06MOSCOW11539, RUSSIA-GEORGIA UPDATE

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
06MOSCOW11539 2006-10-13 14:46 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Moscow

VZCZCXRO8813
OO RUEHDBU
DE RUEHMO #1539/01 2861446
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
O 131446Z OCT 06
FM AMEMBASSY MOSCOW
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 3897
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 011539 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 10/13/2016 
TAGS: PREL PGOV PHUM PREF GG RS
SUBJECT: RUSSIA-GEORGIA UPDATE 
 
REF: MOSCOW 11489 
 
Classified By: Charge Daniel A. Russell.  Reasons:  1.4(B/D). 
 
1.  (C)  Summary:  Arrests and deportations of Georgians 
accused of violating immigrations laws continue, but no new 
measures have been enacted against Georgia or against ethnic 
Georgians living in Russia.  No reliable numbers are 
available for the number of Georgians found not to have legal 
status in Russia, although in Moscow alone almost 600 
detainees have been ordered expelled.  The actual deportation 
process is occurring at an accelerated pace and may lack 
legal safeguards.  Meanwhile, the Federation Council ratified 
a military bases withdrawal agreement with Georgia which is 
required to implement the 2005 political agreement between 
Moscow and Tbilisi to withdraw Russian forces from bases in 
Georgia.  End Summary. 
. 
Profiles in Courage 
------------------- 
 
2.  (C)  Elected officials and other public figures remain 
hesitant to condemn the discriminatory treatment of ethnic 
Georgians in Russia.  Among the exceptions has been a group 
of human rights activists, including Moscow Helsinki Group's 
Lyudmila Alekseyeva and Yelena Bonner, who signed a petition 
criticizing official moves against Georgia and Georgians and 
calling on officials not to promote war with Tbilisi.  In a 
letter to religious students, Patriarch Aleksey II stressed 
that no person could break up "the Russian-Georgian spiritual 
community" which has a shared history and culture.  A Public 
Chamber member, who heads the anti-corruption subcommittee 
and has held hearings on the dangers of the gaming business, 
told us that while Georgian-owned casinos had criminal links, 
the Public Chamber would not condone an ethnicity-driven 
approach to a serious socio-economic issue. 
. 
Saakashvili Not Yet PNG'ed 
-------------------------- 
 
3.  (C)  Legislation that would declare Saakashvili, Georgian 
MOD Okruashvili and Interior Minister Merabishvili to be 
persona non grata in Russia and would bar their presence or 
transit through Russian territory remained stalled in the 
Duma.  The declaration's sponsor, Konstantin Zatulin, who 
chairs the CIS Committee, reluctantly agreed to return the 
declaration for a rewrite after some Duma members complained 
that the text had been drafted in haste and had not been 
vetted by the Committee.  We heard from a Duma staffer that 
the legislation might be reintroduced by next Wednesday.  The 
declaration apparently does regret "excessive measures" that 
had been taken against some Georgians by law enforcement 
officers. 
. 
Military Bases Withdrawal Agreement Ratified 
-------------------------------------------- 
 
4.  (SBU)  Despite the sharp deterioration in the bilateral 
relationship, the Federation Council ratified two 
Russian-Georgian agreements on October 13 that give official 
sanction to the bases withdrawal agreement reached between 
Tbilisi and Moscow in 2005.  The Duma had ratified the 
agreement last week.  Withdrawals of military equipment and 
forces had begun last year under cover of a political joint 
statement, but the bilateral agreement was legally required 
to authorize expenditures of funds.  However, statements 
about the agreement either viewed the withdrawal as a loss to 
Russia or welcomed the move as reducing the number of 
"hostages" Georgia could hold in the event of a continued 
deterioration in the relationship. 
. 
Expulsions By the Numbers 
------------------------- 
 
