07MOSCOW4289, NEW LEGAL TROUBLES AROUND FORMER RUSSIAN-CHECHEN

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
07MOSCOW4289 2007-08-31 06:26 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Moscow

VZCZCXRO5251
PP RUEHDBU
DE RUEHMO #4289/01 2430626
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 310626Z AUG 07 ZDK
FM AMEMBASSY MOSCOW
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 3460
INFO RUCNCIS/CIS COLLECTIVE
RUEHXD/MOSCOW POLITICAL COLLECTIVE

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 MOSCOW 004289 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 08/30/2017 
TAGS: PGOV PHUM RS
SUBJECT: NEW LEGAL TROUBLES AROUND FORMER RUSSIAN-CHECHEN 
FRIENDSHIP SOCIETY 
 
REF: A. MOSCOW 4114 
 
     B. MOSCOW 0276 
 
Classified By: PolCouns Alice G. Wells for reasons 1.4(b and d). 
 
1. (C)  SUMMARY:  Regional officials in Nizhniy Novgorod are 
conducting investigations of organizations affiliated with 
Stanislav Dmitrievskiy, the head of the banned 
Russian-Chechen Friendship Society (RCFS), including the 
seizure of computers from the Nizhniy Novgorod Foundation to 
Support Tolerance, the independent local paper Novaya Gazeta, 
and the Nizhniy Novgorod NGO Human Rights Alliance.  These 
actions follow legal action to place new restrictions on 
Dmitrievskiy's parole, following his involvement in the April 
"Dissenters' March," which took place without an 
administrative permit (reftel).  Dmitrievskiy publicly 
decried the investigations as yet another example of the 
local government's pressure on him and others affiliated with 
the "Other Russia" opposition movement.  In Moscow, Embassy 
raised Dmitrievskiy's case with Russian Deputy Ombudsman for 
Human Rights Georgiy Kunadze, who said that his staff was 
aware of the case, including the new restrictions on 
Dmitrievskiy's parole, but would follow established practice 
and would not get involved without an explicit request from 
Dmitrievskiy.  END SUMMARY 
 
------------------ 
New Investigations 
------------------ 
 
2. (SBU) On the evening of August 29, officers from the 
Ministry of Internal Affairs' (MVD) regional bureau raided 
the offices of the Nizhniy Novgorod Foundation to Support 
Tolerance, a local human rights organization headed by 
Dmitrievskiy's close comrade, Oksana Chelysheva. 
(Dmitrievskiy and Chelysheva founded the organization in 2006 
as a Russian-registered entity as they prepared to move the 
headquarters of the Russian-Chechen Friendship Society to 
Finland.)  Initially, the MVD officers asked for 
Dmitrievskiy, mistakenly believing him to be the 
organization's director, but then announced that they would 
conduct a complete review of the organization's financial and 
administrative records.  The investigation uncovered 
allegedly unlicensed software on the Foundation's computers, 
which the inspectors took away for further scrutiny.  Local 
employees, however, negotiated an arrangement to copy the 
information on the hard drives before turning the computers 
over to the inspectors.  Chelysheva claims that the Fund had 
licenses for all the software, but had lost the documentation 
during frequent moves over the past year. 
 
3. (SBU) On August 30, the regional authorities investigated 
the local offices of the newspaper Novaya Gazeta and seized 
their computers.  Chief Editor Zakhar Prilepin told us that 
the paper is "not rich" and that the computers were the 
personal property of the users.  In contrast to the actions 
at the Foundation to Support Tolerance, workers at the paper 
were unable to copy their data before the computers were 
removed -- effectively shutting down operations.  Both 
Dmitrievskiy and Chelysheva have published articles in the 
paper, which takes a sharply critical approach to the 
regional and federal government.  Prilepin, a member of the 
Eduard Limonov's banned National Bolshevik Party, has been 
active in the "Other Russia" opposition movement and helped 
to organize the April "Dissenters March" in Nizhniy Novgorod. 
 
4.  (SBU) Also on August 30, local officials carried out a 
similar investigation of financial, business, and 
administrative practices at the Nizhniy Novgorod NGO Human 
Rights Alliance.  According to Chelysheva, the staff at the 
Human Rights Alliance provided the investigators with 
evidence that the computers in use were not the property of 
the organization, forcing the police to seek a new court 
order to confiscate them. Staff members claim that the police 
have conducted four other investigations of the NGO over the 
past week. 
 
5.  (SBU) Chelysheva reported that the authorities were also 
investigating the Nizhniy Novgorod Center to Support Migrants 
and have directed the center's director, Almaz Choloyan, to 
remain in the city.  The investigation involves accusations 
that Choloyan illegally using a stolen or counterfeit 
Ukrainian border stamp on an immigrant's passport -- charges 
that Choloyan denies.  Investigators have searched Choloyan's 
apartment and office, confiscating materials including the 
passports of several immigrants.  According to Chelysheva, 
FSB officers questioned Choloyan for several hours and asked 
about her relations to Dmitrievskiy. 
 
--------------------------------------------- ------ 
Human Rights Ombudsman Observing from the Sidelines 
 
MOSCOW 00004289  002 OF 002 
 
 
--------------------------------------------- ------ 
 
6.  (SBU)  Before news of this week's investigations was made 
public, the Deputy Ombudsman for Human Rights Grigoriy 
Kunadze told Embassy that he was aware of Dmitrievskiy's case 
and the legal process to impose new restrictions on his 
parole.  He noted that the Ombudsman's office had considered 
making a statement, but decided against such a
move, 
primarily because Dmitrievskiy had not asked to have the case 
reviewed. (The Ombudsman's office generally requires a 
request from alleged victims before acting.)  He later mused 
that some activists purposely do not appeal to the Ombudsman 
office because they prefer to play the role of victim -- 
perhaps an indirect reference to Dmitrievskiy. 
 
---------- 
Next Steps 
---------- 
7.  (SBU) Dmitrievskiy and Chelysheva now face the challenges 
of finding computers to revive the Foundation's work; 
formulating their appeal to the MVD against what they see as 
a violation of legal procedures; and waiting for what they 
expect to be further legal action.  Dmitrievskiy expects more 
pressure as the December 2 Duma elections approach, with the 
Nizhniy Novgorod Governor taking additional steps to 
undermine the "Other Russia" opposition movement in his 
region.  Prilepin's Novaya Gazeta also faces the challenge of 
buying computers and restoring operations, without the 
benefit of the broader support that Dmitrievskiy and 
Chelsyeva enjoy in Russia and abroad. Chelysheva also told us 
that because the RCFS is now headquartered in Helsinki, she 
and Dmitrievskiy enjoy good, supportive relations with the 
Finish government, which could help to bring international 
attention to their situation. 
 
8.  (C)  Comment:  We have not seen similar campaigns to 
target organizations linked to the "Other Russia" opposition 
movement in other regions, suggesting that these 
investigations are independent actions by the regional elite 
to silence what they may see as a particularly "problematic" 
local adversary -- Dmitrievskiy and his allies.  By seizing 
the computers of Novaya Gazeta and the Foundation to Support 
Tolerance, the regional officials effectively triangulated 
Dmitrievskiy. If these tactics are successful in neutralizing 
the opposition over the longer term, we may well see them 
deployed by other regional elites.  Past practice suggests, 
however, that the local authorities may ultimately relent 
somewhat, now that they have served warning with these raids 
on the eve of the official election campaign. 
Burns

Wikileaks

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