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18.09.201312:12
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id: 44788

date: 11/9/2005 10:57

refid: 05DUSHANBE1793

origin: Embassy Dushanbe

classification: CONFIDENTIAL

destination: 05DUSHANBE1729|05DUSHANBE1762|05DUSHANBE1766

header:

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

----------------- header ends ----------------

C O N F I D E N T I A L DUSHANBE 001793

SIPDIS

NSC FOR MERKEL

E.O. 12958: DECL:  11/9/2015

TAGS: PREL, ECON, PGOV, EAID, KDEM, PHUM, TI

SUBJECT: EU SWIMMING IN THE SAME MOLASSES IN TAJIKISTAN

REF: A)  DUSHANBE 1729  B)  DUSHANBE 1762  C) DUSHANBE 1766

CLASSIFIED BY: Richard Hoagland, Ambassador, US Embassy

Dushanbe, State.

REASON: 1.4 (b), (d)

1.  (C)  In a meeting with the European Commission, Muzaffar

Isakov, Director of the Aid Coordination Unit of the President

of Tajikistan, suggested that while EC experts and consultants

would continue to receive visas for Tajikistan, international

NGO workers were less welcome.  Barbara Plinkert, Chargi d'

affaires for the European Commission briefed Poloff November 6

about her meeting to discuss EC-financed NGO problems obtaining

and renewing visas, and a new $7 fee for invitation letters from

the MFA's Consular Department.  Isakov suggested the Europeans

shift their support from humanitarian assistance to economic

development.  (The same message we heard from Foreign Minister

Nazarov reported reftel B.)  Isakov was pleased with the

technical assistance on certain issues, but saw little need for

continued civil society projects.  He also asked Plinkert to

provide more information, possibly quarterly reports, about the

organizations and projects they were funding.

2.  (C)  Plinkert reminded Isakov that all personnel working on

EC-financed projects are entitled to visas under an assistance

agreement signed in 1994.  Article 10 specifically stipulates

that "The Government shall grant personnel taking part in

services contracts financed by the (European) Community, and

members of the their family, as defined in Article 9, multiple

entry visas and appropriate visa extensions to be issued in the

republic of Tajikistan."

3.  (C)  In a November 3 letter signed by Adrian van der Meer,

Head of Delegation, the Europeans firmly reminded the Tajiks of

the conditions.  "Up to now the Delegation of the European

Commission to Tajikistan has assisted the Government in applying

for visa (sic) for international experts and consultants. With

the new fees imposed and delays experienced, this arrangement

appears no longer practicable.  In order to avoid further

misunderstandings I would request that, in future, the

Government take full responsibility for the issuance of visa in

compliance with Article 10."

4.  (C)  Plinkert suggested that since the EC and USG fund

similar projects, and often partner with the same NGOs, the

missions in Tajikistan coordinate their approach to the growing

visa difficulties.  She accepted Poloff's invitation to an NGO

roundtable later in the month, possibly with Tajik officials, to

better understand the changing climate and develop a strategy to

work with the Tajiks to ensure established projects can continue.

5.  (C) COMMENT: In an unusually coordinated effort, the Tajiks

are sending a strong message to the donor community: we want

your money, but not your NGOs.  As the goalposts continue to

shift, post will work with other donors and NGOs to comply with

the system so as to continue the critical democracy and civil

society work.

6.  (C)  COMMENT CONTINUED:  Post has also heard rumors that the

Head of the Consular Department, Bakhrom Kholnozarov, believed

to be a Rahmonov relative, has been profiting greatly from his

position from additional fees and bribes (Reftel c).  This is

the first we've heard of a new fee for invitation letters, but

the motives may be less anti-NGO and more old-fashioned

corruption.  END COMMENT.

HOAGLAND

NNNN

=======================CABLE ENDS============================

id: 44797

date: 11/9/2005 11:35

refid: 05DUSHANBE1796

origin: Embassy Dushanbe

classification: CONFIDENTIAL

destination:

header:

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

----------------- header ends ----------------

C O N F I D E N T I A L DUSHANBE 001796

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL:  11/9/2015

TAGS: PGOV, PREL, KDEM, PHUM, TI

SUBJECT: NDI FENDS OFF RAID BY INTERIOR MINISTRY

CLASSIFIED BY: Richard Hoagland, Ambassador, US Embassy

Dushanbe, State.

