2007-07-23 06:06:00
Embassy Moscow
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 05 MOSCOW 003579



E.O. 12958: DECL: 07/23/2017


Classified By: Ambassador William J. Burns. Reason: 1.4 (b, d)


¶1. (C) Ramzan KADYROV recently celebrated his 100th day asPresident of Chechnya. Characteristics of the new order arealready visible:
— The appointment of personnel who have no loyalties exceptto KADYROV, and the steady elimination of those withindependent ties to Moscow or independent bases of supportthere.
— An improvement in the economic situation, as well as inhuman rights (marginally), as KADYROV centralizes power andindependent actors (read: rent-seekers and kidnappers) arereined in and franchised by his administration.
— KADYROV’s “extraterritorial” efforts to speak for Chechenseverywhere, not just in Chechnya.
— Regional power aspirations, focusing first onre-integrating Ingushetia.
KADYROV faces hurdles on the way to these goals, includingboth dissension within Chechnya’s ruling elite and theuncertainties in the run-up to the 2008 Russian presidentialtransition. Without buying into either KADYROV or his motives(or dealing with him personally), the U.S. should seek waysto engage the people of Chechnya, who lack exposure to theoutside world.
End Summary.

¶2. (C) Ramzan KADYROV celebrated his hundredth day asPresident of Chechnya on July 14. For three years beforethat he had been the Republic’s strongman, with backing fromPresident Putin that has seen no limits. Putin promotedKADYROV shortly after the latter gunned down rival MovladiBaysarov — an FSB lieutenant colonel — in broad daylight ona major Moscow street. According to a PresidentialAdministration staffer, Putin ascribes the success of hisChechnya policies to his unlimited backing of KADYROV.Assumption of the Chechen presidency should just have been abonus. Nonetheless, tendencies visible before KADYROV becamepresident have become concrete.

Cutting Out the Competition—————————

¶3. (C) Chechnya has been a mass of federal structures, eachrepresenting its own institutional interests and, often,competing clans within those institutions. For the threeyears before KADYROV became president, President Alkhanovand, until his resignation, Prime Minister Abramov, each hadindependent ties to Moscow and bases of support there. The”siloviki,” or “power ministries” — FSB, MVD, MOD — hateKADYROV,xxxxx told us, andrepresentatives of each try to work with Chechen factions notloyal to KADYROV. A good example is ORB-2, the descendantof the RUBOP, the directorate designed to fight organizedcrime. When RUBOP was broken up (it had itself become anorganized crime family) it was integrated into local MVDoffices — but not in Chechnya. There it was subordinated tothe Southern District MVD in Rostov, to ensure an MVDpresence outside KADYROV’s control.

¶4. (C) All that is changing. When KADYROV assumed thepresidency there was speculation that Putin would insist onthe appointment of a Prime Minister with a independent powerbase, such as Federation Council member Umar Dzhabrailov.Instead, KADYROV promoted his maternal cousin OdesBaysultanov to the job (he had been First Deputy). KADYROVnamed his chief enforcer and right-hand man, AdamDelimkhanov, as First Deputy Prime Minister. It wasDelimkhanov who traveled to Moscow to pull the trigger on Baysarov.

¶5. (C) KADYROV has accused ORB-2 of involvement in kidnappingand torture, and is militating for the group’s withdrawalfrom Chechnya. ORB-2 certainly carries out some of thesecrimes, but by accusing them KADYROV is trying both toexculpate himself and rid Chechnya of a structure not underhis control. According to Presidential Administrationstaffer Aleksandr Machevskiy, overall force levels inChechnya now stand at 35,000, about half of whom are localChechens — most of whom are under KADYROV’s personalcontrol. Trouble is already brewing between KADYROV and twoof Chechnya’s most powerful warlords, Sulim Yamadayev of the “East” Battalion (see below) and Said-Magomad Kakiyev of the”West” battalion, four of whose men were killed in a recentshoot-out with KADYROV’s security forces.

Rebuilding Chechnya——————-

¶6. (C) The centralization of presidential power under KADYROVhas had positive effects on Chechnya’s economic and humanrights situation, as we have reported (reftels). The humanrights watchdog Memorial has documented an 80 percent drop inabductions over the last year, as KADYROV, exercising the”state monopoly on violence,” eliminates or neutralizeskidnappers not working under his direct sanction — and henow rarely feels the need to kidnap for either economic orpolitical reasons. Human rights improvement has its limits,however. KADYROV’s own “vertical of power,” together withhis cult of personality, mean that freedom of the Chechenmedia is not likely anytime soon.

