Daily Archives: February 12, 2008


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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
08MOSCOW380 2008-02-12 15:18 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Moscow


DE RUEHMO #0380/01 0431518
O 121518Z FEB 08

C O N F I D E N T I A L MOSCOW 000380 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 02/12/2018 
Classified By: Pol Minister Counselor Alice Wells.  Reasons: 1.4 (B,D) 
1.  (SBU) Summary:  While Moscow-based experts believe that 
the insurgencies in the various North Caucasus republics are 
different in nature, none think that separatism is their root 
cause.  Experts tell us that while the insurgency in Dagestan 
may have a religious basis, violence in Ingushetiya and 
Kabardino-Balkariya reflects displeasure with the local 
government, the state of the local economy and heavy-handed 
tactics by police.  Most believed that the insurgencies in 
each of the republics are not inter-related or 
centrally-coordinated, although there may be loose, informal 
contacts among the various groups across the Caucasus.  The 
Kremlin may be closer to replacing Ingushetiya's President 
Zyazikov, but has to finalize a strategy to offset his clan's 
anticipated opposition.  End summary. 
North Caucasus Republics are Separate Cases 
2.  (C) In a series of meetings the week of February 4-8 with 
several Moscow-based experts on the North Caucasus and 
representatives of the Coordinating Center of Muslims of the 
Northern Caucasus (Coordination Center), all agreed that the 
insurgencies and violence that currently exist in each of the 
republics of the North Caucasus have different origins and 
should be considered distinct.  Some commentators pointed to 
the complex clan politics of the region, which feeds off a 
tradition and culture of revenge, as an additional element in 
the equation.  Aleksey Malashenko, an expert on the North 
Caucasus at the Moscow Carnegie Center, said that it is 
important to remember that the North Caucasus was never 
modernized during the Soviet period and that a huge 
difference exists even between the North Caucasus and the 
rest of Russia's southern federal region.  He noted that 
except for three cities in Dagestan and perhaps the largest 
cities in each of the other republics, the remainder of the 
North Caucasus is mainly "traditional."  According to 
Malashenko, corruption in the North Caucasus is worse than in 
the rest of Russia. 
Economic Factors Dominate 
3.  (C)  Human Rights Watch researcher Tanya Lokshina, 
formerly with the NGO Demos, noted that Ingushetiya is second 
only to Dagestan in the level of unemployment among the North 
Caucasus republics.  Malashenko believed that the actual 
level of unemployment in the North Caucasus is 70-80 percent, 
which includes 250,000 unemployed in Chechnya out of a 
population of one million.  According to Malashenko, this is 
the lowest figure for any of the republics and is better than 
last year's rate in Chechnya.  Malashenko warned of another 
problem, the emigration of the young and educated 
intelligentsia in search of work elsewhere in Russia or 
abroad, which means that the economic potential and quality 
of society left in the North Caucasus will continue to 
deteriorate.  He added that the huge number of uneducated, 
non-Russian speaking youth in the region has an explosive 
4.  (C) Experts do not see any quick fixes to the economic 
challenges.  The former mufti of Ingushetiya, Magomed 
Albogachiyev, now First Vice President of the Moscow-based 
Coordination Center, told us that 95 percent of Ingushetiya's 
budget comes from Moscow.  Gregoriy Shvedov, a member of the 
board of the NGO Memorial and Deputy Editor of the 
internet-based newspaper Caucasian Knot, added that after the 
division of the Chechen-Ingush Autonomous Republic around the 
break-up of the Soviet Union, Ingushetiya was left without an 
industrial base.  The Coordination Center's Executive 
Director Shafig Pshikhachev added that in his native 
Kabardino-Balkaria, the government publishes great looking 
statistics about the economy, but when you visit there it is 
another story.  Pshikhachev lamented that Kabardino-Balkaria 
has an agrarian-based economy and that the people are poor, 
some earning as little as 3,000 rubles (about USD 120) per 
Separatist Appeal Does Not 
5.  (C) Separatist demands, however, are not seen as an 
important factor.  Albogachiyev said that displeasure in 
North Caucasus has nothing to do with a desire for 
independence and is not anti-Russian; residents there simply 
want a better life.  Sergey Markedonov, Head of the 
Inter-ethnic Relations Department at the Moscow Institute of 
Political and Military Analysis agreed.  Both he and Lokshina 
believe that unlike Chechnya, the insurgency in Ingushetiya 
has never been separatist. 
6.  (C) According to Lokshina, the situation in Ingushetiya 
is about Zyazikov having no respect among the people, who are 
increasingly aware of the rampant corruption.  She added that 
this is exacerbated by the level
 of violence in Ingushetiya 
which in the past 12 months has begun to resemble the 
"mopping up" exercises that had been carried out by federal 
and local troops in Chechnya.  Lokshina added that the 
opposition in Ingushetiya is energized by the disappearance 
case of two members of the Aushev family, distant relatives 
of former Ingushetiya President Ruslan Aushev.  After several 
hundred people rallied in September 2007 to protest their 
disappearance, the Minister of Internal Affairs of 
Ingushetiya made a deal with his Chechen counterpart for 
their release.  According to Lokshina, people in Ingushetiya 
now believe they can bring about change. 