REASON: 1.4 (b), (d)

1.  (C)  During a National Democratic Institute (NDI) training

program for Islamic Renaissance Party of Tajikistan (IRPT)

members, three plainclothes militia members tried to break up

the event, calling it an "unauthorized religious gathering."

According to NDI program directors Gegham Sargsyan and Nurul

Rakhimbekov, the police showed their Ministry of Interior

identification and then said NDI had failed to register the

October 28 event with the MOI.  (NOTE:  An April 14 MFA Circular

Note instructs NGOs to notify the MFA of meetings of more than

10 participants, but we are unaware of any requirement to

register any event with the MOI.  END NOTE.)  After a heated

30-minute discussion, the police left, but continued to observe

participants entering and exiting from the street.

2.  (C)  Sargsyan and Rakhimbekov admitted they had not notified

the MFA about the training program, but lamented they were stuck

between a rock and a hard place due to their legal limbo.  If

they notified the government of their event, they ran the risk

of having the government ban any event, due to their lack of

registration.

3.  (SBU)  However, they commented they had recently conducted

the same party-building training programs for the ruling

Peoples' Democratic Party of Tajikistan (PDPT) with great

success.  Despite their unregistered status, they enjoy good

relations with the PDPT, which has sought out NDI help to train

women and regional party members.  NDI was even been invited by

the Ministry of Justice-the same ministry that has yet to

register NDI-to help Justice Minister Hamidov lead a training

program in honor of Constitution Day November 6.

4.  (C)  COMMENT:  It is hard to say whether the actions of the

militia targeted NDI or the bearded IRPT members entering the

meeting; however, in light of recent government attempts to

control mosques and prevent girls from wearing the hijab in

public schools, we lean towards the notion this was directed at

the IRPT.  NDI's legal limbo seems to make it harder for them to

conduct activities beyond those that help build the capacity of

the ruling party.  Post advised NDI to behave as if it were a

registered NGO.

HOAGLAND

NNNN

=======================CABLE ENDS============================

id: 44805

date: 11/9/2005 12:24

refid: 05DUSHANBE1798

origin: Embassy Dushanbe

classification: UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY

destination:

header:

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

----------------- header ends ----------------

UNCLAS DUSHANBE 001798

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE

E.O. 12958: N/A

TAGS: PGOV, PREL, KDEM, PHUM, TI

SUBJECT: TAJIKISTAN:  FREEDOM HOUSE IN STRATEGIC RETREAT

1.  (SBU)  Primarily due to the ending of its DRL grant, Freedom

House is shifting its Tajikistan efforts to a local NGO.  Robert

Freedman, Washington-based Program Director, told the Ambassador

November 9 that Freedom House did not want its Tajik partners

and human rights defenders to feel abandoned.  In order to

maintain a presence, and build on the NGO's successes, local

staff had founded and registered a new NGO, Freedom, to work

with the human rights community.  Although DRL funding has

expired, Freedman said potential donors, especially the

Institute for Humane Studies, are interested in funding a Tajik

think tank to allow journalists and scholars to look at domestic

problems and find domestic solutions.

2.  (SBU)  Freedman observed that Tajikistan provided a great

deal of "political space" in which human rights workers and

others met freely and discuss sensitive issues without fear of

arrest or repercussions from the government. "This would never

happen in Uzbekistan," he emphasized.  He gave the example of a

Tajik student who participated in a Freedom House training

program, and then published an op-ed piece about her positive

experience.  He did caution that freedom of expression might be

constrained in the period leading to the November 2006

Presidential elections.

3.  (SBU)  COMMENT: For a director whose NGO has been

specifically targeted by the Tajik government, Freedman was

surprisingly positive about the human rights atmosphere in

Tajikistan.  However, as pleased as we are that things are not

as bad as in Uzbekistan, the situation for NGOs in Tajikistan is

far from good.  We support the notion of establishing a think

tank in Dushanbe, particularly one focused on economic or legal

rights, which would fill a need for more focused intellectual

debate.  END COMMENT.

