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IdentifierCreatedClassificationOrigin
07MINSK99 2007-02-02 07:16:00 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Minsk
Cable title:  

MFA WARNS EUR/UMB DIRECTOR AGAINST FURTHER USG

Tags:   PGOV PHUM BO 
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VZCZCXRO5917
PP RUEHDBU RUEHFL RUEHKW RUEHLA RUEHROV RUEHSR
DE RUEHSK #0099/01 0330716
ZNY CCCC ZZH
P 020716Z FEB 07
FM AMEMBASSY MINSK
RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 5592
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEHBS/USEU BRUSSELS PRIORITY
RUEHVEN/USMISSION USOSCE PRIORITY 1412
RHMFISS/HQ USEUCOM VAIHINGEN GE PRIORITY
RUFOADA/JAC MOLESWORTH RAF MOLESWORTH UK PRIORITY
					  C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 MINSK 000099 

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 02/01/2017
TAGS: PGOV PHUM BO
SUBJECT: MFA WARNS EUR/UMB DIRECTOR AGAINST FURTHER USG
SANCTIONS

REF: 06 MINSK 1316

MINSK 00000099 001.3 OF 002


Classified By: Ambassador Karen Stewart for reason 1.4 (d).

Summary
-------



1. (C) Visiting EUR/UMB Director Boehme and DCM met with the
MFA U.S. and Canada Desk Director Sergey Sergeyev on January


26. Sergeyev expressed the GOB's concern about the potential
impact of the recently passed U.S. legislation, the
Belarusian Democracy Reauthorization Act, stressing that new
sanctions would worsen the already strained relationship
between Washington and Minsk. Boehme reiterated the USG
position that if the GOB wanted to avoid harsher measures,
Belarus needed to implement democratic reforms, including the
release of political prisoners. Boehme urged the MFA to
grant a visa to EUR DAS David Kramer. End summary.

Sergeyev Interrogates, Warns to Behave


--------------------------





2. (C) Visiting UMB/EUR Desk Director Robert Boehme and DCM
on January 26 met with the MFA's U.S. and Canada Desk
Director Sergey Sergeyev. Poloff and Sergeyev's deputy
director, Andrey Rzheusskiy, took notes. After praising what
he called a good working relationship between the Department
of State and the Belarusian MFA, Sergeyev bluntly asked
Boehme to explain the purpose of his visit to Minsk,
specifically his schedule and whom he planned to meet.
Boehme replied that he came to Minsk for consultations with
the Embassy and to meet with a diverse group of Belarusians
to obtain a first-hand perspective of Belarus' economy,
politics, and media. Sergeyev suggested Boehme conduct his
visit within certain "parameters" in order to avoid problems
in future visits.

Sanctions Will Ruin U.S. Image


--------------------------





3. (C) Sergeyev expressed the GOB's concern that the recently
passed Belarusian Democracy Reauthorization Act (BDRA) could
have negative consequences for Belarusian-U.S. relations.
Sergeyev warned that possible U.S. sanctions, particularly
economic sanctions, against Belarus would lead to a
"dead-end," worsening the Belarusian people's image of the
U.S. and reversing what Sergeyev viewed as a positive trend
in U.S.-Belarusian relations.



4. (C) Boehme stressed to Sergeyev that the USG was concerned
about the deteriorating human rights situation in Belarus and
the latest presidential and municipal elections were examples
of the fact that Belarus was not moving in the right
direction. President Bush's mention of Belarus in his State
of the Union address and the Congress' overwhelming approval
of the BDRA were examples of the USG's commitment to
democracy development in Belarus. Boehme told Sergeyev that
the USG's policies towards the GOB were in the interests of
the Belarusian people. If Belarus wanted to avoid harsh
measures taken by the U.S., the GOB should start by releasing
political prisoners and allowing civil society to play a
larger role in Belarusian society. Boehme stressed that the
USG is still considering its options on additional
restrictive measures urged in the BDRA and assured Sergeyev
that he would keep the Belarusian Embassy in Washington
informed.

GOB Criticizes Recent USG Statements


--------------------------





5. (C) Sergeyev relayed to Boehme the GOB's disapproval of
the USG's discussion of jailed presidential candidate
Aleksandr Kozulin during a session of the UN Security Council
(UNSC) in December, claiming the UNSC was not the appropriate
body to discuss human rights issues. Boehme replied that the
U.S. statement at the UNSC was appropriate, explaining to
Sergeyev that the deteriorating human rights situation in
Belarus warranted the UNSC's attention.



6. (C) Sergeyev also disapproved of Ambassador's January 23
statements to the press in Mogilyov after taking part in a
CitiHope delivery of medicines to the regional children's
hospital. Sergeyev claimed Ambassador improperly used the
humanitarian event to voice political opinions and noted that
the Embassy had not allowed this to happen in earlier
CitiHope events. He suggested the Embassy show restraint in
order to not undermine further humanitarian assistance. DCM
responded that while the main purpose of the Mogilyov trip

MINSK 00000099 002 OF 002


was the humanitarian ceremony, it was in fact the state media
who insisted on asking politically charged questions. By
answering the questions, the Ambassador was fulfilling her
duty as the senior U.S. representative in Belarus. The DCM
reminded Sergeyev that the state media had shown similar
aggressiveness during the January 14 municipal elections when
they filmed Emboffs observing elections.

Sergeyev Searches for Areas of Cooperation


--------------------------





7. (C) Sergeyev pointed out that the Belarusian-U.S. economic
ties had improved in the last few years, despite the absence
of substantive dialogue between Minsk and Washington. He
reminded Boehme of the countries' shared interests in the
spheres of Trafficking in Persons, crime, narcotics, and
terrorism. Sergeyev proposed closer cooperation in the
energy sphere, particularly in atomic energy development,
asking Boehme and DCM about assistance in nuclear energy
structure development, security measures for
nonproliferation, and an advertisement campaign promoting
nuclear power based on U.S. models. Boehme cited the
bilateral work in threat reduction at Belarus' Joint
Institute for Power and Nuclear Research ("Sosny") as an
example of potential cooperation between Belarus and the U.S.
and expressed hope that the project would continue without
further problems (reftel). However, bilateral cooperation in
the sphere of nuclear energy required a better overall
relationship between Belarus and U.S.; a relationshi
p that currently did not exist.

Avoid the Media, But Not the State Press


--------------------------





8. (C) At the end of the official meeting, Sergeyev pulled
Boehme aside and warned him not to give statements to the
media. Boehme replied that he had meetings scheduled with
independent media representatives, but not in the capacity of
a press conference and did not plan on giving statements.
However, as Boehme and DCM stepped outside the MFA, the state
national television channel BT and its notorious
anti-American correspondent Yuriy Lednik were waiting next to
the Embassy vehicle. DCM deflected Lednik, noting that
Boehme was not speaking with the media as agreed with the
MFA. When DCM later called the MFA for an explanation,
Sergeyev replied that it was acceptable for Boehme to speak
to the state media, just not independent journalists. DCM
noted to Sergeyev that contact with state media would justify
similar interaction with independent media.
Stewart