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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
06MOSCOW8427 2006-08-08 07:44 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Moscow

DE RUEHMO #8427/01 2200744
O 080744Z AUG 06

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 04 MOSCOW 008427 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 08/08/2016 
Classified By: Charge D'Affaires a.i. Daniel A. Russell.  Reason 1.4 (b 
, d) 
1. (C)  Shamil Basayev leaves behind questions about the 
future direction of Chechnya, the future direction of the 
North Caucasus, and future prospects for terrorism, 
extremism, and militant Jihadism in the region.  With no 
unifying enemy, the leadership of Chechnya is beginning to 
show rifts.  Moscow is reviewing its policy of unconditional 
support for Kadyrov.  Meanwhile, there is no indication that 
Moscow will change in its support throughout the North 
Caucasus for local leaders noted for their corruption and 
excessive use of force.  Though Basayev's "brand" helped 
raise funds, it had already become a liability to militant 
Jihadis.  They are likely to emerge with better organization. 
 Amnesties and attempts to lure Chechen leaders back may have 
some effect, but probably not with the Jihadis.  Basayev's 
butchery and al-Qaeda links constrained U.S. and European 
policies towards Chechnya within the context of terrorism. 
His departure is an opportunity to broaden our approach to 
include cooperation with Russia in economic, social and human 
rights programs to protect the North Caucasus against the 
still-present danger of extremism.  End Summary. 
2. (C)  Shamil Basayev disappeared in the early hours of July 
10, after the explosion of a truck filled with weapons and 
ammunition several kilometers from the Ingush capital of 
Magas.  The ocean of ink spilled since then has failed to 
clarify much beyond those few facts.  We do not know whether 
the explosion was an accident, a special operation by the 
FSB, an assassination by rival terrorists, or even with 
certainty whether the body claimed to be Basayev's was really 
his.  Government actions and pronouncements leave more 
questions than they answer.  Leaks to the press sourced to 
the FSB have led to media speculation that crosses into 
fantasy.  All that is clear is that Basayev is no longer 
active and a leader of the insurgency.  This fact alone 
changes the landscape of the North Caucasus in many 
significant ways. 
Chechen Politics 
3. (C)  Basayev was a unifying principle for the "Chechen" 
leadership (Note:  to avoid confusion, we will use "Chechen" 
to refer to the pro-Russian forces in Groznyy, and 
"Ichkerian" to refer to the insurgent movements that started 
with Dudayev.  End Note).  Only such an external threat could 
lead rivals such as Ramzan Kadyrov, Said-Magomed Kakiyev 
(leader of the "West" battalion) and Sulim Yamadayev (leader 
of the "East" battalion) to submerge their differences.  The 
rivalries re-emerged even before Basayev's death, as he was 
losing power within the country.  One observer reported from 
a June visit that businessmen in Chechnya who used to pay 
protection money to Basayev were now paying it instead to 
Kadyrov.  With Basayev out of the picture, the same observer 
told us, a "real opposition" to Kadyrov has taken shape, 
headed by Kakiyev and Yamadayev and under the titular 
leadership of President Alu Alkhanov.  Only Alkhanov's 
"cowardice" (and uncertainty over Russia's reaction) kept the 
opposition from overt action.  Such rifts will come to define 
Chechen internal politics for the near future. 
4. (C) That said, a recovering Chechnya raises the boats of 
all militias and provides a deterrent to major rebellion.  As 
one Chechen told us after his recent return from a family 
visit there, "Life would almost be normal there if it weren't 
for all the disappearances."  Apparently, the economic 
improvement of the citizenry has allowed "a whole series of 
security services" to profit from kidnappings and to 
"disappear" business rivals, often under the guise of 
conducting anti-terrorist operations.  But by and large, our 
Chechen friend said, the weakness of the guerrillas is 
allowing people's lives to improve rapidly. 
Kremlin Politics 
5. (C)  Basayev's death leaves the Kremlin more room to 
maneuver in pursuit of its goals to keep Chechnya quiet and 
out of the international arena.  On July 25 the "Commission 
for the Reconstruction of Chechnya" headed by DPM Medvedev 
sent a delegation to Groznyy under Minister for Economic 
Development German Gref.  The "inspection" provoked 
speculation that Moscow had second thoughts about letting 
Kadyrov push Alkhanov out of the Presidency and take it 
himself once the former turns 30, the statutory minimum. 
