in response to a series of apartment bombings
that had  terrorized the population. Until that point,
XXXXXXXXXXXX said,  even daily television coverage had
only modestly improved  Putin's popularity rating. 

arguing that the  Kremlin has sufficient administrative and media
resources to  ensure that the public votes "correctly" in 2008.
Taking a  different tack, XXXXXXXXXXXX told us public opinion
could be an  important variable if the electorate were actively engaged, 
but he did not expect it to be mobilized for this election. 
Voters -- like the elites -- would primarily be interested, 
XXXXXXXXXXXX thought, in maintaining the higher standard of
living  they have attained under Putin, and would see Putin's chosen 
successor as the best available insurance policy. 


8. (C) Upwards of thirty names have appeared in the Russian 
press as possible successors to Putin, but XXXXXXXXXXXX 
told us she believes Putin has now narrowed the field to 
five: First Deputy Prime Minister Dmitriy Medvedev, Deputy 
Prime Minister/Defense Minister Sergey Ivanov, Presidential 
Administration (PA) head Sergey Sobyanin, Russian Railways 
CEO Vladimir Yakunin, and head of the Government apparatus 
Sergey Naryshkin. Nearly all analysts see Medvedev and 
Ivanov as the clear front-runners at this stage, and most of 
our contacts describe Sobyanin, Yakunin, and Naryshkin as at 
best "reserve" candidates. XXXXXXXXXXXX dismissed the theory
that Putin was using Medvedev and Ivanov as "red herrings" to 
distract attention from the "real," as yet unidentified, 
successor, saying that Putin is serious about making Medvedev 
or Ivanov Russia's next president. XXXXXXXXXXXX concurred,
noting that Putin has nothing to gain by choosing a less-familiar 
figure to succeed him. Those seeing the succession as a 
two-horse race are divided as to whether Putin will endorse 
Medvedev or Ivanov, with XXXXXXXXXXXX positing a
"power-sharing"  scenario in which one would serve as president
and the other  as prime minister. 


9. (C) Medvedev's long-standing loyalty to Putin, his 
administrative skills, his propensity for hard work, and his 
potential to benefit if the "national projects" that he 
supervises are successful are among his qualifications for 
the presidency. XXXXXXXXXXXX told us that Medvedev would
respect Putin's wishes and work to maintain the existing balance 
among rival elite groups, which would make his selection 
acceptable to all key power elements. XXXXXXXXXXXX also
said  Medvedev's administrative skills were widely underestimated. 
Citing his Kremlin contacts, XXXXXXXXXXXX said the PA had
run more  efficiently under Medvedev than now under
Sobyanin. XXXXXXXXXXXX,  who said Medvedev was his own
choice for president, described  him as dedicated, hardworking,
and skilled in management. (NOTE: In addition to his duties as
First Deputy Prime Minister, Medvedev directs the implementation
of the national projects, is chairman of the board of Gazprom, is
responsible  for coordinating Russia's response to avian flu, and
since mid-May has chaired a government commission on bringing 
digital television to Russia. END NOTE.) 

10. (C) Medvedev nonetheless has challenges to overcome. 
XXXXXXXXXXXX told us Medvedev does not come across as 
"presidential" on television or in public, although she noted 
that he has nearly two years to strengthen his image. The 
camp of PA Deputy Head Igor Sechin, which is still trying to 
convince Putin to remain in office beyond 2008, poses another 
challenge to Medvedev. XXXXXXXXXXXX said Sechin's camp
is trying  to discredit both Medvedev and Ivanov in order to convince 
Putin to seek a third term. According to XXXXXXXXXXXX,
Medvedev lost a recent battle when Fradkov (who is allied with
Sechin) was given control of the Customs Service, which had 
previously been subordinated to Medvedev's frequent ally, 
Minister of Economic Development and Trade German Gref. 

Sergey Ivanov 

11. (C) Ivanov has Putin's trust, is widely regarded as a 
patriot and pragmatist, comes across as presidential, and has 
proven politically resilient in the face of recurrent 
criticism, including from within the military establishment. 
XXXXXXXXXXXX said Ivanov is regarded as a more effective 
administrator and bureaucratic player than Medvedev. 
XXXXXXXXXXXX said Ivanov had demonstrated his ability to
weather political attacks over the last year, as his popularity 
rating had not been affected by the Sechin camp's efforts to 
tarnish his image by exploiting cases of military hazing, 
using the Main Military Prosecutor to highlight the high rate 
of crime in the armed forces, and publicizing the fact that 
Ivanov's son had run over and killed an elderly pedestrian. 
XXXXXXXXXXXX told us that Putin's May 10 address to 
the legislature gave Ivanov a boost by highlighting 
improvements in military capability, innovation, and morale. 

12. (C) Our contacts note that Putin and others could 
perceive some of Ivanov's strengths as weaknesses. For 
instance, while many say that Ivanov is not corrupt (at least 
in relative terms), some of Putin's close advisers reportedly 
see that as a threat, since they do not know how to "do 
business" with such a person. XXXXXXXXXXXX said Putin
may also  see Ivanov's leadersh
ip skills as a potential threat to the 
balance of forces among elites, and potentially to Putin's 
own continued influence. 


13. (C) Putin probably considers Vladimir Yakunin's 
long-standing friendship and business experience his best 
qualifications for the presidency, according to our contacts. 
Yakunin shares Putin's KGB background, and they first met in 
the 1990s in St. Petersburg. Yakunin has thus far generally 
avoided the public spotlight, and (according to a close 
supporter) hopes Medvedev and Ivanov will fall short of 
Putin's expectations in the run-up to 2008 (ref A). Our 
contacts generally consider Yakunin a fallback candidate who 
would probably remain loyal to Putin after taking office, but 
could have difficulty forging ties with the political and 
economic elites and the general public. XXXXXXXXXXXX
said  Yakunin was "too exotic and strange" to become president, 
citing Yakunin's close and secretive relationship with the 
hierarchy of the Russian Orthodox Church, his reported ties 
to Fidel Castro and Lyndon Larouche, and his involvement in 
organizations like the Center for the National Glory of 
Russia. XXXXXXXXXXXX agreed, saying Yakunin was
generally seen as  an "outsider" in the elite, notwithstanding
his ties to Putin. 


14. (C) Sobyanin is thought by some to be a potential 
successor because of his loyalty to Putin and apparent lack 
of ambition. He recently visited London at Putin's 
direction, providing the beginnings of an international 
profile. In XXXXXXXXXXXX's view, Putin could feel
confidentthat  Sobyanin, if elected, would continue to defer
to him.  XXXXXXXXXXXX said Sobyanin's lack of ambition
was one reasonPutin had felt comfortable bringing him into the
PA. (Note. The  basis for the judgment by XXXXXXXXXXXX
and XXXXXXXXXXXX that Sobyanin lacks ambition, rather
than has veiled ambition, is not clear. End Note) Among
Sobyanin's liabilities, according to  XXXXXXXXXXXX, was that he
 I  "one-dimensional" and comfortable 
only when dealing with regional affairs. XXXXXXXXXXXX noted
that  Sobyanin lacks a public platform that would help him build 
support among voters and, despite a good reputation as 
governor of Tyumen, he was proving an ineffective manager in 
the PA. XXXXXXXXXXXX told us Sobyanin had been charged with 
overseeing the drafting of the annual state of the nation 
address that Putin had presented May 10, but Putin had been 
so dissatisfied with the early drafts that he took over the 
speechwriting process himself. Others have painted 
Sobyanin's role in the production of the speech in more 
positive terms. XXXXXXXXXXXX thought Putin would not be 
comfortable making Sobyanin president, given their relatively 
brief connection. 


15. (C) Sergey Naryshkin's name has recently begun surfacing 
with greater frequency in the media and in conversations with 
our contacts (ref B), but he continues to be regarded as at 
best a long-shot for president. XXXXXXXXXXXX said Naryshkin,
 who  worked with Putin in the KGB, is a junior partner to Fradkov, 
who has used him to attack Gref and Minister of Finance 
Aleksey Kudrin. XXXXXXXXXXXX said Naryshkin dutifully follows 
instructions from Putin and Fradkov in the hope of becoming 
Putin's successor, or at least to be Minister of Economic 
Development and Trade in the next president's administration. 
XXXXXXXXXXXX described Naryshkin as an "interesting" figure and 
cautioned against underestimating his chances.
 XXXXXXXXXXXX agreed, saying that Naryshkin is a capable,
detail-oriented  official whose loyalty to Putin is undisputed. 

16. (C) XXXXXXXXXXXX's list of five "live" candidates is 
not, in our judgment, definitive. Given Putin's tendency to 
make surprise personnel decisions and the unforeseeable 
political issues that could arise before March 2008, other 
potential successors may emerge. Moreover, although we 
believe Putin does plan to leave office in 2008, that is at 
most a present intention. If as 2008 approaches he is not 
persuaded of the viability of any of the succession 
candidates, particularly if it appears that Russia will face 
difficult domestic or international circumstances, Putin 
could still decide to remain in power, and would likely have 
little trouble in arranging to do so. XXXXXXXXXXX
 told us  a third-term scenario was still on the table in the
Kremlin, although only as a fall-back option. 

17. (C) Our expectation, however, remains that Putin will 
step out of the Presidency in 2008. We concur that, in 
choosing the person he wants to succeed him, he will be 
motivated to protect his wealth and security (e.g., from 
prosecution) and to ensure his continuing political influence 
and social status after leaving office. We believe he will 
also reject any succession candidate who he suspects might 
steer Russia away from his policy "legacy." Those factors 
suggest he will choose a successor in whom he has a high 
degree of personal and political trust and who he sees as at 
least competent as an administrator and politician. We share 
the judgment that he has a relatively free hand in his 
choice, with the political class and broader public ready, at 
least initially, to defer to his judgment within broad limits. 

18. (C) Views differ on how involved Putin plans to be in 
day-to-day governance after 2008. Unlike Yeltsin in 2000, 
Putin will leave office at a relatively young age, in good 
health and with very high public support. If he wants a 
highly operational "behind-the-scenes" role, that could 
incline him to opt for a successor whom he saw as easy to 
control. If he envisions, on the other hand, a "stand-back" 
post-2008 role in which he would engage only on strategic 
issues (a la Deng Xiaoping, a model that our counterparts in 
the Chinese Embassy claim to find germane), that could be 
reflected in a choice of a more dynamic and capable successor 
expected to act with substantial autonomy. Obviously, the 
degree to which any successor -- having won popular election 
and received at least the externalities of power -- would 
long be content to administer day-to-day affairs while 
allowing Putin to direct the real course of policy from 
behind the scenes is open to question. 

19. (C) We also agree that last fall's appointments of 
Medvedev and Sergey Ivanov to the government put them in 
front-runner positions. While some (XXXXXXXXXXXX)
argue that Medvedev is likely to get the nod for the presidency
with Sergey Ivanov as his prime minister, we do not see
compelling  evidence for that conclusion. An at least equally
strong  argument, we believe, could be made in favor of Sergey Ivanov  as president and Medvedev as prime minister, given Putin's 
demonstrated trust in Ivanov and the likelihood that, in a 
world seen to be full of external challenges to Russia, a 
"silovik" with experience in the KGB/FSB, as head of the 
Security Council, and as Defense Minister and manager of the &#x
MOSCOW 00005740 005 OF 005 

military-industrial complex would be seen as best prepared 
and most credible as head of state. 

