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IdentifierCreatedClassificationOrigin
09MOSCOW1153 2009-05-06 03:25:00 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Moscow
Cable title:  

RUSSIA DENIES INVOLVEMENT IN FAILED GEORGIAN COUP

Tags:   PREL PGOV RS GG 
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TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 3159
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					  C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 MOSCOW 001153 

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 05/04/2019
TAGS: PREL PGOV RS GG
SUBJECT: RUSSIA DENIES INVOLVEMENT IN FAILED GEORGIAN COUP
ATTEMPT

REF: A. TBILISI 857

B. MOSCOW 1145

C. TBILISI 852

Classified By: DCM Eric S. Rubin for reasons 1.4(b) and (d).



1. (C) Summary. The MFA, MOD, and Duma members all rejected
Georgia's claims of Russian special service involvement in
the failed Georgian coup attempt May 5, saying the
accusations were meant to distract from internal instability
that was the true cause of the uprising. The MFA stated
Moscow was not increasing its military presence in the
region, stressing that Russian forces in South Ossetia and
Abkhazia were operating at normal levels. MFA Director
Neverov told us that FM Lavrov's decision not to participate
in the May 19 NRC was not directly linked to the PfP
exercises in Georgia, but to NATO's expulsion of two Russian
diplomats. Several Russian analysts discounted Russian
involvement in the coup attempt, although Pavel Felgenhauer
speculated that it was "likely" that Russia had provided
"background support" to the opposition groups which organized
the April 9 protests. End Summary

---
GOR
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2. (SBU) The GOR vehemently rejected Georgian claims of
Russian special service involvement in the May 5 failed coup
attempt (refs A, C). The Ministry of Defense stated that the
allegations were "clearly provocative" and aimed at
"obtaining political dividends." Deputy Foreign Minister
Karasin told the press that Georgia was trying to blame
Russia for its domestic political instability with its
"absolutely delusional" accusations, adding that he had first
learned of the coup through U.S. diplomatic channels (ref B).




3. (SBU) In a statement released late on May 5, the MFA said
while it was not the first time Georgia had leveled at Russia
accusations of supporting a coup d'etat, each time they
became "more and more ridiculous," never before having
reached the level of claiming Russia was using the Georgian
military to overthrow the Georgian government. The statement
went on to say "uncontrolled internal political processes"
caused the coup attempt, affirming that Russia "out of
principle" did not interfere in Georgia's internal affairs.
Noting that the PfP exercises were to begin May 6, the MFA
then repeated its warning against conducting military
exercises in the "tense" region. Underscoring that Russian
bases in South Ossetia and Abkhazia were operating at normal
status, the MFA rejected allegations that Russia had
increased its military presence in order to influence the
internal situation in Georgia.



4. (SBU) Duma members were also quick to reject accusations
of Russian involvement in the failed coup attempt. Head of
the Committee on CIS Affairs Alexei Ostrovsky accused
Saakashvili of "seeing Russia's hand in everything" in his
"maniacal obsession." In reality, Saakashvili had lost the
confidence of the Georgian military and secret services,
Ostrovsky contended. First Deputy chairman of the Duma
Defense Committee Igor Barinov called allegations of Russian
special service involvement a "complete delusion." Deputy
Chairman of the Duma Committee on Security and retired FSB
colonel Gennady Gudkov similarly called the accusations
"absolute nonsense," and claimed former Georgian President
Shevardnadze had similarly seen Russian intrigues behind
every mishap.



5. (C) Despite the MFA's swipe at the PfP exercises, MFA
Director Neverov told us there was no direct link between the
decision by FM Lavrov to call off his participation in the
May 19 NATO-Russia Council meetings and the staging of the
May 6 exercises in Georgia. Instead, Neverov characterized
NATO's decision to expel two Russian diplomats assigned to
the Russia's permanent mission to the organization as "almost
the final straw." Russian permrep Rogozin accused NATO of
not being ready to assume normal relations with Russia yet,
but allowed that dialogue would continue at the ambassadorial
level.



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


Analysts

MOSCOW 00001153 002 OF 002




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





6. (C) Several analysts we spoke to dismissed Georgian
accusations of a Russian hand in the May 5 coup attempt in
Georgia. Noting that the coup only involved one tank
battalion, Alexei Vlasov from Moscow State University (MGU)
told us that he considered the event to be purely internal.
Although it was not well-publicized, he said many in Georgia
were discontent with President Saakashvili and supported a
change in government. He did not have concrete information
regarding accusations of Russian support for the coup
attempt, but did not give any credence to the theory that
Russia sought to undermine Georgia's NATO aspirations by
supporting the revolt. Vadim Muhanov from the Center for
South Caucasus Studies similarly considered that domestic
reasons sufficiently explained the events. He noted both the
political discontent with Saakashvili as evidenced in the
recent protests, but also thought the economic crisis added
to the desire to replace Saakashvili.



7. (C) However, Novaya Gazeta's Pavel Felgenhauer, who has
predicted further Russian military provocations of Georgia,
expressed concern that the buildup of Russian forces on the
borders and the stated intent of protesters to block roads
could lead to "violent clashes." While he had no information
on Russia's involvement in the coup attempt, he speculated
that it was "likely" that Russia had provided "background
support" to the opposition groups which organized the April 9
protests. Although the state of the Russian fleet was such
that it could not provide much support, he said it could
offload marines from the four landing ships currently off the
coast of Abkhazia.



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


Comment


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





8. (C) We will continue to make the point that Russian
actions have -- at a minimum -- raised tensions and increased
the potential for miscalculations in Georgia. While we have
no evidence of direct Russian involvement in the coup
attempt, FM Lavrov can be reminded in his May 7 Washington
consultations of the critical importance of peacefully
managing our differences over Georgia, as well as the
importance we attach to Georgian sovereignty and territorial
integrity.
BEYRLE