Religion Plays Greater Role in Dagestan 
7.  (C) Most experts agreed that religion plays the greatest 
role in the insurgency in Dagestan.  According to Shvedov, 
people in Dagestan tend to be more religious.  Shvedov 
believed that while only 25 percent of residents of 
Ingushetiya are religiously active, the number in Dagestan is 
about 80 percent.  Lokshina and Markedonov agreed with 
Shvedov that Dagestan has its own history of fundamentalism, 
with a home-grown Salafist movement in predominantly Sufi 
Dagestan dating back to the 1930's.  Markedonov added that in 
the 1990's, proponents of "ethnic nationalism" in the North 
Caucasus began to use religion to convince the people to join 
their cause.  According to him, the insurgency in Dagestan is 
fueled by Islamic scholars, religious extremists, criminals 
and unemployed youth who are susceptible to the money offered 
them by religious extremists. 
8.  (C) Despite the fact that Wahhabism is outlawed in 
Dagestan, recent police actions in the Dagestani village of 
Gimry uncovered Wahhabist caches of weapons and ammunition. 
Lokshina agreed that Dagestan has its own history of 
fundamentalism, but added that the police there are also very 
corrupt.  She noted that the rate of killings of policemen in 
Dagestan is the highest in Russia (although she said the 
situation is also deteriorating in Ingushetiya).  Reflecting 
the difficulty in assessing the proximate cause of any 
conflict in the North Caucasus, Lokshina differed with 
Shvedov and argued that the situation in Gimry was caused by 
a corrupt local police chief rather than Islamic extremists. 
Most Experts Think that Insurgencies are not Inter-related 
--------------------------------------------- ------------- 
9.  (C) Of the Moscow-based experts with whom we spoke, only 
the muftis from the Coordination Center believed that the 
conflict in the North Caucasus are inter-related.  In 
addition, one regional Circassian activist told us (septel) 
of a loose network of informal contacts between the different 
groups.  Former Ingushetiya mufti Albogachiyev believed the 
fighters are working together and have a good understanding 
of their common purpose.  He said that they have set up 
self-styled Islamic emirates in five of the North Caucasus 
republics (Chechnya, Dagestan, Ingushetiya, North Ossetiya 
and one for the combined republics of Karachay-Cherkessiya 
and Kabardino-Balkariya).  None of the others believed this 
to be the case.  Shvedov dismissed this notion as a "myth 
promoted by the Kremlin and sociologists."  Shvedov also 
believed that although contacts with al-Qaida exist with some 
of the fighters, the day that al-Qaida can send instructions 
to militants in the North Caucasus is long gone.  Malashenko 
did not believe that al-Qaida currently played a role in the 
North Caucasus, nor did he believe that there is any 
widespread Chechen influence in the region.  He said there is 
a home-grown version of militant Islam in the region, 
particularly in Dagestan. 
Wide Disparity in Quality of Leadership 
10.  (C) The Moscow-based experts drew a distinction between 
the quality of the various leaders in the North Caucasus, 
with Chechnya's Kadyrov and Ingushetiya's Zyazikov at 
opposite ends of the spectrum.  Albogachiyev recounted how, 
in his fight against corruption and attempt to build a better 
life in Chechnya, Kadyrov has been known to put on rubber 
boots and wade through drainage canals to see what should be 
done to improve them.  According to Markedonov, Putin is 
dependent on Kadyrov's success to show that he has brought 
the situation in Chechnya under control, fulfilling a promise 
he made to the Russian people eight years ago.  Markedonov 
believes Chechens no longer have any desire to leave the 
Russian Federation.  Chechens have moved to Moscow and other 
cities to find work and some have married ethnic Russians, 
thereby integrating Chechnya with Russia. 
11. (C) Lokshina admitted that separatism in Chechnya is in a 
"deep slumber."  According to her, the Kremlin's deal with 
Kadyrov is that as long as there are no blatantly violent 
acts against civilians by local police and troops, he has a 
free rein.  Although now there is only sporadic fighting and 
no longer any large-scale military or police operations, 
Lokshina stated that Chechnya is far from a success story. 
She said there is a gloomy prognosis for Kadyrov's "managed 
civil society" because he has, in fact, wiped out civil 
society and any free local press there. 