20. (C) Putin's present interest lies in leaving such issues 
unresolved, to prevent the initiation of a shift of power 
away from him and towards any perceived successor. The 
uncertainty that is beneficial to him, however, feeds 
competition among possible (or at least self-perceived) 
candidates jockeying for position, and encourages a 
feeding-frenzy among those currently in high positions who 
fear their snouts could soon be torn from the trough. 



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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
06MOSCOW5645 2006-05-30 09:27 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Moscow

DE RUEHMO #5645/01 1500927
P 300927Z MAY 06

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 10 MOSCOW 005645 



EO 12958 DECL: 05/25/2016 

Classified By: Ambassador William J. Burns. Reason 1.4 (b, d)

1. (C) Introduction: Chechnya has been less in the glare of constant international attention in recent years. However, the Chechnya conflict remains unresolved, and the suffering of the Chechen people and the threat of instability throughout the region remain. This message reinterprets the history of the Chechen wars as a means of better understanding the current dynamics, the challenges facing Russia, the way in which the Kremlin perceives those challenges, and the factors limiting the Kremlin’s ability to respond. It draws on close observation on the ground and conversations with many participants in and observers of the conflict from the moment of Chechnya’s declaration of independence in 1991. We intend this message to spur thinking on new approaches to a tragedy that persists as an issue within Russia and between Russia and the U.S., Europe and the Islamic world.


2. (C) President Putin has pursued a two-pronged strategy to extricate Russia from the war in Chechnya and establish a viable long-term modus vivendi preserving Moscow’s role as the ultimate arbiter of Chechen affairs. The first prong was to gain control of the Russian military deployed there, which had long operated without real central control and was intent on staying as long as its officers could profit from the war.  The second prong was “Chechenization,” which in effect means turning Chechnya over to former nationalist separatists willing to profess loyalty to Russia. There are two difficulties with Putin’s strategy. First, while Chechenization has been successful in suppressing nationalist separatists within Chechnya, it has not been as effective against the Jihadist militants, who have broadened their focus and are gaining strength throughout the North Caucasus.  Second, as long as former separatist warlords run Chechnya, Russian forces will have to stay in numbers sufficient to ensure that the ex-separatists remain “ex.” More broadly, the suffering of an abused and victimized population will continue, and with it the alienation that feeds the insurgency.

3. (C) To deal effectively with Chechnya in the long term, Putin needs to increase his control over the Russian Power Ministries and reduce opportunities for them to profit from war corruption. He needs to strengthen Russian civilian engagement, reinforcing the role of his Plenipotentiary Representative. He needs to take a broad approach to combat the spread of Jihadism, and not rely primarily on suppression by force. In this context there is only a limited role for the U.S., but we and our allies can help by expressing our concerns to Putin, directing assistance to areas where our programs can slow the spread of Jihadism, and working with Russia’s southern neighbors to minimize the effects of instability. End Summary.

The Starting Point: Problems of the “Russianized” Conflict
--------------------------------------------- -------------- 

4. (C) Chechnya was only one of the conflicts that broke out in the former Soviet Union at the time of the country’s collapse. Territorial conflicts, most of them separatist, erupted in Nagorno-Karabakh, Transnistria, South Ossetia, North Ossetia/Ingushetia, Abkhazia and Tajikistan. Russian troops were involved in combat in all of those conflicts, sometimes clandestinely. In all except Nagorno-Karabakh, Russian troops remain today as peacekeepers. Russia doggedly insists on this presence and resists pulling its forces out. Its diplomatic efforts have served to keep the conflicts frozen, with Russian troops remaining in place.

5. (C) Why is this? The charge is often made that Russia’s motive for keeping the conflicts frozen is geostrategic, or “neo-imperialism,” or fear of NATO, or revenge against Georgia and Moldova, or a quest to preserve leverage. Indeed, the continued deployments may satisfy those Russians who think in such terms, and expand the domestic consensus for sending troops throughout the CIS. However, while one or another of those factors may have been the original impulse, each of the conflicts has gone through phases in which the conflict’s perceived uses for the Russian state have changed.  No one of these factors has been continuous over the life of any of the conflicts.

6. (C) We would propose an additional factor: the determination of Russia’s senior officer corps to remain deployed in those countries to engage in lucrative activity outside their official military tasks. Sometimes that
MOSCOW 00005645 002 OF 010
activity has been as mercenaries -- for instance, Russian active-duty soldiers fought on both sides in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict from 1991-92. Sometimes it has involved narcotics smuggling, as in Tajikistan. Selling arms to all sides has been a long-standing tradition. And sometimes it has meant collaborating with the mafias of both sides in conflict to facilitate contraband trade across the lines, as in Abkhazia and South Ossetia. The officers and their generals formed a powerful bloc in favor of all the deployments, especially under Yeltsin.

7. (C) This “military-entrepreneurial” bloc soon formed an autonomous institution, in some respects outside the government’s control. There are many illustrations of its autonomy. For instance, in 1993 Yeltsin reached an agreement with Georgia on peacekeeping in Abkhazia. When the Georgian delegation arrived in Sochi in September of that year to hammer out the details with Russia’s generals, they found the deal had changed. When they protested that Yeltsin had agreed to other terms, a Russian general replied, “Let the Presid
ent sit in Moscow, drink vodka, and chase women. That’s his business. We are here, and we have our work to do.”

The Secret History of the Chechen War

8. (C) The lack of central control over the military, as well as officers’ cupidity, may have been a prime cause of the first Chechnya War. Immediately after the collapse of the Soviet Union, energy prices in the “ruble zone” were 3 percent of world market prices. Government officials and their partners bought oil at ruble prices, diverted it abroad, and sold it on the world market. The military joined in this arbitrage. Pavel Grachev, then Defense Minister, reportedly diverted oil to Western Group of Forces commander Burlakov, who sold it in Germany.

9. (C) Chechnya was a major entrepot for laundering oil for this arbitrage. It appears to have been used both by the military (including Grachev) and the Khasbulatov-Rutskoy axis in the Duma. Dudayev had declared independence, but remained part of the Russian elite. Chechnya’s independence, oilfields, refineries and pipelines made Chechnya perfect for laundering oil. Planes, trains, buses and roads and pipelines to Chechnya were functioning, allowing anyone and anything to transit -- except auditors. In the early 1990’s millions of tons of “Russian” oil entered Chechnya and were magically transformed into “Chechen” oil to be sold on the world market at world prices. Some of the proceeds went to buy the Chechens weaponry, most of it from the Russian military, and another lucrative trade developed. Dudayev took much of his cut of the proceeds in weapons. The Groznyy Bazaar was notorious in the early 1990s for the quantity and variety of arms for sale, including heavy weaponry.

10. (C) Chechnya was the home of Ruslan Khasbulatov and served various purposes for his faction of the Russian elite.  He took advantage of the army’s independence from Yeltsin’s control. An informed source believes that it was Khasbulatov, not the “official” Russian government, who facilitated the transfer of Shamil Basayev and his heavily-armed fighters from Chechnya into Abkhazia in 1992, and who ordered the Russian air force to bomb Sukhumi when Shevardnadze went there to take personal command of the Georgians’ last stand in July 1993. The Yeltsin government always denied that it bombed Sukhumi, despite Western eyewitness accounts confirming the bombing and the insignia on the planes. Given the confusion of those years, it could well be that the order originated in the Duma, not the Kremlin.

11. (C) After Khasbulatov and Rutskoy were written out of the Russian equation in October 1993, so was Dudayev. Clandestine Russian support for the Chechen political and military opposition to Dudayev began in the spring of 1994, according to participants. When that proved ineffective, Russian bombing was deployed. (One Dudayev opponent recounted that in 1994 a Russian pilot was given a mission to fire a missile into one of the top-floor corners of Groznyy’s Presidency building at a time when Dudayev was scheduled to hold a cabinet meeting there. Not knowing Groznyy, the pilot asked which building to bomb, and was told “the tallest one.”  He bombed a residential apartment building.) When air power, too, proved ineffective, Russian troops were secretly sent in to reinforce the armed opposition. Dudayev’s forces captured about a dozen and put them on television -- and the Russian invasion began shortly thereafter.

12. (C) Given the gangsterish background of the war, it is no surprise that the military conducted the war itself as a profit-making enterprise, especially after the capture of
MOSCOW 00005645 003 OF 010
Groznyy. By May 1995 an anti-Dudayev Chechen could lament, “When we invited the Russian army in we expected an army -- not this band of marauders.” Contraband trade in oil, weapons (including direct sales from Russian military stores to the insurgents), drugs, and liquor, plus “protection” for legitimate trade made military service in Chechnya lucrative for those not on the front lines. This profitability ended only with the August 1996 defeat of Russian forces in Groznyy at the hands of the insurgents and the subsequent Russian withdrawal -- a defeat made possible because the Russian forces were hollowed out by their officers’ corruption and pursuit of economic profit.

13. (C) Before they lost this “cash-cow” to their enemies, Russian officers went to great lengths to keep their friends from interfering with their profits. On July 30, 1995, the Russians and the Chechen insurgents signed a cease-fire agreement mediated by the OSCE. It would have meant the gradual withdrawal of Russian forces. Enforcing the cease-fire was a Joint Observation Commission (“SNK”). The head of the SNK was General Anatoliy Romanov, a competent and upright officer -- very much a rarity in Chechnya. After two months at this assignment he was severely injured by a mine inside Groznyy, and has been hospitalized ever since. Informed observers believe Romanov’s own colleagues in the Russian forces carried out this murder attempt. The cease-fire, never enforced, broke down.

14. (C) When the second war began in September 1999, Russian forces again started profiteering from a trade in contraband oil. Western eyewitnesses reported convoys of Russian army trucks carrying oil leaving Groznyy under cover of night. Eventually the Russian forces reached an understanding with the insurgent fighters. Seeing one such convoy, a Western reporter asked his guerrilla hosts whether the fighters ever attacked such convoys. “No,” the leader replied. “They leave us alone and we leave them alone.”

No Exit for Putin

15. (C) Sometime between one and two years after Russian forces were unleashed for a second time on Chechnya, Putin appears to have realized that they were not going to deliver a neat victory. That failure would make Putin look weak at home, the human rights violations would estrange the West, and the drain on the Russian treasury would be punishing (this was before the dramatic rise in energy prices). Putin could not negotiate a peace with Maskhadov: he had already rejected that course and could not back down without appearing weak. The Khasavyurt accords that ended the first war were the result of defeat; a new set of accords would be seen as a new defeat. In any case, the history of the war (and the fate of General Romanov) made clear that negotiations without the subordination of the military were a physical impossibility.

