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Viewing cable 05DUSHANBE1921, MEETING WITH PRESIDENT RAHMONOV: HIS VIEWS ON RUSSIA

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
05DUSHANBE1921 2005-12-02 10:10 2010-12-12 21:09 SECRET Embassy Dushanbe
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
S E C R E T  DUSHANBE 001921 

SIPDIS 

STATE FOR P, EUR/CACEN, EUR/RUS, SA, S/P 
NSC FOR MERKEL 

EO 12958 DECL:  12/2/2015 
TAGS PREL, PGOV, PINR, MARR, RS, TI 

SUBJECT: MEETING WITH PRESIDENT RAHMONOV:  HIS VIEWS ON RUSSIA 
REF: STATE 214783

CLASSIFIED BY: Richard E. Hoagland, Ambassador, EXEC, Embassy Dushanbe. REASON: 1.4 (b), (d)

1. (C) The Ambassador met with President Emomali Rahmonov on December 1 for two and a half hours. We report the meeting in three cables. This is two of three. The other two cover Rahmonov’s views on (1) the U.S.-Tajikistan bilateral relationship and Tajik politics, and (2) Uzbekistan.

2. (S) SUMMARY: President Rahmonov judges that new Russian Ambassador Ramazan Abdulatipov is “not very diplomatic, but not a bad guy.” Though Rahmonov has to work closely with Russia he made clear he keeps both eyes wide open. He alleged that he kicked the Russian Border Guards out of Tajikistan because they were plotting with former Presidential Guards Commander Gaffor Mirzoyev to overthrow him. Although some of what Rahmonov said may have been calculated for U.S. consumption, much of it has a ring of truth.” END SUMMARY.

3. (S) President Rahmonov expressed gratitude for the State Department’s non-paper about U.S.-Russia consultations (reftel), and said that Tajikistan will do everything possible to promote good relations in the region between Russia and the United States. He said Russia has natural historic, cultural, and security interests in the region and will always be a major force that cannot be ignored, but it is important for the international community to moderate Russia’s worst instincts and help it become a positive force. It is especially important for Russia and the United states to develop common positions in the region, including in Afghanistan, to promote sustainable stability and prosperity.

RUSSIAN AMBASSADOR “NOT A BAD GUY,” JUST NOT VERY DIPLOMATIC

4. (C) Rahmonov, abandoning his notes as he usually does, paused and smiled. “You know, (Russian political-appointee Ambassador) Ramazan (Abdulatipov) is not really a bad guy, even though he complains to me about you all the time. He’s a politician, philosopher, and intellectual. Because he’s from Dagestan, we have very interesting discussions about the history of Russia’s Muslims and Persian culture. But he’s just not a diplomat. He doesn’t understand nuances and niceties. He’s certainly no Peshkov! (NOTE: Previous Russian Ambassador Maksim Peshkov. END NOTE.) But he’s open and friendly with me personally. He understands Russia creates a lot of problems here, and knows it’s his job to try to solve them.”

5. (S) Rahmonov added, “Actually, It’s the Russian special services who cause trouble here, and I’ve told Ramazan it’s his job to keep them under control. And it’s not just here, it’s coming from the Kremlin, and some of it comes from the top. We can never forget that Putin himself is a ‘chekist’ (career intelligence officer) at heart.”

WHY RAHMONOV KICKED OUT THE RUSSIAN BORDER GUARDS

6. (S) Rahmonov said, “I want to tell you a secret why I insisted that the Russian Border Guards had to leave Tajikistan.  You know they’re part of the KGB. I had credible information they and (jailed General Gaffor) Mirzoyev were plotting a coup against me. That’s why I pushed Mirzoyev out of the Presidential Guard, disbanded the Presidential Guard, and told Putin forcefully his Border Guards had to go. This had been building for a long time, and I had frequently discussed it with Putin, but he wouldn’t do anything about it. Only after I moved
against Mirzoyev did Putin finally understand that their game was up. To make amends, he agreed that his Border Guards would leave. You know who helped me with this? (Federal Service on Control of Narcotics Chairman Victor) Cherkesov. He was here at that time studying our Drug Control Agency, and he realized that the Russian Border Guards were more involved in trafficking heroin than in stopping it. He went to Putin on my behalf.”

7. (S) Having warmed to this issue, Rahmonov said, “This constant propaganda in the Russian media about how Tajikistan is failing to control its borders now that the Russians have left - you know where that comes from? From the Russian generals who want to come back here with their mafia buddies. Look what they got here - they put in two-year tours, and then went back to Moscow and bought Mercedes 600s and elite apartments. You think they did that on their salaries? Why do you think the generals lined up in Moscow all the way across Red Square and paid enormous bribes to be assigned here - just so they could do their patriotic duty?”

8. (S) “And another thing,” Rahmonov continued heatedly, “why do you think I got rid of the 50 Russian generals who used to be advisers in our Ministry of Defense. They never did anything for us. They never helped us build a professional military, never gave us any military-technical assistance, because they wanted to keep us weak so their buddies could play games and make fortunes dealing drugs. I got fed up, said thanks but now it’s time for you to go home. That’s one reason they eventually came up with the plot to overthrow me.”

9. (S) COMMENT: Rahmonov seldom misses a chance in extended conversations with the Ambassador to assert Tajikistan’s independence from Russia and occasional unhappiness with their friendship-of-convenience. His revelation of why he asked the Russian Border Guards to leave Tajikistan is an amplified version of what he told us last year. Although it may be highly edited and spun for our consumption, we note a coincidence of timing. The Mirzoyev drama played out at the end of January 2004. By the end of February 2004, Russian Ambassador Peshkov confided to us that the Russian Border Guards would leave Tajikistan. END COMMENT. HOAGLAND
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