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IdentifierCreatedClassificationOrigin
08BISHKEK924 2008-09-12 07:45:00 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Bishkek
Cable title:  

AMBASSADOR'S FIRST MEETING WITH RUSSIAN ENVOY

Tags:   PGOV PREL PINR KG 
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1. (C) Begin Summary: Ambassador paid a courtesy call on
Russian Ambassador Valentin Vlasov, which turned into an hour
and a half-long conversation ranging from Chechnya to the
Russian Embassy's sports trophies. While Vlasov attacked the
U.S. position on Georgia from both common and uncommon
angles, the tone remained friendly. Ambassador Vlasov
expressed a desire to visit the U.S. Embassy, and suggested
that our governments work together in combating narcotics and
Islamic extremism in Kyrgyzstan, perhaps involving joint
operations at Manas and Kant air bases. He also requested
that the U.S. supply the Kyrgyz Government with drug
detection equipment. End Summary.

Ossetia and Abkhazia


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





2. (C) Ambassador paid a courtesy call on Russian
Ambassador Valentin Vlasov. Vlasov was well informed about
the Ambassador's prior postings, and congratulated her on her
wide range of assignments within the former Soviet Union, and
her mastery of Russian. Compliments completed, Vlasov
launched a defense of Russian actions in Ossetia and Abkhazia
by noting the similarity between the "barbarous" actions of
Chechen Islamist terrorists in the past and the Georgians in
South Ossetia. He said that during his seven months as a
Chechen captive, he had woken up every morning wondering
whether he would live through the day, and that experience
had given him a tremendous respect for the truth. (Note:
While serving as the Representative of the President of the
Russian Federation in the Chechen Republic in 1998, Vlasov
was kidnapped and held for seven months by Chechen rebels.
End Note.) For that reason, he would dispense with
diplomatic niceties, and say things as they really were.



3. (C) Vlasov accused the U.S. of perpetuating a double
standard with regard to Kosovo, and said that Abkhazia and
Ossetia had never been a part of Georgia, and had held
referenda declaring that they did not want to be. He scoffed
at the version of events portrayed in the Western media, and
wondered why Russia would start a war when it was trying to
get ready for the Sochi Olympics. Comparing the U.S. with
Georgia, Vlasov said that at least the U.S. used precision
weapons when it bombed Serbia, but Georgia's indiscriminate
bombing led to numerous civilian deaths. Vlasov
characterized international recognition of Ossetia and
Abkhazia as slow but incrementally progressing, with a tepid
initial endorsement by the SCO, a later full endorsement by
the CSTO, and he predicted an even more positive endorsement
by members of the CIS. Vlasov said that Russia will never
give up its recognition of Ossetia and Abkhazia, just as the
U.S. would never give up its recognition of Kosovo.

Bullying the Kyrgyz


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





4. (C) Vlasov criticized the U.S. relationship with the
Kyrgyz, accusing the U.S. of bullying the Kyrgyz in general,
and pointing to the Hyatt episode (see reftel) in particular.
He also complained of the non-transparency of operations at
Manas Air Base, noting that Kant Air Base is not a Russian
base, but rather a CSTO operation, and therefore the Kyrgyz
can inspect the base whenever they want. The Ambassador
replied with an invitation for Vlasov to tour Manas Air Base,
so that he could see for himself what was going on there.
Vlasov admitted that he had actually already received a tour,
and then took a different tack, complaining of U.S.
over-involvement in Kyrgyz politics. Instead of financing
opposition parties, the Russian Government wants deeper
relations with every country, regardless of who is the
president, he said. Noting his ready supply of complaints

BISHKEK 00000924 002.2 OF 002


about U.S. activities in Kyrgyzstan, the Ambassador asked him
if people were complaining to him about the U.S. Vlasov
appeared flustered by this and hastily changed the subject.

There will be no energy crisis . . . for us


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





5. (C) Seemingly using talking points provided by the
Kyrgyz Government, Vlasov dismissed the idea that there would
be an energy crisis in Kyrgyzstan this winter, saying that
Kyrgyz hydropower could produce sufficient energy to meet the
needs of their economy. (Note: The Ambassador heard
identical language in a meeting with the Energy Minister
earlier that day. End Note.) With no apparent sense of
irony, Vlasov noted later in the conversation that he was not
worried about power outages, because he had recently approved
the purchase of generators for the chancery and all Embassy
residences. He also noted that the head of the Russian
Immigration Service had recently visited Kyrgyzstan, and told
Vlasov that there was no problem with Kyrgyz guest workers in
Russia, and that the one million Kyrgyz there were welcome.

Closer relations in counter-narcotics, snooker


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

-



6. (C) Towards the end of the conversation, Vlasov took on
an almost wistful note, mentioning that he had never been
invited to the U.S. Embassy, and offering several areas in
which the two missions could cooperate, particularly in
counter-narcotics and against Islamic extremism. He
remembered an American device that he had seen during his
time as Ambassador to Malta that could detect drugs from a
distance, and requested that the U.S. provide it to the
Kyrgyz Government. He admitted that Hizb ut-Tahrir is a
problem in the south, and suggested that the U.S. and Russia
have common interests in combating its spread. He also
suggested that perhaps Manas and Kant Air Bases could find a
suitable way to conduct a joint operation. He then took the
Ambassador on a tour of part of the Russian Embassy (but not
to his office), showing her a shelf full of trophies from
inter-Embassy competitions, and noting that it was a shame
that the biggest embassy in Bishkek (the U.S.) wasn't an
active participant in the Embassy sports leagues, ranging
from volleyball to half-field soccer to snooker. The meeting
ended on a friendly note, with the Ambassador inviting Vlasov
to participate in an Embassy presentation of the presidential
debates.



7. (C) Comment: Vlasov's turn towards friendship and
cooperation after excoriating U.S. policy may have simply
been a personal quirk. Given Russia's posture in Kyrgyzstan,
we do not take seriously his wistful comments about
cooperation, and his idea of some "joint operation" involving
the Russian and Coalition Air Bases in Kyrgyzstan is clearly
a non-starter.
GFOELLER