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|06MOSCOW6843||2006-06-28 09:28||2011-08-30 01:44||CONFIDENTIAL||Embassy Moscow|
DE RUEHMO #6843 1790928
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 280928Z JUN 06
FM AMEMBASSY MOSCOW
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 8205
INFO RUCNCIS/CIS COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEHXD/MOSCOW POLITICAL COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
C O N F I D E N T I A L MOSCOW 006843
E.O. 12958: DECL: 06/28/2016
TAGS: PGOV MARR MOPS PINR RS
SUBJECT: RUSLAN KHASBULATOV ON CHECHEN DYNAMICS
Classified By: Minister-Counselor for Political Affairs Kirk Augustine.
Reason 1.4 (b, d)
¶1. (C) Ruslan Khasbulatov, Yeltsin's opponent in the 1993
White House standoff and now professor of economics at the
Plekhanov Russian Academy of Economics, gave us his
perspective June 27 on dynamics in his native Chechnya.
Khasbulatov was upfront about his dislikes in the current
political alignment (virtually everyone in power in both
Moscow and Groznyy); he did not appear to have many likes.
He had much to say about Shamil Basayev, with whom he was
closely linked in the early 1990s; now he was willing to
admit he had met Basayev, no more.
¶2. (C) Khasbulatov noted that the current dynamic pitted the
extreme Basayev, disliked by the population, against Kadyrov
-- whom Khasbulatov regarded as odious -- and his federal
backers. That was lucky for Kadyrov; if the populace had
other channels to express its opposition to Kadyrov and the
Russians, it would. As things stood, however, anyone who
expressed opposition could be labeled a "Basayevist" and
arrested or worse. So the people, intimidated, remained
silent and passive.
¶3. (C) Khasbulatov claimed that Basayev was working for the
KGB in 1993 when he transited Russia and entered Abkhazia to
fight the Georgians. Khasbulatov also claimed that Basayev
to this day had no religious convictions, and that his
invasion of Dagestan in 1999, along with the Jordanian
Jihadist al-Khattab, was done for a purely financial motive:
he was paid USD 10 million. Khasbulatov, learning of the
plans, had sent an ex-fighter trusted by Basayev to try to
dissuade Basayev from the disastrous move. Khasbulatov said,
"The man later told me that Basayev replied, 'Ruslan will
never give bad advice, but it comes too late: I've already
taken the money.'"
¶4. (C) Khasbulatov believed Basayev long ago gave up hope of
achieving independence for Chechnya or a pan-Caucasian
Islamic state. But Basayev had no other path, and would keep
fighting until the end. It had become a way of life for him.
Therein lay the danger: Kadyrov's forces were nothing more
than mercenaries. That allowed Russia to control Kadyrov,
since Moscow could cut off Kadyrov's funding at any time, and
his fighters would disappear. But it also meant that the
fighters could defect to Basayev any time he offered them
enough money. For that reason, Khasbulatov believed Federal
forces would have to stay in Chechnya for a long time to come.
¶5. (C) Khasbulatov repeatedly called for international
conferences in Groznyy -- on economic reconstruction,
education, health, and environmental rehabilitation -- to
focus and increase international aid as part of the healing
process. He believed the UN was "inert" on Chechnya, and
said he had told Kofi Annan so himself. He believed Chechnya
needed more international attention, despite Russian policy
that defines the issue as internal; Russian-backed
"reconstruction" efforts were a sham, in his view.
¶6. (C) Comment: Khasbulatov, slight, handsome and courtly,
sees himself as the elder statesman of the Chechen
intelligentsia. He railed against the "talentless," "empty"
people, Russians and Chechens alike, to whom Moscow has over
the years entrusted the solution of the Chechen problem. He
was especially scathing about Russia's post-Soviet security
services, whom, he said, Basayev has penetrated. He was
equally unsparing in his criticism of late Chechen president
Aslan Maskhadov. Khasbulatov clearly believes the majority
of the Chechen population thinks as he does and has no
sympathy for either the pro-Russians or the insurgents. The
conferences he proposes could potentially be useful -- but if
Russians are afraid to go to Chechnya, it is not likely that
foreign conference-goers will be willing to go there, either.