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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
07MOSCOW3579 2007-07-23 06:06 2010-12-01 21:09 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Moscow
Appears in these articles:
DE RUEHMO #3579/01 2040600
O 230600Z JUL 07
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 as
President of Chechnya. Characteristics of the new order are
already visible:

-- The appointment of personnel who have no loyalties except
to Kadyrov, and the steady elimination of those with
independent ties to Moscow or independent bases of support

-- An improvement in the economic situation, as well as in
human rights (marginally), as Kadyrov centralizes power and
independent actors (read: rent-seekers and kidnappers) are
reined in and franchised by his administration.

-- Kadyrov's "extraterritorial" efforts to speak for Chechens
everywhere, not just in Chechnya.

-- Regional power aspirations, focusing first on
re-integrating Ingushetia.

Kadyrov faces hurdles on the way to these goals, including
both dissension within Chechnya's ruling elite and the
uncertainties in the run-up to the 2008 Russian presidential
transition. Without buying into either Kadyrov or his motives
(or dealing with him personally), the U.S. should seek ways
to engage the people of Chechnya, who lack exposure to the
outside world.

End Summary.

2. (C) Ramzan Kadyrov celebrated his hundredth day as
President of Chechnya on July 14. For three years before
that he had been the Republic's strongman, with backing from
President Putin that has seen no limits. Putin promoted
Kadyrov shortly after the latter gunned down rival Movladi
Baysarov -- an FSB lieutenant colonel -- in broad daylight on
a major Moscow street. According to a Presidential
Administration staffer, Putin ascribes the success of his
Chechnya policies to his unlimited backing of Kadyrov.
Assumption of the Chechen presidency should just have been a
bonus. Nonetheless, tendencies visible before Kadyrov became
president have become concrete.

Cutting Out the Competition

3. (C) Chechnya has been a mass of federal structures, each
representing its own institutional interests and, often,
competing clans within those institutions. For the three
years before Kadyrov became president, President Alkhanov
and, until his resignation, Prime Minister Abramov, each had
independent ties to Moscow and bases of support there. The
"siloviki," or "power ministries" -- FSB, MVD, MOD -- hate
Kadyrov,xxxxx told us, and
representatives of each try to work with Chechen factions not
loyal to Kadyrov. A good example is ORB-2, the descendant
of the RUBOP, the directorate designed to fight organized
crime. When RUBOP was broken up (it had itself become an
organized crime family) it was integrated into local MVD
offices -- but not in Chechnya. There it was subordinated to
the Southern District MVD in Rostov, to ensure an MVD
presence outside Kadyrov's control.

4. (C) All that is changing. When Kadyrov assumed the
presidency there was speculation that Putin would insist on
the appointment of a Prime Minister with a independent power
base, such as Federation Council member Umar Dzhabrailov.
Instead, Kadyrov promoted his maternal cousin Odes
Baysultanov to the job (he had been First Deputy). Kadyrov
named his chief enforcer and right-hand man, Adam
Delimkhanov, as First Deputy Prime Minister. It was
Delimkhanov who traveled to Moscow to pull the trigger on

5. (C) Kadyrov has accused ORB-2 of involvement in kidnapping
and torture, and is militating for the group's withdrawal
from Chechnya. ORB-2 certainly carries out some of these
crimes, but by accusing them Kadyrov is trying both to
exculpate himself and rid Chechnya of a structure not under
his control. According to Presidential Administration
staffer Aleksandr Machevskiy, overall force levels in
Chechnya now stand at 35,000, about half of whom are local
Chechens -- most of whom are under Kadyrov's personal
control. Trouble is already brewing between Kadyrov and two
of Chechnya's most powerful warlords, Sulim Yamadayev of the

Moscow 00003579 002 of 005

"East" Battalion (see below) and Said-Magomad Kakiyev of the
"West" battalion, four of whose men were killed in a recent
shoot-out with Kadyrov's security forces.