16. (C) Putin thus found himself without a winning strategy and had to develop one. He has taken a two-pronged approach.  One prong was subordinating the military. The appointment of Sergey Ivanov as Defense Minister appears to have been aimed at subjecting the military to the control of the security services. A series of reassignments and firings is the surface evidence of the struggle to subordinate the military in Chechnya. Southern Military District commander Troshev, who led the 1999 invasion, refused outright the first orders transferring him to Siberia in November 2002, and went on television to publicize his mutiny. He was finally removed in February 2003. Chief of the Defense Staff Kvashnin, who had held the Southern District command during the first Chechen war, hung on in a combative relationship with Ivanov for three years until he, too, was replaced in 2004 (and also sent to Siberia as the Preside
ntial Representative in Novosibirsk). The spring 2005 dismissal of General Viktor Kazantsev, Putin’s Plenipotentiary Representative in the Southern Federal District, was reportedly the final link in the chain. Military corruption, and feeding at the trough of Chechnya, has not ended, but the corruption has reportedly been “institutionalized” and more closely regulated in Kremlin-controlled channels.

Chechenization, Ahmad-Haji Kadyrov, and the Salafists
--------------------------------------------- -------- 

17. (C) The second prong of Putin’s strategy was to hand the fighting over to Chechens. “Chechenization” differs from Vietnamization or Iraqification. In those strategies, a loyalist force is strengthened to the point at which it can carry on the fight itself. Chechenization, in contrast, has meant handing Chechnya over to the guerrillas in exchange for their professions of loyalty, the formal retention of Chechnya within the Russian Federation, and an uneasy
MOSCOW 00005645 004 OF 010
cooperation with Federal authorities that in practice is constantly re-negotiated.

18. (C) Chechenization is associated with Ahmad-Haji Kadyrov, the insurgent commander and chief Mufti of separatist Chechnya. After he defected to the Russians, Putin put him in charge of the new Russian-installed Chechen administration. Chechenization was reportedly agreed between Kadyrov and Putin personally. But the seeds of the policy were sown by a split in the insurgent ranks dating to the first war. That split that took the form of a religious dispute, though it masked a power struggle among warlords. The split is the direct result of the introduction of a new element: Arab forces espousing a pan-Islamic Jihadist religious ideology.

19. (C) The traditional Islam of Dagestan, Chechnya and Ingushetia is based on Sufism, or Islamic mysticism. Though nominally the Sufi orders were the same as those predominant in Central Asia and Kurdistan -- Naqshbandi and Qadiri -- Sufism in the Northeast Caucasus took on a unique form in the 18th-19th century struggle against Russian encroachment. It is usually called “muridism.” Murids were armed acolytes of a hieratic commander, the murshid. Shaykh Shamil, the Naqshbandi murshid who led the mountaineers’ resistance to the Russians until his capture in 1859, was both a spiritual guide and a military commander. He also exercised government powers. The largest Sufi branch (“vird”) in Chechnya is the Kunta-Haji “vird” of the Qadiris, founded and led by the charismatic Chechen missionary Kunta-Haji Kishiyev until his exile by the Russians in 1864. Although the historical Kunta-Haji died two years later, his followers believe that Kunta-Haji lives on in occultation, like the Shi’a Twelfth Imam.

20. (C) When Arab fighters joined the Chechen conflict in 1995, they brought with them a “Salafist” doctrine that attempts to emulate the fundamental, “pure” Islam of the Prophet Muhammad and his immediate successors, especially ‘Umar, the second Caliph. It holds that mysticism is one of the “impurities” that crept into Islam after the first four Caliphs, and considers Sufis to be heretics and idolaters. The idea that Kunta-Haji adepts could believe their founder is still alive -- and that they worship the grave of his mother -- is an abomination to Salafis, who believe that marked graves are a form of pagan ancestor worship (Muhammad’s grave in Arabia is not marked).

21. (C) Wahhabism-based forms of Islam started appearing in Chechnya by 1991, as Chechens were able to travel and some went to Saudi Arabia for religious study. But the true influx of Salafis (usually lumped together with Wahhabis in Russia) came during the first Chechen war. In February 1995 Fathi ‘Ali al-Shishani, a Jordanian of Chechen descent, arrived in Chechnya. A veteran of the war in Afghanistan, he was now too old to be a combatant, but was a missionary for Salafism. He recruited another Afghan veteran, the Saudi al-Khattab, to come to Chechnya and lead a group of Arab fighters.

22. (C) Al-Khattab’s fighters were never a major military factor during the war, but they were the key to Gulf money, which financed power struggles in the inter-war years. Al-Khattab forged close links with Shamil Basayev, the most famous Chechen field commander. Basayev himself was from a Qadiri family, but he was too Sovietized to view Islam as anything more than part of the Chechen and Caucasus identity.  In his early interviews, Basayev showed himself to be motivated by Chechen nationalism, not religion, though he paid lip-service -- e.g., proclaiming Sharia law in Vedeno in early 1995 -- to attract Gulf donors. Basayev’s initial interest in al-Khattab, as indeed with other jihadists starting even before the first war, was purely financial.

23. (C) After the first war, al-Khattab set up a camp in Serzhen-Yurt (“Baza Kavkaz”) for military and religious indoctrination. It provided one of the few employment opportunities for demobilized Chechen fighters between the wars. Young Chechens had traditionally engaged in seasonal migrant construction work throughout the Soviet Union, but after the first war that was no longer open to them. The closed international borders also precluded smuggling -- another pre-war source of employment and income. The fighters had no money, no jobs, no education, no skills save with their guns, and no prospects. Al-Khattab’s offer of food, shelter and work was inviting. As a result, between the wars Salafism spread quickly in Chechnya. (Al-Khattab also invited missionaries and facilitators who set up shop in Chechnya, Dagestan and Georgia’s Pankisi Gorge, whose Kist residents are close relatives of the Chechens.)

Battle Lines in Peacetime
MOSCOW 00005645 005 OF 010

24. (C) Chechen society is distinguished by its propensity to unite in war and fragment in peace. It is based on opposing dichotomies: the Vaynakh peoples are divided into Chechens and Ingush; the Chechens are divided into highlanders (“Lameroi”) and lowlanders (“Nokhchi”); and these are further divided into tribal confederations and exogamous tribes (“teyp”) and their subdivisions. Each unit will unite with its opposite to combat a threat from outside. Two lowland teyps, for example, will drop quarrels and unite against an intruding highland teyp. But left to themselves, they will quarrel and split. After the Khasavyurt accords, when Russia left the Chechens alone, the wartime alliance between Maskhadov and Basayev split and the two became enemies. Other warlords lined up on one side or the other -- the Yamadayev brothers of Gudermes, for example, fighting a pitched battle against Basayev in 1999. But the rise of Basayev and al-Khattab undermined Maskhadov’s authority and prevented him from exercising any real power.

25. (C) This power struggle took on a religious expression. Since Basayev was associated with al-Khattab and Salafism, Maskhadov positioned himself as champion of traditional Sufism. He surrounded himself with Sufi shaykhs and appointed Ahmad-Haji Kadyrov, a strong adherent of Kunta-Haji Sufism, as Chechnya’s Mufti. Kadyrov had spent six years in Uzbekistan, allegedly at religious seminaries in Tashkent and Bukhara, and seems to have developed links to other enemies of Basayev, including the Yamadayevs.

26. (C) The religious division dictated certain policies to each
 side. The Sufi tradition of Maskhadov and Kadyrov had been associated for over two centuries with nationalist resistance. Basayev, with his new-found commitment to al-Khattab’s Salafism, adopted the Salafi stress on a pan-Islamic community (“umma”) fighting a worldwide jihad, notionally without regard for ethnic or national boundaries. Al-Khattab and Basayev invaded Dagestan in August 1999, avowedly in pursuit of a Caucasus-wide revolt against the Russians. They brought on a Russian invasion that threw Maskhadov out of Groznyy.

Chechenization Begins

27. (C) The second Russian invasion did not unite the Chechens, as previous pressure had. Perhaps the influence of al-Khattab and his Salafists, as well as the devastation of the first war, had rent the fabric of Chechen society too much to restore traditional unity in the face of the outside threat. (We should also remember that unity is relative. Only a small percentage of the Chechens actually fought in the first war, and many supported the Russians out of disgust with Dudayev.) Kadyrov and the Yamadayevs separately broke with Maskhadov and defected to the Russians. Kadyrov began to recruit from the insurgency non-Salafist nationalist fighters who were highly demoralized and disoriented by the disastrous retreat from Groznyy in late 1999. Kadyrov began to preach what Kunta-Haji had preached after the Russian victory over Imam Shamil in 1859: to survive, the Chechens needed tactically to accept Russian rule. His message struck a chord, and fighters began to defect to his side.

28. (C) Putin appears to have stumbled upon Kadyrov, and their alliance seems to have grown out of chance as much as design. But they were able to forge a deal along the following lines: Kadyrov would declare loyalty to Russia and deliver loyalty to Putin; he would take over Maskhadov’s place at the head of the Russian-blessed government of Chechnya; he would try to win over Maskhadov’s fighters, to whom he could promise immunity; he would govern Chechnya with full autonomy, without interference from Russian officials below Putin’s level; and he would try to exterminate Basayev and Al-Khattab.

29. (C) If the objective of Chechenization was to win over fighters who would carry on the fight against Basayev and the Arab successors to Khattab (who was poisoned in April 2002), it has to be judged a success. The real fighting has for several years been carried out by Chechen forces who fight the war they want to fight -- not the one the Russian military wants them to -- and who appear happy to kill Russians when they get in the way. The Russian military is “just trying to survive,” as one officer put it. Not all the pro-Moscow Chechen units are composed of former guerrillas. Said-Magomed Kakiyev, commander of the GRU-controlled “West” battalion, has been fighting Dudayev and his successors since 1993. But at the heart of the pro-Moscow effort are fighters who defected from the anti-Moscow insurgency.

The Military Overstays Its Welcome
MOSCOW 00005645 006 OF 010

30. (C) The development of Kadyrov’s fighting force, along with that of the Yamadayev brothers, left the stage clear for a drawdown of Russian troops, certainly by early 2004 (leaving aside a permanent garrison presence). But those troops, still not fully responsive to FSB control, did not want to leave. Especially now that Chechens had taken over increasing parts of the security portfolio, the Russian officers were free to concentrate on their economic activities, and in particular oil smuggling.

31. (C) Kadyrov could not be fully autonomous until he -- not the Russians -- controlled Chechnya’s oil. He therefore demanded the creation of a Chechen oil company under his jurisdiction. That would have severely limited the ability of federal forces to divert and smuggle oil. On May 9, 2004, Kadyrov was assassinated by an enormous bomb planted under his seat at the annual VE Day celebration. The killing was officially ascribed to Chechen rebels, but many believe it was the Russian Army’s way of rejecting Kadyrov’s demand. Under the circumstances, one cannot exclude that both versions are true.

In the Reign of Ramzan

32. (C) Kadyrov’s passing left power in the hands of his son Ramzan, who was officially made Deputy Prime Minister. The President, Alu Alkhanov, was a figurehead put in place because Ramzan was underage. The Prime Minister, Sergey Abramov, was tasked with interfacing between Kadyrov and Moscow below the level of Putin.