12.  (C) Markedonov agreed that Kadyrov is extremely popular 
among Chechens, and while President Mustafa Batdyyev of 
Karachayevo-Cherkessiya currently has a low public popularity 
rating, even he is not as unpopular as Zyazikov.  He added 
that while Chechens simply want Moscow to leave them alone, 
the Ingush want Moscow to help them, and the even the 
opposition there looks to Moscow to give the republic a new 
president.  According to Markedonov, Zyazikov is viewed as an 
"occupier" by many in Ingushetiya, as he is from a weak clan 
and cannot control the situation.  Neither Lokshina nor 
Malashenko, however, give much weight to recent attempts to 
discredit Zyazikov.  Lokshina does not believe 80,000 people 
actually provided their names and passport information as 
part of the internet-based "I Did Not Vote" campaign. 
Malashenko described the January 26 demonstrations to which, 
according to him, organizers lured participants with the 
promise of gifts, as "more like a disorganized street gang." 
Malashenko summarized that the problem is that under Yeltsin 
there were two qualities for a local president, you had to be 
favored by Moscow and acceptable to the local population; 
under Putin, you only needed to be approved by the Kremlin. 
Malashenko believed that the Kremlin does have someone in 
mind to replace Zyazikov in the near future -- Ingushetiya's 
recently elected (and only) current Duma member Bilan 
13.  (C) Aleksandr Machevskiy, an advisor on the North 
Caucasus in the Presidential Administration, confirmed to us 
separately February 5 that the Kremlin has candidates in mind 
to replace Zyazikov.  The problem, according to Machevskiy, 
that in addition to removing Zyazikov, you must also get 
rid of others entrenched in the government with him. 
14.  (C) These sorts of educated opinions on the North 
Caucasus are at odds with the picture the Kremlin has painted 
in the media, showing that the authorities are making 
progress in ensuring stability and paying adequate attention 
to regional economic development in the region.  The gap is 
partly explained by the authorities' heightened sensitivity 
toward negative information coming from the region that could 
be viewed as destabilizing and not part of Putin's Plan. 
However it may also indicate a gap between reality on the 
ground and the Kremlin's perception, fueled by overly 
optimistic reports by regional leaders dependent on Moscow 
for their jobs and more concerned with currying favor with 
the Kremlin than dealing with difficult socio-economic and 
political problems in the region. 



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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
08MOSCOW378 2008-02-12 15:08 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Moscow


DE RUEHMO #0378/01 0431508
O 121508Z FEB 08

C O N F I D E N T I A L MOSCOW 000378 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 02/11/2018 
Classified By: Ambassador William J. Burns: Reasons 1.4 (b, d). 
1.  (C)  Summary:  In her February 11 meeting with the 
Ambassador, Putin's human rights adviser, Ella Pamfilova said 
the Duma elections had been a "turning point," leading her to 
"divorce" herself from GOR actions and adopt a low public 
profile.  While she welcomed FM Lavrov's engagement with the 
NGO community, she said decisionmaking was "frozen" during 
the presidential transition and no actions were contemplated 
to amend the NGO registration law.  While the law had not 
been used to persecute NGOs, it remained open to abuse, and 
Pamfilova's efforts to petition Putin had been foiled by the 
Ministry of Justice.  Pamfilova said objective factors, such 
as an increasing and increasingly self-confident middle 
class, left her optimistic over the longer-term, and was wry 
-- but positively inclined -- about the "aura of liberalism" 
emanating from Medvedev. The situation in Dagestan was 
"awful," but on a positive trajectory; whereas Ingushetiya 
President Zyazikov simply was not up to the task of 
administering his republic.  Pamfilova did not see a trend 
emerging in psychiatric detentions, and outlined her 
intervention on behalf of Yukos VP Aleksanyan.  She was 
ambivalent about her future in government, but urged the U.S. 
to deepen its engagement with Russia on areas of overlapping 
interest.  Although demoralized, Pamfilova has pushed her 
Council to its limit as an establishment critic.  End Summary 
NGO Law 
2.  (C)  During their February 11 meeting, the Ambassador 
asked the Chair of the Presidential Council on Promoting the 
Development of Institutions of Civil Society and Human Rights 
Ella Pamfilova about FM Lavrov's November 5 meeting with 
Russian NGO representatives and the status of civil society 
efforts to modify the NGO registration law.  Pamfilova 
welcomed the Foreign Ministry's outreach, noting that the 
fact of the third annual meeting represented some small 
progress, particularly since the MFA invited all of the human 
rights community's heavy weights.  While attendance was mixed 
(with Moscow Helsinki Group Alekseeva ill, For Human Rights 
Ponamarev boycotting, and Human Rights Institute Gefter 
unavailable), there was now a "circle" of NGOs that engaged 
with the Ministry, and Lavrov had appointed a "liberal type" 
to head the department that oversaw outreach. 
