Monthly Archives: July 2006

06MOSCOW8148, EXTREMISM LAW SIGNED BY PUTIN

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
06MOSCOW8148 2006-07-31 15:47 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Moscow

VZCZCXYZ0004
RR RUEHWEB

DE RUEHMO #8148/01 2121547
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
R 311547Z JUL 06
FM AMEMBASSY MOSCOW
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 9738
INFO RUCNCIS/CIS COLLECTIVE
RUEHXD/MOSCOW POLITICAL COLLECTIVE

C O N F I D E N T I A L MOSCOW 008148 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 07/27/2016 
TAGS: PGOV PHUM RS
SUBJECT: EXTREMISM LAW SIGNED BY PUTIN 
 
REF: MOSCOW 7666 
 
Classified By: A/POL Colin Cleary.  Reasons 1.4b and d. 
 
1. (C) SUMMARY. As expected, President Putin signed into law 
July 28 amendments to legislation "On Countering Extremism," 
despite concerns among many that the law may restrict 
legitimate criticism of the government.  As noted in reftel, 
the revised law expands the definition of extremist activity 
to include public slander of a government official or his 
family, as well as public statements justifying or excusing 
terrorism.  Supporters of the law argue that it will allow 
authorities to combat racist and nationalist groups more 
effectively.  Critics counter that it could be used to stifle 
politically sensitive NGOs and opposition political parties 
during the 2007-2008 election cycle.  In light of the vague 
terms used in the law to define "extremism," much will depend 
on how it is implemented.  END SUMMARY. 
. 
--------------------------------------------- ------ 
BILL PASSED RAPIDLY ... BUT NOT WITHOUT SOME DEBATE 
--------------------------------------------- ------ 
 
2. (SBU) The bill was passed more quickly than usual -- the 
State Duma approved the amendments July 8, and the upper 
chamber Federation Council endorsed them July 14.  The bill 
will go into effect 90 days after President Putin's signature 
-- on October 28.  The legislation enjoyed broad support 
among United Russia (YR) and other pro-government forces. 
Twenty-seven members of the Public Chamber called for similar 
legislation barring "extremists" from elections shortly 
before the amendments were introduced in the Duma.  Also, the 
heads of 13 Russian regions (11 of which are members of the 
YR executive committee) issued a letter in support of the 
amendments during the week of June 18, just days before the 
Duma was scheduled to vote on them. 
 
3. (SBU) Supporters of the law, such as pro-Kremlin political 
analyst Sergey Markov, said the law will help prevent 
extremist political parties from exploiting public resentment 
against unpopular reforms for their own ends, such as last 
year's well-publicized street demonstrations against the 
monetization of some social benefits.  Also, Human Rights 
Watch (HRW) Deputy Director Sasha Petrov told us that human 
rights groups in St. Petersburg believed the new amendments 
can be used more effectively to combat worsening xenophobia 
in St. Petersburg where Article 282 of the Criminal Code 
(incitement of ethnic or religious hatred) generally has been 
ineffectual in prosecuting skinheads.  Vladimir Pligin, 
Chairman of the State Duma Committee on Constitutional 
Legislation and Government Building, commented to the media 
that any ambiguities in the law would be resolved in court. 
He said the court system was capable of distinguishing 
extremist activity from normal criticism of authorities. 
Deputy Chairman of the State Duma Vyacheslav Volodin also 
defended the law, saying that "Nazis came to power in Germany 
by means of democratic procedures -- they won elections ... 
And members of the Hamas movement, known not only for 
extremist statements but also for acts of terrorism, came to 
power in Palestine by a democratic procedure as well." 
 
4. (SBU) However, some members of the Federation Council 
(upper house) expressed concern that the legislation might 
restrict legitimate freedom of speech and limit the right of 
citizens to participate in elections.  Chairman of the 
Regional Policy Committee Rafgat Altynbayev told the media 
that Federation Council members demanded a condition for 
passing the bill -- that the Constitutional Law and 
Information Policy Committees would draft further amendments 
to the law and submit them to the State Duma this autumn. 
The Information Policy Committee, although it recommended 
passing the bill, observed that some points "defining 
extremist activity, such as 'public defamation', 'the use of 
violence or the threat of violence', and 'attempts on the 
lives of state officials or community leaders' were not 
conducive to ensuring equal rights and liberties for all 
citizens of Russia."  Federation Council Speaker Sergey 
Mironov agreed, saying "I also believe this law should be 
more specific." 
. 
----------------------------------- 
CRITICS SPAN THE POLITICAL SPECTRUM 
----------------------------------- 
 
5. (C) Mikhail Gorbachev, generally supportive of Putin and 
his administration, called on the President in an interview 
with Rossisskaya Gazeta to veto the legislation, warning that 
a law which offers such a broad definition of extremism could 
be used to pressure opposition and curtail dissent.  The 
Russian Union of Journalists also appealed to Putin to veto 
the legislation, which it called "senseless if applied in 
good faith" and "extremely dangerous if abused."  The new 
legislation would "encroach on freedom of expression," 
undermining Putin's remarks at the World Newspaper Congress 
in Moscow in June that freedom of expression was a "value 
guaranteed in the Constitution."  Chairman of the Central 
Electoral Commission Aleksandr Veshnyakov said to us and in 
several media interviews that support for the legislation 
defied logic and went too far, to the extent that even 

legitimate criticism of the government could be labeled 
extremist and lead to a ban on an entire party or individual 
candidate.  He added Russia already had sufficient laws 
intended to check extremist behavior and surmised that the 
Duma had pushed through the legislation without proper legal 
review. 
 
6. (C) Yuriy Dzhibladze, President of the Center for the 
Development of Democracy and Human Rights, told us that the 
law might result in increased self-censorship in the media as 
criticism of government officials might be interpreted as 
slander.  Protesters, demonstrators, and youth groups could 
be charged with extremism for resisting arrest, thus limiting 
freedom of assembly, he added.  Human Rights Watch Director 
Allison Gill worried that if HRW wrote, for example, an 
article on the ideology of Chechen fighters, it could be 
accused under the law of condoning extremism.  Open Russia 
head Irina Yasina expressed similar concern to us that "any 
individual could be subjected to prosecution if they dared to 
express dissatisfaction with the authorities."  Deputy Human 
Rights Ombudsman Georgiy Kunadze told us that the Duma was 
attentive to what Putin wanted it to do.  The Duma thought 
the President wanted a more restrictive extremism law, so 
they delivered it quickly. 
. 
------- 
COMMENT 
------- 
 
7. (C) The reaction to the newly signed extremism law is 
reminiscent of the widespread criticism that greeted the 
passage of the NGO bill that Putin signed into law in April. 
In both instances, how the enabling regulations are 
implemented is the key issue.  In light of the vague language 
used in the extremism law to define its terms, much will 
depend on interpretation by federal and local authorities. 
The new law supplements the government's arsenal of legal 
tools already available for use against hard-core extremists 
but, interpreted broadly, has the potential to undermine 
legitimate dissent and political dialogue. 
RUSSELL

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06MOSCOW8117, GOR HIGH-LEVEL ATTENDANCE AT 61ST UNGA

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
06MOSCOW8117 2006-07-31 12:54 2011-08-30 01:44 UNCLASSIFIED Embassy Moscow

VZCZCXRO5733
PP RUEHDBU RUEHLN RUEHVK RUEHYG
DE RUEHMO #8117 2121254
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 311254Z JUL 06
FM AMEMBASSY MOSCOW
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 9703
INFO RUEHXD/MOSCOW POLITICAL COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC PRIORITY
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK PRIORITY 0257

UNCLAS MOSCOW 008117 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SIPDIS 
 
DEPARTMENT FOR IO/UNP (HARRIS) AND EUR/PGI (ELDRIDGE), USUN 
(OLSON), NSC (WILLIAMS-MANIGAULT) 
 
E.O. 12958: N/A 
TAGS: PREL OTRA OVIP KSEP UNGA RS
SUBJECT: GOR HIGH-LEVEL ATTENDANCE AT 61ST UNGA 
 
REF: STATE 112656 
 
1.  (SBU) The MFA told us that Foreign Minister Sergey 
Viktorovich Lavrov will likely lead the Russian delegation at 
the 61st UNGA.  The Foreign Ministry is awaiting Kremlin 
approval of the delegation list.  There are no plans at this 
time for President Putin or PM Fradkov to attend. 
 