NNNN

=======================CABLE ENDS============================

id: 44886

date: 11/10/2005 6:00

refid: 05DUSHANBE1802

origin: Embassy Dushanbe

classification: UNCLASSIFIED

destination: 05STATE201459

header:

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

----------------- header ends ----------------

UNCLAS DUSHANBE 001802

SIPDIS

STATE FOR PM/WRA (KATHERINE BAKER), EUR/CACEN, SA

E.O. 12958: N/A

TAGS: MASS, PREL, TI

SUBJECT: DEMARCH DELIVERED:  DESTRUCTION OF STATE BORDER PROTECTION

COMMITTEE-HELD MANPADS

REF: STATE 201459

1.  Post delivered reftel demarche on MANPAD destruction on

November 9 to General Saidamir Zuhurov, Chairman of the State

Border Protection Committee (Tajik Border Guards).

2.  On the first point, Zuhurov said Tajikistan is working well

with OSCE on the destruction of small arms, light weapons, and

ammunition.

3.  On the second point, Zuhurov stated that he knew of only

five or six MANPADs that existed and believed they had already

been destroyed.  He will confirm whether they have been

destroyed or not, and if not, he has no problem with OSCE

destroying them.  He will provide us with confirmation by

November 20.

4.  On the third point, taking steps to make arrangements with

OSCE, Zuhurov stated that the Government of Tajikistan is

cooperating fully with OSCE and will also cooperate on MANPAD

destruction.

HOAGLAND

NNNN

=======================CABLE ENDS============================

id: 44916

date: 11/10/2005 11:02

refid: 05DUSHANBE1805

origin: Embassy Dushanbe

classification: CONFIDENTIAL

destination:

header:

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

----------------- header ends ----------------

C O N F I D E N T I A L DUSHANBE 001805

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL:  11/10/2015

TAGS: KDEM, PREL, PGOV, TI

SUBJECT: TIPS FROM THE MFA ON HOW TO FIGHT THE WAR OVER NGO'S IN

TAJIKISTAN

CLASSIFIED BY: Tom Armbruster, DCM, Dushanbe, State.

REASON: 1.4 (d)

1.  (C)  DCM had a long talk with MFA North America Chief

Ismatullo Nasredinov on November 10 on the growing pressure on

U.S. and other Western NGO's.  The DCM said Tajikistan appeared

to be taking a step backwards by not providing registration,

visas, or other support for NGO's like the Rotary Club and CADA,

two of the latest targets for harassment.  Further, Tajikistan

cannot expect international businesses to establish in

Tajikistan if NGO's are under pressure.  Nor can the Embassy

advocate more foreign investment if the mission is tied up with

defending beleaguered NGO's.  Nasredinov, a young official just

back from the United States, offered a number of helpful

observations.

2.  (C) Nasredinov suggested that the Ambassador approach the

Foreign Minister about hosting a roundtable discussion on NGO

activity in Tajikistan.  Since one of DCM's talking points was

to suggest a roundtable for November 29-30, DCM readily agreed

that Nasredinov had hit on a good idea.  Nasredinov said the

roundtable would not resolve all problems, but if mid to high

level officials from MFA, Justice, and Security attend, there is

a good chance of making progress.  Nasredinov also suggested

that NGO's go on an information offensive and raise their

profiles.  He said some NGO's such as Save the Children and IFES

are well known for their good work.  Others "simply register and

never do any work or promotion."  When DCM raised the Rotary

Club for example, an organization that is apparently being

denied registration, Nasredinov said most Tajik bureaucrats do

not even know that Rotary is a service organization providing

community projects and business promotion worldwide.  Nasredinov

said Tajik officials are only getting one side of the argument

(from the Russian propaganda machine) but if presented with both

the negative and positive assessments they could analyze the

conflicting reports and hopefully come to the right conclusion.

As it is now, officials are only hearing the negative side.

3.  (C) Nasredinov was quite impressed with his first-ever trip

to the United States.  He was not aware of the power of business

and political lobbies prior to the trip, nor did he expect to

hear so many different opinions on foreign policy from his

interlocutors.  The political debate that he was exposed to was

clearly eye opening and extremely useful in shaping his views on

American democracy.  Nasredinov was impressed with the dynamism

of the interagency process and the competition for ideas.

American border control procedures in Buffalo, New York were

also useful in shaping his thinking on Tajikistan's border

operations.

4.  (C)  COMMENT:  Nasredinov is not a power broker in

Tajikistan, but he is clearly not on the path to becoming part

of the "old guard."  He is savvy enough to understand what can

and cannot get done in the U.S.-Tajik relationship and he is

willing to offer ways forward.  However, it is clear that his

trip revealed to him just how backward his colleagues can be,

particularly on the issue of civil society.  Post will have to

be careful not to expose Nasredinov as too much of a reformer,

and hope that he can rise to a level of influence within the

government soon.  END COMMENT.