3.  (C)  In response to the Ambassador's query on prospects 
for modification of the NGO registration law, Pamfilova was 
pessimistic, arguing that not only was there no progress, but 
that authorities were not focused on the issue, with 
everything "frozen" during the extended period of political 
succession.  Despite a worsening situation, she commented, 
there was no GOR reaction.  Her Council's strategy had been 
to monitor the situation and to assess the law's 
implementation.  On the one hand, "everyone -- Memorial's 
Djibladze included," recognized that their worst fears over 
the legislation had not materialized: the law was not being 
used as a blunt instrument to repress politically sensitive 
NGOs.  On the other hand, only 36 percent of Russian NGOs had 
registered, with the vast majority simply ignoring the GOR 
requirements.  A vulnerability existed, and while there had 
not been persecution of organizations, there were localized 
instances of NGOs facing pressure, and the potential for 
abuse remained.  Pamfilova stressed that the GOR did not need 
the registration law to target NGOs and didn't, for instance, 
need it to close down the Russian Chechen friendship society. 
4.  (C)  Pamfilova told the Ambassador that on several 
occasions she had raised her concerns directly with Putin, 
but that divisions within the bureaucracy had stymied any 
response.  While the Ministry of Economic Development and 
Trade was a liberal ally in supporting the work of NGOs, the 
Ministry of Justice remained a bastion of conservatism.  The 
end result was the equivalent of "split memos" being sent to 
Putin, which were bounced by the Presidential Administration 
for further coordination.  Until there is a new 
administration, Pamfilova said, the logjam will remain, 
emphasizing again that "everything is frozen."  Despite the 
clear absence of impending orange revolutions in Russia, she 
noted, the same bureaucratic tension remained between those 
who wanted to facilitate the work of NGOs and those who saw 
them as a fifth column. 
Will Medvedev be any Better? 
5.  (C)  Pamfilova was frank about her discomfort over the 
Kremlin's manipulation of the Duma elections, stating that 
she had "divorced" herself from GOR actions over the last 
several months.  Decrying the "gross violations" that had 
occurred, she concluded that this had been the least 
effective period of her tenure in office.  She said it was 
difficult to predict whether Medvedev would usher in change. 
There were positive "beacons," she acknowledged, while noting 
wryly that the "aura of liberalism" surrounding Medvedev had 
helped contribute to a change of mood.  The President sets &#x00
0A;the tone, she stressed, and just as Putin had played to fears 
of Western manipulation, Medvedev would have the chance to 
put Russia on a different course and to blame the previous 
harshness on Putin himself.  There was a logic to this 
evolution, she stressed, noting the pent-up demand among 
businessmen, in particular, for a more moderate line. 
6.  (C)  While Pamfilova predicted that a more measured 
policy course was the likely outcome of a Medvedev 
presidency, she hedged her bets, noting that international 
events -- an economic downturn, or backlash generated by 
Kosovo's independence -- could complicate this scenario. 
Objectively, she noted, the Russian trajectory was positive: 
the middle class was growing and becoming more secure, 
self-confident, and active.  With this increased 
self-confidence would come greater community mobilization. 
They won't need guarantees from the West, she added, but will 
be driven by the objective facts of modernization in a 
globalized world.  Moscow was not Beijing, Pamfilova 
stressed, and the Chinese model of societal control did not 
exist in Russia.  A new generation had grown up ignorant of 
Soviet norms and accustomed to greater personal freedom, and 
their role model was Europe.  Pamfilova said she was more 
concerned that hawks in both the U.S. and Russia were angling 
for a confrontation; certainly flames were being fanned by 
conservative elements in both systems. 
Caucasus: Differentiating Ingushetiya from Dagestan 
--------------------------------------------- ------ 
7.  (C)  Pamfilova agreed with the concerns expressed by the 
Ambassador over developments in the North Caucasus, but 
distinguished between the situations in Dagestan and 
Ingushetiya.  While the status of Dagestan remained "awful," 
Pamfilova argued that overall the local leadership was 
competent.  It was dealing with a Soviet legacy of enshrined 
corruption, where resources had been dedicated to a single 
clan, with the remaining ones disenfranchised.  While it was 
a difficult multi-ethnic situation, the leadership was 
engaged and former Presidential Representative Kozak had done 
a good job in bolstering local efforts.  The longer-term 
trendline, she insisted, was positive. 
8.  (C)  In contrast, Pamfilova despaired over Ingushetiya, 
where "nice guy" President Zyazikov simply was not up to the 
task of administering the Republic.  Pamfilova noted her 
Council's good relations with republic officials, frequent 
exchanges of views on human rights issues, and estimation 
that Zyazikov cared about international opinion and shared 
Western values (in contrast to the "uncivilized" Chechen 
President Kadyrov).  While Ingushetiya was poor, and the gap 
between rich and poor too large, Pamfilova judged it was the 
clan political battles that most threatened its stability. 
There was a level of "unpredictability," with Zyazikov's 
assurances to Putin pure "demagoguery." 