2.  (SBU)  Travel dates for FM Lavrov have not yet been 
determined.  There are no specific requests for bilateral 
meetings at this time, although the MFA expected that such 
requests would be received.  FM Lavrov speaks English and 
would not need interpretation in meetings. 
 
3.  (SBU)  FM Lavrov will likely be accompanied by DFM 
Aleksandr Yakovenko, Chairman of the Russian Federation 
Council International Affairs Committee Mikhail Margelov, and 
Chairman of the Duma International Affairs Committee 
Konstantin Kosachev. 
RUSSELL

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06MOSCOW8047, GEORGIA-RUSSIA: MFA ON KODORI GORGE

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
06MOSCOW8047 2006-07-27 14:16 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Moscow

VZCZCXRO2898
OO RUEHDBU
DE RUEHMO #8047 2081416
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
O 271416Z JUL 06
FM AMEMBASSY MOSCOW
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 9610
INFO RUCNCIS/CIS COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEHXD/MOSCOW POLITICAL COLLECTIVE PRIORITY

C O N F I D E N T I A L MOSCOW 008047 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 07/27/2016 
TAGS: PREL PGOV MARR MOPS GG RS
SUBJECT: GEORGIA-RUSSIA:  MFA ON KODORI GORGE 
 
Classified By: A/POL Colin Cleary.  Reason 1.4 (b, d) 
 
1. (C) We discussed the Kodori Gorge situation July 27 with 
Dmitriy Tarabrin, Acting Director of the MFA Fourth CIS 
Department.  Tarabrin said the operation had a "military 
character" that made it a violation of the May 11 1994 
ceasefire agreement on Abkhazia.  Russia did not, however, 
want to "dramatize" the situation. 
 
2. (C) Tarabrin warned, however, that Georgia should not use 
the operation as a mask to create a military stronghold in 
Kodori that would threaten Abkhazia.  We replied that we have 
urged the Georgians not to provoke the Abkhaz and to withdraw 
once the police operation was concluded.  We urged Russia to 
use its influence with the Abkhaz to ensure they remain 
quiet.  "It is already done," Tarabrin replied. 
 
3. (C) Tarabrin said that the Russian Charge in Tbilisi had 
handed the MFA's statement on Kodori to DFM Chechelashvili. 
Other than that, there had been no communication between 
Russia and Georgia on the issue.  We asked about a possible 
Putin-Saakashvili meeting.  Tarabrin said Putin is in Sochi 
most of August, but soon thereafter was a possibility.  He 
added that the MFA had tried to convince the Presidential 
Administration to set aside an hour for Saakashvili at the 
informal CIS Summit in Moscow on July 21-22.  The 
Presidential Administration had refused. 
BURNS

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06MOSCOW8024, GOR REITERATES REQUIREMENTS FOR FOREIGNERS’ ACCESS

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
06MOSCOW8024 2006-07-27 12:25 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Moscow

VZCZCXRO2765
RR RUEHDBU
DE RUEHMO #8024/01 2081225
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
R 271225Z JUL 06
FM AMEMBASSY MOSCOW
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 9586
INFO RUCNCIS/CIS COLLECTIVE
RUEHXD/MOSCOW POLITICAL COLLECTIVE
RUEHGV/USMISSION GENEVA 4874

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 MOSCOW 008024 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 07/27/2016 
TAGS: PHUM PREL PREF EAID PGOV RS
SUBJECT: GOR REITERATES REQUIREMENTS FOR FOREIGNERS' ACCESS 
TO CHECHNYA 
 
REF: MOSCOW 6390 
 
Classified By: A/POL Colin Cleary.  Reasons 1.4 (b and d). 
 
1.  (C) SUMMARY: On June 2, Russian security forces issued 
revised requirements for foreign NGO workers, reporters, and 
diplomats seeking access to Chechnya.  While our contacts 
acknowledged that they raised the potential for tighter 
restrictions on NGOs working in the region, they reported 
that their operations were continuing normally for the 
moment.  With two exceptions, the new guidelines reiterate 
what have been standard operating procedures and clarify 
contradictory statements issued by federal and Chechen 
authorities. END SUMMARY. 
. 
MORE OF THE SAME 
---------------- 
 
2.  (C) The GOR issued revised requirements for NGOs and 
others working in Chechnya June 2.  Signed by Deputy Internal 
Affairs Minister Colonel-General Yedelev, the document 
contains slight changes to the procedures that have governed 
foreigners' access to Chechnya since 2001, when the UN and 
the GOR signed a letter of understanding on humanitarian aid 
distribution in Chechnya.  Generally, NGOs, UN expatriate 
staff, and other foreigners, including U.S. and other 
diplomats, seeking access to Chechnya must provide advance 
notice of their plans to the Military Commandant in Chechnya, 
who in turn coordinates these requests with the Federal 
Security Service (FSB), and the Chechen Administration. 
These requests must contain the names and other biographic 
information, license numbers of vehicles, and detailed 
itineraries of activities in the republic.  Previously, this 
information was only required for non-Russian citizens, but 
they now also apply to local staff of NGOs or other aid 
organizations.  Additionally, the new requirements extend the 
time period for advance notice to ten days from the previous 
five. 
 
3.  (C) Our UN and NGO contacts said the release of these 
requirements did not substantially change procedures already 
in place.  Steven Tull, head of the UN Office for 
Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs in Russia (OCHA), told 
us OCHA had not had any recent complaints about access from 
NGOS working in the North Caucasus.  CARE Canada Country 
Director Frans Barnard, who occasionally overnights in 
Groznyy, said that the changes were workable; their effect 
would largely depend on how authorities' chose to enforce 
them.  Some of our contacts said the publication of the 
requirements would clarify conflicting statements by Chechen 
and Russian authorities during the spring over the 
possibility the marshrutniy list requirement would be 
eliminated. 
. 
MORE TO COME? 
------------- 
 
4.  (C) Contacts said that given past harassment of NGOs and 
oft-repeated rumors that the GOR wanted to remove them from 
the North Caucasus, there was always the potential that they 
might further tighten access to Chechnya.  GOR officials have 
created problems for NGOs in the past with seemingly 
arbitrary and capricious procedures for submitting access 
requests.  They have also occasionally denied access to 
individual NGOs or severely restricted access for others.  In 
May, for example, the GOR imposed restrictions on aid workers 
and other foreigners traveling in North Ossetia (reftel), 
which remain in place.  Earlier this month, federal 
servicemen repeatedly stopped a UN convoy in Chechnya, which 
included European humanitarian aid experts, and the UNHCR 
official in charge eventually decided to abandon the mission. 
 Tull said preliminary information suggested the problem had 
been caused by a newly arrived military commander, but the UN 
was still awaiting an official explanation.  CARE's Barnard 
said the GOR's re-registration of NGOs in October was an even 
greater worry for most NGOs at the moment. 
. 
COMMENT 
------- 
 
5.  (C) GOR authorities and humanitarian organizations in the 
North Caucasus have never had an easy relationship, although 
our contacts recently told us their ability to work in 
Chechnya seemed to be getting better, not worse.  For now, 
that continues to be the case.  GOR attitudes toward the 
international presence in the North Caucasus have always been 
sensitive and contradictory, and its intentions hard to 
discern.  We cannot exclude the possibility that NGOs might 
have difficulty in the future.  We will continue to follow 
the issue closely. 
 