5.  (C)  AMBASSADOR'S COMMENT:  We have argued that this

government is neither monolithic nor dumb.  We need to listen

carefully to our mid-level contacts, while recognizing that they

have very little influence at this time.  We had already planned

to begin working on a major information and public relations

offensive, and will soon put this into play.  We will soon

submit a cable outlining what we think is happening in the

country and steps that Embassy Dushanbe and the U.S. Government

can take in response.  While we will inevitably be reactive, we

also want to take the high road and search for those strategies

that will best promote the goal of transformational diplomacy.

END COMMENT.

HOAGLAND

NNNN

=======================CABLE ENDS============================

id: 45022

date: 11/14/2005 6:21

refid: 05DUSHANBE1812

origin: Embassy Dushanbe

classification: SECRET

destination: 05DUSHANBE1805

header:

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

----------------- header ends ----------------

S E C R E T  DUSHANBE 001812

SIPDIS

STATE FOR P, EUR, SA, DRL, S/P

NSC FOR MERKEL

ALMATY PASS TO USIAD

E.O. 12958: DECL:  11/14/2015

TAGS: PREL, PGOV, PINR, PROP, ECON, EAID, KDEM, KPAO, RS, TI

SUBJECT: DESPITE RUSSIAN PRESSURE, THE UNITED STATES CAN PROMOTE ITS

POLICY GOALS IN TAJIKISTAN

REF: A. A) DUSHANBE 1805

     B. B) DUSHANBE 1762

     C. C) DUSHANBE 1646

     D. D) DUSHANBE 1352

CLASSIFIED BY: Richard E. Hoagland, Ambassador, EXEC, Embassy Dushanbe.

REASON: 1.4 (b), (d)

CLASSIFIED BY: Richard E. Hoagland, Ambassador, EXEC, Embassy

Dushanbe.

REASON: 1.4 (b), (d)

1.  (S) SUMMARY:  Although we now de-emphasize its previous

Cold-War primacy in U.S. foreign policy, Russia still requires

clear-eyed scrutiny for the havoc it can play with the

President's democracy agenda and larger goals for

transformational diplomacy in the former Soviet republics.  We

believe Russia is exerting consistent and strong pressure on

Tajikistan to reduce the U.S. and Western role and presence.

Although Tajikistan's "open-door" foreign policy seeks to

balance competing foreign pressures for its own best interests,

Moscow's pressure is beginning to take a toll.  To promote

democracy and economic and political reform in Tajikistan, we

need to develop new ways to overcome negative Russian actions

and influence.  END SUMMARY.

WHY IS RUSSIA FOCUSING ON TAJIKISTAN?

2.  (S) Russia is paying special attention to Tajikistan because

of its military base and other strategic interests, including

the Nurek Space Tracking Center.  Moscow is determined to do

everything possible to prevent a "color revolution" in

Tajikistan that could threaten its perceived strategic

interests.  Working from the "siloviki" zero-sum-game worldview

of current geo-politics, some in Moscow seem to believe that the

United States wants additional and permanent U.S. military bases

in Central Asia and sees Tajikistan as a prime candidate,

especially after the U.S. loss of Karshi-Khanabad in Uzbekistan.

3.  (S) Despite the fact that Tajiks are war-weary and

opposition-leary, and President Rahmonov is still genuinely

popular, Moscow truly fears a "color revolution" in Tajikistan.

Elsewhere, "color revolutions" have tended to bring

Western-oriented leaders to power, although in Tajikistan no

Saakashvili or Yushchenko is waiting in the wings.  A "color

revolution" in Tajikistan, the "siloviki" fear, would open the

door for a U.S. military base, or even more devastating to

Moscow, for Dushanbe to kick out the Russians and give the

Russian military base to the United States.  The nightmare of

the "siloviki" is that the United States would then have a

string of bases from Afghanistan, through Tajikistan, and into

Kyrgyzstan to weaken Russia and dominate Central Asia, which

Russia persists in calling its "sphere of influence."

4.  (S) This may sound like easily dismissed fringe paranoia,

but the "siloviki" do not play by our rules of fact-based logic.