33. (C) Ramzan Kadyrov has none of the religious or personal prestige that his father had. He is a warlord pure and simple -- one of several, like the Yamadayev family of warlords. He is lucky, however, in that his father left him a sufficient fighting force of ex-rebels. Though they may have been lured away from the insurgency for a variety of reasons, it is money that keeps them. Kadyrov feels little need for ideological or religious prestige, though he makes an occasional statement designed to appeal to Muslims, and makes a point of supporting the pilgrimage to the tomb of Kunta-Haji’s mother in Gunoy, near Vedeno (though that is in part to show he is stronger than Basayev, whose home and power base are in the Vedeno region). Kadyrov must only satisfy his troops, who on occasion have shown that, if offended or not given enough, they are willing to desert along with their kinsmen and return to the mountains to fight against him. He must also guard against the possibility, as some charge, that some of the fighters who went over to Federal forces did so under orders from guerrilla commanders for whom they are still working.

34. (C) Kadyrov is also fortunate in that the FSB, with whom he has close ties, has by this time emasculated the military as “prong one” of Putin’s strategy. Kadyrov has slowly but surely also taken over most of the spigots of money that once fed the army, and like his father he has started agitating for overt control over Chechnya’s oil (while prudently ensuring that others take the lead on that in public). Kadyrov is at least as corrupt as the military, but the money he expropriates for himself from Moscow’s subsidies is accepted as his pay-off for keeping things quiet. And indeed Kadyrov and the other warlords are capable of maintaining a certain degree of security in Chechnya. The showy “reconstruction” developments they have built in Groznyy and their home towns demonstrate that the guerrillas cannot or at least do not halt construction and economic activity. Moreover, there is enough security to end Putin’s worries about a secessionist victory. That has allowed Putin to demonstrate a new willingness to be increasingly overt in support of separatism in other conflicts (e.g., Abkhazia, Transnistria) when that advances Russian interests.

35. (C) Despite its successes to date, however, Putin’s strategy is far from completed. He still needs to keep forces in the region as a constant reminder to Kadyrov not to backtrack on his professed loyalty to the Kremlin. Ideally, that force would be small but capable of intervening effectively in Chechen internal affairs. That is unrealistic at present. The current forces, reportedly over 25,000, are bunkered and corrupt. When they venture on patrol they are routinely attacked. One attempt to redress this is to position Russian forces close but “over the horizon” in Dagestan, where a major military base
is under construction at Botlikh. However, that may only add to the instability of Dagestan. A Duma Deputy from the region told us that locals are vehemently opposed to the new military base, despite the economic opportunities it represents, on grounds that the soldiers will “corrupt the morals of their children.”
MOSCOW 00005645 007 OF 010

36. (C) Another approach is the Chechenization of the Federal forces themselves. Recently “North” and “South” battalions of ethnically Chechen special forces -- drawn from Kadyrov’s militia -- were created to supplement the “East” and “West” battalions of Sulim Yamadayev and Said-Magomed Kakiyev. Those formations are officially part of the Russian army. The Kremlin strategy appears to be to check Kadyrov by promoting warlords he cannot control, and to check the FSB from becoming too clientized by allowing the MOD to retain a sphere of influence. In Chechnya, that is a recipe for open fighting. We saw one small instance of that on April 25, when bodyguards of Kadyrov and Chechen President Alkhanov got into a firefight. According to one insider, the clash originated in Kadyrov’s desire to get rid of Alkhanov, who now has close ties with Yamadayev.

What Can We Expect in the Future?

37. (C) The Chechen population is the great loser in this game. It bears an ever heavier burden in shake-downs, opportunity costs from misappropriation of reconstruction funds, and the constant trauma of victimization and abuse -- including abduction, torture, and murder -- by the armed thugs who run Chechnya (reftels). Security under those circumstances is a fragile veneer, and stability an illusion.  The insurgency can continue indefinitely, at a low level and without prospects of success, but significant enough to serve as a pretext for the continued rule of thuggery.

38. (C) The insurgency will remain split between those who want to carry on Maskhadov’s non-Salafist struggle for national independence and those who follow the Salafi-influenced Basayev in his pursuit of a Caucasus-wide Caliphate. But the nationalists have been undercut by Kadyrov. Despite Sadullayev’s efforts, the insurgency inside Chechnya is not likely to meet with success and will continue to become more Salafist in tone.

39. (C) Prospects would be poor for the nationalists even if Kadyrov and/or Yamadayev were assassinated (and there is much speculation that one will succeed in killing the other, goaded on by the FSB which supports Kadyrov and the GRU which supports Yamadayev). The thousands of guerrillas who have joined those two militias have by now lost all ideological incentive. Since they already run the country, they feel themselves, not the Russians, to be the masters, and are not responsive to Sadullayev’s nationalist calls; Basayev’s Salafist message has even less appeal to them. Even if their current leaders are eliminated, all they will need is a new warlord, easily generated from within their organizations, and they can continue on their current paths.

40. (C) We expect that Salafism will continue to grow. The insurgents even inside Chechnya are reportedly becoming predominantly Salafist, as opposition on a narrowly nationalist basis offers less hope of success. Salafis will come both from inside Chechnya, where militia excesses outrage the population, and from elsewhere in the Caucasus, where radicalization is proceeding rapidly as a result of the repressive policies of Russia’s regional satraps. There are numerous eyewitness accounts from both Dagestan and Kabardino-Balkaria that elite young adults and university students are joining Salafist groups. In one case, a terrorist killed in Dagestan was found recently to have defended his doctoral dissertation at Moscow State University -- on Wahhabism in the North Caucasus. These young adults, denied economic opportunities, turn to religion as an outlet.  They find, however, that representatives of the traditional religious establishments in these republics, long isolated under the thumb of Soviet restrictions, are ill-educated and ill-prepared to deal with the sophisticated theological arguments developed by generations of Salafists in the Middle East. Most of those who join fundamentalist jamaats do not, of course, become terrorists. But a percentage do, and with that steady source of recruits the major battlefield could shift to outside Chechnya, with armed clashes in other parts of the North Caucasus and a continuation of sporadic but spectacular terrorist acts in Moscow and other parts of Russia.

41. (C) Outside Chechnya, the most likely venue for clashes with authorities is Dagestan. Putin’s imposition of a “power vertical” there has upset the delicate clan and ethnic balance that offered a shaky stability since the collapse of Soviet power. He installed a president (the weak Mukhu Aliyev) in place of a 14-member multi-ethnic presidential council. Aliyev will be unable to prevent a ruthless struggle among the elite -- the local way of elaborating a new balance of power. This is already happening, with assassinations of provincial chiefs since Aliyev took over.
MOSCOW 00005645 008 OF 010
In one province in the south of the republic, an uprising against the chief appointed by Aliyev’s predecessor was suppressed by gunfire. Four demonstrators were shot dead, initiating a cycle of blood revenge. In May, in two Dagestani cities security force operations against “terrorists” resulted in major shootouts, with victims among the bystanders and whole apartment houses rendered uninhabitable after hits from the security forces’ heavy weaponry. It is not clear whether the “terrorists” were really religious activists (“Whenever they want to eliminate someone, they call him a Wahhabi,” the MP from Makhachkala told us). But the populace, seeing the deadly over-reaction of the security forces, is feeling sympathy for their victims -- so much so that Aliyev has had to make public condemnations of the actions of the security forces. If this chaos deepens, as appears likely, the Jihadist groups (“jamaats”) may grow, drift further in Basayev’s direction, and feel the need to respond to attacks from the local government.

42. (C) Local forces are unreliable in such cases, for clan and blood-feud reasons. Wahhabist jamaats flourished in the strategic ethnically Dargin districts of Karamakhi and Chabanmakhi in the mid-1990s, but Dagestan’s rulers left them alone because moving against them meant altering the delicate ethnic balance between Dargins and Avars. Only when the jamaats themselves became expansive during the Basayev/Khattab invasion from Chechnya in the summer of 1999 did the Makhachkala authorities take action, and then only with the assistance of Federal forces. Ultimately, if clashes break out on a wide scale in Dagestan, Moscow would have to send in the Federal army. Deploying the army to combat destabilization in Dagestan, however, could jeopardize Putin’s hard-won control over it. Unleashing the army against a “terrorist” threat is just that: allowing the army off its new leash. Large-scale army deployments to Dagestan would be especially attractive to the officers, since the border with Azerbaijan offers lucrative opportunities for contraband trade. The army’s presence, in turn, would further destabilize Dagestan and all but guarantee chaos.

43. (C) Indeed, destabilization is the most likely prospect we see when we look further down the road to the next decade.  Chechenization allows bellico
se Chechen leaders to throw their weight around in the North Caucasus even more than an independent Chechnya would. A case in point is the call on April 24 by Chechen Parliament Speaker Dukvakha Abdurakhmanov for unification of Chechnya, Ingushetia and Dagestan, implicitly under Chechen domination (the one million Chechens would constitute a plurality in the new republic of 4.5 million). The call soured slowly normalizing relations between Chechnya and Ingushetia, according to a Chechen official in Moscow, though the Dagestanis treated the proposal as a joke.

What Should Putin Be Doing?

44. (C) Right now Putin’s policy towards Chechnya is channeled through Kadyrov and Yamadayev. Putin’s Plenipotentiary Representative (PolPred) for the Southern Federal District, Dmitriy Kozak, appears to have little influence. He was not even invited when Putin addressed the new Parliament in Groznyy last December. Putin needs to stop taking Kadyrov’s phone calls and start working more through his PolPred and the government’s special services. He also needs to increase Moscow’s civilian engagement with Chechnya.

45. (C) Putin should continue to reform the military and the other Power Ministries. Having asserted control through Sergey Ivanov, Putin has denied the military certain limited areas in which it had pursued criminal activity -- but left most of its criminal enterprises untouched. He has done little if anything to form the discipline of a modern army deployable to impose order in unstable regions such as the North Caucasus. Recent hazing incidents show that discipline is still equated with sadism and brutality. The Ministry of Internal Affairs (MVD) has undergone even less reform. The Chechenization of the security services, despite its obvious drawbacks, has shown that locals can carry out security tasks more effectively than Russian troops.

46. (C) Lastly, Putin should realize that his current policy course is not preventing the growth of militant, armed Jihadism. Rather, every time his subordinates try to douse the flames, the fire grows hotter and spreads farther. Putin needs to check the firehose; he may find they are spraying the fire with gasoline. He needs to work out a credible strategy, employing economic and cultural levers, to deal with the issue of armed Jihadism. Some Russians do “get it.”  An advisor to Kozak gave a lecture recently that showed he understands in great detail the issues surrounding the growth
MOSCOW 00005645 009 OF 010
of militant jihadism. Kozak himself made clear in a recent conversation with the Ambassador that he appreciates clearly the deep social and economic roots of Russia’s problems in the North Caucasus -- and the need to employ more than just security measures to solve them. We have not, however, seen evidence that consciousness of the true problem has yet made its way to Moscow from Kozak’s office in Rostov-on-Don.