9.  (C)  Pamfilova agreed with the Ambassador's criticism of 
the political process that produced 98-plus percent turnout 
for the ruling party in the North Caucasus in the December 
2007 parliamentary elections, and predicted exactly the same 
outcome during the presidential race.  While manipulation was 
not required in a system that was driven by clan loyalties, 
the excessive measures of Zyazikov and the subsequent "I did 
not vote" internet petition could have political consequences 
further down the road.  In contrast, Putin's recent visit to 
the Dagestan village of Botlikh (where the second Chechen war 
was launched) was a tremendous boost to the leadership that 
would bring political dividends for Medvedev in March. 
Pamfilova warned that the "Caucasus is the Caucasus" and the 
"more I learn, the less I know."  The nuances are so profound 
and the point of view and logic so specific to the region, 
she argued, it was very difficult to make judgments from 
Psychiatric Abuse 
10.  (C)  The Ambassador expressed strong concern over the 
recent incidents of political opposition activists being 
involuntarily committed to psychiatric institutions, noting 
the cases of Larissa Arap, Aretem Basyrov, and Roman 
Nikolaychik.  Pamfilova characterized the abuses as 
election-motivated, but said she did not think a "trend" to 
abuse psychiatric care was emerging.  She noted the 
successful efforts by HR Ombudsman Lukin and herself to free 
Arap, who (she asserted) suffered from real psychiatric 
issues, but who had been wrongly committed.  Pamfilova 
predicted that the abuses would end with the presidential 
elections, and again despaired at the excesses committed by 
hard-liners on the basis of an "orange revolution" threat 
that did not exist. 
Yukos VP Aleksanyan 
11.  (C)  Noting media reports that former Yukos VP 
Aleksanyan had finally been transferred to a civilian 
treatment facility for HIV/AIDS, the Ambassador asked 
Pamfilova how her Council had been involved in urging the GOR 
to provide appropriate medical treatment.  Describing the 
case as "monstrous," Pamfilova said she had complained 
"loudly," sending three letters to the courts, which had left 
the prosecutors and General Procuracy "very offended."  The 
GOR lawyers had briefed the Council, with Pamfilova again 
expressing her concern over the conduct of the case.  The 
Ambassador praised her direct participation, noting the 
Council's potential to sway GOR policy. 
Council and Pamfilova's Future 
12.  (C)  Pamfilova agreed with the Ambassador's assessment 
that the change in president would have implications for the 
community of human rights defenders.  She noted candidly that 
she had wanted to quit her post months earlier, because she 
had become ineffective, but had listened to the arguments of 
prominent human rights activists such as Moscow Helsinki 
Watch Director Alekseeva and had remained.  The Duma 
elections, Pamfilova reiterated, had been a turning point. 
Pamfilova said she was not looking for an "artificial" 
position, but wanted to effect change -- if that meant 
shifting to the private sector or NGO world, she was prepared 
to leave government office, but would make her decision in 
the March-May transition period. 
13.  (C)  Medvedev's appointees and their staff would set the 
tone for Russia's commitment to human rights and civil 
society, Pamfilova noted, and would be the bellwether of 
whether the Council could prove more effective in the next 
administration.  Noting that she would be happy to spend more 
time with her granddaughter and had several lucrative job 
offers, Pamfilova stressed that she was not driven to remain 
in the orbit of the presidential administration.  "In the 
end, I have to respect myself."  Witnessing the obvious 
mistakes and the unfounded actions of the Putin 
administration had been very difficult, as was
bureaucrats employ Putin's name for their own financial or 
bureaucratic interests.  Having fought with the siloviki, 
Pamfilova said that she could not paint a rosy picture of 
Russian civil society, but retained a certain optimism that 
over the next 20 years Russian views of institutions and rule 
of law would be reshaped.  Public opinion continued to matter 
in Russia, she noted, and as the public evolved, so too would 
its government. 
U.S. Relations and H.R. Report 
14.  (C)  The Ambassador briefed Pamfilova on Embassy efforts 
to ensure that the upcoming human rights report was accurate 
and provided a foundation for an on-going dialogue. 
Pamfilova concluded the session underscoring that more issues 
united the U.S. and Russia, and urged continued efforts to 
deepen the bilateral relationship in these critical strategic 
areas.  The Ambassador urged Pamfilova and her Council 
members to continue to play a watchguard role and to help 
provide an environment in which Russian civil society could 
15.  (C)  A clearly demoralized Pamfilova put the best face 
on her limited influence, which has dwindled even further 
during the extended period of political succession.  While 
Pamfilova has been noticeably missing in action over the last 
several months, her behind-the-scenes but establishment 
criticism of GOR excesses in the cases of psychiatric abuse 
and the denial of treatment to Yukos VP Aleksanyan may have 
played a useful role in reversing some policy wrongs.  Her 
support from influential NGO leaders appears to attest to her 
well-meaning intentions, even as her more strident critics 
portray her as having sold out to the Putin administration. 