 It is worth recalling that Moscow and the Russian Embassy in

Dushanbe consistently put out the irrational rumor in 2004 that

the United States had secretly convinced Tajikistan to demand

that the Russian Border Force leave the Tajikistan-Afghanistan

border which Russia had controlled back to the 19th century.

WHAT IS RUSSIA DOING?

5.  (C) Because Russia is militarily weak, it uses other means

to assert its authority in Tajikistan.  After years of

inconclusive negotiation, Russia and Tajikistan rapidly reached

agreement in 2004 (following Tbilisi's Rose Revolution) to

forgive Tajikistan's bilateral debt and to establish the legal

basis for the Russian military base in perpetuity.

6.  (C) The symbolic culmination was President Putin's October

16, 2004, visit to Tajikistan.  To set the hook in Rahmonov's

jaw, Putin also announced major investments, variously described

as $1.2 billion to over $3 billion, in Rahmonov's pet interests

- hydropower (primarily Sangtuda-1 and secondarily Rogun) and

the old Soviet aluminum tolling industry.  Until then, no

nation, especially in the West, took Rahmonov's pleas seriously

to invest in these Soviet-era behemoths, although it is now

evident that they had some economic merit, especially for South

Asia.

7.  (C) Since Russia made its commitment-in-principle, Iran has

expressed interest in creating the financial consortium for

Sangtuda-2, and China has said it will invest in the Nurek

Hydroelectric Station.  These potential investments, especially

Russia's, could be seen as economically positive for Tajikistan

and the region, or at least politically benign - except that

Russia appears recently to be working to exclude Western

participation in them (septel).

8.  (C) Through the second half of 2004 and 2005, Russia has

mounted a campaign to prevent "color revolutions" in the CIS.

In overt media propaganda and in private and covert

communications with governments like Tajikistan's, Moscow has

asserted that U.S. democracy NGOs - specifically, National

Democratic Institute, International Republican Institute,

Freedom House, and Internews - are U.S. covert tools whose job

is to prepare the local populations to overthrow "legal

governments" in the CIS.  More recently, the goal of Russian

pressure seems to be to limit the presence of not just U.S.

democracy NGOs but all Western elements present in Tajikistan.

9.  (C) On the ground in Tajikistan, the Russian position seems

to be hardening.  The previous Russian Ambassador, Maksim

Peshkov, was reasonable, amiable, and accessible.  He worked the

diplomatic circuit and was always available for reasonably

frank, even if inconclusive, discussions with the U.S. and other

Western ambassadors.

10.  (C) Since the arrival in early summer of the high-level

political appointee, Ambassador Ramazan Abdulatipov, the Russian

Embassy has become a closed bastion.  The U.S. Embassy's

previous access to different sections of the Russian Embassy has

nearly dried up, and Abdulatipov very seldom appears in public.

He continues to accept diplomatic invitations, but almost

invariably at the last minute pleads an unexpected visitor from

Moscow or that he is indisposed.  The rare times that he is seen

in public - e.g., at important countries' national days - he

ostentatiously huddles in a corner with the most senior Tajik

officials present.

11.  (C) At the same time, we and other Western embassies hear

that Russian Embassy officers have unlimited free access at any

time to Tajik Government offices, sometimes even barging in

without appointments.  This is especially telling because all

other embassies are required to submit diplomatic notes, to

which the responses are often long delayed, for appointments to

conduct even the most mundane mid-level daily business.

12.  (S) Most important, the Russian intelligence services

thoroughly dominate Tajikistan's Ministry of Security.  Ministry

of Security views often take precedence in the Presidential

Apparat and key ministries like Justice that is responsible for

registering foreign NGOs and Tajik media outlets and political

parties.

BUT RAHMONOV IS NOT A SIMPLE PAWN

13.  (C) Tajikistan describes its foreign policy as "open door,"

and balances its relations with the United States, Russia,

China, Iran, and the European Union seeking what is best from

each for its own national interests.  During the last six

months, President Rahmonov has repeatedly let us know he is

"satisfied" with the U.S.-Tajik relationship.  He is especially

pleased with the security relationship - primarily U.S. funding

and training to increase Tajik capabilities for border control,

counter-narcotics, and counterterrorism.