47. (C) We need also to be aware that Putin’s strategy is generating a backlash in Moscow. Ramzan Kadyrov’s excesses, his Putin-given immunity from federal influence, and the special laws that apply to Chechnya alone (such as the exemption of Chechens from military service elsewhere in Russia) are leading to charges by some Moscow observers that Putin has allowed Chechnya de facto to secede. Putin is strong enough to weather such criticism, but the ability of a successor to do so is less clear.

Is There a Role for the U.S.?

48. (C) Russia does not consider the U.S. a friend in the Caucasus, and our capacity to influence Russia, whether by pressure, persuasion or assistance, is small. What we can do is continue to try to push the senior tier of Russian officials towards the realization that current policies are conducive to Jihadism, which threatens broader stability as well; and that shifting the responsibility for victimizing and looting the people from a corrupt, brutal military to corrupt, brutal locals is not a long-term solution.

49. (C) Making headway with Putin or his successor will require close cooperation with our European allies. They, like the Russians, tend to view the issue through a strictly counter-terrorism lens. The British, for example, link their “dialogue with Islam” closely with their counter-terrorist effort (on which they liaise with the Russians), reinforcing the conception of a monolithic Muslim identity predisposed to terrorism. That reinforces the Russian view that the problem of the North Caucasus can be consigned to the terrorism basket, and that finding a solution means in the first instance finding a better way to kill terrorists.

50. (C) We and the Europeans need to put our proposals of assistance to the North Caucasus in a different context: one that recognizes the role of religion in North Caucasus cultures, but also emphasizes our interest in and support for the non-religious aspects of North Caucasus society, including civil society. This last will need exceptional delicacy, as the Russians and the local authorities are convinced that the U.S. uses civil society to foment “color revolutions” and anti-Russian regimes. There is a danger that our civil society partners could become what Churchill called “the inopportune missionary” who, despite impeccable intentions, sets back the larger effort. That need not be the case.

51. (C) Our interests call for an understanding of the context and a positive emphasis. We cannot expect the Russians to react well if we limit our statements to condemnations of Kadyrov, butcher though he may be. We need to find targeted areas in which we can work with the Russians to get effective aid into Chechnya. At the same time, we need to be on our guard that our efforts do not appear to constitute U.S. support for Kremlin or local policies that abuse human rights. We must also avoid a shift that endorses the Kremlin assertion that there is no longer a humanitarian crisis in Chechnya, which goes hand-in-hand with the Russian request that the UN and its donors end humanitarian assistance to the region and increase technical and “recovery” assistance. We and other donors need to maintain a balance between humanitarian and recovery assistance.

52. (C) Aside from the political optic, a rush to cut humanitarian assistance before recovery programs are fully up and running would leave a vacuum into which jihadist influences would leap. The European Commission Humanitarian Organization, the largest provider of aid, shows signs of rushing to stress recovery over humanitarian assistance; we should not follow suit. Humanitarian assistance has been effective in relieving the plight of Chechen IDPs in Ingushetia. It has been less effective inside Chechnya, where the GOR and Kadyrov regime built temporary accommodation centers for returning IDPs, but have not passed on enough resources to secure a reasonable standard of living. International organizations are hampered by limited access to Chechnya out of security concerns, but where they are able to operate freely they have made a great difference, e.g., WHO’s immunization program.

53. (C) Resources aimed at Chechnya often wind up in private pockets. Though international assistance has a better record
MOSCOW 00005645 010 OF 010
than Russian assistance and is more closely monitored, we must also be wary of assistance that lends itself to massive corruption and state-sponsored banditry in Chechnya: too much of the money loaned in a
microfinance program there, for example, would be expropriated by militias. Presidential Advisor Aslakhanov told us last December that Kadyrov expropriates for himself one third off the top of all assistance. Therefore, while we continue well-monitored humanitarian assistance inside Chechnya, we should broaden our efforts for “recovery” to other parts of the region that are threatened by jihadism: Dagestan, Kabardino-Balkaria, Ingushetia, and possibly Karachayevo-Cherkessia. Among these, we need to try to steer our assistance ($11.5 million for FY 2006) to regional officials, such as President Kanokov of Kabardino-Balkaria, who have shown that they are willing to introduce local reforms and get rid of the brutal security officials whose repressive acts feed the Jihadist movement.

54. (C) We also need to coordinate closely with Kozak (or his successor), both to strengthen his position vis--vis the warlords and to ensure that everything we do is perceived by the Russians as transparent and not aimed at challenging the GOR’s hold on a troubled region. The present opposite perception by the GOR may be behind its reluctance to cooperate with donors, the UN and IFIs on long-term strategic engagement in the region. For example, the GOR has delayed for months a 20-million-Euro TACIS program designed with GOR input.

55. (C) The interagency paper “U.S. Policy in the North Caucasus -- The Way Forward” provides a number of important principles for positive engagement. We need to emphasize programs in accordance with those principles which are most practical under current and likely future conditions, and which can be most effective in targeting the most vulnerable, where federal and local governments lack the will and capacity to assist, and in combating the spread of jihadism both inside Chechnya and throughout the North Caucasus region. There are areas -- for example, health care and child welfare -- in which assistance fits neatly with Russian priorities, containing both humanitarian and recovery components.

56. (C) We can also emphasize programs that help create jobs and job opportunities: microfinance (where feasible), credit cooperatives and small business development, and educational exchanges. U.S. sponsored training programs for credit cooperatives and government budgeting functions have been very popular. Exchanges, through the IVP program and Community Connections, are an especially effective way of exposing future leaders to the world beyond the narrow propaganda they have received, and to generate a multiplier effect in enterprise. In addition to the effects the programs themselves can have in providing alternatives to religious extremism, such assistance can also have a demonstration effect: showing the Russians that improved governance and delivery of services can be more effective in stabilizing the region than attempts to impose order by force.

57. (C) Lastly, we need to look ahead in our relations with Azerbaijan and Georgia to ensure that they become more active and effective players in helping to contain instability in the North Caucasus. That will serve their own security interests as well. Salafis need connections to their worldwide network. Strengthening border forces is more important than ever. Azerbaijan, especially, is well placed to trade with Dagestan and Chechnya. The ethnic Azeris, Lezghis and Avars living on both sides of the Azerbaijan-Dagestan border and friendly relations between Russia and Azerbaijan are tools for promoting stability.


58. (C) The situation in the North Caucasus is trending towards destabilization, despite the increase in security inside Chechnya. The steps we believe Putin must take are those needed to reverse that trend, and the efforts we have outlined for ourselves are premised on a desire to promote a lasting stabilization built on improved governance, a more active civil society, and steps towards democratization. But we must be realistic about Russia’s willingness and ability to take the necessary steps, with or without our assistance. Real stabilization remains a low probability. Sound policy on Chechnya is likely to continue to founder in the swamp of corruption, Kremlin infighting and succession politics. Much more probable is a new phase of instability that will be felt throughout the North Caucasus and have effects beyond. BURNS



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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
06MOSCOW5557 2006-05-26 07:33 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Moscow

DE RUEHMO #5557/01 1460733
R 260733Z MAY 06

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 MOSCOW 005557 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 05/23/2016 
REF: A. MOSCOW 4951 
     B. MOSCOW 5382 
     C. MOSCOW 0019 
Classified By: Ambassador William J. Burns, for reasons 1.4 (B & D). 
1. (C) SUMMARY.  Ambassador met May 23 with Duma First Deputy 
Speaker Oleg Morozov, who agreed that inter-parliamentary 
exchanges should be encouraged.  He noted that a newly 
created Duma working group will address legislative 
initiatives proposed by President Putin in his Annual 
Address.  Morozov offered insights on bills eliminating some 
draft deferments, liberalizing immigration, restricting 
"hidden" political party alliances, and combating trafficking 
in persons.  END SUMMARY. 
--------------------------------------------- ---- 
2. (C) In a May 23 call on State Duma First Deputy Speaker 
Oleg Morozov (who is also First Deputy Chairman of the United 
Russia fraction), the Ambassador said that despite 
differences between Russia and the U.S., both sides had much 
to gain by working together.  He had already talked to Duma 
Speaker Gryzlov and International Committee Chair Kosachev 
about strengthening interaction between the Duma and 
Congress.  He noted, for example, that last year the Duma 
sent a delegation to the U.S. and the House reciprocated with 
a delegation to Moscow.  He hoped to encourage a delegation 
from the House to come again, and noted that Senator Lott 
would visit the Federation Council in July.  Morozov said he 
did not know of any plans for a visit this year, but agreed 
that increased communication and more exchanges would be 
--------------------------------------------- ------ 
3. (C) Morozov noted that on May 19 the Duma had established 
a working group to implement ideas proposed by President 
Putin in his May 10 Annual Address to the Federal Assembly 
(poslaniye) (ref A).  Morozov will head the group, which 
includes three deputies from each faction and the heads of 
all Duma committees.  He said by May 25 the main contours of 
the group's work plan would be finalized.  He emphasized that 
achieving the goals set forth in the Address was not just a 
one-year project but a long-term, strategic endeavor.  The 
working group would coordinate development of bills among the 
government, factions, and committees, but would not draft 
bills itself. 
4. (C) Morozov said the Duma was already looking at the 2007 
federal budget and how the initiatives raised in the Address 
would affect it.  Finance Minister Kudrin was mistaken in 
estimating the initiatives' cost at 40 billion rubles 
(approximately USD 1.5 billion); it would actually be four to 
five times greater at a minimum.  Morozov suggested that the 
Stabilization Fund could be tapped to fund some initiatives. 
Although the Fund's minimum of 500 billion rubles had been 
reached long ago, a maximum amount still had to be set.  Once 
the ceiling was determined, any surplus over that amount 
could be used to address the Kremlin's initiatives, 
especially demographic issues. 
--------------------------------------------- ------ 
5. (C) Looking ahead, Morozov said that every bill brought 
before the Duma would be considered through the prism of the 
Address, and that meant that some bills would have to be 
reworked accordingly.  In particular, Morozov mentioned four 
bills for reforming the armed forces (ref. A, B), whose 
second readings had been postponed from mid-May to June.  He 
said that while one of the goals in the Address was 
strengthening the army and increasing the number of draftees, 
improving Russia's demographic situation and the welfare of 
young families also had to be taken into account.  He 
supported a choice between a one-year deferment or a 
compensation package of 6,000 to 7,000 rubles a month (about 
USD 220 to USD 260) for families with a pregnant wife, an 
infant up to one year old, or invalid children up to a 
certain age.  However, there was some opposition in the Duma 
to offering a choice between a one-year deferment and 
compensation, since the rich would choose the deferment and 
the poor would choose compensation.  Despite that debate, 
Morozov said he expected the bill to be passed in June. 
MOSCOW 00005557  002 OF 002 
6. (C) Morozov said he was one of the authors of a new bill 
that would remove difficult registration requirements for 
foreign workers, making it possible for illegal foreign 
workers to achieve legal status more easily.  The U.S. was 
becoming more conservative in its attitude toward illegal 
immigrants, he said, while Russia was becoming more liberal. 
If Russia were to expel the approximately 15 million
workers in Russia, it would be a serious blow to the economy. 
 Legalizing illegal workers would enable authorities to 
control them -- since they would no longer have to hide -- 
and would improve the economy since the workers would receive 
a legitimate salary, pay taxes, be registered for health 
care, and rent or own property more transparently.  He said 
this bill was supported by the Presidential Administration 
and the Duma; it passed its first reading in late March by a 
wide margin and was likely to be passed quickly in its second 
and third readings. 
--------------------------------------------- ------ 
7. (C) The Ambassador asked Morozov about the new bill to 
abolish "hidden alliances" between political parties, which 
passed its first reading May 17.  Morozov responded that he 
supported the bill's overall concept -- but not all of its 
provisions -- and it was highly likely to pass in June or 
July.  Introduced by United Russia and LDPR deputies (and 
vigorously opposed by the Communist Party and Rodina), the 
bill has two main provisions: to prohibit political parties 
from putting members of other parties on their electoral 
lists, hence removing the possibility of election alliances, 
and to prohibit Duma members from leaving their faction or 
party to join another once they have been elected to the 
Duma.  Morozov said he agreed with the first provision since 
"hidden alliances" during elections deceived voters.  He did 
not agree with the second provision, since Duma deputies 
sometimes changed their political philosophy during their 
term and should not be forced to remain in a party they no 
longer supported. 
--------------------------------------------- ----- 
8. (C) The Ambassador stressed the importance that the U.S. 
attaches to the trafficking in persons (TIP) issue, and the 
value of comprehensive legislation for Russia's efforts.  He 
noted that the U.S. and other countries had passed such laws, 
which made it easier to cooperate effectively on an 
international level to combat TIP.  Morozov agreed fully on 
the significance of the TIP problem in Russia, and the Duma's 
role in combating it.  He added that a deputy was working on 
a bill, but it would not be introduced until perhaps the fall 
session.  He said that if such a bill were introduced, it 
would be unlikely to face opposition, but it could have a 
domino effect on other laws -- such as the Criminal Code -- 
which would then have to be amended.  Ambassador noted 
U.S.-Russian cooperation on TIP, and urged early progress on 
comprehensive legislation. 