WikiLeaks Link

To understand the justification used for the classification of each cable, please use this WikiSource article as reference.
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If you find meaningful or important information in a cable, please link directly to its unique reference number. Linking to a specific paragraph in the body of a cable is also possible by copying the appropriate link (to be found at theparagraph symbol).Please mark messages for social networking services like Twitter with the hash tags #cablegate and a hash containing the reference ID e.g. #08MOSCOW375.
Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
08MOSCOW375 2008-02-12 14:39 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Moscow


DE RUEHMO #0375/01 0431439
P 121439Z FEB 08

C O N F I D E N T I A L MOSCOW 000375 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 02/12/2018 
Classified By: Political M/C Alice G. Wells.  Reason:  1.4 (d). 
1.  (C) Summary:  The GOR has decided to establish an 
Institute for Democracy and Cooperation, which will be 
headquartered in Moscow with branch offices in New York and 
Paris.  The Institute is intended to end what the GOR sees as 
the western "monopoly" on defining and reporting human rights 
abuses and will reportedly seek to discuss human rights in a 
context detached from cultural influences. It will also 
endeavor to improve Russia's image in the West.  In a 
February 4 meeting, the designated director of the New York 
office offered us a general description of the Institute's 
goals and possible future direction.  Although the search for 
office space has started, the Institute's Moscow overseers 
have not yet begun the process of legally establishing the 
organization in the U.S., and sources of funding remain 
unclear, as does the exact nature of the Institute's 
relationship to the GOR.  End summary. 
Russia's New Face to the World 
2.  (C) What is now known as The Institute for Democracy and 
Cooperation (IDC) was previewed in a speech by Putin on 
October 26, 2007 at the Mafra EU-Russia Summit.  At that 
time, Putin expressed a wish to cooperate with Europe to 
"ensure the free election process and monitor elections, the 
status of national minorities and the freedom of speech." 
Putin's speech was followed by a proposal by Public Chamber 
member Anatoliy Kucherena, who suggested that the IDC be an 
independent think tank headquartered in Moscow with branch 
offices in New York and Paris.  In a February 6 conversation, 
Kucherena claimed that the IDC would seek to cooperate with 
EU and the U.S. organizations in the area of civil society 
and democracy and, secondarily, work to improve the image of 
Russia abroad.  Kucherena rejected suggestions that the 
Institute or its offices would produce anti-western 
propaganda, as some media reports have suggested (reftel). 
3.  (C) In a February 4 meeting, the designated director of 
the New York office Andranik Migranyan compared the Institute 
to the U.S.-based Carnegie foundation.  The IDC would focus 
on his watch on counter-balancing the negative view of Russia 
currently prevalent in the U.S. media and in Congress.  He 
claimed that much of the media coverage of Russia is biased 
and one-sided.  He described the "uninformed, anti-Russian 
prejudice" in Congress as a danger to U.S.-Russian relations. 
 In particular, Migranyan criticized Senate or House 
resolutions that appeared to be directed at Russia, such as a 
recent resolution that had endorsed NATO membership for 
Ukraine and Georgia.  Migranyan appeared to downplay the role 
that human rights would play in the work of the office. 
While human rights would certainly be an issue for IDC study 
and discussion, Migranyan said he hoped to place more stress 
on areas of potential cooperation with U.S. NGOs, such as 
4.  (C) Migranyan was not certain how IDC's New York office 
would be organized.  He suggested that half of the projected 
staff of ten persons would be American and that the office 
would initially not be large, but would grow if successful. 
Potential office space in the RIA-Novosti New York office had 
been suggested, but Migranyan planned to visit New York in 
several weeks in order to determine its suitability. 
5.  (C) Migranyan told us he was selected by FM Lavrov 
because he had studied the U.S. and knows the country well. 
Being a close friend of the Foreign Minister also helped, he 
said.  Further boosting Migranyan's candidacy is his 
well-known loyalty to the Kremlin and, especially, Putin and 
Medvedev, whom he describes as "democrats" who support a 
liberal economic regime.  (Owner of the independent Novaya 
Gazeta Aleksandr Lebedev, himself a prominent businessman, 
scoffed to us about the prospect of that "poor academic" 
establishing a perch in New York.) 
Unclear Direction, Murky Funding 
6. (C) Migranyan insisted that the GOR would not fund or 
direct the organization, but he thought that the IDC would be 
eligible for GOR grants, which would likely be used initially 
until other sources of funding could be identified.  Ten 
businessmen, all members of the Public Chamber, had agreed to 
support the IDC's work.  He deferred further questions about 
funding to Kucherena. 
9.  (C) Russia's IDC is intended as an answer and 
counterweight to Western NGOs that have set up shop in 
Russia.  Much like Russia Today, Russia's answer to Western 
24-hour news channels like CNN or BBC World, IDC will attempt 
to repair Russia's damaged image in the US and Europe and at 
the same time extend the reach and influence of the GOR. 