MOSCOW 00008024  002 OF 002 
 
 
BURNS

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06MOSCOW7956, POST-MORTEM ON G8-RELATED NGO EVENTS

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
06MOSCOW7956 2006-07-26 10:31 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Moscow

VZCZCXRO1486
PP RUEHDBU
DE RUEHMO #7956/01 2071031
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 261031Z JUL 06
FM AMEMBASSY MOSCOW
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 9511
INFO RUCNCIS/CIS COLLECTIVE
RUEHXD/MOSCOW POLITICAL COLLECTIVE

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 MOSCOW 007956 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 07/24/2016 
TAGS: PGOV PHUM PINR RS
SUBJECT: POST-MORTEM ON G8-RELATED NGO EVENTS 
 
REF: A. MOSCOW 7124 
     B. MOSCOW 7670 
 
Classified By: DCM Daniel A. Russell for reasons: 1.4 (b/d). 
 
1. (C) SUMMARY:  Looking back on the four non-governmental 
events ahead of the G8 Summit, NGO activists and opposition 
politicians have widely diverging assessments about their 
implications.  Ella Pamfilova's July 3-4 Civil G8 highlighted 
the broad range of NGOs in Russia, notably those involveQin 
non-political activity, and many human rights activists 
praised her for allowing some space for human rights issues 
as well, even as they worried that the event obscured 
worrisome trends that could affect their activities.  Human 
rights activists believed their July 5 follow-on conference 
gave greater voice to their concerns.  Views diverged most 
widely over the more political July 11-12 "The Other Russia" 
conference, with many seeing it as having damaged the 
democratic camp by highlighting its inability to unify while 
others argued that it provided a useful forum for opposition 
groups, albeit some anti-democratic ones.  President Bush's 
July 14 meeting with activists was widely seen to have been 
an important expression of support for civil society. 
Although deeply divided, our contacts were unanimous in their 
appreciation for Western participation in the events, and 
they encouraged the U.S. to stay involved with Russian civil 
society.  END SUMMARY. 
. 
THE CIVIL G8 AND A MORE HUMAN RIGHTS-FOCUSED FOLLOW-ON 
--------------------------------------------- --------- 
 
2. (C) From the Kremlin's perspective, the July 3-4 Civil G8 
offered an opportunity to portray Russia as NGO-friendly and 
to engage Russian civil society activists and their 
counterparts from other G8 countries in discussions of G8 
agenda items.  NGO activists engaged in social and other 
non-political issues saw it as demonstrating the breadth of 
their work in Russia.  Many Russian opposition groups were 
not invited, although, as noted in ref A, strong critics of 
the Putin administration such as Yuriy Dzhibladze played a 
role in organizing the event and independent groups such as 
Memorial took part.  Civil G8 chair Ella Pamfilova, Chair ofQhe Presidential Council for Development of Civil Society 
Institutions and Democracy, received praise from many of our 
opposition interlocutors for adding human rights to the 
event's agenda.  Although participants were told not to focus 
primarily on Russia-specific issues, the format provided a 
starting point for discussing Russia's problems in the 
international human rights framework and for building 
relationships with foreign colleagues.  President Putin 
impressed many of the participants during the two hours he 
spoke at the plenary session. 
 
3. (C) From the point of view of a number of our independent 
NGO interlocutors, the Civil G8 caused more harm than good. 
They argued that many of the foreign NGOs, particularly those 
with limited knowledge about Russia, likely came away with a 
distorted image of the country's civil society scene after 
witnessing a Kremlin "charm offensive."  Irina Yasina, 
Executive Director of the Open Russia Foundation, described 
the Civil G8 as "theater" and said that many participants did 
not raise important issues for fear of spoiling their 
relations with the Kremlin. 
 
4. (C) For many NGOs, the July 5 follow-on conference was an 
important event because it allowed activists to openly 
discuss Russia's key human rights issues.  That event was 
scheduled specifically so that Western activists already in 
town could attend, and all of the presenters were domestic 
activists who focused on Russian issues, including Kremlin 
policies toward media freedom, freedom of assembly, prison 
conditions and the North Caucasus.  Leaders of Human Rights 
Watch told us they saw the event as the most significant of 
all those leading to the Summit, and organizer Yuriy 
Dzhibladze praised the resulting concrete recommendations. 
Nonetheless, as several activists told us, lack of publicity 
lessened the event's impact. 
. 
DEBATE OVER "THE OTHER RUSSIA" EVENT 
------------------------------------ 
 
5. (C) Political activist Garri Kasparov, president of INDEM 
Foundation Georgiy Satarov, and leading human rights activist 
Lyudmila Alekseyeva organized "The Other Russia" to give 
voice to views across the spectrum of the political 
opposition in hopes both of drawing international support and 
finding common ground (ref B and previous).  The event had 
long been controversial among independent activists, 
primarily due to the participation of anti-democratic 
opposition figures such as National Bolshevik Party head 
Eduard Limonov and left-wing Labor Russia movement head 
Viktor Anpilov.  Also, Yasina and DEMOS Center's Tatyana 
 
MOSCOW 00007956  002 OF 003 
 
 
Lokshina told us they were uncomfortable with a conference 
that would bring together human rights activists and 
politicians, primarily for the latter's benefit as they saw 
it.  There was uncertainty until shortly before the 
conference whether leading democratic opposition political 
parties
 Yabloko, the Union of Right Forces (SPS), and the 
Communist Party (KPRF) -- or their members, acting 
individually -- would attend.  When Mikhail Delyagin, the 
head of Rodina's ideological department, decided to attend 
contrary to orders from his party, he was ousted from Rodina. 
 
 
6. (C) Opinions about "The Other Russia" have ranged widely 
in the aftermath of the event.  In addition to the Kremlin's 
pre-conference comments (ref B), Kremlin-friendly figures 
such as Public Chamber member Vyacheslav Nikonov have 
criticized it, arguing that it represented the views of only 
a tiny element of Russia's population.  Other criticisms 
focused on the fact that it conflated civil society groups 
with political parties, when their roles should be separate. 
Youth activist Mariya Gaydar told us that the opposition's 
"ultra-liberal" focus on human rights prevented it from 
building a viable party platform that would connect with 
issues of concern to the broader population, such as family 
values, religious beliefs, and healthy patriotism.  Kasparov, 
by contrast, told us the event, which was his idea, was a 
huge success.  Perhaps showing a streak of defensiveness 
about the organizers' decision to include Limonov and 
Anpilov, he argued to us that excluding them would have 
detracted from the open spirit of the event. 
 
7. (C) Demonstrations by pro-Kremlin groups, as well as 
arrests of four National Bolsheviks outside the conference 
hall, were heavily reported in the media, although there were 
significantly fewer disruptions than expected (ref B).  Some 
participants saw such disruptions as showing the Kremlin's 
ability to hamper independent political activity.  Others, 
like the Higher School of Economics' Yevgeniy Gaydar, told us 
that such behavior played into the organizers' hands and gave 
the event more publicity than it otherwise would have had. 
 
8. (C) For several of our interlocutors, the fact that the 
conference could take place at all was an important victory 
for opposition forces.  The Kremlin would have preferred to 
derail plans for "The Other Russia" ahead of time but had 
failed to do so, largely because of Western attention, said 
Aleksey Venediktov, chief editor of the independent Ekho 
Moskvy radio station.  Carnegie Center's Liliya Shevtsova 
shared that view, telling us that the participation of 
Assistant Secretaries Dan Fried and Barry Lowenkron was an 
important symbol of support. 
 