6. (C) However, our Kremlin-linked interlocutors have closed 
MOSCOW 00008427  002 OF 004 
ranks behind Kadyrov.  Those who criticized him before now 
praise his "real accomplishments."  Presidential 
Administration aide Aleksandr Machevskiy, who several months 
ago supported Presidential Representative Kozak over Kadyrov, 
now tells us that Kadyrov is a "great administrator in the 
Asiatic mode... these are Musli
ms, and a strong man like 
Kadyrov is needed to keep them in line.  You Americans," he 
advised, "need to find someone like him for Iraq." 
Machevskiy's crude words reflect the Kremlin's mindset on 
dealing with Muslims.  A Dagestani professor at the Academy 
of Sciences described to us "Russian" views on how to deal 
with Muslims in terms eerily similar to Machevskiy's.  The 
professor stressed that those views are inapplicable to the 
North Caucasus.  They do, however, favor figures like 
Kadyrov.  It is no coincidence that Kadyrov is spearheading 
the charge for a Putin third term -- it butters up Kadyrov's 
patron, and if the campaign works it keeps him around for a 
long time to come. 
7. (C)  Some sources believe the praise for Kadyrov is akin 
to the kiss Mafiosi receive before they are rubbed out.  They 
say the Kremlin believes Kadyrov, without Basayev as an 
opponent, will turn his attentions outward in order to get 
all the Chechens to line up behind him and paper over the 
internal rifts; this outward focus will lead Kadyrov to cross 
some red lines.  Kadyrov is indeed trying to throw his weight 
around in the North Caucasus (see below, para. 14).  On 
balance, however, we judge that the Kremlin's inner circle 
considers stability in Chechnya still too fragile to survive 
an out-and-out power struggle, and will keep backing Kadyrov. 
 Some interlocutors believe Kadyrov is still needed because 
his fighters -- mostly ex-rebels -- would disappear back into 
the mountains without his personal guarantee of immunity from 
prosecution.  Other observers dispute this and claim that 
Kadyrov's forces would follow anyone who pays them. 
Assassination is always a possibility, but in that event the 
Kremlin would probably unite its weight behind one potential 
candidate -- probably Sulim Yamadayev or Kadyrov's constant 
companion and security chief Adam Delimkhanov -- to avoid a 
protracted power struggle. 
8. (C)  Both Kadyrov and the Kremlin are trying to follow up 
Basayev's death by neutralizing prominent Ichkerian officials 
abroad.  On July 23 Magomed Khanbiyev -- former Ichkerian 
"Defense Minister" and now a loyal member of Kadyrov's 
Parliament -- was sent to Baku, presumably to lure back his 
brother Umar, Ichkerian "Health Minister" and one of the most 
prominent holdouts.  Chechen businessman and former 
presidential candidate Malik Saydullayev, known to be close 
to the FSB, told a contact of ours he was opening 
negotiations to get Ichkerians to return, but refused to say 
who his targets were.   On July 18, President Putin 
personally asked Tony Blair to deport Ichkerian "Foreign 
Minister" Ahmad Zakayev, who has political asylum in the UK. 
The Russians followed up with a formal indictment and 
extradition request eight days later.  (Comment:  Zakayev's 
importance to the Kremlin appears to lie primarily in his 
ties to exiled oligarch Boris Berezovskiy.  This, rather than 
his Ichkerian record, probably explains Russia's doggedness 
in seeking his extradition.  End Comment.)   Machevskiy 
warned us that Russian services might take action -- "as we 
did with Yandarbiyev" -- against some overseas leaders, 
including Zakayev and Movladi Udugov, the propagandist 
thought to be in the Persian Gulf.  (Ichkerian "President" 
Zelimkhan Yandarbiyev was assassinated in Qatar on February 
13 2004.  Russian agents were arrested and convicted of the 
crime.)  Success in luring back prominent Ichkerians would be 
a political bonus for both the Kremlin and Kadyrov, and would 
assist Russia's goal of taking Chechnya out of the 
international political arena.  These figures, however, have 
no influence over the fighters. 