Still very much in its infancy, it remains to be seen
this new organization will get its message across, given the 
substance driving Western concerns over Russia's democratic 
track record. 



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Discussing cables
If you find meaningful or important information in a cable, please link directly to its unique reference number. Linking to a specific paragraph in the body of a cable is also possible by copying the appropriate link (to be found at theparagraph symbol).Please mark messages for social networking services like Twitter with the hash tags #cablegate and a hash containing the reference ID e.g. #08MOSCOW374.
Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
08MOSCOW374 2008-02-12 14:33 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Moscow


DE RUEHMO #0374/01 0431433
O 121433Z FEB 08

C O N F I D E N T I A L MOSCOW 000374 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 02/12/2018 
     B. 07 MOSCOW 003316 
Classified By: POL Minister Counselor Alice G. Wells.  Reasons: 1.4 (B) 
 & (D). 
1. (SBU) A meeting of Putin and his team on February 5 
underscored the Kremlin's recognition that the "eyes of the 
world" are on Sochi, not only for the 2014 Winter Olympic 
Games themselves, but also in the way in which Russia manages 
the preparations.  In addition to overcoming significant 
engineering, ecological, and economic challenges, Russian 
authorities face problems in managing relations with a wary 
populace, including national minorities whose interests 
historically have been ignored by the bureaucracy.  Our 
preliminary assessment is that Moscow is putting pressure on 
local officials to make those problems "go away" by providing 
adequate compensation to homeowners on one hand and 
increasing pressure on the more vocal members of the national 
minorities on the other.  However, efforts by the local 
authorities to date seem far from effective, provoking 
criticism and leaving the local mayor politically vulnerable. 
 End Summary. 
A Stumbling Local Administration 
2. (SBU) During a February 6-8 visit to Sochi EUR/RUS and 
Emboff met officials from the Mayor's office and 
representatives of local citizens' groups to discuss state of 
preparations for the 2014 Winter Olympics.  Sochi's Soviet 
heritage is preserved by two hulking Brezhnevian hotels, 
which are surrounded by a building boom on every horizon. 
Politically, Sochi has long been a special case, separated by 
the Caucasus mountains from the Kuban farmland that comprises 
the bulk of Krasnodar Krai.  In recent years, Krasnodar has 
taken greater interest in the city and, according to local 
commentators, Governor Aleksandr Tkachyov has placed "his 
man," Viktor Kolodyazny, in the Mayor's office. 
3. (C) In a televised interview with us, First Deputy Mayor 
Konstantin Mishchenko personified a public face of 
confidence, suggesting that all was "in order" and that 
Olympic preparations were moving forward according to plan. 
At the same time, he made clear that decision making on most 
issues will be handled in Moscow, not locally. Privately, 
Oleg Voyenko of the Mayor's office provided a different 
picture.  During a brief chat, he admitted that the state 
company Olimpstroi, which will be the contractor for the 
entire project, had yet to work out its procedures for 
tendering projects.  He reported that the Kremlin has engaged 
Russia's top architectural institutes in Moscow and St. 
Petersburg to provide a crash review of the city's proposed 
scheme for the Olympics and to develop a new planning 
process, which the government will roll out early this 
summer.  Press reports on Putin's Sochi meetings earlier in 
the week described continued tweaking to the general plan for 
the Olympic structures, changes to which (may) require the 
approval of the International Olympic Committee. 
4. (C) Several local commentators raised doubts that the 
local administration is up to the task of dealing with those 
challenges.  Valeriy Suchkov, a local lawyer, activist for 
the rights of homeowners in Sochi, and expert adviser to the 
city's Public Chamber, said that the public had its fill of 
Kolodyazniy and was likely to vote him out of office in 
elections next year.  Indeed, Suchkov expects Moscow to put a 
more "trusted" political figure into the Mayor's office with 
closer ties to the Kremlin elite. (He voiced doubt that a 
local candidate could be picked because it would could upset 
the power balance among local business clans.)  Local press 
coverage of our meeting with Mischenko had a satirical tenor 
that showed the city administration as not being forthcoming 
about the issues of the day. 
Property Rights - Some Progress 
5. (C) Confusion and a lack of trust in the local government 
gave rise to public protests last fall about the process of 
purchasing privately-held property for the Olympic projects. 
According to Irina Gordyenko, a journalist for Novaya Gazeta 
and a Sochi native, previous corrupt practices related to the 
construction of commercial and resort complexes have 
undermined faith in the local administration.  Two cases 
earlier this year further deepened popular concern about 
property rights.  First, the local press made much about the 
eviction of Abkhaz refugees from their homes in an area in 
which the Olympic village will be built. (It later turned out 
that the refugees were living in a condemned building for 
which they held no legal title and were relocated to other 
parts of Krasnodar Krai.)  Second, a fire in the local 
archive meant that records documenting property ownership 
were "lost," with local bureaucrats refusing to accept 
alternative documentation as adequate proof of ownership. 