Rebuilding Chechnya

6. (C) The centralization of presidential power under Kadyrov
has had positive effects on Chechnya's economic and human
rights situation, as we have reported (reftels). The human
rights watchdog Memorial has documented an 80 percent drop in
abductions over the last year, as Kadyrov, exercising the
"state monopoly on violence," eliminates or neutralizes
kidnappers not working under his direct sanction -- and he
now rarely feels the need to kidnap for either economic or
political reasons. Human rights improvement has its limits,
however. Kadyrov's own "vertical of power," together with
his cult of personality, mean that freedom of the Chechen
media is not likely anytime soon.

7. (C) Chechnya's economy also owes its renewal to Kadyrov's
monopoly on violence. In the past, government subsidies were
basically bribes to keep Chechnya quiet, given on the
understanding that that Kadyrov would pocket any funds that
made it to Chechnya past the trough of officials through
which it had to flow after leaving the Treasury. The
economies of Dagestan and Ingushetia still run more or less
on these lines, the latter almost exclusively so. Kadyrov
still keeps the subsidies, but now forces other Chechens to
contribute to rebuilding infrastructure. Derided as the
grand projects are for their facade-deep garishness, they are
still an improvement over the vast desolation that the
Russians made and called "peace."

8. (C) Chechnya is still a profit center for the federal
government, despite the missing subsidies. A Chechen
xxxxx told us
that Chechnya pays more income tax into the federal treasury
than neighboring Dagestan, which has nearly three times the
population (a tribute to Kadyrov's persuasiveness?). One
federal moneymaker that Kadyrov is trying to "devolve" is
oil. At present, the Chechen xxxxx told us, Rosneft
spends Rs 800-900 million per year in Chechnya to produce oil
it sells for Rs 30 billion. The xxxxx suggested that it
might be advantageous to end subsidies and create a
"Chechneft" analogous to the autonomous subsidiaries of
Rosneft that exist in republics such as Dagestan and
Tatarstan. Kadyrov has put a toe in this pond by contracting
with an American company to recover crude oil from a "lake"
of petroleum runoffs near Groznyy, cleaning up the
environment in the process.

The Godfather of All the Chechens

9. (C) Kadyrov is starting to act as the arbiter of disputes
among Chechens outside Chechnya. The prime example is his
intervention in a mafia-style dispute involving his chief
subordinate Sulim Yamadayev, commander of the "East"
Battalion. Yamadayev and some of his men raided the Samson
Meat Factory in St. Petersburg on September 15, 2006
(interesting to speculate how they got there from Chechnya,
fully armed). Yamadayev was apparently acting as enforcer
for a Chechen from Kazakhstan who had an ownership claim that
put him at odds with the factory's manager, also a Chechen.
Charges were pressed by the visibly battered manager, but he
dropped them after two of his brothers were abducted in
Chechnya. This would not have been considered unusual if the
manager were not a well-connected Chechen, but Samson's owner
is the Moscow Industrial Bank, whose president, Abubakar
Arsamakov, is a relative of the plant's manager, and has
clout in the Moscow Chechen community. Perhaps as a result
of his intervention, in late April Kadyrov ordered Yamadayev
to return the missing brothers. Yamadayev protested that he
was not holding them or involved in their disappearance. Our
sources tell us the two brothers are probably sleeping with
the fishes.

10. (C) The incident illustrates not only the Russia-wide
reach of Kadyrov; it also fits into his drive to eliminate
potential rivals. Tensions have been close to boiling with
Yamadayev since April. Kadyrov has told a friendly Duma
member that he will not allow Yamadayev's brother Ruslan
"Khalit" Yamadayev to run for re-election as Duma member for
Chechnya. At that point there will be a confrontation.

Ingathering of Lands

11. (C) Kadyrov is clearly the strongest figure in the
Caucasus. When earlier this month his 10-year old nephew
crashed a car he was driving (!) and lay in a coma, notables

Moscow 00003579 003 of 005

from all over felt it necessary to make the pilgrimage to
Groznyy to condole with Kadyrov. Like his influence,
Kadyrov's ambitions extend well beyond Chechnya's borders, in
the first instance to its neighbors. Chechen Parliament
Speaker Dukvakha Abdurakhmanov floated the idea of uniting
the three republics of the Northeast Caucasus (Ingushetia,
Chechnya and Dagestan) into one larger unit, in which
Chechens would form the largest single ethnic group. In
addition, Chechen officials sometimes recall longstanding
claims to the Novolak district of Dagestan, which was part of
Chechnya before the 1944 deportations. After the Chechens
were moved out, the Soviets gave the land to ethnic Laks and
changed the borders to keep the Laks (a high percentage of
whom were members of the Communist Party) within Dagestan.