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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
06MOSCOW5532 2006-05-25 13:37 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Moscow

DE RUEHMO #5532/01 1451337
P 251337Z MAY 06

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 MOSCOW 005532 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 05/25/2016 
REF: A) STATE 80906 B) MOSCOW 5458 C) MOSCOW 5375 
Classified By: Minister Counselor for Political Affairs Kirk Augustine. 
  Reason 1.4 (b, d) 
1. (C) The Russian MFA on May 25 passed to us without comment 
a written reply from DFM Grigoriy Karasin to the May 19 
letter U/S Burns sent him on South Ossetia (Ref A).  The 
letter echoes the principal arguments Karasin made during his 
May 23 conversation with the Ambassador (Ref B).  We 
understand from the MFA that the text of the letter will also 
be delivered through the Russian Embassy in Washington.  An 
unofficial Embassy translation follows in para 2. 
2. (C) Begin text: 
Dear Nicholas, 
Thank you for your communication of 19 May, in which you 
share your concerns with regard to the state of affairs in 
the Georgian-Ossetian resolution and the role of Russia in 
that process. 
On the whole, our goals and approaches coincide in the desire 
to facilitate the creation of conditions that would secure a 
peaceful, non-violent resolution of conflict situations and 
prevent new bloodshed in the Transcaucasus.  Toward that end 
we are prepared for constructive cooperation with all 
partners, including the United States. 
I think it unfortunate that, as one may infer from your 
letter, there is a tendency in Washington to rely on 
assessments based on one-sided and often distorted 
information.  It appears that in the State Department a quite 
influential lobby is making itself felt, at whose instigation 
an algorithm of actions aimed at the unambiguous -- and 
uncritical -- support of "its people" in Tbilisi is taking 
I will not get into polemics on the whole list of charges 
brought up in your message, as that would require a more 
thorough discussion.  I want, however, to make some comments. 
Assistance to South Ossetia in the socio-economic sphere by 
the North Ossetian region is in complete conformity with the 
Russian-Georgian Intergovernmental Agreement on Cooperation 
and Reconstruction of the Economy in the Zone of the 
Georgian-Ossetian Conflict and Return of Refugees of 23 
December 2000. 
It (the Agreement) provides specifically that Russia and 
Georgia will support the initiative of 
administrative-territorial institutions, enterprises and 
organizations to assist the South Ossetian side. 
The rebuke with regard to the participation of Russian 
citizens in the government of South Ossetia is, in my view, 
groundless.  Russian citizens have the right to work where 
they desire as, incidentally, do citizens of other democratic 
states, including the U.S.A. 
Our people would not understand the Government of Russia, if 
it -- in the era of democracy -- dictated to citizens where 
to live and work.  One would think that a similar ban on the 
part of our partners in the West would justifiably be subject 
to criticism.  As far as I know, many members of the South 
Ossetian government who came from Russia possess in one way 
or another roots or kinship relations with the Ossetian 
people who, by the way, do not divide themselves along 
geographical lines. 
Residents of South Ossetia are in fact acquiring Russian 
citizenship and, accordingly, document themselves with 
Russian passports.  However, this process did not begin only 
recently, but rather immediately after the withdrawal of 
Georgia from the USSR, i.e., fifteen years ago.  Moreover, 
many South Ossetians acquired Russian citizenship during the 
military phase of the conflict between Tbilisi and 
Tskhinvali.  I would stress that the acquisition by residents 
of South Ossetia of Russian citizenship took place and is 
taking place in strict accordance with relevant Russian 
It struck me as somewhat strange that the letter contained no 
recognition of the clear progress that has been achieved in 
recent months on a Georgian-Ossetian resolution.  I have in 
mind above all the significant results of the two recent 
sessions of the Joint Control Commission (JCC) in Vladikavkaz 
and Tskhinvali (incidentally, you also did not favor the JCC 
itself with a mention). 
MOSCOW 00005532  002 OF 002 
We evaluate the work of the Commission positively, and that 
evaluation is shared by Georgia, the OSCE and EU.  In 
particular, it is a positive sign that in Tskhinvali working 
groups of the JCC were formed for the elaboration of a joint 
program of action to resolve the Georgian-Ossetian conflict, 
and a list of projects was agreed for the socio-economic 
rehabilitation of the zone of conflict, which will be 
presented for consideration at the Donors' Conference in 
Incidentally, I would like to draw your attention to the fact 
that the Georgian side stubbornly refuses to adopt, jointly 
with the South Ossetian side, a declaration in which might be 
fixed mutual security guarantees and obligations on the 
non-use of force (the initiative for such a document was, as 
is well known, promoted by the OSCE).  I am convinced t
such a declaration, signed at a high level, would be an 
important confidence-building factor between the sides, and 
would facilitate the creation of the psychological and 
political context necessary for real progress in a 
resolution.  I suppose that our colleagues in Washington 
might wish to recommend to their Georgian partners a more 
constructive and flexible approach to this issue. 
Such a document on the non-renewal of hostilities is highly 
relevant and applicable to the Georgian-Abkhazia resolution, 
where we have also noticed positive steps as a result of the 
session of the Coordinating Council held on May 15.  Apropos 
of the potential for Russian-American cooperation on the 
problems of the conflicts in the Transcaucasus, the unity of 
our approaches is symbolized in the issue of the prospect for 
prolonging the mandate of the UN Secretary General's Special 
Representative for Georgia H(eidi) Tagliavini. 
In conclusion, I would like to stress the following.  We are 
convinced that Russia and the U.S.A. are capable of joint 
efforts to make a substantial contribution to reinforce 
peace, stability and security in the Transcaucasus.  However, 
we must act in that direction in conditions of positive 
mutual understanding, and not through mutual rebukes and a 
negative tone.  As you may be able to imagine, we, too, have 
our own issues with the United States and its not entirely 
impartial policies in the region (for example, Washington is 
hardly unaware of deliveries of weapons to Georgia by some of 
its NATO allies). 
With regard to the agenda of the G8, I would like to say that 
as far as I am aware, there are no plans to touch in this 
format on issues of Transcaucasian conflicts with the 
exception of Nagorno-Karabakh.  In that regard I was 
extremely surprised that this question was raised in your 
I think, Nicholas, that we have accumulated enough themes for 
a detailed discussion in Moscow in early June.  Let us 
resolve to seek mutually agreeable approaches based on 
objectivity and taking each other's interests into account. 
With respect 
G. Karasin 
End text. 



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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
06MOSCOW5513 2006-05-25 06:26 2011-08-30 01:44 UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY Embassy Moscow

DE RUEHMO #5513/01 1450626
R 250626Z MAY 06

E.O. 12958: N/A 
MOSCOW 00005513  001.2 OF 003 
1. (SBU) SUMMARY: Kaliningrad Oblast's first international 
agribusiness forum intended to stimulate foreign investment 
drew a respectable, German-dominated audience of foreign 
farmers and processors.  The oblast minister of agriculture 
conceded that openly inviting German farmers to come to the 
oblast 60 years after their compatriots were driven out could 
draw criticism from other Russian politicians, but with over 
40 percent of Kaliningrad Oblast's agricultural land idle and 
investment languishing, it is a risk worth taking.  END 
2. (U) Kaliningrad Oblast's government hosted its first 
international forum to attract foreign investors in 
production agriculture and agribusiness May 17.  The forum 
was opened by Governor Georgiy Boos, followed by Vice 
Governor Yuriy Shalimov, Minister of Economy Feliks Lapin, 
and Minister of Agriculture Andrey Romanov, each of whom 
opened his remarks with the words, "Kaliningrad Oblast is an 
integral part of the Russian Federation."  Each extolled the 
virtues of investing in Kaliningrad based on its location and 
tax breaks, paving the way for topical presentations by two 
bankers (local heads of Sberbank and Rosselkhozbank), the 
head of the oblast tax directorate, local chamber of 
commerce, and testimonials from successful local and foreign 
investors in food processing, including Croatian-owned 
Produkty Pitaniya and Lithuanian-owned Vicunai-Rus.  An added 
attraction was presence all day of Lithuanian Minister of 
Agriculture and former Prime Minister Kasimiera Prunskiene. 
3. (SBU) Two highlights were presentations by German 
academics, Prof. Gerd Graef, a private consultant, and Prof. 
Holger Klink of the University of Kiel, whom the oblast had 
commissioned to spend six months studying Kaliningrad Oblast 
agriculture and then to report on its potential for revival 
in the event German farmers could be enticed to invest both 
capital and know-how.  The professors noted that climatic and 
soil conditions of Kaliningrad are not dissimilar to those of 
northern Germany, though with a somewhat shorter growing 
season.  These excellent lectures were offset somewhat by a 
lengthy diatribe by German Ministry of Agriculture specialist 
Martin Struck, who opened with complaints about radar-toting 
Russian traffic police and undisciplined pedestrians, to the 
amusement of the audience, then concluded with a sales pitch 
for German technical assistance.  Another low was the 
boastful, in-your-face presentation by Konstantin Khaypov of 
Inteko Agro, agricultural subsidiary of the construction firm 
owned by Moscow Mayor Yuriy Luzhkov's wife, Yelena Baturina. 
Khaypov openly challenged Prunskiene, saying within a few 
years Inteko's investment in Kaliningrad Oblast would result 
in Inteko alone exporting more to Lithuania than Lithuania 
currently exports to all of Russia.  He offered naught but 
high expectations, though, as Inteko has yet actually to 
accomplish much in Kaliningrad. 
4. (U) Oblast Agriculture Minister Romanov reported that out 
of a total of 723,000 hectares of agricultural land, over 40 
percent is unused and has been essentially abandoned.  In 
another ten years, he said, it will be overgrown to the point 
that reclamation will be prohibitively expensive, so now is 
the time for investors to come in and start farming.  He 
noted that rapeseed production (for export to Germany to be 
processed) is on the rise, and that while beef and pork 
production continues to contract, production of poultry meat 
is growing as rapidly in Kaliningrad Oblast as in Russia at 
large.  One major issue is deterioration of polders.  Much of 
the oblast, like the Netherlands, is below sea level, 
protected by dikes, and drained by a system of tiles, canals, 
and pumps.  Some of this infrastructure dates to the 16th 
century and none of it has been upgraded or overhauled since 
the fall of the Soviet Union.  Putting some of the unused 
land back into production will require investment of up to 
USD 1,000 per hectare, though the Oblast government is 
willing to help with financing some of this work. 
5. (U) Minister of Economy Lapin described infrastructure 
projects underway, particularly upgrades of east-west and 
north-south roads to handle better transit cargo from the 
Kaliningrad seaport.  The oblast has identified five 
priorities for economic development: producing agricultural 
raw material for the food processing industry, tourism, 
MOSCOW 00005513  002.2 OF 003 
logistics and transport (the warm-water port coupled with 

