09ASTANA443, KAZAKHSTAN: PRESIDENTIAL ADVISOR RECOMMENDS “BE

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
09ASTANA443 2009-03-13 08:31 2011-08-30 01:44 SECRET Embassy Astana

VZCZCXRO8595
OO RUEHBI RUEHCI RUEHDBU RUEHFL RUEHKW RUEHLA RUEHLH RUEHNP RUEHPW
RUEHROV
DE RUEHTA #0443/01 0720831
ZNY SSSSS ZZH
O 130831Z MAR 09
FM AMEMBASSY ASTANA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 4889
INFO RUCNCLS/ALL SOUTH AND CENTRAL ASIA COLLECTIVE
RUCNCIS/CIS COLLECTIVE 1352
RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE
RUEHBJ/AMEMBASSY BEIJING 0731
RUEHUL/AMEMBASSY SEOUL 0418
RUEHKO/AMEMBASSY TOKYO 1434
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC
RHEFAAA/DIA WASHDC
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC 0913
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC 0826
RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHDC
RHMFISS/CDR USCENTCOM MACDILL AFB FL
RUEAWJA/DEPT OF JUSTICE WASHDC

S E C R E T SECTION 01 OF 03 ASTANA 000443 
 
SIPDIS 
 
STATE FOR SCA/CEN, S/SRAP, CA/OCS 
FRANKFURT FOR REGIONAL CONSULAR OFFICER 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 03/13/2034 
TAGS: PGOV PREL PINR CASC IR KZ
SUBJECT: KAZAKHSTAN:  PRESIDENTIAL ADVISOR RECOMMENDS "BE 
STATESMAN-LIKE" WITH NAZARBAYEV TO RESOLVE PEACE CORPS CASE 
 
REF: A. ASTANA 0381 
     B. ASTANA 0373 
     C. ASTANA 0175 
     D. ASTANA 0135 
     E. ASTANA 0055 
     F. 08 ASTANA 2576 
     G. 08 ASTANA 2410 (NOTAL) 
 
Classified By: Ambassador Richard E. Hoagland:  1.4 (B), (D) 
 
1. (S) SUMMARY:  Presidential Foreign Policy Advisor Kairat 
Sarybay called in the Ambassador on March 12 to discuss the 
criminal case against Peace Corps volunteer Anthony Sharp. 
He advised the Ambassador it is not "constructive" to 
describe the case as a "political provocation."  He said he 
would arrange a meeting for the Ambassador with President 
Nazarbayev to discuss it.  He recommended the Ambassador 
should admit to Nazarbayev that Sharp violated Kazakhstani 
law and explain that Sharp's action were "unthinking."  This 
approach with the president should ensure a positive 
resolution of the case, Sarybay said.  We believe the 
fall-out from the Sharp case represents a powerful battle at 
the top of Kazakhstan's leadership between progressive and 
regressive forces.  Sarybay also asked about the prospects 
for a visit by Secretary Clinton to Kazakhstan, and floated 
the idea of proposed a meeting by a senior U.S. official with 
a senior Iranian official during the Eurasia Media Forum in 
Almaty in April, which we gently shot down.  END SUMMARY. 
 
"UNCONSTRUCTIVE" TO CALL CASE A "PROVOCATION" 
 
2. (S) Presidential Foreign Policy Adviser Kairat Sarybay 
called in the Ambassador on March 12 to discuss the criminal 
case against Peace Corps volunteer Anthony Sharp.   Magzhen 
Iliyasov, the seemingly pro-Western director of the 
Presidential Administration's Foreign Policy Center and 
President Nazarbayev's personal interpreter, also attended 
the meeting but did not speak up.  Sarybay told the 
Ambassador, "You asked for my advice, so I'll be very honest. 
 We're dealing with a very specific issue with the Sharp 
case, but it's growing.  My feeling is that any further 
allegations of a 'political provocation' would not be 
constructive."  Sarybay said that both sides should put the 
matter behind them, and that the Ambassador should tell 
President Nazarbayev he regrets that Sharp violated the law 
but that he did it unthinkingly.  "This would create a good 
environment for us to move forward in accordance with your 
discussions with Foreign Minister Tazhin," he argued.  (NOTE: 
 "Your discussions with Foreign Minister Tazhin" means the 
understanding the Embassy has had since January that Sharp 
would go to trial, be convicted, have his sentence suspended, 
and be deported -- an agreement that broke down on February 
26 when Sharp was convicted and sentenced to two years in 
prison.  END NOTE.) 
 
3. (S) The Ambassador explained our view of "provocation" had 
come from the clear and concrete facts of the case -- a bag 
containing explosives given to Sharp by someone else as he 
was about to exit the premises of the mine, guards waiting to 
arrest him when he departed the mine, and false witnesses at 
his trial.  The point in using this term was not to criticize 
Kazakhstan, and certainly not to imply the President's 
complicity, but to make fully clear how the U.S. media, 
Congress, and some in the Administration would view the case 
if it became public.  We have so far successfully persuaded 
Sharp and his family to keep the case out of the media and to 
refrain from contacting Members of Congress so that the 
Kazakhstani government can resolve this case in accordance 
with its commitments to us.  Sarybay responded that the 
Kazakhstani side is also keeping it out of the press.  (NOTE: 
 In fact, this is true.  The court case is widely known in 
Ridder, the site of the original incident, but, remarkably, 
nothing has appeared in any media outlet in Kazakhstan or in 
Russia.  END NOTE.) 
 