9. (C) To encourage fighters to lay down their arms, FSB 
Chief Patrushev announced an amnesty on July 15.  The picture 
he and others have painted was of scattered cells, mostly 
leaderless, that could liquidate themselves voluntarily or be 
liquidated by the security forces.  Press reporting and the 
public statements of Chechen officials indicate few fighters 
are lured by the prospect.  The only guarantee fighters might 
consider is a personal one from Kadyrov, not a federal 
amnesty.   Still, Chechen officials publicly urged Patrushev 
to extend the amnesty beyond the August 1 deadline.  The new 
deadline is September 30.  Some interlocutors have suggested 
to us that a realistic goal would be to encourage remaining 
groups (including the large one led by Ichkerian "President" 
Doku Umarov) to escape the country over the southern mountain 
Regional Hopes and Fears 
10. (C) Dagestan and Kabardino-Balkaria quickly followed 
MOSCOW 00008427  003 OF 004 
Patrushev's lead and announced amnesties for surrendering 
guerrillas.   We have seen no indication of response from the 
fighters.  In Dagestan, alienated youths have been waging a 
war with the security forces.  The Duma Member from 
Makhachkala told us they have one by one assassinated every 
member of the Dagestani MVD's counter-terrorism unit.  Given 
that implacable hostility and the power struggles shaking the 
republic's elite, fighters might well conclude they are safer 
up in the mountains.  In Kabardino-Balkaria, despite some 
outreach by President Kanokov (dismissed as "cosmetic 
concessions" by one expert in North Caucasus Islam), the 
aftermath of the extremist attack on Nalchik in October 2005 
has produced great anger:  authorities still refuse to 
release the bodies of the dead.  It is widely presumed that 
the authorities want to hide evidence that the men were 
tortured and killed after arrest, rather than during the 
actual attack.  That will probably deter fighters from 
11. (C)  Ingush President Zyazikov could be the biggest 
individual loser from Basayev's presumed death.  The 
explosion took place close to the Ingush capital in a village 
where a number of police and MVD officials live.  Our 
interlocutors take it as a given that Basayev had infiltrated 
most of the regional security services, and that many 
security officials were in fact sympathetic to Basayev or on 
his payroll.  The rumors about Ingushetia are more explicit: 
that Basayev had protection from the senior levels of the 
Ingush government.  Ruslan Khasbulatov told us last month 
that Basayev had a wide acquaintance in the FSB and its 
successors from the early 1990s, when he was trained by and 
worked for the KGB.  The suspicions of Basayev's contacts 
could extend to Zyazikov, an ex-KGB officer. 
12. (C)  Aside from that potential personnel reshuffle, 
however, it appears to be business as usual in the North 
Caucasus republics -- and that means the breeding ground for 
Jihadi extremists will continue to be fertile.  Unemployment, 
alienation, lack of hope, corruption and heavy-handed 
reliance on brutal security services appear to be as 
prevalent as ever.  For example, on April 25 residents of 
southern Dagestan's Dokuzpare district gathered peacefully to 
protest the corrup
tion of the district chief.  He had been 
appointed by the previous president, Magomedali Magomedov, 
and they thought the new President, Mukhu Aliyev, would be 
receptive to their complaints.  The district chief called in 
two battalions of security troops, who fired on the 
demonstrators, killing three. 
13. (C)  Attitudes towards dealing with non-official Islam 
have not changed.  At a recent MGIMO conference, a speaker 
from Kabardino-Balkaria declared, "The terrorists go through 
three stages:  first, they say they just want to worship 
freely.  Second, they say they want to live according to 
Shari'a law.  Third, they take up arms to impose an Islamic 
state.  We know how to deal with them when they reach the 
third stage, but we can't let them get that far.  We have to 
stop them in the first stage."  The speaker's philosophy was 
clearly shared by former Kabardino-Balkarian Minister of 
Internal Affairs Shogenov who last year closed mosques and 
deployed heavy police surveillance and harassment to hinder 
free worship.  The result was the terrorist attack on Nalchik 
of October, 2005.  Kabardino-Balkarian President Kanokov has 
since sacked Shogenov.  However, such attitudes are clearly 
still strong in the republic.  Religious repression and 
economic desperation keep the underlying conditions for 
terrorism in place. 
14. (C)  The regional governments appear to be preoccupied 
with the growing regional strength of Kadyrov and his 
willingness to throw his weight around.  His forces have 
increasingly been carrying out operations in Ingushetia.  He 
appears to be spreading into Dagestan as well.  Not having 
been in on the death of Basayev on July 10, three days later 
Kadyrov announced a major operation to eliminate a large band 
of "Avars, Arabs and Turks" infiltrating from Dagestan, which 
he identified as the current source of terrorism in the 
Caucasus.  On July 21 the Makhachkala newspaper "Chernovik" 
published an alternative version of events based on the 
identified "terrorists" and interviews with their families. 