¶7. (C) Chechnya’s economy also owes its renewal to KADYROV’smonopoly on violence. In the past, government subsidies werebasically bribes to keep Chechnya quiet, given on theunderstanding that that KADYROV would pocket any funds thatmade it to Chechnya past the trough of officials throughwhich it had to flow after leaving the Treasury. Theeconomies of Dagestan and Ingushetia still run more or lesson these lines, the latter almost exclusively so. KADYROVstill keeps the subsidies, but now forces other Chechens tocontribute to rebuilding infrastructure. Derided as thegrand projects are for their facade-deep garishness, they arestill an improvement over the vast desolation that theRussians made and called “peace.”

¶8. (C) Chechnya is still a profit center for the federalgovernment, despite the missing subsidies. A Chechenxxxxx told usthat Chechnya pays more income tax into the federal treasurythan neighboring Dagestan, which has nearly three times thepopulation (a tribute to KADYROV’s persuasiveness?). Onefederal moneymaker that KADYROV is trying to “devolve” isoil. At present, the Chechen xxxxx told us, Rosneftspends Rs 800-900 million per year in Chechnya to produce oilit sells for Rs 30 billion. The xxxxx suggested that itmight be advantageous to end subsidies and create a”Chechneft” analogous to the autonomous subsidiaries ofRosneft that exist in republics such as Dagestan andTatarstan. KADYROV has put a toe in this pond by contractingwith an American company to recover crude oil from a “lake”of petroleum runoffs near Groznyy, cleaning up theenvironment in the process.

The Godfather of All the Chechens———————————

¶9. (C) KADYROV is starting to act as the arbiter of disputesamong Chechens outside Chechnya. The prime example is hisintervention in a mafia-style dispute involving his chiefsubordinate Sulim Yamadayev, commander of the “East”Battalion. Yamadayev and some of his men raided the SamsonMeat Factory in St. Petersburg on September 15, 2006(interesting to speculate how they got there from Chechnya,fully armed). Yamadayev was apparently acting as enforcerfor a Chechen from Kazakhstan who had an ownership claim thatput him at odds with the factory’s manager, also a Chechen. Charges were pressed by the visibly battered manager, but hedropped them after two of his brothers were abducted inChechnya. This would not have been considered unusual if themanager were not a well-connected Chechen, but Samson’s owneris the Moscow Industrial Bank, whose president, AbubakarArsamakov, is a relative of the plant’s manager, and hasclout in the Moscow Chechen community. Perhaps as a resultof his intervention, in late April KADYROV ordered Yamadayevto return the missing brothers. Yamadayev protested that hewas not holding them or involved in their disappearance. Oursources tell us the two brothers are probably sleeping withthe fishes.

¶10. (C) The incident illustrates not only the Russia-widereach of KADYROV; it also fits into his drive to eliminatepotential rivals. Tensions have been close to boiling withYamadayev since April. KADYROV has told a friendly Dumamember that he will not allow Yamadayev’s brother Ruslan”Khalit” Yamadayev to run for re-election as Duma member forChechnya. At that point there will be a confrontation.

Ingathering of Lands——————–

¶11. (C) KADYROV is clearly the strongest figure in theCaucasus. When earlier this month his 10-year old nephewcrashed a car he was driving (!) and lay in a coma, notables from all over felt it necessary to make the pilgrimage toGroznyy to condole with KADYROV. Like his influence,KADYROV’s ambitions extend well beyond Chechnya’s borders, inthe first instance to its neighbors. Chechen ParliamentSpeaker Dukvakha Abdurakhmanov floated the idea of unitingthe three republics of the Northeast Caucasus (Ingushetia,Chechnya and Dagestan) into one larger unit, in whichChechens would form the largest single ethnic group. Inaddition, Chechen officials sometimes recall longstandingclaims to the Novolak district of Dagestan, which was part ofChechnya before the 1944 deportations. After the Chechenswere moved out, the Soviets gave the land to ethnic Laks andchanged the borders to keep the Laks (a high percentage ofwhom were members of the Communist Party) within Dagestan.

