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09MOSCOW2902 2009-11-27 14:58:00 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Moscow
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1. (C) Summary. In response to reftel demarche, the MFA
told us that Russia was pressing for the release of the four
Georgian minors in South Ossetian custody. Russia expects
them to be released within the next few days. The GOR
supports a South Ossetian proposal to exchange all detainees,
noting pressure to keep the Georgian teenagers in custody
unless a group of South Ossetian teenagers is simultaneously
released. End Summary

2. (SBU) Ambassador Beyrle pressed for the minors' release
with DFM Grigoriy Karasin on November 26; in addition, we
raised the points with MFA 4th CIS Director Andrey Kelin
November 25.

3. (C) In his meeting with the Ambassador, DFM Karasin
lamented that hostage-taking is an age-old tradition in the
Caucasus, but said we must all battle against it. He said he
had discussed the issue of the four teenagers on November 25
with Morel and that "we're doing what we can to get them
released." He noted that there are a total of five groups of
detainees being held by either the Georgians or South
Ossetians, and that Russia is working on an
"everyone-for-everyone" exchange of them. He urged the U.S.
to support this concept and encourage the GOG to accept it as

4. (C) Kelin told us that Russia was pressing South Ossetia
to release the teenagers, and expected South Ossetian
authorities to release the four minor Georgian detainees
within the next few days. Kelin added that Council of Europe
Human Rights Commissioner Thomas Hammarberg was involved in
the issue, as was head of the EU observer mission Hans-Joerg

5. (C) Kelin said that prior to the detention of the
Georgian minors, both sides were regularly releasing
detainees. He also raised the idea of a comprehensive
exchange of detainees, saying it was a South Ossetian
proposal and would affect 85 South Ossetians and 25 Georgians
currently being held (according to South Ossetian statistics).

6. (C) Kelin noted that South Ossetia claimed Georgian
authorities were holding five South Ossetian minors since
August 2008 (after releasing a sixth). The Russian
"ambassador" to South Ossetia had just received the mothers
of the minors, who had demanded that South Ossetia only
release the Georgian minors if their own children were
simultaneously released.