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Identifier
Created
Classification
Origin
06DUSHANBE224
2006-02-02 13:05:00
CONFIDENTIAL
Embassy Dushanbe
Cable title:  

NDI DIRECTOR SHOULD RETURN TO TAJIKISTAN

Tags:   PGOV  PHUM  KDEM  PINR  TI 
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RUESLE/AMCONSUL SHANGHAI 0008
						C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 DUSHANBE 000224 

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

EUR/CACEN, EUR/ACE, DRL, SA

E.O. 12958: DECL: 2/2/2016
TAGS: PGOV PHUM KDEM PINR TI
SUBJECT: NDI DIRECTOR SHOULD RETURN TO TAJIKISTAN

REF: DUSHANBE 204

CLASSIFIED BY: Richard Hoagland, Ambassador, EXEC, State.
REASON: 1.4 (b), (d)



C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 DUSHANBE 000224

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

EUR/CACEN, EUR/ACE, DRL, SA

E.O. 12958: DECL: 2/2/2016
TAGS: PGOV PHUM KDEM PINR TI
SUBJECT: NDI DIRECTOR SHOULD RETURN TO TAJIKISTAN

REF: DUSHANBE 204

CLASSIFIED BY: Richard Hoagland, Ambassador, EXEC, State.
REASON: 1.4 (b), (d)




1. (C) SUMMARY: The Ambassador and Acting Foreign Minister
Yatimov paved a way for National Democratic Institute (NDI)
local Director Gegham Sargsyan to register and return to
Dushanbe. Sargsyan left for Moscow on February 1 after
harassment and pressure from Tajik officials. Yatimov knew the
case in detail, and had met with Minister of Interior Sharipov
for forty minutes earlier in the week to persuade Sharipov that
Sargsyan did not pose a security threat to Tajikistan. Yatimov
admitted to the Ambassador that Sargsyan and NDI represent a
"political problem" and did not hide behind the technical issues
of registration for Sargsyan as an individual. He tried to
caution the Ambassador about the use of a formal protest for
this case, saying we need to keep the relationship as a whole in
context, but the Ambassador did not weaken his initial strong
protest of Tajikistan's treatment of NDI. Post recommends that
Sargsyan return to work at NDI in Dushanbe as soon as possible.
END SUMMARY.


2. (C) The Ambassador protested in very strong terms the
continued harassment of NDI. He related his urgent meetings on
the subject with Foreign Minister Talbak Nazarov and
Presidential Adviser Erkin Rahmatulloyev and the Foreign
Minister's assurance that the problem would be solved when he
returns from London later this week. He also explained the
Embassy's intervention when Sargsyan was taken to the police
precinct on January 31. He pointedly asked Yatimov if
Tajikistan's government knows what it is risking; saying U.S.
policy for Tajikistan is supported by cooperation on security,
commerce and energy, and political and economic reform.


3. (C) Two of those three pillars of cooperation are in
excellent shape: security, and commerce and energy.
Tajikistan's shortsighted attacks on NGOs, specifically NDI,
endangers the rest of the relationship. The Ambassador

explained that NDI is not a subversive, intelligence
organization out to overthrow Tajikistan. That is a deliberate
distortion of reality calculated to subvert President Rahmonov's
open-door foreign policy and return Tajikistan to the status of
semi-independent colony.


4. (C) The Ambassador said he needed a response.


5. (C) Yatimov said he understood, and Tajikistan places
"special attention" on its partnership with the United States.
Yatimov gave a brief synopsis of Sargsyan's infractions: for
example, changing residence without telling authorities and
working at NDI, while registering himself as a private citizen.
Yatimov said this would cause problems elsewhere, including the
United States. The Ambassador rejoined, "We don't register
people or take notice if they move."


6. (C) With the technical avenue closed for discussion, Yatimov
turned to his personal efforts to resolve the situation. He
said he met with the Minister of Interior for forty minutes to
explain that Sargsyan is not a security threat, but his
mistreatment could cause damage to the U.S.-Tajik relationship.
Yatimov told Security Minister Sharipov that this is a political
problem.


7. (C) Yatimov said Tajikistan wonders why this is so important

DUSHANBE 00000224 002 OF 002


to the United States. The Ambassador replied NDI is important
to Tajikistan to help President Rahmonov fulfill his own pledge
to build democracy. Yatimov insisted that U.S. motives remain
very difficult to explain. The Ambassador also outlined NDI's
U.S. domestic political support and its highly respected
reputation for doing good work around the world. The Ambassador
reminded Yatimov of NDI's work with the President's ruling
People's Democratic Party of Tajikistan (PDPT) and the plans,
now thwarted, to take PDPT officials to Poland for training.


8. (C) The Ambassador referred to the unspoken compromise that
had kept the equilibrium until now. For months NDI remained
unregistered, but continued to operate, albeit without American
directors. The Ambassador said security forces taking local NDI
employees to hotels to "tell their secrets" is unacceptable.
The Ambassador asked for a guarantee that Sargsyan could come
back without harassment.


9. (C) Yatimov said the issue is "officially solved" and
Sargsyan can come back as early as February 3. Yatimov said
that with advance notice, he can notify his consular officer at
the airport to ensure there is no problem.


10. (C) Yatimov referred to Tajikistan's economic problems,
thanked the United States for help on hydroelectric development,
and said people do not want to live under the present economic
conditions. He said it is important to keep the relationship in
good condition. The Ambassador said it is important not to let
small problems grow until they damage the overall relationship.
He ended by saying, "register NDI, watch them 24 hours a day,
surveille them all you want, and you'll find they are not doing
anything wrong."


11. (C) COMMENT: NDI is still not on any Tajik government
official's list of favorite NGOs. But high-level Tajik
officials now understand that there are consequences to
over-reacting and overstepping the bounds. Whether lower-level
officials feel constrained to respect those bounds remains to be
seen, but we should test the Tajiks at their word and see if NDI
can get back to work. We are sure our Russian friends will be
working hard to re-write the rules and make NDI and other NGOs
persona non grata in Tajikistan, but until Tajikistan officially
closes its open-door policy, we'll try to keep as many NGOs as
possible in our talking points, public statements, and press
releases to convince Tajikistan of their good work and
intentions. Gegham Sargsyan could be subject to petty
harassment should he return, but Post does not believe he would
be in any physical danger and recommends he return as soon as
practical, if only to make the statement that he was not forced
out. END COMMENT.
HOAGLAND