12. (C) The most likely annexation, however, is the
recreation of the pre-Dudayev Checheno-Ingush Republic.
Well-placed sources have told us Kadyrov is moving towards
this goal, and that it solves a few of Moscow's problems, as
well. Ingushetia still has an intractable dispute with North
Ossetia over the Prigorodnyy Rayon, and any leader of
Ingushetia is forced to sound the drums about the issue at
every available opportunity. It would not be so high a
priority on Kadyrov's agenda.

13. (C) Reintegration is also a way of getting rid of Ingush
leader Zyazikov, with whom the Kremlin is intensely
dissatisfied, according to xxxxxxxxxxxx. Zyazikov has failed to deal
with the Islamist insurgents -- who, it is well known, have
thoroughly penetrated Ingushetia's security organs. In
addition, his level of corruption, and his shamelessness in
flaunting it, is embarrassing even when compared to other
provincial leaders in the Caucasus.xxxxx told us that Zyazikov recently
hosted xxxxx at dinner in his palace, built by his
predecessor. During the dinner, whose conversation focused
on Ingushetia's dire need for outside humanitarian aid,
Zyazikov mentioned that he was not fond of the palace, and
was 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's
neutralization of potential rivals is not cost-free.
Chechens are notoriously independent, and when conditions are
not to their liking, or they are treated with less than the
respect they think is their due, they have an easy place of
refuge: the mountains, with the fighters. Rumor has it that
already 100 of Yamadayev's followers have taken to the hills
with their weapons. As we have reported, the
nationalist-separatist insurgency is nearly dead -- most
fighters were co-opted by Kadyrov and his father; the
remainder scattered and without much capacity to strike. The
Islamist 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 life
into one of these groups, or sweep them up within themselves.

15. (C) Another immediate challenge is the Russian
presidential transition of 2008. Kadyrov's deal with Putin
is a highly personal one. Putin allows, supports and
finances Kadyrov's power and scope of activity in Chechnya,
and agrees to abide by the guarantees of immunity and
impunity Kadyrov has given his 10,000-15,000 fighters, mostly
former rebels like Kadyrov himself. In return, Kadyrov is
personally loyal to Putin and ensures that his fighters turn
their guns on separatists, Islamists and other enemies of the
Russian state. Kadyrov is happy with this arrangement, and
was among the first and loudest to support a third term for

16. (C) The succession unleashes unknowns into this cozy
deal. On the most basic level, the chemistry might just not
be right between Kadyrov and Putin's successor. In such an
exceptionally personal deal inside a Russian system already
much more personal and less institutional than its western
counterparts, that lack of personal rapport can have
significant effects. Perhaps for that reason Kadyrov in
April hosted one of the two leading candidates, Dmitriy
Medvedev, on a tour of Groznyy (Presidential Administration
staffer Machevskiy, who was in Chechnya with Medvedev, said
the discussions focused only on the National Projects).

17. (C) Another unknown is what policies the successor will
follow. Most Russian officials we have spoken to tell us
that Kadyrov is a necessity "for now." What happens if the
next Russian president decides he can dispense with Kadyrov
and slowly begins to move against him? Aleksey Malashenko of
Carnegie pointed out to us that the investigation into the

Moscow 00003579 004 of 005

Politkovskaya murder can be used as a "card" to play against
Kadyrov when the time is right -- since Kadyrov's actual
guilt or innocence will have no bearing on whether he is
accused of the murder. To prevent such action, Malashenko
believes, Kadyrov is busy demonstrating how essential he is
to keeping the peace in Chechnya; Malashenko even suggested
to us that there might be collusion between Kadyrov and the
separatist forces of Doku Umarov to keep up a regular stream
of armed incidents and attacks. According to Presidential
Administration staffer Machevskiy, however, continuity will
be provided by Presidential Administration deputy Vladimir
Surkov. Surkov, whose father was a Chechen, has developed
close ties with Kadyrov.