9. (C) Pro-Kremlin figures highlighted the refusal of Yabloko 
and SPS to attend as proof of the inability of democratic 
opposition elements to unify.  Even a number of activists 
shared that view, with Shevtsova telling us that from the 
perspective of opposition unity, the event had been a 
significant failure.  She also expressed concern about 
democrats joining such figures as Anpilov and Limonov on 
stage.  In the view of others, the disunity could prove to be 
the kind of catalytic event that opposition democrats need. 
Yasina told us that the decision of Yabloko and SPS not to 
attend was a mistake that dispelled any lingering hopes that 
they could be partners in a united democratic effort. 
Venediktov shared with us his similar hope that the disunity 
might finally lead at least some of the democrats to 
subjugate their personal ambitions and seek common ground. 
. 
A VALUED MEETING WITH PRESIDENT BUSH 
------------------------------------ 
 
10. (C)  Several participants in the meeting with President 
Bush praised his willingness to meet with them personally. 
Yasina and World Wildlife Fund Russia head Igor Chestin told 
us they were impressed with the event's informality and the 
useful give-and-take.  Echoing that view, "Da!" youth 
movement head Mariya Gaydar said that: 
-- the meeting raised the international profile of its 
participants, particularly Open Russia and DEMOS, thereby 
offering them some protection from government harassment; 
-- it offered President Bush specific areas of concern that 
he might raise with Putin, thus potentially exploiting 
Putin's desire to maintain a good reputation on civil society; 
-- it allowed them to discuss U.S. funding for Russian NGOs; 
and 
-- it was a way to communicate directly with the President 
concerning civil society's situation in Russia. 
. 
THE EVENTS' AFTERMATH 
--------------------- 
 
11. (C) For individual groups, we have seen little impact 
 
MOSCOW 00007956  003 OF 003 
 
 
resulting from their participation in the civil society 
events.  On the negative side, human rights attorney Karina 
Moskalenko of the International Protection Center told us she 
believed there was a connection between the Center's 
participation in "The Other Russia" conference and a five 
million USD back tax bill levied on her Center on the grounds 
that donations from the National Endowment for Democracy, the 
MacArthur Foundation and Open Society are actually profits. 
On the more positive side, Yasina told us that following her 
meeting with President Bush and as a result of the attention 
it gave her, she was approached by staffers from the Public 
Chamber inviting her to take part in a competition for civil 
society funding. 
 
12.  (C) More broadly, Dzhibladze argued, politically active 
independent NGOs are as deeply divided as they were in the 
run-up to the G8.  Some had felt that participating in the 
Civil G8 would mean they were contributing to the 
authorities' "PR campaign," while others refused to 
participate in "The Other Russia," feeling it would put their 
activities into question.  After much discussion, the 
majority of groups agreed to attend all events, and to 
organize their own, separate human rights conference -- the 
event of July 5.  Dzhibladze told us that the divisive 
debates going into the G8 might have a lasting effect on 
relationships among NGOs. 
. 
COMMENT 
------- 
 
13.  (C) Russia's NGO community presents a complex picture, 
which the civil society-related events in the run-up to the 
Summit only served to highlight.  For the large and growing 
group of NGOs that avoid politics and focus on social, health 
and similar issues, the Civil G8 underscored their existence 
and activities.  For the NGOs involved in opposition 
politics, meanwhile, the various events offered an 
opportunity to highlight their concerns but also underscored 
the divisions that have long plagued them.  Some of them -- 
despite serious reservations -- took part in the Civil G8, 
particularly after Pamfilova added human rights issues to 
that event's agenda.  Some found common ground in "The Other 
Russia" forum, although these included radical elements which 
do not share democratic values, while others who continue to 
view themselves as opposition parties, including Yabloko and 
SPS, opted out of the event.  In the current political 
atmosphere, all of these Russian democratic and politically 
independent entities represent
 a small percentage of the 
population even in the best of circumstances, and their 
continued infighting further hampers them. 
BURNS

Wikileaks

06MOSCOW7863, GEORGIA-RUSSIA: PUTIN-SAAKASHVILI MEETING OFF, LEAVING LITTLE CLARITY AND MUCH SUSPICION

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
06MOSCOW7863 2006-07-21 14:40 2011-08-30 01:44 SECRET Embassy Moscow
Appears in these articles:
http://rusrep.ru/article/2010/11/29/georgia/

VZCZCXRO7777
OO RUEHDBU
DE RUEHMO #7863/01 2021440
ZNY SSSSS ZZH
O 211440Z JUL 06
FM AMEMBASSY MOSCOW
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 9395
INFO RUCNCIS/CIS COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEHXD/MOSCOW POLITICAL COLLECTIVE PRIORITY

S E C R E T SECTION 01 OF 03 MOSCOW 007863 

SIPDIS 

SIPDIS 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 07/21/2016 
TAGS: PREL MARR MOPS GG RS
SUBJECT: GEORGIA-RUSSIA: PUTIN-SAAKASHVILI MEETING OFF, LEAVING LITTLE CLARITY AND MUCH SUSPICION 

REF: MOSCOW 7769 Classified By: Deputy Chief of Mission Daniel A. Russell. Reason 1.4 ( b, d) 

Summary 
------- 

1. (C) Georgian President Saakashvili will not meet President Putin in Moscow at the July 21-22 informal CIS Summit. Both sides agreed to announce they would set up a special meeting in the near future. In a bid to improve the atmosphere Georgian DFM Antadze, meeting with Russian DFM Denisov July 19, agreed to start work on a Counter-Terrorism Center and to hold talks in September on Georgia's NATO aspirations. But on the core issues -- separatist conflicts, Russian peacekeepers, and Russian economic measures that express irritation with Saakashvili and his allies -- neither side appears willing to budge. The Russians claim to understand that the status quo cannot be eternal, and are working on alternative proposals, but these are not likely to be acceptable to the Georgians. War talk has gripped Moscow. However, both the Russian negotiator for South Ossetia and the Georgian Ambassador believe that the warmongers on both sides can be controlled. 
End Summary. 

Off to the Races: The Races Are Off 
----------------------------------- 

2. (C) Several CIS heads of state canceled their visits to Moscow July 21 for horse races hosted by President Putin the following day. It became clear that Putin would only have one or two bilateral meetings. On the morning of July 21 the Kremlin informed the Georgian Embassy that Saakashvili would not be among them, and Saakashvili decided not to come. Georgian Ambassador Irakli Chubinishvili told us that both sides agreed to play down the cancellation in public, and to announce that the horse races did not provide a suitable venue for the serious issues they needed to discuss; and that they would set up a separate meeting in the near future. 

3. (C) Popov and Chubinishvili, while not upbeat, were convinced that the cancellation would not have serious effects. Chubinishvili told us that DFM Merab Antadze (who has just been nominated to be Minister for Conflict Resolution) had seen Russian DFM Denisov July 19, and had tried to improve the atmosphere by offering to start work on a Counter-Terrorism Center that the Russians had proposed (on June 13, Saakashvili had told Putin that the time was not right to start on that Center). Antadze also agreed with Denisov on talks to start September 7 on Georgia's NATO aspirations. 

4. (C) Both Chubinishvili and Popov questioned what might have come out of a Saakashvili-Putin meeting. Chubinishvili feared that when Saakashvili asked to start negotiations on withdrawing Russian peacekeeping forces per the Georgian Parliament's July 18 Resolution, Putin would simply say "no," Saakashvili would reply that the peacekeepers would be illegal, and the conversation would stop there. Popov painted a similar scenario. The Russians read the resolution as a "poorly timed political declaration" couched in the wording of an "ultimatum." "Our peacekeepers will not leave," he said flatly. 

