06MOSCOW11987, EUR A/S FRIED MEETS RUSSIAN HUMAN RIGHTS

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
06MOSCOW11987 2006-10-25 13:43 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Moscow

VZCZCXRO9706
OO RUEHDBU
DE RUEHMO #1987/01 2981343
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
O 251343Z OCT 06
FM AMEMBASSY MOSCOW
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 4513
INFO RUCNCIS/CIS COLLECTIVE IMMEDIATE
RUEHXD/MOSCOW POLITICAL COLLECTIVE IMMEDIATE

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 MOSCOW 011987 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 10/25/2016 
TAGS: PHUM PREL PGOV RS
SUBJECT: EUR A/S FRIED MEETS RUSSIAN HUMAN RIGHTS 
OMBUDSMAN: GEORGIA, HR DIALOGUE, POLITKOVSKAYA 
 
 
Classified By: Ambassador William J. Burns: 1.4 (b) and (d). 
 
1.  (C)  Summary:  In his October 21 meeting with EUR A/S 
Fried, Russia's Human Rights Ombudsman Vladimir Lukin urged 
presidential endorsement of the unofficial human rights 
dialogue initiative organized by his office and the Moscow 
Carnegie Center, against a backdrop of public disenchantment 
with the bilateral relationship.  He shared USG concerns over 
GOR treatment of Georgians in Russia, which was exacerbated 
by a sycophantic bureaucracy, but placed more blame on the 
Georgian President than on Russia for the deterioration in 
GOR-GOG relations.  Lukin criticized the GOR response to the 
murder of Anna Politkovskaya, and said the protection of 
journalists was a critical human rights concern.  He argued 
for greater public attention to the successes of US-GOR 
cooperation, while agreeing that issues like Kosovo and 
Georgia could hurt efforts to strengthen the foundation of 
US-Russian relations.  End Summary 
 
2.  (C)  On October 21, EUR Assistant Secretary Daniel Fried 
met with Russia's Human Rights Ombudsman Vladimir Lukin, who 
was accompanied by longtime adviser, Nataliya Borisovna 
Mirza.  Fried briefed Lukin on Russian-Georgian relations 
(septel), and Fried underscored the Secretary's concern over 
the tensions in that bilateral relationship and dismay over 
the anti-Georgian campaign underway in Russia, capped by 
concern over the murder of journalist Anna Politkovskaya. 
Fried concluded that it had been a "bad couple of weeks" for 
Russians and Russia's friends.  Noting the failure to 
finalize details of an unofficial human rights dialogue in 
advance of the July 2006 G8 summit, Fried reiterated the USG 
interest in seeing this project succeed. 
 
--------------------- 
Human Rights Dialogue 
--------------------- 
 
3.  (C)  Lukin agreed that this was a bad period in 
US-Russian relations and stressed that, no longer a diplomat, 
he could afford to speak bluntly.  Mechanisms for conducting 
public diplomacy were in poor shape and the public mood had 
soured against the bilateral relationship.  This fact made a 
difference, both in the Kremlin and MFA, and Lukin noted it 
was ironic that there was a better dialogue throughout the 
late Soviet period, regardless of spy scandals and other 
ruptures politically, than today.  That said, Lukin did not 
see opponents to the proposition of an unofficial human 
rights dialogue sponsored by his office and the Moscow 
Carnegie Center, either at the Presidential Administration or 
MFA: Presidential Aide Prikhodko and Foreign Minister Lavrov 
and his team were all satisfied with the proposal. 
 
4.  (C)  Lukin made the case for a "public face" to the 
dialogue, in the form of an endorsement by Presidents Bush 
and Putin.  Without an official imprimatur, he explained, it 
would become "just one more dialogue."  An endorsement by the 
Presidents, whether in writing or otherwise, would generate 
momentum within the Russian human rights community and 
bureaucracy for the dialogue. 
 
5.  (C)  Fried agreed that it made sense to seek an explicit 
endorsement of the Presidents, assuming that the Russian 
government was behind the proposal and could move quickly, 
and undertook to raise it at senior levels in Washington. 
Fried stressed that the idea of a roundtable was positive, 
but that its success would be judged by its ability to 
address all issues, even politically sensitive ones.  Lukin 
agreed, joking that freedom of speech would be extended to 
the roundtable participants, and repeated that there was no 
point in conducting a sterile or "politically correct" 
exchange.  Fried agreed to meet with Lukin during his 
mid-November trip to Moscow to discuss next steps in securing 
an endorsement, noting that an announcement by the foreign 
ministers was another possible option. 
 
