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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
06MOSCOW9356 2006-08-25 15:33 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Moscow

DE RUEHMO #9356 2371533
R 251533Z AUG 06

C O N F I D E N T I A L MOSCOW 009356 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 08/24/2016 
Classified By: Political Minister-Counselor Alice Wells. 
Reasons 1.4 (b and d) 
1.  (C) SUMMARY:  The abduction of a female journalist in 
Chechnya that prompted public appeals from human rights 
groups could have consequences for the Chechen newspaper that 
employed her as a stringer and the groups seeking her 
release, following the revelation that she is Shamil 
Basayev's widow.  END SUMMARY. 
2.  (SBU) On August 17, Elina Ersenoyeva was abducted in 
Groznyy by men believed to belong to either Russian or 
Chechen security forces.  According to Ersenoyeva's aunt, who 
was taken with her but later released, the two had bags 
placed over their heads, were put in separate cars, and taken 
to a basement.  After about two hours, the aunt was released. 
 She told human rights activists that she did not know what 
happened to Ersonoyeva.  Two days prior to the abduction, 
Ersenoyeva had written to the Demos Center and the 
International Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights 
complaining that she and her family were being "persecuted" 
by members of the Chechen paramilitary loyal to Chechen Prime 
Minister Ramzan Kadyrov.  Ersenoyeva attributed the pressure 
to the fact she had married a rebel fighter in November 2005. 
3.  (C) Demos Center Director Tanya Lokshina and other human 
rights organizations on August 18 released public appeals for 
Ersenoyeva's release, describing her as a journalist and 
civic activist based on her work with the independent Chechen 
newspaper Chechen Society and an AIDs prevention group known 
as INFO-MOST.  On August 24, Lokshina said she learned from 
Ersenoyeva's family that the fighter Ersenoyeva married was 
Basayev.  The family maintained that the marriage had been 
forced upon Ersenoyeva, a claim that Lokshina takes with a 
grain of salt but believes is credible.  The family said 
Ersenoyeva had been approached by the wife of Chechen 
"President" Abdul Khalim Saidullayev, a distant relative, who 
told Ersenoyeva that a groom had been found for her. 
Lokshina said the family believed that had Ersenoyeva 
refused, they would have been targeted by the rebels.  The 
family told Lokshina that Ersenoyeva had spent six weeks with 
4.  (C) Lokshina is concerned that for human rights 
organizations who publicized the case, and for Timur Aliev, 
the editor of Chechen Society as her employer, there was a 
danger that they would now be seen by security services as 
supporters of the rebels.  Lokshina said any denials they had 
not known Ersenoyeva's connection to Basayev would be met by 
authorities with skepticism at a minimum, and in Aliev's 
case, as an outright lie because he worked in the North 
Caucasus.  While it was too early to know, she said, 
authorities could use the Ersenoyev case to connect her, 
Aliev, and others to Basayev -- no matter how tenuous the 
connection -- and use it against them. 
5.  (C) COMMENT:  Lokshina and other prominent human rights 
groups that have criticized abuses in Chechnya have generally 
been scrupulous in avoiding any appearance of supporting 
terrorists like Basayev.  Likewise, Aliev, who has won 
numerous awards for his work in the North Caucasus, is a 
highly regarded independent journalist.  Their criticisms of 
the GOR and its Chechen allies have not been well received by 
the authorities, but they have continued to work without too 
much interference.  This inadvertent linkage to Basayev will 
raise their profile and potential vulnerability. 


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