Russian Thinking on the Future 
------------------------------ 

5. (C) We suggested to Popov that the resolution might have been designed to get Russia to engage in serious negotiations, and that it was the natural result of 14 years without progress. Popov maintained that Russia does not see the status quo as tenable forever, and wants a lasting solution that accommodates the aspirations of both the Georgians and South Ossetians. Russian think tanks, he said, have been trying to come up with an appropriate model. He mentioned a "protectorate" on the order of the Marshall Islands (we assume he meant the Compact of Free Association by which the independent Marshalls receive assistance and benefits from the U.S., which is responsible for defense and has certain other defense-related rights). We asked with whom South Ossetia would be associated -- Russia or Georgia? "Perhaps a condominium," Popov replied. (Comment: the previous day, MFA negotiator for Transnistria Nesterushkin had also raised the Marshall Islands as a model (Reftel). The Kremlin may be about to adopt this as a proposal involving "free association" with the CIS, not Russia. However, such a solution is unlikely to be acceptable to Georgia. Chubinishvili believes Georgia will withdraw from the CIS by the end of the year; the Russian proposal may be an attempt to convince Georgia not to leave. End Comment.) MOSCOW 00007863 002 OF 003 

6. (C) We explored with Popov whether Russia was opposed to any changes that might allow a resolution of the current tensions over peacekeepers with something each side could show to its constituency. We asked about international civilian policing, which was mentioned in the Georgian resolution. Popov replied that the issue of bilateral Georgian-South Ossetian policing was raised at the June meeting of Interior Ministers in Tskhinvali. The abortive Joint Control Commission (JCC) meeting that was scheduled for Tbilisi this week was supposed to have discussed the issue. It would be taken up at the next JCC, which was scheduled for Moscow in late July-early August (Popov thought it would actually take place in mid-August). Law enforcement was an absolute necessity, he agreed, but he warned that resistance from those on both sides who earn money from smuggling would have to be overcome. He made clear that the "contraband barons" i
ncluded both the leadership of South Ossetia and Georgian DefMin Okruashvili. 

Rumors of War 
------------- 

7. (S) We have been impressed with the unanimity with which Russians of all stripes -- in and out of government, and of varying politics -- believe Georgia is about to start a war over South Ossetia. Many believe the U.S. has been egging Georgia on. One analyst told us June 20 that he knew that President Bush had given Saakashvili a "green light" when the two met on July 5. Russian intelligence has further alleged that the U.S. is training Okruashvili's MPs near the borders of South Ossetia. 

8. (S) Popov was convinced that neither the Russians nor the South Ossetians would start fighting. Popov said that the Russians were unhappy with Kokoity, whom they viewed as impulsive and erratic, and who would behave irrationally if cornered. One of the main functions of the Russian PKF was to keep the South Ossetians in line. Popov said that the PKF's commander, General Kulakhmetov, was the best the PKF had ever had, because he refused to let the PKF be drawn into Kokoity's schemes. Popov said he was confident that Russia could keep things quiet inside South Ossetia 

9. (S) Chubinishvili also told us July 18 that he thought there would be no war. He revealed that Saakashvili, when in Moscow in June, had feared that the Ossetians would start driving Georgians out of their villages inside South Ossetia. Saakashvili thought he might have no choice but to respond with force. Chubinishvili and FM Bezhuashvili had tried to convince Saakashvili that this was suicide, and Chubinishvili believed they had convinced Saakashvili -- for the moment. But Chubinishvili also recognized that DefMin Okruashvili would be working on Saakashvili to give him the go-ahead. Ultimately, Chubinishvili believed, this was just a tactic -- Okruashvili did not really want to fight, but wanted to be able to go on TV and declare that he had been ready and would have gone had he just received an okay. Ultimately, the Russians did not want a war, Chubinishvili believed, because it would upset the status quo (he did not imply that Saakashvili shared that optimism). And the South Ossetians would hold back because the fighting would be in their villages, destroying their houses. 

10. (C) Popov remained suspicious of Georgian intentions, however, and especially of DefMin Okruashvili, whose goons had detained him and Russian Land Forces Deputy Commander Yevnevich twice between Tbilisi and Tskhinvali (Popov found bitter amusement in the fact that the "savages" who detained and cursed him had stooped to stealing his two ballpoint pens). He said that Okruashvili was undercutting Saakashvili's efforts to deal with the Russians. The fact that Okruashvili was still in his post indicated to Popov that both Saakashvili and the U.S. were satisfied with him -- since, Popov believed, the U.S. had enough influence to "get rid of" Okruashvili if he were really a hindrance. Nonetheless, Popov said, if the U.S. could ensure that the Georgians did not start fighting, the Russians could ensure that no one else in South Ossetia would, either. 

Comment 
------- 

11. (S) While Popov's remarks about Kokoity conveniently support the case for keeping Russian peacekeepers in South Ossetia, we believe he is sincere both in his assertion that Russia wants to keep a lid on the situation and in his assessment that the Georgians are capable of launching military action. Though most actors appear to want to avoid war, the potential for miscalculation is still significant. MOSCOW 00007863 003 OF 003 

12. (C) The Russians will probably view the replacement of Khaindrava by Antadze as a mixed bag. They will be pleased that the new negotiator is a low-key professional diplomat who believes in negotiating in private, and not in the press. But they had also come to see Khaindrava as a member of the "Party of Peace," and his removal after a very public spat with Okruashvili is already being seen as an indicator of the latter's power, influence and ability to dictate Saakashvili's policies. 
BURNS

Wikileaks

06MOSCOW7769, TRANSNISTRIA: INDEPENDENCE REFERENDUM

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
06MOSCOW7769 2006-07-20 14:18 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Moscow

VZCZCXRO6384
OO RUEHDBU
DE RUEHMO #7769/01 2011418
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
O 201418Z JUL 06
FM AMEMBASSY MOSCOW
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 9285
INFO RUCNCIS/CIS COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEHXD/MOSCOW POLITICAL COLLECTIVE PRIORITY

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 MOSCOW 007769 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 07/20/2016 
TAGS: PREL PBTS MARR MD RS
SUBJECT: TRANSNISTRIA:  INDEPENDENCE REFERENDUM 
 
REF: STATE 115371 
 
Classified By: A/POL Colin Cleary.  R...

Wikileaks

06MOSCOW7723, RUSSIA: APPEAL FOR CONTRIBUTIONS FOR HAITI INTERIM

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
06MOSCOW7723 2006-07-19 12:44 2011-08-30 01:44 UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY Embassy Moscow

VZCZCXYZ0000
RR RUEHWEB

DE RUEHMO #7723 2001244
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 191244Z JUL 06
FM AMEMBASSY MOSCOW
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 9237
INFO RUEHRL/AMEMBASSY BERLIN 1817
RUEHSW/AMEMBASSY BERN 0863
RUEHBR/AMEMBASSY BRASILIA 0255
RUEHBS/AMEMBASSY BRUSSELS 1765
RUEHBU/AMEMBASSY BUENOS AIRES 0135
RUEHDL/AMEMBASSY DUBLIN 0117
RUEHHE/AMEMBASSY HELSINKI 3265
RUEHLI/AMEMBASSY LISBON 0200
RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON 1808
RUEHMD/AMEMBASSY MADRID 0672
RUEHME/AMEMBASSY MEXICO 0365
RUEHNY/AMEMBASSY OSLO 1653
RUEHOT/AMEMBASSY OTTAWA 1989
RUEHFR/AMEMBASSY PARIS 1625
RUEHPU/AMEMBASSY PORT AU PRINCE 0020
RUEHRO/AMEMBASSY ROME 2668
RUEHSG/AMEMBASSY SANTIAGO 0109
RUEHSM/AMEMBASSY STOCKHOLM 1333
RUEHTV/AMEMBASSY TEL AVIV 2150
RUEHKO/AMEMBASSY TOKYO 4017
RUEHWR/AMEMBASSY WARSAW 2020
RUEATRS/DEPT OF TREASURY WASHDC
RUEHBS/USEU BRUSSELS