Those concerns fueled public demonstrations last fall, as 
 called for a transparent and equitable system for 
registering private property. 
6. (C) Suchkov told us that the local administration 
mismanaged its response to the public protests and even 
launched an aggressive, but ultimately failed court case 
against him.  However, in recent months, the local 
administration's tone has changed, in part because of 
pressure from the Governor and even federal officials. 
First, the Governor removed 20 city officials from their 
positions for "corruption" and misuse of office.  Next, the 
government has established new procedures for registering 
property claims that Suchkov says have gone far in mollifying 
the population's most serious concerns.  Residents are 
cautiously optimistic, but are planning further 
demonstrations to keep pressure on local officials, according 
to Suchkov.  Public comments by Minister of Regional 
Development Dmitriy Kozak on the expected costs for 
compensating property owners suggest that Moscow is planning 
to pay an equitable price (ranging from $3-10 billion for an 
expected 1,700 acres of privately-held land). 
Potential Issues 
with National Minorities 
7. (C) The administration has been less successful in meeting 
the expectations of the area's national minorities.  Local 
activist Ravza Ramazanova claims that regional officials have 
stonewalled on plans to build a mosque to address the 
spiritual needs of what she claims are 20,000 Muslims in the 
area (including 5,000 of her Tatar brethren).  She complained 
that the Krasnodar Krai administration did not provide the 
same funding that other regions offered to support Muslim 
religious holidays and the building of mosques and schools. 
Ramazanova argued that the lack of a mosque and a Muslim 
cemetery was a disincentive for Muslims to move to Sochi. 
Ramazanova suggested that without proper religious training, 
Muslim youth were losing their identity and getting involved 
in "dangerous" activities.  Ramazanova said her organization 
"Yasin" had been petitioning for a mosque for 14 years and 
she claimed that she enjoyed the support of Tatarstan 
President Shaymiev, Russian Head Mufti Gaynutdin, and other 
top Muslim leaders in Moscow.  Press reports suggest that 
Ramazanova's wishes may be fulfilled with the building of a 
mosque near the Olympic village outside Sochi -- although she 
dismissed such news as familiar unfulfilled promises to the 
local Muslim population. 
8. (C) Murat Berzegov of the Circassian Congress told us that 
he had been persecuted for his political ideas, particularly 
his efforts to achieve greater autonomy and respect for his 
people's language and local traditions through "legal" 
methods. Though the federal government had acknowledged the 
Circassians as a protected national minority 8 years ago, the 
regional authorities had refused to follow suit, leading to 
what Berzegov described as further popular frustration. 
Instead of opening dialogue with the Congress, which had 
lobbied its case through the European Parliament in 
conjunction with diaspora groups in Turkey, Syria, and the 
United States, Berzegov plausibly alleged that the 
authorities have sought to intimidate him through beatings, 
threats by FSB "veterans," and administrative penalties. 
Ultimately, official pressure has forced him to abandon his 
business and his case for asylum in the U.S. is under 
consideration. Berzegov warned that government persecution of 
"moderate nationalists" in the region has led to further 
Islamization of Adygean youth, as seen by the formation of 
Jamiat organizations in Maykop.  He bemoaned the authorities 
unwillingness to acknowledge what he called the "genocide" of 
ethnic Circassians by the Imperial Russian army in 1846 after 
the Russo-Turkic War. (Berzegov claims the victims were 
buried in graves near the site of the planned Sochi Olympic 
mountain sports complex on Krasnaya Polyana.) He lamented the 
slow erosion of autonomy for the Adygean Republic, as 
indicated by the withdrawal of federal ministries from the 
regional capital Maykop, was fueling discontent among the 
Circassian population. He voiced concern that the republic 
would be subsumed into Krasnodar Krai after the 2014 
9. (C) The situation in Sochi speaks to two broader trends 
within Russian society:  First, economic issues -- in this 
case property rights -- continue to resonate among the 
population writ large, far more so than purely "political" 
issues such as freedom of speech, press, and assembly.  That 
said, the success of organized public protest against 
suspected government malfeasance make clear the benefits of 
collective action and could encourage the creations of 
political organizations to protect citizen's rights. 
10. (C) Second, the treatment of Ramazanova and Berzegov 
illustrate the government's difficulty in resolving issues of 
national and religious identity, particularly in the North 
Caucasus.  It is difficult to ascertain to what extent 
Ramazanova and Berzegov speak for the larger communities they 
claim to represent, since their respective groups are small 
(about 10-15 permanent members). Berzegov's case does, 
however, indicates that government authorities are unwilling 
to allow him to pursue his political agenda unhindered, 
suggesting at a minimum concern among the elite about 
potential embarrassment by his activities -- a sensitivity 
that will only increase as the Olympic events approach.