¶12. (C) The most likely annexation, however, is therecreation of the pre-Dudayev Checheno-Ingush Republic.Well-placed sources have told us KADYROV is moving towardsthis goal, and that it solves a few of Moscow’s problems, aswell. Ingushetia still has an intractable dispute with NorthOssetia over the Prigorodnyy Rayon, and any leader ofIngushetia is forced to sound the drums about the issue atevery available opportunity. It would not be so high apriority on KADYROV’s agenda.

¶13. (C) Reintegration is also a way of getting rid of Ingushleader Zyazikov, with whom the Kremlin is intenselydissatisfied, according to xxxxxxxxxxxx. Zyazikov has failed to dealwith the Islamist insurgents — who, it is well known, havethoroughly penetrated Ingushetia’s security organs. Inaddition, his level of corruption, and his shamelessness inflaunting it, is embarrassing even when compared to otherprovincial leaders in the Caucasus. xxxxx told us that Zyazikov recentlyhosted xxxxx at dinner in his palace, built by hispredecessor. During the dinner, whose conversation focusedon Ingushetia’s dire need for outside humanitarian aid,Zyazikov mentioned that he was not fond of the palace, andwas going to build another one not far away.

The Challenges Ahead——————–

¶14. (C) Despite his successes to date in consolidating power,KADYROV’s path is not strewn with roses. KADYROV’sneutralization of potential rivals is not cost-free.Chechens are notoriously independent, and when conditions arenot to their liking, or they are treated with less than therespect they think is their due, they have an easy place ofrefuge: the mountains, with the fighters. Rumor has it thatalready 100 of Yamadayev’s followers have taken to the hillswith their weapons. As we have reported, thenationalist-separatist insurgency is nearly dead — mostfighters were co-opted by KADYROV and his father; theremainder scattered and without much capacity to strike. TheIslamist insurgency is thriving, but it is outside Chechnya,in Dagestan, Ingushetia and Kabardino-Balkaria. But a new,large injection of disaffected gunmen could breathe new lifeinto one of these groups, or sweep them up within themselves.

¶15. (C) Another immediate challenge is the Russianpresidential transition of 2008. KADYROV’s deal with Putinis a highly personal one. Putin allows, supports andfinances KADYROV’s power and scope of activity in Chechnya,and agrees to abide by the guarantees of immunity andimpunity KADYROV has given his 10,000-15,000 fighters, mostlyformer rebels like KADYROV himself. In return, KADYROV ispersonally loyal to Putin and ensures that his fighters turntheir guns on separatists, Islamists and other enemies of theRussian state. KADYROV is happy with this arrangement, andwas among the first and loudest to support a third term forPutin.

¶16. (C) The succession unleashes unknowns into this cozydeal. On the most basic level, the chemistry might just notbe right between KADYROV and Putin’s successor. In such anexceptionally personal deal inside a Russian system alreadymuch more personal and less institutional than its westerncounterparts, that lack of personal rapport can havesignificant effects. Perhaps for that reason KADYROV inApril hosted one of the two leading candidates, DmitriyMedvedev, on a tour of Groznyy (Presidential Administrationstaffer Machevskiy, who was in Chechnya with Medvedev, saidthe discussions focused only on the National Projects).

¶17. (C) Another unknown is what policies the successor willfollow. Most Russian officials we have spoken to tell usthat KADYROV is a necessity “for now.” What happens if thenext Russian president decides he can dispense with KADYROVand slowly begins to move against him? Aleksey Malashenko ofCarnegie pointed out to us that the investigation into the Politkovskaya murder can be used as a “card” to play againstKADYROV when the time is right — since KADYROV’s actualguilt or innocence will have no bearing on whether he isaccused of the murder. To prevent such action, Malashenkobelieves, KADYROV is busy demonstrating how essential he isto keeping the peace in Chechnya; Malashenko even suggestedto us that there might be collusion between KADYROV and theseparatist forces of Doku Umarov to keep up a regular streamof armed incidents and attacks. According to PresidentialAdministration staffer Machevskiy, however, continuity willbe provided by Presidential Administration deputy VladimirSurkov. Surkov, whose father was a Chechen, has developedclose ties with KADYROV.