PROMISE TO ARRANGE MEETING WITH NAZARBAYEV 
 
ASTANA 00000443  002 OF 003 
 
 
 
4. (S) The Ambassador said that in a meeting with Nazarbayev 
to discuss the Sharp case, he would praise Foreign Minister 
Tazhin for his constructive efforts, explain that he insists 
all Americans in Kazakhstan must obey local law, admit that 
we have some differences about the facts of the case but 
acknowledge that Sharp unthinkingly did wrong in trespassing 
in a restricted area, and stress that we respect the 
Kazakhstani court system and
 wish to move forward with 
Kazakhstan in the new Obama administration.  Sarybay 
responded, "This wording is good; these statements would not 
cause any difficulties for us.  We'll arrange a meeting with 
my boss" -- meaning Nazarbayev -- "sooner is better than 
later."  Sarybay said a meeting the following day (March 13) 
might even be possible.  If that did not work, it would be 
after Nazarbayev's ten-day trip abroad which begins on March 
14. 
 
5. (S) Sarybay added, "(Kazakhstani Ambassador to the United 
States Yerlan) Idrissov, whom Nazarbayev respects, tells me 
we have great plans and opportunities in the bilateral 
relationship.  President Nazarbayev's January meeting with 
CENTCOM Commander General Petraeus was a big success.  Let's 
keep the Sharp case low-profile.  Just say you regret that 
the incident occurred and are committed to moving forward 
with an enhanced bilateral relationship.  You'll receive a 
good response from the boss.  I'm sure this kind of 
conversation with the boss will resolve this matter."  The 
Ambassador responded he would willingly follow through 
because he could do so with a clear conscience.  Sarybay 
promised to inform FM Tazhin and Presidential Administration 
head Aslan Musin about his conversation with the Ambassador. 
He thanked the Ambassador for his understanding and 
flexibility.  To rib Sarybay, the Ambassador responded, "See, 
I'm not such a bad guy."  Sarybay responded, "No, not at all 
a bad guy, but you are very firm and strong." 
 
PROSPECTS FOR A VISIT BY SECRETARY CLINTON 
 
6. (S) During the less intense part of the meeting, Sarybay 
asked about the prospects for a visit by Secretary Clinton to 
Kazakhstan.  The Ambassador explained that she had just 
responded to Tazhin's invitation to attend the Euro-Atlantic 
Partnership Council's Security Forum in Kazakhstan in June, 
promising that the United States would be represented there. 
He said it is too early to know about the Secretary's travel 
schedule in coming months, but believes she would welcome the 
opportunity to visit Kazakhstan. 
 
"COULD WE PLAY A ROLE WITH IRAN?" 
 
7. (S) Sarybay said that a journalist recently had suggested 
to him using the Eurasia Media Forum in Almaty in April to 
arrange a meeting between "a senior U.S. official, perhaps 
Special Representative Holbrooke, and a senior Iranian 
official.  They could 'unexpectedly' meet in Almaty," Sarybay 
explained.  The Ambassador replied that when Tazhin travels 
to Washington in May, he might want to raise Kazakhstan's 
willingness to be helpful with Iran.  The Ambassador took 
pains to make clear that any early U.S. diplomacy with Iran, 
should it occur, would likely be in very quiet channels. 
While an "accidental meeting in Almaty at an international 
event" would not be very realistic, the Ambassador recalled 
that Henry Kissinger had sealed Nixon's opening to China at 
secret meetings in Tashkent. 
 
8. (S) COMMENT:  From the beginning, we have double-tracked 
the Sharp case with the Foreign Ministry and with several 
Presidential advisers, most importantly (and quietly 
back-channel) with State Secretary Kanat Saudabayev (former 
Ambassador to the United States and long-standing Nazarbayev 
confidante), through Saudabayev's Chief of Staff, Roman 
Vassilenko.  We know that for the "agreement" -- Sharp's 
conviction, suspended sentence, and deportation -- Foreign 
Minister Tazhin has gone far, far out on a limb for us to do 
battle with the KNB, which he himself once briefly headed. 
 
ASTANA 00000443  003 OF 003 
 
 
However, the current KNB chief is President Nazarbayev's 
former personal bodyguard, whom he is said to trust 
implicitly.  The current fire-storm over the word 
"provocation" started only after the Ambassador met with 
Presidential Chief of Staff Aslan Musin on March 3, at the 
Saudabayev camp's urging.  To read him into the issue, and to 
ensure clarity, we provided him our two non-papers on the 
Sharp case that had had strictly limited circulation in the 
Foreign Ministry and at the Presidency.  However, with Musin, 
this was probably the first time we had gotten directly to 
the President himself, whom, we speculate, probably went 
ballistic, with the KNB egging him on, over the word 
"provocation."  But Nazarbayev is most certainly no dummy, 
and he probably keyed in immediately to the fact, which we 
clearly stated in the first non-paper, that we believe this 
case has the potential to derail an enhanced U.S.-Kazakhstan 
relationship in the early days of the Obama Administration. 
If this case concludes as we desire, and as we have fought 
for -- and we remain cautiously optimistic that it will -- 
then we have further evidence that President Nazarbayev 
himself is fully committed to an enhanced relationship with 
the United States.  END COMMENT. 
 
HOAGLAND

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