UNCLAS MOSCOW 007723 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SENSITIVE 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: N/A 
TAGS: EAID ECON EFIN HA RS
SUBJECT: RUSSIA: APPEAL FOR CONTRIBUTIONS FOR HAITI INTERIM 
COOPERATION FRAMEWORK EXTENSION 
 
REF: STATE 116137 
 
1. (SBU)  Poloff delivered reftel demarche July 19 to Sergey 
Tarasov, Caribbean Section Chief in the MFA Latin America 
Department.  Tarasov said he would pass the information to 
his superiors but could not predict whether Russia would 
provide any assistance to Haiti.  He was aware of the High 
Level International Meeting in Brazil on May 23 but was 
unaware that the GOH intended to hold a Donors' Conference 
July 25 or where it would take place.  Tarasov said Russia 
covers Haiti from its embassy in Caracas. 
 
2. (SBU)  Tarasov agreed that international assistance to the 
GOH was very important, but stressed that the Haitian people 
and government were not well served by relying on such aid. 
Good governance and anti-corruption initiatives were 
paramount.  In Moscow's view, the situation in Haiti had 
improved somewhat since the beginning of this year, but 
Tarasov said that was mostly due to the efforts of the UN 
mission.  Russia had shown its commitment to that effort by 
dispatching at the end of last year eight civilian police 
officers, who Tarasov thought would remain in Haiti until the 
end of the mission's mandate.  Moscow might send an 
additional two officers depending on the circumstances. 
RUSSELL

Wikileaks

06MOSCOW7666, NEW RESTRICTIVE RUSSIAN ELECTORAL LEGISLATION

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
06MOSCOW7666 2006-07-18 12:33 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Moscow

VZCZCXRO2015
RR RUEHDBU
DE RUEHMO #7666/01 1991233
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
R 181233Z JUL 06
FM AMEMBASSY MOSCOW
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 9164
INFO RUCNCIS/CIS COLLECTIVE
RUEHXD/MOSCOW POLITICAL COLLECTIVE

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 MOSCOW 007666 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 07/11/2016 
TAGS: PGOV PREL PINR RS
SUBJECT: NEW RESTRICTIVE RUSSIAN ELECTORAL LEGISLATION 
 
REF: A. 2004 MOSCOW 9554 
 
     B. 2005 MOSCOW 6811 
 
Classified By: DCM Daniel A. Russell.  Reasons 1.4b and d. 
 
1. (C) SUMMARY.  A flurry of new, more restrictive legal 
measures affecting the conduct of elections appeared during 
the last few weeks of the spring sessions of both houses of 
the Russian parliament.  On July 12, President Putin signed 
amendments passed by both houses that end the option of 
voting "against all candidates" on ballots and prohibit 
politicians from changing factions after they have been 
elected.  Both legislative chambers also passed a 
controversial bill, which was sent to Putin for signature on 
July 14, that would amend the law on countering extremism to 
expand the definition of extremism, a move which many 
observers believe could be selectively used to target 
politicians and parties and to stifle dissent.  The Duma also 
considered other amendments to the voting rights law, which 
would reinstate early voting before election day and widen 
the criteria for removing parties and candidates from races 
on extremist grounds and for denying registration to 
candidates and parties based on incomplete documentation. 
These latter amendments will be taken up again when the Duma 
reconvenes for its autumn session on September 3.  Most 
observers believe that the United Russia party is behind all 
of these measures, as it seeks to bolster its position in the 
run-up to 2007/2008 elections.  Despite their hurried 
passage, these amendments have been sharply by both 
pro-Kremlin and opposition figures.  The most prominent 
critic of all of these measures has been Central Elections 
Commission Chair Aleksandr Veshnyakov, who told A/S Fried 
that the extremism bill goes too far and the early 
voting/ending "against all" amendments were bad for Russian 
democracy.  END SUMMARY. 
. 
-------------------- 
EXTREMISM AMENDMENTS 
-------------------- 
 
2. (SBU) New amendments to the law "On Countering Extremism" 
have been passed by both houses and forwarded on July 14 for 
signature to President Putin.  The definition of extremism in 
Article 1 of the existing law would be changed to include 
"preventing government bodies or state agencies from 
performing their legitimate functions," "direct calls for 
extremist activities," "public statements that encourage or 
allow for extremist activities," and "defamatory statements 
against federal or regional officials, combined with 
allegations of major crimes."  The list of actions that might 
be considered extremist has been enlarged to include all 
statements and reports concerning state officials, 
propagation of supremacy or inferiority of ethnic or 
religious groups, and production of audio or visual materials 
containing elements of an extremist nature.  The word 
"extremist" will be applicable not only to the person who 
made such remarks, but also to the distributor of print, 
audiovisual, or other materials, such as Internet web sites. 
Actions such as occupation of government offices would be 
regarded not as disturbances of the peace but as extremism 
punishable under Article 280 of the Criminal Code with a 
prison term of up to three years.  Under Article 15 of the 
existing law, parties can avoid legal action if they renounce 
members accused of offenses, but this provision would be 
removed under the new amendments. 
 
3. (SBU) The new extremism amendments enjoyed broad support 
among United Russia and other pro-government forces. 
Twenty-seven members of the Public Chamber called for similar 
legislation barring "extremists" from elections shortly 
before the amendments were introduced in the Duma.  Also, the 
heads of 13 Russian regions (11 of which are members of the 
United Russia executive committee) issued a letter in support 
of the amendments during the week of June 18, just days 
before the Duma was to vote on them.  Many civil society 
activists and opposition members, however, have expressed 
serious misgivings that these provisions will be interpreted 
loosely and be used against them to stifle even legitimate 
dissent. 
. 
--------------------------------------------- --------- 
AMENDMENTS TO LAW ON BASIC GUARANTEES OF VOTING RIGHTS 
--------------------------------------------- --------- 
 
4. (SBU) Duma deputies from United Russia, the Liberal 
Democratic Party (LDPR), and Rodina faction leader Aleksandr 
Babakov, proposed substantial changes to Russia's fundamental 
electoral law "On Basic Guarantees of Voting Rights."  The 
bill had its first reading on July 8 and will be considered 
further during the Duma's autumn session, which begins on 
September 3.  One amendment widens criteria for removing 
political parties or individuals from electoral races and 
 
MOSCOW 00007666  002 OF 003 
 
 
works in tandem with the newly broadened definition of 
"extremism."  According to the draft bill, if a politician 
conducts "extremist activities" before or during an election 
campaign, and this activity is confirmed by a court, the 
offending politician's party could be denied registration for 
its whole list of candidates or denied a sea
t in parliament. 
Political parties would be allowed two violations followed by 
a ban.  These penalties could be applied at any time during 
the legislative term. 
 