roads), export-oriented manufacturing, and innovation 
development.  Lapin dwelt at length on the six-year holiday 
on corporate profits (following by a 50 PCT cut in profit 
taxes in years 7 through 12), and Kaliningrad's Special 
Economic Zone status that will exist through 2031.  Oblast 
Tax Inspector Aleksandr Fedorov extolled the virtues of the 
single agricultural tax of 6 PCT (a national, not local, 
policy) plus relief from VAT and corporate income tax 
available to investors in the Oblast. 
6. (SBU) Following Governor Boos's presentation, the floor 
was opened for questions and answers.  The first questioner, 
a local farmer, asked why individual farmers had been 
excluded from the list of enterprises eligible to import 
inputs free of customs duty.  Joint-stock companies, she 
pointed out, can import grain combines and tractors 
duty-free, but individual farmers cannot, and thus get stuck 
with 18 PCT VAT plus 5 PCT import duty.  Boos promised to 
look into it and see what could be done. 
7. (SBU) Another questioner, the local representative of a 
German investor already engaged in local agriculture, 
complained that border crossings for foreigners are a major 
obstacle.  "It creates tension," she said, "what can we do to 
fix the problem globally?"  Boos tried to dodge the question, 
answering that getting goods and products across the border 
is an enormous problem, but the questioner interrupted.  "I'm 
not talking about products, but about people," she said. 
"Yesterday it took seven and a half hours for one of my 
investors to cross the border."  Boos again tried to dodge 
the question, lamely saying it is a problem of lack of 
"synchronization" with the Polish border guard service, but 
is being discussed at the federal level between Russia and 
the European Union.  "We should be better integrated with the 
European market," he said, "but for now we are temporarily 
excluded.  We are working with the President to propose to 
the EU making Kaliningrad an open zone," he concluded. 
Later, another oblast official told AgMinCouns the border 
crossing issue is Kaliningrad's single biggest headache, and 
one that the governor simply cannot deal with since it is in 
the hands of federal authorities, not his. 
8. (SBU) A German farmer already vested in an operation in 
Kaliningrad mumbled to AgMinCouns that the entire dialogue 
was nonsense, that border crossings are getting more and more 
difficult -- and not because of the Poles.  Damir Imamovic, 
vice president of Produkty Pitaniya (which has invested USD 
112 million in Kaliningrad so far, and intends to invest 
another 200 million in 2006), stated in his presentation that 
border crossings remain hard, and since his firm ships 15,000 
metric tons of product monthly, all by truck, the time wasted 
crossing the border is a significant cost. 
9. (U) The standing-room only forum exceeded the expectations 
of its organizers in terms of turnout.  Over 150 invitees 
actually came.  Of them, 64 were from Germany, mainly 
Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, Brandenburg, Saxon-Anhalt, and 
Schleswig-Holstein, and 21 from Belarus.  They and a 
sprinkling of Scandanavians, Poles, and Lithuanians 
represented both agricultural producers and processors, plus 
a few input suppliers. 
10. (SBU) The following day Minister Romanov led much of the 
group in two large buses around a series of farms, including 
the impressive Georgiyev Horse Farm, to show what Kaliningrad 
agriculture is capable of producing.  He invited AgMinCouns 
and German AgAtt Judith Kons to ride with him, and during the 
course of the day Kons asked him bluntly if inviting Germans 
to come back to Kaliningrad would not create political 
problems for him.  Romanov admitted that it will, as the idea 
of letting German farmers come back to "Koenigsberg" after 
MOSCOW 00005513  003.2 OF 003 
over a million Soviet soldiers died to capture it will rub 
many nationalists the wrong way.  Kaliningrad has no other 
choice, he said.  We need the foreign investment, we need the 
know-how, he had discussed it with the governor, and they had 
concluded it was worth the political heat from Russian 
nationalists to invite the Germans back.  Otherwise, he said, 
in another ten years the land currently idle will be so far 
gone it will never be brought back into production.  He added 
that this new, positive attitude toward foreign investors is 
a change from the previous governor's policies, and expressed 
the hope that the agribusiness forum would be only the first 
of a series of such activities intended to attract foreign 
attention to the oblast. 
11. (SBU) Agronomically there is no reason Kaliningrad 
Oblast's agriculture could not be put back into production. 
The critical issues will be market access in the EU for the 
crops the oblast can produce (mainly rapeseed, some small 
forage grains like barley, and perhaps some specialty crops) 
coupled with willingness of foreign investors to pick 
Kaliningrad over other candidates for investment, such as 
Poland.  Other obstacles are common to Russia as a whole, and 
include the continued muddle of who owns the farmland, the 
fact that foreigners are only permitted to lease land and not 
to own it outright, shortages of competent local staff to 
manage and operate farms and companies to Western standards, 
and shortages of credit for farming operations.  The 
Kaliningrad Oblast administration appears acutely aware of 
these headaches and to its credit is actively looking for 
ways to deal with them. 
12. (SBU) The border-crossing problem cannot be minimized. 
As an "exclave" cut off from the mainland and now surrounded 
by the European Union, Kaliningrad Oblast will have 
difficulty developing tourism as well as attracting foreign 
investors if visitors truly have to spend an entire working 
day in line each time they cross the land border.  This 
problem is acknowledged, at least tacitly, by the highest 
levels of the oblast administration.  At the conclusion of 
the VIP dinner following the forum, AgMinCouns overheard Vice 
Governor Shalimov assure Prunskiene that he had spoken to 
appropriate border guard authorities and ensured that her 
overland crossing back to Lithuania the next morning would 
not cause her any delays. 



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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
06MOSCOW5492 2006-05-24 14:24 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Moscow

DE RUEHMO #5492/01 1441424
P 241424Z MAY 06

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 MOSCOW 005492 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 05/12/2016 
Classified By: Ambassador William J. Burns.  Reason 1.4 (b, d) 
1. (C) Summary:  Georgian Deputy PM Baramidze told the 
Ambassador May 23 that he expected Georgia to leave the CIS 
in a matter of months.  Negotiating bilateral agreements with 
the non-Russian members of the organization would be a 
priority; it would be important to protect the interests of 
Georgian citizens living and trading in the CIS.  He 
predicted that as Georgia moved towards NATO membership, 
Russia would increasingly portray it as irresponsible. 
Ambassador urged Georgia to pursue tactics that would make 
such a portrayal difficult.  End Summary. 
2. (C) Georgian Deputy PM and State Minister for European 
Integration  Giorgi (Gia) Baramidze called on the Ambassador 
May 23.  He was in Moscow en route to a CIS Heads of 
Government (HOG) meeting in Dushanbe.  He said his 
instructions were to inform other CIS HOGs that Georgia 
wished to maintain excellent bilateral relations.  However, 
in view of the CIS' failure to secure for Georgia the freedom 
of travel and economic access that it secured for other 
member countries, President Saakashvili had asked the 
government to "start consideration" of whether Georgia should 
remain a member of the organization.  Baramidze would stress 
that no decisions had been taken. 
3. (C) Baramidze said that in his opinion it was a "matter of 
months" before Georgia quit the organization.  The GOG needed 
first to ensure that the economic interests of its people 
would be secure (especially by replacing the CIS visa regime 
with bilateral ones) and that other necessary bilateral 
agreements could be reached.  Timing would be important: 
before or after the NATO Summit in Riga? 
4. (C) Ambassador asked what the practical consequences of 
withdrawal would be.  Baramidze listed several: 
-- The Abkhazia PKO was a CIS PKO whose status would have to 
change; Georgia was already considering demanding that it 
leave.  Baramidze did not address the likely Russian reaction. 
-- Georgia's main exports to Russia -- fruit, wine and 
mineral water -- were already banned, and Georgia was the 
only CIS country whose citizens needed visas to enter Russia. 
 In the long run, Georgia would benefit from finding a 
replacement for Russian markets, as the Baltics had done. 
(Note:  Baramidze was concerned about the fate of Georgian 
citizens living and working in Russia, but did not raise the 
prospect that Russia might allow them to stay but  interfere 
with remittances they send back to relatives in Georgia.  End 
-- Georgian Ambassador Chubinishvili, who was sitting in, 
added that if Georgia quit the CIS, Abkhazia and South 
Ossetia would demand CIS membership and might be allowed in 
as "observers."  He believed Georgian citizens of 
non-Georgian ethnicity (Armenians and Azeris) might be 
expelled from Russia back to Georgia to stir up trouble in 
ethnically sensitive regions. 
5. (C) Ambassador asked about the attitudes of other CIS 
members.  Baramidze guessed that Kazakh President Nazarbayev, 
now CIS Chair, would be "slightly on the Russian side" in the 
dispute.  Ukraine would be Georgia's main ally, though it 
would not leave the CIS.  Moldova would be another ally.  If 
Azerbaijan supported Georgia, Armenia would oppose, and vice 
versa.  The attitude of Belarus was a foregone conclusion. 
6. (C) Baramidze talked of progress in convincing Allies to 
grant Georgia Intensified Dialogue (ID) for NATO membership. 
Three days earlier, German Chancellor Merkel's Foreign 
Affairs advisor had told Baramidze he was convinced, but 
needed to conduct internal consultations.  Baramidze expected 
a long process for NATO membership, but warned that if 
Georgia's expectations were allowed to fail, Georgia might 
develop "different priorities," especially on peaceful 
conflict resolution. 
7. (C) Baramidze said that the reluctance of some Allies on 
ID was due to an intensive Russian campaign.  He said Russia 
will engage in military provocations, as it already has with 
"visas, gas, electricity and embargoes on Georgian products." 
 That was all done to cause internal discontent and 
MOSCOW 00005492  002 OF 002 
demonstrations.  The GOG's popularity had gone down, but as 
the result of normal internal processes, not the Russian 
campaign.  Externally, the Russians would try to convince the 
international community that the Georgia was run by a "bunch 
of kids" who make provocative statements and take crazy, 
unpredictable actions.  Russia could then turn to the G8 and 
NATO and say, "Let us handle these crazy people." 
8. (C) Ambassador asked whether recent public statements by 
Georgian officials did not play into the Russian strategy 
Baramidze had described.  Baramidze said that the statements 
themselves were just excuses; Russian actions were not driven 
 them.  He reiterated that Russia's main aim was to portray 
Georgia as irresponsible.  Ambassador reiterated that 
provocative Georgian statements made it easier for Russia to 
do just that.  Baramidze sighed and acknowledged  that 
sometimes DefMin Okruashvili "lets emotion get the better of 
9. (C) Ambassador said there was little advice he could give 
Baramidze about Russia that Baramidze did not already know, 
or that Ambassador Tefft had not already conveyed.  Russia 
made no secret of its concerns over Georgian moves towards 
NATO.  It had used some levers, and had many more.  Politics 
would get more intense as we headed towards 2008, and 
Georgia-bashing would be popular.  Continued high energy 
prices would keep the Russians self-confident.  The U.S. had 
a strong interest in cooperating with Russia where possible, 
but would not hesitate to criticize where necessary.  Georgia 
should work with the Europeans as well, and despite all 
temptations not fall into the trap of making it easier for 
Russia to portray Georgia as irresponsible. 



