|06MOSCOW4614||2006-04-28 13:43:00||CONFIDENTIAL||Embassy Moscow|
VZCZCXRO8287 PP RUEHDBU DE RUEHMO #4614 1181343 ZNY CCCCC ZZH P 281343Z APR 06 FM AMEMBASSY MOSCOW TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 5101 INFO RUCNCIS/CIS COLLECTIVE PRIORITY RUEHXD/MOSCOW POLITICAL COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
C O N F I D E N T I A L MOSCOW 004614
1. (C) MFA Georgia Office Director Grigoryev told us April 28
that relations with Georgia were "at a dead end," and he did
not know how to get them going again. "Some impetus is
needed," he said, "but I find it hard to imagine what it
could be." He ran through a litany of complaints:
-- Parliament Speaker Burjanadze had "insulted" Russia April
27 ("as she always does," he added), using her speech at the
Duma's jubilee in St. Petersburg to complain about Russian
support for separatism;
-- "That idiot" DefMin Okruashvili's statement in Kiev April
25 that even "fecal matter" can be sold to Russian consumers
-- repeated and expanded on the air in Georgia April 28 --
was likewise an insult (Comment: and may have played a role
in the April 26 ban on Georgian mineral water. End comment).
-- FM Bezhuashvili had "regrettably" missed an opportunity to
mend fences by staying away from the April 21 CIS Foreign
Ministerial. He had requested, and received, an appointment
with FM Lavrov, but was not given meetings with the Russian
Security Council and Presidential Administration that would
have made the visit a bilateral one outside the CIS context.
-- The Georgians had made no reply to Putin's invitation to
Saakashvili to attend the Presidential Horse Races at the end
of July, a visit that might also help mend fences.
2. (C) There were, Grigoryev said, nonetheless some areas in
which progress was being made:
-- Agreement is close on a consortium to open the railroad
from Russia through Abkhazia to Georgia and Armenia; the
parties will meet in Moscow in early May.
-- Georgia Border Guards Chief Badri Bitsadze (Nino
Burjanadze's husband) had visited his Russian counterpart
Vladimir Pronichev in March; their conversation on border
security was "one professional to another."
-- DFM Karasin's visit to Tbilisi April 9-10 had been mostly
"endless repetition" of Georgian complaints, but DFM Antadze
had said Georgia was working on a South Ossetia peace plan.
(Karasin also visited Tskhinvali during his visit, and
apparently expressed surprise that it looked like "a run-down
provincial Soviet town.")
However, none of these small areas of uplift could counter
the downward momentum, in Grigoryev's view. "The problems
ahead are no fewer than those we've already seen."
3. (C) Comment: Grigoryev is usually the most willing of our
interlocutors to look for signs of progress in
Russian-Georgian relations. His boss, for example -- IV CIS
Director Kelin -- is always more hard-line. Even for
Grigoryev, however -- fresh and tanned from a beach vacation
in the Emirates, and back in the bright Moscow spring -- the
gray clouds almost entirely obscure even the idea of
eventually finding silver linings.