5.  (SBU) Another amendment brings back early voting - a 
procedure that Russia had already tried and abandoned, and 
which critics fear could allow easy manipulation of election 
results.  The amendment states that if a voter has a valid 
reason (vacation, business trip, illness) that prevents him 
from voting on election day, he can vote up to five days 
early.  Another provision in the bill increases from 25 to 35 
the number of reasons for denying registration to a candidate 
or party.  Omitting any of the items in required 
administrative and financial documents and reports could 
result in denial of registration.  The same penalty would 
apply to candidates or parties who provide "incomplete" or 
"improperly presented" documents, although the two concepts 
are not clearly defined in the bill. 
. 
----------------------- 
"AGAINST ALL" AMENDMENT 
----------------------- 
 
6. (SBU) An amendment abolishing the &against all 
candidates8 option was passed by both houses and signed into 
law by Putin on July 12.  In recent elections, opposition 
parties had encouraged voters to register their protest by 
checking "against all."  In the 2003 Duma election, "against 
all" came in fifth place, with 4.7 percent of the vote, on a 
ballot of 23 parties and blocs. In the 2004 presidential 
election, "against all" again took fifth place, with 3.45 
percent of the vote, on a ballot of six candidates. 
 
7. (SBU) Stoking fears that "against all" voting could 
disrupt upcoming elections at the federal level, a recent 
Levada Center poll reported that 18 percent of respondents 
would vote the protest option were the presidential election 
held today.  Critics of the measure have pointed out that 
voter turnout probably will suffQ with removal of the 
option.  Some observers believe that United Russia, however, 
could benefit from a lower turnout, assuming would-be protest 
voters simply decided to stay home. 
 
8. (SBU) Discussion of the "against all" option has been 
lively and public.  At a meeting of the November 4 Political 
Discussion Club on June 28, Chairman of the Federation 
Council Sergey Mironov spoke out against elimination of the 
"against all" option, saying that it would not help anyone 
and it was a serious strategic error on United Russia's part. 
 Vladimir Pligin, chairman of the Duma Committee on 
Constitutional Law and State-Building, simply said it was 
"justified." Valeriy Fadeyev, chief editor of Ekspert 
magazine and Public Chamber member said the "against all" 
option was a political anachronism that encouraged apathy and 
irresponsibility.  However, Igor Zadorin from the ZIRCON 
think tank said that "the extent of voting against all 
candidates has served to alert authorities to danger signs," 
and "it offered a venting opportunity for the protest vote." 
. 
---------------------------- 
CHANGING FACTIONS PROHIBITED 
---------------------------- 
 
9.  (SBU) On July 12, Putin signed into law amendments 
prohibiting (under threat of losing seats) deputies in the 
Duma and regional parliaments from including members of one 
party on the electoral list of another party before 
elections. The measure also would ban politicians from 
changing factions after they have been elected.  After the 
2003 elections, many single-mandate deputies joined United 
Russia or switched allegiance to other parties.  According to 
one of the bill's authors, Deputy Aleksandr Kharitonov, the 
amendments were not a move against the opposition or small 
parties, but an attempt to prevent "people from running from 
one party to another."  However, independent Deputy Vladimir 
Ryzhkov objected that "this bill turns deputies into serfs" 
and Boris Nadezhdin, deputy head of the Union of Right Forces 
(SPS) agreed, saying, "On the one hand, United Russia wants 
to prevent its deputies from leaving the party, but on the 
other hand, they also want to complicate the rules for small 
opposition parties to get into the Duma." 
. 
---------------------------- 
REACTIONS TO NEW LEGISLATION 
---------------------------- 
 
 
MOSCOW 00007666  003 OF 003 
 
 
10.  (SBU) Despite their hurried passage, these amendments 
have been widely criticized by both pro-Kremlin and 
opposition forces.  At a June 28 meeting of the November 4 
Political Discussion Club, the founder of the Club, Valeriy 
Fadeyev, concluded that "we are moving toward a stronger 
party system."  Opposition deputy Sergey Popov, criticizing 
the amendments, said "If before the Communist Party of the 
Soviet Union was building communism, now United Russia is 
building "unirussism"."  Boris Nadezhdin, federal policy 
council secretary for SPS, complained that the current 
amendments were passed too quickly without allowing for 
adequate debate or discourse.  Aleksey Makarkin, an analyst 
with the Political Technology Center, said the reforms were 
based on maximum controllability, along with maximum 
consolidation, so that eventually only a few parties will 
remain. 
 
11. (C) The most prominent critic of the new legislation is 
Central Election Commission Chair Aleksandr Veshnyakov, who 
has spoken out privately and publicly against most of the 
measures.  In a July 12 meeting with EUR A/S Fried, 
Veshnyakov flatly stated that the proposed amendments to 
Russia's election laws were unnecessary and even dangerous to 
Russian democracy.  Veshnyakov said amendments to the law on 
extremism went too far, to the point that even criticism of 
the government could be found to be extremist and lead to a 
ban on a party or candidate.  He said that a whole party 
should not be held accountable for one person.  If a party's 
policy program contains signs of extremism, the party should 
be punished.  But when it is an individual candidate, the 
punishment should be meted out to the individual, not the 
party. 
 
12. (C) Veshnyakov commented that the removal of the "against 
all" option from the ballot would not only limit voters' 
freedom of choice, but could also reduce voter turnout. 
Reinstating early voting would revert back to the 
problem-filled previous system, opening the way for possible 
manipulation of voting.  He added that there were still 
opportunities to defeat these amendments in the legislative 
process, or later, to challenge them in court.  Veshnyakov 
hinted that if the amendments were enacted, he would likely 
step down at the end of his term in spring 2007. 
. 
------- 
COMMENT 
------- 
 
13.  (C) Observers nearly unanimously point to United Russia 
as the source for these new measures in an attempt to further 
bolster the party's already strong position in the run-up to 
the 2007 Duma and 2008 presidential elections.  Ves
hnyakov 
and Vladimir Lukin's Office of the Human Rights Ombudsman 
have been among the most scathing critics of the measures. 
Their criticism reflects the fact that the amendments were 
hastily drawn up and poorly conceived.  While we believe that 
Veshnyakov is sincere in his desire to roll back these 
amendments, it is obviously going to be difficult to overturn 
those already signed into law by Putin. 
BURNS

Wikileaks

06MOSCOW7493, WORLD RELIGIOUS LEADERS SUMMIT IN RUSSIA CALLS FOR

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
06MOSCOW7493 2006-07-14 06:42 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Moscow

VZCZCXRO8711
PP RUEHDBU
DE RUEHMO #7493/01 1950642
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 140642Z JUL 06
FM AMEMBASSY MOSCOW
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 8954
INFO RUCNCIS/CIS COLLECTIVE
RUEHXD/MOSCOW POLITICAL COLLECTIVE

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 MOSCOW 007493 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 07/10/2016 
TAGS: PGOV PREL PHUM SOCI PINR RS
SUBJECT: WORLD RELIGIOUS LEADERS SUMMIT IN RUSSIA CALLS FOR 
ACTIVE DEFENSE OF RELIGIOUS FREEDOM 
 
Classified By: DCM Daniel Russell. Reasons 1.4 (B/D). 
 