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If you find meaningful or important information in a cable, please link directly to its unique reference number. Linking to a specific paragraph in the body of a cable is also possible by copying the appropriate link (to be found at theparagraph symbol).Please mark messages for social networking services like Twitter with the hash tags #cablegate and a hash containing the reference ID e.g. #06MOSCOW5458.
Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
06MOSCOW5458 2006-05-23 13:35 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Moscow

DE RUEHMO #5458/01 1431335
O 231335Z MAY 06

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 MOSCOW 005458 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 05/23/2016 
Classified By: Ambassador William J. Burns.  Reason 1.4 (b, d) 
1. (C) Ambassador met with DFM Karasin May 23.  Karasin was 
to leave later that day for a Nagorno-Karabakh trip.  He 
hoped to be pleasantly surprised.  With regard to U/S Burns' 
letter on South Ossetia, Karasin stressed positive movement 
and labeled the rest a matter of interpretation, but argued 
that the referendum in Montenegro is "bad news" for Georgia. 
He hopes to see U/S Burns at a working lunch/meeting on the 
afternoon of June 6. 
2. (C) Karasin asked for U.S. thinking on Iran.  Ambassador 
warned that Iran still believes it can exploit gaps in the 
international consensus.  Karasin complained that the U.S. 
sponsored counter-narcotics conference in Dushanbe had 
undercut "existing structures" which must be preserved. 
Ambassador warned that if Ahmadi-Najad attends the SCO 
summit, statements made there will be even more sharply 
scrutinized by the international community.  Karasin called 
the Iranian attendance an "opportunity."  Karasin said he had 
made some progress on "overseas Russians" in his recent visit 
to Vilnius.  He argued for "involvement" with Belarus, not 
sanctions.  He expected a Ukrainian government to form in 
June, followed by ministerial-level meetings in July and a 
potential Putin visit in September.  End Summary. 
3. (C) Ambassador met with DFM Grigoriy Karasin May 23, just 
before the latter's departure for Baku and Yerevan for a 
visit with EUR Assistant Secretary Fried and a French 
representative to discuss Nagorno-Karabakh.  Karasin said the 
most notable feature of the trip is that the U.S., Russia and 
France were working together to convince the presidents of 
Armenia and Azerbaijan to be flexible and show political 
will.  He did not want to sound optimistic, but hoped for a 
pleasant surprise that would secure the meeting of the 
presidents at a separate event in Bucharest.  This could 
clear the way for an event at the St. Petersburg G8, even 
without a breakthrough.  One could "spend an entire lifetime" 
working on the "jigsaw puzzle" of details, but the whole 
exercise provided a positive picture that we, working 
together, can have a positive influence on conflict 
Burns-Karasin Letter 
4. (C) Karasin said he would send a written reply to U/S 
Burns.  He echoed earlier Russian views (Ref. A), saying 
"many things" in the letter were "a bit inaccurate" and 
others a matter of interpretation.  He said that social and 
economic assistance from Russia to South Ossetia via North 
Ossetia was agreed between Georgia and Russia in December 
2000.  He stressed the positive:  a "successful" JCC on May 
11-12 was important for the specific actions it agreed on. 
The June donors' conference in Brussels would be another 
step.  The important thing was to move slowly and steadily, 
avoiding provocations and military action.  In this respect, 
he said, some statements Khaindrava had made at the JCC were 
"a bad sign."  But the "logic of moving ahead is prevailing," 
and there had been good news from Abkhazia as well.  He 
argued that SRSG Tagliavini should stay on. 
5. (C) Ambassador replied that our concerns continue.  The 
specifics in U/S Burns' letter come within a context of 
public statements by senior Russian government officials 
implying that separatism is a logical, acceptable and even 
desirable outcome.  People "connect the dots" of Russian 
statements and actions, including the insistence of using 
Kosovo as a precedent.  Karasin broke in to say, "Montenegro 
is bad news for Saakashvili.  It will change the mentality." 
Ambassador continued that Karasin needed to understand the 
core of our concerns:  economic and other cooperation would 
be fine if it were clear that none of Russia's actions were 
aimed at undermining Georgia's territorial integrity.  That 
would also make it easier for the U.S. to be pointed with 
Georgia about its sometimes unhelpful rhetoric and actions. 
Karasin responded that this was a "chicken-and-egg" problem. 
6. (C) Karasin added that he also needed to correct the 
impression, given in U/S Burns' letter, that frozen conflicts 
and Belarus would be on the G8 Summit agenda.  If things go 
right on Nagorno-Karabakh, that conflict would be, he said. 
Ambassador pointed out that the letter discussed the agenda 
for the Ministerial, not the Summit.  Karasin gave no direct 
MOSCOW 00005458  002 OF 003 
reply.  He said he understood that U/S Burns will be arriving 
on June 6, and proposed a working lunch and meeting that 
afternoon.  He thought he might not be
in Moscow June 7. 
7. (C) Karasin asked for Ambassador's perspective on Iran. 
Ambassador replied that it is crucial to send a strong, 
unified, international signal to Tehran; otherwise, the 
Iranians will continue to think they can exploit gaps in the 
international consensus.  Karasin agreed it is important that 
the Iranians understand that we are listening to one another 
and that they cannot play off the "major players" against one 
another.  He added, however, that "we should exclude all 
thought and plans of use of force."  He noted that Azerbaijan 
is concerned about the prospect of use of force against Iran. 
8. (C) Karasin took the opportunity to complain about the 
U.S.-organized Central and South Asian Counter-Narcotics and 
Security Working Group meeting (Ref. B) that took place in 
Dushanbe earlier this month (to which Iran was not invited). 
It would duplicate existing structures, exclude major players 
such as Russia and China, and turn Central Asia into a Great 
Power battleground.  The Ambassador rebutted Karasin's 
concerns, emphasizing that counter-narcotics was an important 
practical concern for all of us. 
9. (C) Ambassador indicated that Iranian President 
Ahmadi-Najad's presence would be a very negative factor at 
the upcoming Shanghai Cooperation Organization summit.  With 
him there, what gets said and done will be watched extremely 
carefully.  If, for example, the SCO again made statements 
about U.S. bases, those statements would be "sharpened" by 
his presence, especially given his propensity for dangerous 
and offensive public statements.  We would prefer that 
members would avoid bilateral contacts.  Karasin replied that 
"your concerns are duly noted," but hoped that the U.S. has a 
"level of confidence" that the participants will influence 
the proceedings in a positive way.  No one is interested in 
turning South Asia and Central Asia into a conflict zone. 
Karasin believed the opportunity for Asian states to 
communicate with Ahmadi-Najad was positive. 
10. (C) Karasin thought he had made some headway in his 
recent meeting in Vilnius with 60 ethnic Russian 
organizations from throughout the Baltics.  He had proposed 
to the Latvians that they make a gesture by waiving the 
Latvian language requirement for citizenship for those over 
60.  He had also proposed steps to promote the Russian 
language, since it was the "lingua franca" of the Baltics. 
He hoped the U.S. might "gently press" the Baltics to create 
a "more positive" atmosphere in their relations with Russia. 
Ambassador noted that where there have been valid specific 
concerns, the U.S. has done so. 
11. (C) Asked about Belarus, Karasin said he believed 
engagement is the best strategy.  Sanctions would only 
strengthen the "moral and political unity of the people 
around the leader," to quote a Soviet saying.  Karasin 
doubted that democracy could be imposed from outside.  Russia 
would continue its contacts and help Belarus understand why 
the international community is unhappy with it.  Ambassador 
suggested that Russia might propose to Belarus specific steps 
it needs to take, now that the election is history. 
Lukashenko's reputation is well known.  Karasin responded 
that that is the fault of Western "information authorities." 
Ambassador said that Lukashenko's reputation is well beyond 
the power of even the most artful public diplomacy to 
improve.  Russia, which has influence, should persuade 
Belarus to take concrete steps to open up political space and 
respond to international concerns.  Karasin proposed that the 
U.S. and Russia understand where each stands.  He fretted 
that Belarus has taken on the mentality of a cornered nation, 
which makes progress problematic. 
12. (C) At the same time, Karasin continued, it was important 
that "market rules" apply in Russia's relations with all its 
neighbors, including in the field of energy.  There could be 
"compensation packages" in deals with RAO UES and Gazprom to 
make the pill easier to swallow, but "the price of gas and 
oil must be predictable and market-priced."  There could be 
no exceptions among Russia's neighbors.  Special relations 
and deals might make this goal difficult, but it was 
important for the sake of Russia's relations with its 
13. (C) Karasin had little to report on Ukraine.  He hoped 
there would be a government in June.  That meant the 
MOSCOW 00005458  003 OF 003 
ministerial-level sub-groups of the "Putin-Yushchenko 
Commission" could meet in July, with participation of the new 
Ukrainian interlocutors for the Prime, Defense and Foreign 
Affairs Ministers.  August would be "silly season," but 
enough work might be done before then to justify a 
well-prepared Putin visit to Kiev in September.  Karasin 
stressed, however, that the decision on timing was a Kremlin