14.  (C) Even on the contentious issue of U.S. democracy NGOs,

Rahmonov has appeared to split the baby - refusing legal

registration for National Democratic Institute and Freedom

House, but allowing them, nonetheless, to operate most of their

programs.  Another positive sign is that he has just approved

for the national school curriculum a civic-education textbook

that has been a long-term project of the International

Foundation for Election Systems (IFES).  For some reason, IFES

is the only U.S. democracy NGO that escaped Tajik scrutiny and

operates unfettered.

INCREMENTALLY CLOSING IN ON WESTERN NGO'S AND OTHERS

15.  (C) More recently, though, we detect an incremental

hardening of the Tajik position.  Although no new Tajik anti-NGO

legislation is pending like in Kazakhstan and Russia, the Tajik

Government is consistently working to gain greater control over

all NGOs, not just democracy ones.

16.  (C) The Tajik Government argues that during the 1992-97

Civil War and in its aftermath, Western NGOs flooded into

Tajikistan without limit or supervision.  Dushanbe now wants to

find out who is actually in Tajikistan and what they are doing.

For any country concerned about security, this is reasonable.

But we also believe it is a Ministry of Security response to

Russian prodding to prevent a "color revolution" and limit

Western influence.

17.  (C) Further, Tajikistan has recently been floating a new

policy position, including during Secretary of State Rice's

October visit and more recently with the European Union.  The

Tajik Government suggests it is time for foreign assistance

delivered via NGOs to cease and be replaced by direct foreign

investment in infrastructure projects (like the hydroelectric

stations and roads) and business "joint ventures."

18.  (C) Foreign Minister Nazarov has told us that this is, so

far, a Tajik Government "desire, not a policy" (reftel B).

Tajikistan argues that NGOs are both expensive, because of their

high overhead to support foreign advisers, and sometimes

ineffective.  This, Tajikistan says, is an unacceptable waste of

foreign assistance.  While this argument has some merit, it

suggests a worrisome trend, and will scare off the very

international investors they are trying to attract.

INCREASING VISA DELAYS - MALEVOLENCE OR JUST INCOMPETENCE?

19.  (C) Even more worrisome, obtaining Tajik visas is becoming

more difficult - not just for U.S. NGO staff, but also for

European NGO workers, foreign business people, and even staffs

of international financial institutions.  Being an "inscrutable

Eastern country," Tajikistan never likes to say "no."  It just

drags things out until reasonable but impatient people give up.

There is a credible view in the Western diplomatic community

that these new visa problems are a result of Russian prodding to

limit Western influence in Tajikistan.  It is worth noting the

Ministry of Security vets all visa applications.

20.  (C) However, another explanation is possible - corruption

and incompetence.  The previous reasonably professional chief of

the Foreign Ministry's Consular Office was replaced this past

summer by a Rahmonov relative (reftel D), and that's when the

new problems started.  It could be that he has the job to assure

loyalty to a new restrictive visa policy.  However, the Rahmonov

"cousins, nephews, and in-laws" have a reputation for gaining

lucrative positions, few with any real qualifications, and then

going wild with unrestrained corruption.  That could be

happening with visas.  The most famous example this year was a

son-in-law appointed as Chief of Border Control at Dushanbe

International Airport.  Flagrantly incompetent and corrupt, he

lasted only a few months before he was quietly "reassigned to

another position."

BOOST THE ECONOMY TO PREVENT A "COLOR REVOLUTION"

21.  (C) Russia's anti-U.S. stance in Tajikistan and Dushanbe's

incremental moves against U.S. and other Western NGOs may be

coincidental.  However, we know Russia agitates for countries

like Tajikistan to curtail, if not expel, U.S. NGOs.  More

indirectly, Russia does not deliver "foreign assistance" via

Russian NGOs in Tajikistan.  Moscow's promises of massive direct

investment in hydropower and aluminum may have emboldened

Rahmonov to begin to draw the line against NGO-provided Western

foreign assistance.

22.  (C) We know Rahmonov understands clearly that one of the

key trip-wires for "color revolutions" is chronic economic

stagnation.  While he has been reasonably open to economic

reform that would eventually create the conditions for Western

economic investment, he may now be impatient with how long that

process takes and that it comes with no tangible promises of

investment.  He may believe that to survive, he has to give

Tajikistan concrete economic improvement and growth, and do it

fast.