¶18. (C) A third unknown about the succession is whetherKADYROV will try to over-reach and renegotiate the currentdeal to get even better terms. KADYROV’s rejection of atreaty officially setting out the power-sharing arrangementbetween Moscow and Groznyy was seen as a demonstration ofloyalty, in that any such document would have to retain amention of Chechnya’s sovereignty. Two other factors may beat work, however. First, Caucasians prefer to deal orallyrather than set conditions down in black and white, accordingto xxxxx, who contrasts thischaracteristic with the legalism of the Tatars (whose owntreaty was recently adopted). Second, KADYROV might see sucha document as limiting, rather than confirming, his rights,especially when he starts dealing with Putin’s successor.KADYROV sees Putin as a father, according to all accounts; hewill scarcely view the successor with the same deference.

Implications For Governance—————————

¶19. (C) We should not have any delusions that KADYROV’spolitical achievements or economic successes or even theamelioration of Chechnya’s human rights situation herald anera of justice and rule of law. His style of governanceimplies regulation of violence, but not reluctance to use it;organization of corruption, but not its overall reduction;and recognition of property and other rights of Chechens whenoutsiders try to violate them, but not with relation to theChechen elite itself. At the same time, we should place thisgovernance in the context of governance in the Russianregions: as former Parliament Speaker Ruslan Khasbulatovtold us, “it is only a radical form of what is found in allthe regions,” with the exception of the application ofviolence — which Russians and Chechens justify by theinsurgent and Islamist threat, and which is common to allparts of the North Caucasus. The other characteristics — ofinstitutionalized corruption, dubious property rights, andgeneral impunity of officials — are present to a greater orlesser degree in many Russian regions.

Implications for the U.S.————————-

¶20. (C) U.S. engagement with Chechnya will be limited not byKADYROV but by Moscow, at least until after next year’spresidential transition. We have been told bluntly thatRussia wants to reduce international presence in the NorthCaucasus, convinced that “Western” powers will use thatpresence to destabilize the transition. Given thosesuspicions and parameters, our most thoughtful interlocutorsbelieve that “limited engagement” is the best policy. Anumber of them have cited conferences (in Chechnya) andexchanges as the best programs to implement that engagement.

¶21. (C) Even that approach presents difficulties.Presidential Administration staffer Machevskiy discussed withus the possibility of holding a model UN at Grozny University, with U.S. and other western participants andadvisors. He promised to draft a proposal, but after it wentthrough his administration’s vetting process it came back asa Model EU, to be held not in Groznyy but in Rostov. Thereis clearly no appetite in the Kremlin for ending theChechens’ isolation.

¶22. (C) Exchanges remain as the best vehicle for U.S.interests. Up to now, programs such as the Young LeadershipProgram and Open World have been hampered by securityconcerns from making the visits necessary to select qualifiedcandidates from Chechnya. The U.S. should place priority onmaking such recruitment possible.

Coming to Terms with Ground Facts———————————

¶23. (C) Beyond the technical aspects of how best to engage,we need to review the context in which we have placedChechnya. Previous conceptions of the Chechen tragedy, stillcurrent in certain think-tank circles, simply do not apply — the thesis that there is a real government up in the hills,deriving its legitimacy from the electoral mandate AslanMaskhadov won ten years ago, that is still locked in battlewith the Russian invaders and their usurping compradors.That situation ended years ago, with the execution of thedeal between Putin and KADYROV senior: the insurgents won,just a different set of insurgents; those still in the hillsno longer represent any more of a moral authority orcommitment to democracy than does KADYROV.

¶24. (C) This is sad for those who were outraged by Russianatrocities in the first two wars and hopeful for the successof the Maskhadov government between them. Sad, but true.Attempts to portray Doku Umarov as a fighter for democracy,or even a fighter against Russian misrule, simply do notcorrespond with reality. This does not mean we can acceptthe Russian version that all opponents of KADYROV areinternational terrorists, or that flaws in Umarov’s behaviorin any way justify KADYROV’s. But it does mean that we needto engage with the Chechen government, at an appropriatenon-KADYROV level, as a prerequisite for engagement with theChechen people — and Chechen welfare, so bound up with thestability of the North Caucasus, the containment of Islamicextremism, and the direction that Russia ultimately takes, isa major U.S. interest.


DE RUEHMO #3579/01 2040600
O 230600Z JUL 07


2010-12-01 21:09:00
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