5.  (C)  We are working to assemble a more complete picture 
of the scale of deportations, but hard-and-fast numbers are 
difficult to come by.  A spokesperson for the Moscow courts 
announced late on October 12 that over the past week the 
courts have issued administrative expulsion rulings against 
598 Georgian citizens, 21 cases had been remanded for further 
investigation, and two cases had been dismissed.  This number 
included 218 expulsion orders based on a violations of 
migration legislation on Thursday.  Official figures are not 
available for other jurisdictions.  Georgian Embassy 
Political Counselor George Karalashvili told us that his 
Embassy was aware of 110 Georgians in detention in Moscow, 42 
in St. Petersburg, and over 30 in the Moscow Oblast.  Some of 
these detainees may have already been ordered to be deported 
and are awaiting transport.  An October 14 flight that was to 
have carried over 100 detainees was canceled, and 
Karalashvili told us that the flight might now go to Yerevan, 
with land transport to be provided by the Georgian government 
 
MOSCOW 00011539  002 OF 002 
 
 
to Tbilisi. 
 
6.  (C)  Russian NGO Civic Assistance Chair Svetlana 
Gannushkina told us that no one has been able to get reliable 
statistics on the number of Georgians detained, but said her 
NGO had counted dozens of cases daily.  On October 9, it had 
recorded 72 cases of Georgians being detained.  Conditions in 
detention centers were typically miserable
for Russia, with 
detainees depending on family and friends to supplement the 
meager rations they received.  Civic Assistance had also 
documented cases of detained Georgians, who were, in fact, 
legally in Russia.  Within the GOR there were few who would 
question the policy, she said, although Human Rights 
Ombudsman Lukin and Ella Pamfilova, chair of the Commission 
on Human Rights and Development of Civil Society, were 
trying. 
 
7.  (C)  Zurab Koberidze, the country director for the 
U.S.-based NGO International Medical Committee and an ethnic 
Georgian with Tajik citizenship, told us he was keeping a low 
profile.  Authorities had renewed his registration in Russia 
last week without any problems, but while recently boarding a 
flight from North Ossetia to Moscow, he was questioned about 
his status in the country.  Police told him they had been 
ordered to question ethnic Georgians about their visa status. 
 Koberidze told us that he was concerned enough about the 
current atmosphere to ask officials at the Federal 
Registration Service whether his ethnicity might affect the 
NGO's application for re-registration.   They assured him it 
would not. 
. 
Deportation 101 
--------------- 
 
8.  (C)  The actual deportation process at work here appears 
to be conducted at an accelerated pace.  UNHCR Senior 
Protection Officer Gang Li told us that no Georgians have 
approached UNHCR for protection from deportation.  Li said in 
deportation cases where UNHCR has been involved, defendants 
had the right to legal representation and to appeal the 
deportation order in the court system.  In most cases, it 
took two to three months before someone was deported, and he 
was unsure on what legal basis the GOR was undertaking 
immediate deportations.  Although UNHCR had no direct 
involvement, it was watching the situation closely in case it 
evolved into a broader campaign against other ethnic 
minorities, including asylum seekers and refugees, Li said. 
 
9.  (C)  An entirely different view of the process was 
provided by a major in the Moscow Police Criminal 
Investigation Department, who told us that the police were 
processing these cases as violations of the section of the 
Russian Administrative Code regulating legal status in 
Russia.  The detective said that in deportation cases, the 
detainee could be held for up to 48 hours before being 
produced in court.  During this time, the police would obtain 
evidence about the person's legal status.  The detainee would 
be given a closed, administrative hearing by a district court 
judge that would typically last less than 15 minutes.  If the 
judge found that the person lacked legal status, the detainee 
would be remanded to a holding facility, where the detainee 
would usually be kept no more than one week before 
deportation.  The police major was not aware of appeals being 
lodged by Georgian detainees.  The Georgian Embassy had heard 
from some detainees that they did not want to fight the 
expulsion order and wanted to return to Tbilisi.  At the same 
time, Karalashvili said that legal safeguards such as counsel 
and interpretation have not always been provided. 
RUSSELL

Wikileaks

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