18. (C) A third unknown about the succession is whether
Kadyrov will try to over-reach and renegotiate the current
deal to get even better terms. Kadyrov's rejection of a
treaty officially setting out the power-sharing arrangement
between Moscow and Groznyy was seen as a demonstration of
loyalty, in that any such document would have to retain a
mention of Chechnya's sovereignty. Two other factors may be
at work, however. First, Caucasians prefer to deal orally
rather than set conditions down in black and white, according
to xxxxx, who contrasts this
characteristic with the legalism of the Tatars (whose own
treaty was recently adopted). Second, Kadyrov might see such
a 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; he
will scarcely view the successor with the same deference.

Implications For Governance

19. (C) We should not have any delusions that Kadyrov's
political achievements or economic successes or even the
amelioration of Chechnya's human rights situation herald an
era of justice and rule of law. His style of governance
implies 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 when
outsiders try to violate them, but not with relation to the
Chechen elite itself. At the same time, we should place this
governance in the context of governance in the Russian
regions: as former Parliament Speaker Ruslan Khasbulatov
told us, "it is only a radical form of what is found in all
the regions," with the exception of the application of
violence -- which Russians and Chechens justify by the
insurgent and Islamist threat, and which is common to all
parts of the North Caucasus. The other characteristics -- of
institutionalized corruption, dubious property rights, and
general impunity of officials -- are present to a greater or
lesser degree in many Russian regions.

Implications for the U.S.

20. (C) U.S. engagement with Chechnya will be limited not by
Kadyrov but by Moscow, at least until after next year's
presidential transition. We have been told bluntly that
Russia wants to reduce international presence in the North
Caucasus, convinced that "Western" powers will use that
presence to destabilize the transition. Given those
suspicions and parameters, our most thoughtful interlocutors
believe that "limited engagement" is the best policy. A
number of them have cited conferences (in Chechnya) and
exchanges as the best programs to implement that engagement.

21. (C) Even that approach presents difficulties.
Presidential Administration staffer Machevskiy discussed with
us the possibility of holding a model UN at Groznyy
University, with U.S. and other western participants and
advisors. He promised to draft a proposal, but after it went
through his administration's vetting process it came back as
a Model EU, to be held not in Groznyy but in Rostov. There
is clearly no appetite in the Kremlin for ending the
Chechens' isolation.

22. (C) Exchanges remain as the best vehicle for U.S.
interests. Up to now, programs such as the Young Leadership
Program and Open World have been hampered by security
concerns from making the visits necessary to select qualified
candidates from Chechnya. The U.S. should place priority on
making 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 placed
Chechnya. Previous conceptions of the Chechen tragedy, still
current in certain think-tank circles, simply do not apply --

Moscow 00003579 005 of 005

the thesis that there is a real government up in the hills,
deriving its legitimacy from the electoral mandate Aslan
Maskhadov won ten years ago, that is still locked in battle
with the Russian invaders and their usurping compradors.
That situation ended years ago, with the execution of the
deal between Putin and Kadyrov senior: the insurgents won,
just a different set of insurgents; those still in the hills
no longer represent any more of a moral authority or
commitment to democracy than does Kadyrov.

24. (C) This is sad for those who were outraged by Russian
atrocities in the first two wars and hopeful for the success
of 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 not
correspond with reality. This does not mean we can accept
the Russian version that all opponents of Kadyrov are
international terrorists, or that flaws in Umarov's behavior
in any way justify Kadyrov's. But it does mean that we need
to engage with the Chechen government, at an appropriate
non-Kadyrov level, as a prerequisite for engagement with the
Chechen people -- and Chechen welfare, so bound up with the
stability of the North Caucasus, the containment of Islamic
extremism, and the direction that Russia ultimately takes, is
a major U.S. interest.