------------------------ 
Georgia: Assigning Blame 
------------------------ 
 
6.  (C)  On Georgian-Russian relations, Lukin assigned 
Saakashvili 60 percent responsibility for the deterioration 
in bilateral relations (with Russia responsible for the other 
40 percent, by current Russian standards a forthcoming 
position) and noted that there was little appreciation in 
Moscow for America's role in restraining the Georgian 
President; to the contrary, received wisdom was that 
Saakashvili was acting at US behest.  Lukin described this as 
a function of the "Moscow psychosis."  Fried outlined US 
policy towards Georgia and briefed on his recent 
consultations in Tbilisi, reiterating that the US was best 
served by an independent and capable Georgia that had good 
 
MOSCOW 00011987  002 OF 003 
 
 
relations with Russia.  Fried noted GOG concerns over the 
prospect of a resumption of ethnic cleansing in Gali and 
South Ossetia, as well as the possibility of Russian 
recognition of the separatist territories that could 
encourage the worst elements in both disputed territories to 
precipitate conflict with the central go
vernment.  Fried 
underscored the dangers of questioning Georgia's territorial 
integrity and rejected Kosovo (or, in response to Lukin, 
Eritrea) as a model. 
 
7.  (C)  On internal Russian actions against Georgians and 
Russian nationals of Georgian origin, Lukin agreed with 
Fried's characterization of the campaign and said that in the 
first ten days "our country did not behave in a civilized 
manner."  Lukin noted his own statements on television and to 
the press on this subject, but pointed to popular anger 
towards the GOG and the tendency of "sycophants" in the 
bureaucracy and law enforcement authorities to implement 
their directives too enthusiastically.  The situation in St. 
Petersburg was not as bad as Moscow, Lukin said, because 
Governor Matviyenko had taken a firm stance early on against 
these excesses.  Lukin said that the average citizen expected 
war to break out between Russia and Georgia, which created an 
atmosphere similar to the one that resulted in America's 
internment of Japanese during WW2, but conceded Fried's point 
that this was not an example for a democracy to emulate. 
 
8.  (C)  Lukin posited that the overall situation was 
improving slowly, but flagged deportations and the 
politically sensitive issue of illegal immigration.  Lukin 
explained that when he met with General Procurator Chayka he 
made the point that whereas equal numbers of Tajiks, Azeris 
and Georgians were rounded up and deported in the past, now 
the number of Georgians was disproportionately high.  The 
discriminatory application of the law was the problem.  Lukin 
agreed with Fried that this was a grave challenge for a 
multi-ethnic society. 
 
-------------------------------------------- 
Politkovskaya: Journalists remain vulnerable 
-------------------------------------------- 
 
9.  (C)  Fried recognized the importance of Lukin's gesture 
of attending the Politkovskaya funeral, in the absence of 
other senior ranking GOR officials, and noted the serious 
concern raised among Russia-watchers by the GOR's tacit 
acceptance (even approval) of her death.  Lukin said that the 
problem went beyond the murder of an individual journalist, 
but encompassed the general vulnerability of journalists. 
While progress had been made in identifying suspects in the 
murder of Deputy Central Bank Deputy Governor Kozlov (if not 
those who ordered the murder), the authorities rarely solved 
the cases of murdered journalists.  Lukin noted that he 
raised this as a critical issue with Putin in their biannual 
review of human rights last December.  No one could defend 
the Russian track record. 
 
10.  (C)  Lukin described Putin's response to the murder as a 
question of psychology, agreeing that the Russian President 
should have responded in a timely fashion, more passionately, 
with greater diplomacy, and without recourse to aspersions on 
the influence of the slain reporter.  Lukin noted that 
Politkovskaya was a difficult person, and retrograde in the 
sense that she was convinced that everything bad in Russia 
occurred because of the orders of a Politburo-like leadership 
-- she did not recognize another alternative explanation and, 
as a result, repeatedly offended many in power, including 
Putin.  For example, Lukin explained, everyone understood 
that torture occurs in Chechnya.  But this is not because 
Moscow issues an order, but because of a stew of competing 
local powers, revenge, historical rivalries and betrayals; 
and lack of bureaucratic order.  Lukin repeated that 
Politkovskaya's death begged the question of how Russia would 
protect its journalists. 
 
----------------------------- 
US-Russia: Focus on Successes 
----------------------------- 
 
11.  (C)  Lukin accepted Fried's description of US support 
for a strong but also democratic  and modern Russia, but 
noted that this was not believed by the general populace. 
There was an inferiority complex, understandable in light of 
the fall of the Soviet Union and the hardships of the 1990's; 
now, however, Russia's economic rejuvenation had led to a 
rebirth of old stereotypes and illusions.  The prescription, 
Lukin argued, was a period of quiet, a time for Russians to 
focus on themselves and remaking their society.  Where the US 
could help, Lukin noted, was in directing more public 
attention to those areas where the US and Russia are 
cooperating productively.  Issues that would complicate this 
 
MOSCOW 00011987  003 OF 003 
 
 
task, he explained, included Kosovo.  Fried agreed that more 
needed to be done to sell the relationship, but urged the GOR 
to refocus the Kosovo debate to one of how Russia could play 
a positive role in securing the historical presence of Serbs 
in Kosovo.  Georgia, Fried stressed, was another area that 
handled poorly could prove a setback for US-GOR relations. 
 
BURNS

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