In "Chernovik's" reportage, two men (from Kadyrov's security 
services, the paper implied) recruited 18 youths and boys, 
some as young as 13, from ethnic Chechen-Akkin from villages 
around Khasavyurt.  The escorts led them into Chechnya.  Only 
the two escorts and three older boys were armed.  When they 
crossed into Chechnya, Kadyrov's forces were waiting in 
ambush and machine gunned them all -- except for the escorts, 
who disappeared, and a 13 year-old boy who had lagged behind 
and escaped with a bullet in his leg.  True or not, this 
version reflects Dagestani distrust of Kadyrov and the 
perception that his cynicism and butchery are unlimited. 
Chechen calls for the merger of several regions in the North 
MOSCOW 00008427  004 OF 004 
Caucasus -- in which the Chechens would be the largest single 
ethnic group -- are viewed by other ethnic groups as more 
evidence of Kadyrov's aggressive ambitions. 
The Fighters:  Prisoners of the Mountains 
15. (C)  Basayev's departure will accelerate changes within 
the guerrilla forces themselves.  "President" Doku Umarov, 
leader of the only remaining sizable group, is also the last 
of the generation of commanders who came into prominence 
during the first Chechen war, 1994-96.  A new generation of 
fighters is taking over, one that has no memory of normal 
life and ignores Ichkerian separatism in favor of Jihadi 
religious extremism.  At the same time, even before Basayev's 
death, his "brand" had become less effective in garnering 
support and funding from international Jihadi organizations 
and Gulf funding.  The public relations disaster of Beslan 
put a halt to spectacular terrorist actions, and funders of 
jihad turned to more attractive investments elsewhere. In 
recent months internal funding also dried up, as Kadyrov 
successfully muscled in on Basayev's protection racket (see 
above, para. 3).  This put a great strain on Basayev's 
organization, which was forced to devote enormous resources 
just to protect him.  With his departure, the organization 
will revert to a more efficient cell-based network, the 
Academy of Sciences professor predicted.  Its more modest 
needs could be financed through the usual bank robbery and 
narcotics trade. 
16. (C)  The end state after the dust settles is therefore 
likely to be a network of Jihadi extremist cells throughout 
the North Caucasus, in touch with each other.  Though they 
will seek contact with al-Qaida or other international Jihadi 
extremist organizations, Basayev's death may have 
marginalized these groups in world terrorism terms.  The 
poverty of the region, combined with the conspicuous 
consumption of a corrupt few and the brutality of the 
security services will keep a constant flow of recruits. 
However, training and capacity to carry out significant 
operations are another matter. 
Implications for the U.S. 
17. (C)  The disappearance of the Basayev "brand logo" could 
lead to new opportunities for U.S. policy on Chechnya and the 
North Caucasus as a whole.  There will still be terrorism, 
but Chechnya is becoming more secure and marginal as an arena 
for international Jihadis.  There will still be human rights 
abuses, but large-scale atrocities by Russian Federal forces 
are becoming less likely.  The issues that do remain salient 
are the economic and social factors that drive youth towards 
extremism:  lack of opportunity, isolation, the corruption 
and conspicuous consumption of new elites, and 19th century 
Russian attitudes towards dealing with Muslim populations, 
including excessive reliance on force and repression.  These 
factors continue to render the North Caucasus fertile soil 
for militant Jihadism brandishing the flag of social justice 
and freedom of religion. 
18. (C)  Our goal should be to help Russia overcome these 
problems, while recognizing that the Russians themselves bear 
the primary responsibility, and that human rights concerns 
will continue to limit direct cooperation with figures such 
as Kadyrov.  Our current modest programs -- aside from the 
still-needed humanitarian focus -- are a start towards ending 
the isolation of the region and its youth.  We should focus 
our efforts on three areas:  programs that increase knowledge 
of how to use resources from the outside world, improve 
agricultural practices, and help the regions compete for 
Russian domestic investment capital; programs that mitigate 
youth isolation and provide channels other than Jihadist 
extremism for youthful desires to belong, to make a 
difference, and to achieve social justice; and efforts -- 
both through assistance and through direct dialogue and 
cooperation with the Government of Russia -- to pull Russia 
into the project throughout Western societies of 
re-evaluating how we deal with Muslims as part of our own 
societies and in Muslim countries.  This last set
of efforts 
will be the most difficult, since Russian attitudes towards 
Muslims took hundreds of years to solidify and will not 
change overnight.  This is at heart a human rights issue in 
which dialogue is the key tool.  It is clear that the West 
does not have all the answers, either.  However, we recognize 
that we have a problem -- and there are some Russians who 
recognize that they have a problem, too.  In strengthening 
and engaging with those voices, we can make both Russia and 
ourselves more secure. 


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