23.  (C) From the West, Rahmonov receives painful and

long-drawn-out economic restructuring and seemingly endless and

inconclusive feasibility studies.  From Russia (and Iran and

perhaps China), he receives promises of large-scale investment

that could potentially lift the entire economy.  He has no

extensive experience in the West and no deep understanding of

the complexities and realities of the global economy.  He wants

Tajik economic growth, and he wants it now.  If he has to take a

little extra political baggage from Moscow, that's a price he

may be willing to pay.  At the same time, we do not believe that

he will abandon Western-style economic restructuring and reform.

 He wants to hedge his bets.

WHAT CAN THE UNITED STATES DO?

24.  (C) PUBLIC DIPLOMACY:  Our short-term focus will be to

protect the interests of U.S. NGOs as deliverers of

developmental assistance.  A mid-level Foreign Ministry official

recently told us that the Tajik Government generally does not

understand what U.S. NGOs really do and simply listens to Russia

on these matters (reftel A).  (COMMENT:  This may not be as

absurd as it seems.  All written communication with any part of

the government must be conducted by diplomatic note, and the

Ministry of Security screens all diplomatic notes.  We suspect

the Ministry of Security does not pass forward diplomatic notes

with which it does not agree.  END COMMENT.)  Embassy Dushanbe

plans to arrange information roundtables to bring together

senior government officials and major U.S. developmental NGOs.

We will also start a public diplomacy campaign of press releases

focusing each week on one U.S. NGO and its achievements for

Tajikistan.  Print media reach a miniscule percentage of the

population; but we know that the Ministry of Security and

Presidential Apparat carefully study each and every U.S. Embassy

press release, and that's what counts.

25.  (C) SUPPORT FOR TAJIK HYDROPOWER IN GREATER CENTRAL ASIA:

In brief, the U.S. Government needs to make clear to the

Government of Tajikistan, in international fora and in public,

that the United States supports the development of Tajikistan's

hydroelectric potential for export to Afghanistan and Pakistan

to create new Central-South Asian links.  See septel.

26.  (C) ENGAGEMENT:  We cannot and should not attempt to

compete with the constant back and forth of Russian and Tajik

officials between Moscow and Dushanbe - and even less should we

attempt to emulate their drinking bouts.  However, building on

Secretary Rice's successful October 13 visit, we would

SIPDIS

definitely benefit from more frequent and - this is important -

longer senior U.S. visits.  Rahmonov does indeed listen, but he

needs to have U.S. interlocutors willing to spend more than a

few hours in Tajikistan every six months or so.  He especially

needs interlocutors who do not focus on the relatively stable

security side of the bilateral relationship but who can tackle

the harder parts of the relationship, including economic

development.

27.  (SBU) U.S. ASSISTANCE REVIEW:  We do not want to appear

like iconoclasts seeking to reinvent the wheel of U.S.

assistance for Tajikistan.  But we do suggest for consideration

two possibilities:

28.  (C) (A) For democracy NGOs, we need to consider whether

current partners' approaches have been overtaken by events.  For

example, if Internews can no longer be effective with its

current programs because Tajikistan is using its licensing

regulations to strangle the broadcast of non-government

information (reftel C), we need to consider whether a refocus on

training journalists and helping "independent" media outlets to

become financially independent might be a better way to meet our

media goals.  Any NGO will likely find successes to justify its

current programs, but we may need a review council with

political-level participation to determine whether current

assistance is promoting U.S. core policy goals - or if we are on

self-defeating autopilot.

29.  (C) (B) It may be useful to convene an off-cycle senior

assistance review with both U.S. and Tajik participants who are

decision makers, not just at the technical level.  We need to

listen as well as to preach.  What does Tajikistan want?  How

can we make what Tajikistan wants support core U.S. policy

objectives?  We believe that if we make this effort, and

especially if we can jointly reach consensus, there will be less

pressure on U.S. development NGOs.  This, in turn, will provide

a wider space for the United States to promote its core policy

goals and objectives.

30.  (C) COMMENT:  Tajikistan has brought this latest crossroads

on itself.  There is the requisite political stability for

Tajikistan to continue on its modest path of democratic,

economic, and political reform.  However, thanks to Russian

pressure, Tajikistan is embarking on a potentially

confrontational approach that will slow development and

encourage the Tajikistan Government's worst instincts.  Now is

the time to encourage Tajikistan to stay on track.  END COMMENT.

HOAGLAND 

Источник: ИА "Авеста"
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