1.  (C) SUMMARY:  Meeting in Moscow July 3-5, more than 200 
religious leaders and clergy from over 40 countries called on 
believers of all faiths to engage in dialogue and partnership 
to resolve global problems, as well as to challenge 
terrorism, extremism, and efforts to restrict religious 
freedom.  President Putin echoed this theme in his remarks to 
the group when he underscored the powerful unifying force of 
religion and encouraged interfaith dialogue to mitigate 
extremist tendencies that could lead to violence.  Most of 
the world's major religions were represented at the summit, 
which was organized by the Russian Orthodox Church (ROC) and 
timed to take place just prior to the G8 Summit in St. 
Petersburg.  The final declaration encouraged interfaith 
cooperation and could signal easing of tensions between the 
ROC and some other denominations -- most notably the Roman 
Catholic Church -- but it will require considerable effort by 
all sides to follow up the soaring rhetoric with concrete 
action.  END SUMMARY. 
. 
========================================= 
WORLD RELIGIOUS LEADERS CONVENE IN MOSCOW 
========================================= 
 
2.  (SBU) More than 200 religious leaders and clergy from 
over 40 countries met in Moscow July 3-5 at the World Summit 
of Religious Leaders to promote interfaith dialogue and 
cooperation.  Representatives of the Christian, Muslim, 
Jewish, Buddhist, Hindu, and Shinto faiths responded to an 
invitation from Russia's ROC-dominated Interreligious Council 
to convene in advance of the St. Petersburg G8 Summit. 
Pointedly missing from the invitation list were Pope 
Benedict, the Dalai Lama, Muslim leaders from Iraq, and 
leaders of some of the so-called (by the ROC) "new 
religions," such as the Hare Krishnas, the Church of Jesus 
Christ of Latter Day Saints, Jehovah's Witnesses, and other 
Protestant groups.  ROC spokesman Vsevelod Chaplin was quoted 
as saying: "It would be difficult for us to sit at the same 
table as Jehovah's Witnesses, who strongly distort the 
teaching of Christianity."  The Vatican sent a senior 
delegation consisting of five cardinals, and the Pope offered 
his personal greetings to participants, which ROC spiritual 
leader Patriarch Aleksey II subsequently acknowledged as a 
testimony to the "positive development of relations between 
the Russian Orthodox and Roman Catholic Churches." 
Metropolitan Kirill, head of the ROC's External Church 
Relations Department, was the nominal chairman of the 
three-day event. 
 
3.  (SBU) In addition to senior religious figures, the summit 
attracted a number of political leaders.  Putin opened the 
meeting with an address in which he underscored the power of 
religion and encouraged believers to work together to counter 
extremism, xenophobia, and ethnic and religious intolerance, 
as well as to guard against those who used religion as a 
justification to advance political goals, including terrorism 
and separatism.  He warned participants that a "conflict of 
civilizations was unfolding in the world and that it was 
necessary to understand the consequences of this 
confrontation."  Putin described attempts to drive wedges 
between Christian and Muslim communities as a new global 
challenge.  He encouraged the religious summit leaders to 
develop recommendations, which he promised to convey to his 
G8 counterparts when they met in St. Petersburg July 15-17. 
Other senior GOR officials participating in the summit 
included Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and First Deputy 
Prime Minister Dmitriy Medvedev.  UN Secretary General Kofi 
Annan reportedly also sent greetings to the participants. 
 
4.  (SBU) Many participants of the summit addressed the issue 
of extremism, and religious education was proposed as an 
antidote to it.  "One of the reasons behind extremism is 
ignorance of religious tradition," said Kirill.  "An absence 
of positive knowledge about religion allows dishonest people 
to encourage others to embrace extremist views," he 
continued.  "We are facing international terrorism that 
misuses religion, especially when it is used for a pretext 
for hatred and murder," said Cardinal Walther Kasper, the top 
Catholic representative at the summit.  Armenia's Catholicos 
Garegin II also blamed secularism for extremist violence, and 
Russia's chief rabbi, Berl Lazar, said that international 
terrorism "is recruiting militants by using religion." 
Religious leaders should, in his view, play a more active 
role in society as "spiritual leaders."  "It is not religion 
at all that causes terrorism and extremism," said Mufti Ravil 
Gaynutdin, chairman of the Council of Muftis of Russia. 
"Religious feelings are fueled to the boiling point only 
against the background of social and economic problems, and 
it usually happens in the service of someone's concrete 
political interests," he added. 
 
MOSCOW 00007493  002 OF 003 
 
 
 
5. (SBU) There was obvious tension at the conference between 
Jewish leaders and Iran's leading ayatollah for interfaith 
relations, Muhammed Ali Muhammed Taskhiri.  At the opening 
ceremony, Israel's Chief Ashkenazi Rabbi Yona Metzger 
pointedly said with reference to Iran's president Mahmud 
Ahmadinejad: "There are leaders in the world who deny the 
Holocaust and speak of genocide against themselves only, and 
it is our duty to tell these people that not a single person 
in the world has the right to say that another country should 
disappear." In response, at the final press conference, 
Taskhiri said he could have a dialogue with Judaism but not 
with Zionism: "If you mean dialogue between Iran and Israel, 
I see nothing in common here on which to base a dialogue." 
 
6.  (SBU) The final declaration, which had been drafted 
before the summit, underscored the importance of religion for 
social order, cross-cultural dialogue, and international 
peace.  It has two basic premises:  first, that religion 
should be a unifying and pacifying force, rather than a 
divisive tool that incites conflict; and second, that 
religion, government, and civil society should partner to 
fight major threats at both the domestic and international 
levels.  It called for respect for all religions, encouraged 
state-civil-religious partnerships to enhance ethical values 
in domestic society and promotion of global development -- 
from fighting poverty to dealing with AIDS and drug 
addiction.  The declaration also addressed social issues, 
emphasizing the value of human life "from conception to final 
breath and natural death" and the importance of the family. 
The declaration emphasized the importance of human rights as 
a concern for religious leaders, but within the confines of a 
religious re-interpretation of human rights, similar to the 
one announced at a national forum organized by the ROC in 
April.  The declaration also included several statements on 
international affairs that clearly echoed GOR thinking.  For 
example, it referred to the virtue of combining democracy 
with the "moral feeling, way of life, various legal and 
political systems, and national and religious traditions of 
people," and to the desirability of a multipolar world with 
many different but equal types of government.  It also stated 
that religious leaders should have a "more systematic 
partnership" with the United Nations. 
 
7. (C) Participants at the summit told us that in general 
they were pleased with the event.  They said it was mainly a 
showpiece for the ROC and another feather in Putin's cap in 
the run-up to the G8, but nevertheless it gave the 
participants a chance to interact with one another.  Those 
who were not invited -- such as the Hare Krishnas, who asked 
to attend but were denied -- complained that it was just 
another sign the ROC did not really believe in a 
multidenominational society and that the ROC thought it could 
cherry-pick which religions were "legitimate" in Russia.  The 
Hare Krishnas also made the point that, although Hinduism is 
the world's third largest religion with around 850 million 
followers, only two Hindus were invited to the summit. 
. 
======= 
COMMENT 
======= 
 
8.  (C)  Carefully orchestrated to take place just prior to 
this year's G8 Summit, the World Summit of Religious Leaders 
was an opportunity to portray Russian society as tolerant and 
magnanimous, as well as to showcase Putin's acknowledgment of 
religion as a powerful social and political force that should 
be harnessed to benefit society.  The summit was also 
designed to bolster the credentials of the ROC, casting the 
Church as inclusive and welcoming.  The deliberate failure to 
invite the Dalai Lama, however, demonstrates that the ROC is 
still not ready to ignore political realities, i.e., Chinese 
objections to the Dalai Lama, for the sake of religious 
harmony.  It is also worth noting that the final declaration 
issued by summit leaders incorporated several themes of 
Russian foreign policy, such as a reference to double 
standards and the importance of fighting terrorism, and 
implicitly acknowledged the increasingly intimate 
relationship between the GOR and the ROC. 
 
9.  (C) That said, the summit was an important event that 
brought together in one place senior religious figures who 
represented the vast majority of the world's population. 
They produced an uplifting declaration that balances the 
demands of religious believers for tolerance and acceptance 
with a pragmatic acknowledgment that secular problems must 
also be addressed if the effort to shape healthy community 
attitudes is to succeed.  In addition, the exchange of 
positive messages between Pope Benedict and Aleksey II is 
evidence of the continuing thaw in relations between the two 
churches.  Nonetheless, it will take considerably more than 
 
MOSCOW 00007493  003 OF 003 
 
 
soaring rhetoric and good feelings to transform the summit 
leaders' declaration into a concrete action plan that 
tangibly advances religious tolerance. 
BURNS

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