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2005-12-15 13:09:00
US Office Almaty
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						UNCLAS  ALMATY 004412 




E.O. 12958: N/A

Ref: Almaty 3284

1. (SBU) SUMMARY: At a recent roundtable to discuss the
November 14 military pact between Russia and Uzbekistan, a
group of political analysts and academics considered the
pact both a hedge against U.S. influence in Central Asia,
as well as a signal from Russia that it still has influence
in the area. One analyst said the agreement showed that
cooperation between countries of Central Asia and Russia
was now possible only on separate bilateral bases.
Analysts also discussed multilateral regional cooperation,
and said that the Commonwealth of Independent States has no
future, because of separate interests being pursued by
authoritarian rulers in their individual countries.
Newspaper commentary highlighted the economic benefits that
Uzbekistan might gain from a closer relationship with
Russia, without having to make concessions on democratic
reform. END SUMMARY.

Pact as Russian Intimidation Tactic or...


2. (SBU) At an embassy-hosted roundtable November 23, a
group of seven prominent political scientists and academics
discussed the significance of the November 14 military pact
signed between Russia and Uzbekistan allowing each country
the use of military installations on the other's territory.
Nurbulat Masanov, a professor of ethnography and the newly
appointed director of the Nomad Institute (see reftel),
said Russia is now isolated in the world community, after
the change in relations with formerly close ally Ukraine
following Viktor Yushenko's election last December. He
said Kazakhstan was Russia's only real partner in the
former Soviet space and that the pact with Uzbekistan was a
means of "blackmailing" Kazakhstan, i.e., demonstrating
that Russia still could leverage its power in the region.

...Pact as Bulwark Against U.S. Pressure for Reform



3. (SBU) Other participants agreed with Sergey Duvanov,
independent journalist and director of the Polyton
Discussion Club, who said the pact was more likely a show
of solidarity between authoritarian leaders against U.S.
policies promoting democratic reform. Duvanov noted in
particular the mutual support Putin and Nazarbayev provided
each other against pressure from the U.S. for democratic
reform. He also said the intimidation tactics employed by
pro-presidential forces during Kazakhstan's presidential
campaign indicated that Astana would likely maintain a
close partnership with Russia. Dosym Satpayev, director of
the NGO Risk Assessment Group, supported this view and said
that in the 1990s, Russia lost reliable and predictable

partners in the post-Soviet area and only Kazakhstan now is
still relatively loyal to Russia. He also said Kazakhstan
is the only country in post-Soviet area that does not have
anti-Russian attitudes among the elite and opposition.
Masanov added that if outside pressure for reform weakened,
then the two leaders' alliance would crumble, because their
stance against democratic reform is all they have in

4. (SBU) Regarding the effect the military pact might have
on Russia, Sanat Kushkumbayev, a political scientist with
the Institute for War and Peace Reporting, said Russian
political analysts had told him they were not happy about
the high price Russia would have to pay in terms of respect
and prestige in the world community for close cooperation
with the Karimov regime, which had been effectively
ostracized by the European Union. For that reason he
believes Russian defense minister Sergey Ivanov was sincere
when he declared Russia had no intentions of placing a
military base at Karshi Khanabad in the near future.

Another Uprising in Uzbekistan Possible


5. (SBU) Although participants had various opinions about
the motivations in pursuing the Russia-Uzbekistan pact,
there was a consensus that without any relief in
Uzbekistan's crushing poverty and oppression from the

Karimov regime, another popular uprising like that in
Andijan in May was inevitable. Duvanov said such a
spontaneous explosion of outrage might cause Uzbekistan to
fracture along ethnic lines, because the country is now
held together only by Karimov's authoritarian hand. He
said Kazakhstan would feel the impact from an influx of
desperate people seeking jobs and survival in Kazakhstan.
Masanov said during the Soviet era, diverse ethnic groups
like Tajiks, Kazakhs, Uighurs, and Uzbeks living in the
territory of Uzbekistan were forced to identify themselves
as Uzbeks, but since Uzbekistan's independence the groups
have been reasserting their individual ethnic identities.

No Chance for Closer Central Asian Integration



6. (SBU) On the broader issue of cooperation between
Central Asian countries, Masanov said the Commonwealth of
Independent States (CIS) as a truly integrated entity had
no future, first because there are common interests only
between individual countries and Russia. The other
obstacle to closer integration, Masanov said, was the
"vertical of power" in the leadership of Central Asian
states. He compared authoritarian regimes with inflexible
and hidden agendas to icebergs separated by submerged
bases. As for relations between Kazakhstan and Russia,
Duvanov said Kazakhstan used the partnership with Russia as
a counterbalance to its relations with the United States.
Kushkumbayev said Kazakhstan's elite prevented fuller
integration with Russia, because Kazakhstan is still
reaping the benefits of its independence. In the hierarchy
of Kazakhstan's preferred partners, Satpayev said Russia
was number one, followed by the CIS organization, China and
the United States.

7. (SBU) Participants expected the Shanghai Cooperation
Organization (SCO) to share the same fate as the CIS, and
saw its sole purpose, in the words of Duvanov, as keeping
the "hegemon" (U.S.) at bay. Satpayev said the SCO had no
economic future because "you can't breed an elephant with a
fly," referring to China's overwhelming economic strength
compared to other SCO partners. He also said China was
afraid to enter the Kazakhstani market because of the high
rate of corruption in society.

Media: Uzbekistan Has Foreign Policy (U.S.) Alternative



8. (U) Newspaper commentary highlighted the economic
benefits that Uzbekistan might seek from a closer
relationship with Russia. In a December 2 article for pro-
government Liter, Satpayev speculated on Karimov's motives
in seeking membership in the Eurasian Economic Community.
"For Uzbekistan, participation in the Eurasian Economic
Community is basically a grand political gesture, which
should demonstrate to the West that Uzbekistan has a
foreign policy alternative (to the U.S.). . . Islam Karimov
is only trying to exploit investment opportunities of the
Eurasian Economic Community to finance the ineffective
Uzbek economy, while not granting any serious economic
concessions." A similar view was expressed in a November
25 article in pro-government Delovaya Nedelya: "When the
spontaneous riot headed by religious `ekstremists' struck
Andijan, Tashkent used the pretext of an international plot
to finally break the friendship with the cunning partner to
be embraced by the powerful ally Putin, who does not tie
his own geopolitical interests with ideas of spreading
democracy and civil freedoms... The Uzbek people are hoping
to gain from the Russians an enlivened economy, the
restoration of enterprises begun in the early 90's, the
creation of jobs, and of course free entrance (to Russia)
to earn wages."

9. (SBU) Roundtable analysts expressed no particular
concern about the military pact between their country's
northern and southern neighbor, and Masanov and Duvanov
went so far as to say Russia was isolated politically.
Kushkumbayev said Russia was trying to wield influence over
Central Asia, which Russia still considered its strategic
"front line," while China considered Central Asia the
"tyl," or rear guard. All had sincere sympathy for the
Uzbek people and Duvanov voiced the hope that Nazarbayev

would negotiate with Karimov to allow Uzbek nationals to
legally work in Kazakhstan for the sake of the Uzbek
families who needed the income.