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Viewing cable 09MOSCOW1051, SCENESETTER FOR FBI DIRECTOR MUELLER'S TRIP TO RUSSIA

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
09MOSCOW1051 2009-04-23 13:01 2011-01-27 00:12 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Moscow
Appears in these articles:
http://rusrep.ru/article/2010/11/29/mueller/
VZCZCXRO7401
PP RUEHDBU
DE RUEHMO #1051/01 1131340
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 231340Z APR 09
FM AMEMBASSY MOSCOW
TO RHMFISS/FBI WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 3013
INFO RUCNCIS/CIS COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEHXD/MOSCOW POLITICAL COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 MOSCOW 001051 

SIPDIS 

FBI FOR DIRECTOR MUELLER 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 04/21/2018 
TAGS: FBI PGOV PHUM PINR RS SOCI
SUBJECT: SCENESETTER FOR FBI DIRECTOR MUELLER'S TRIP TO RUSSIA 

Classified By: Charge Eric Rubin. Reason: 1.4 (d). 

1. (C) Summary. Director Mueller: Your engagement with Russia's top law enforcement and security service heads provides an opportunity to help re-build US-Russian relations, following the positive trajectory set by Presidents Obama and Medvedev at their April 1 meeting in London. The Russian leadership is promoting cooperation and common interests, creating an opening to strengthen our mutual efforts to combat terrorism, organized crime, and other issues of shared concern. Your meetings and the difficult work of implementing an agenda of law enforcement cooperation will provide a better indication of the extent to which the "silovik" security elite are on board with this agenda. Your hosts -- FSB Director Aleksandr Bortnikov, SVR Director Mikhail Fradkov, and Minister for Internal Affairs Rashid Nurgaliyev -- are pragmatic hardliners who share a worldview of Soviet xenophobia and distrust of the West that portrays the U.S. as actively working to destabilize Russia. At the same time, they appreciate the benefits that cooperation with the U.S. provides, not only in achieving their assigned missions, but also in enhancing their country's position internationally. Thus, with the Kremlin promoting a more cooperative approach, the time may be right for building a relationship based upon genuine results. End summary. 

Three Skeptics 
-------------- 

2. (C) Russia's deepening economic crisis and uncertainty over the durability of the Medvedev-Putin political "tandem" have crystallized divisions in the elite between the hardline "siloviki" (drawn disproportionately from the security and intelligence services) and more moderate proponents of Russia's political and economic development. As the economic downturn has highlighted the weaknesses of Putin's "miracle" that harnessed unprecedented high natural resource prices to improve the average Russian's quality of life over the past 8 years, a critical debate is taking place over whether to maintain the status quo or embrace reform and liberalization as the only path to further development. Your interlocutors are the leading defenders of the status quo and advocate a "tightening of the screws" against domestic opposition and their alleged external supporters -- principally the U.S. and its Western allies rather than any loosening of political or social controls. 

3. (C) Concern about potential social unrest associated with the crisis contributed to (or provided justification for) the services' push earlier this year to eliminate jury trials and to broaden the definition of "treason" to include the organization of protests against the government; the former was passed into law, while Medvedev withdrew the treason law for revision. The MVD deployed special "OMON" forces in late December against protesters in Vladivostok who demonstrated against new taxes on imported automobiles. Moreover, plans to reduce the number of MVD internal troops have been shelved, ostensibly to retain a security force for the 2014 Olympic Games in Sochi. 

4. (C) The security services are likewise skeptical about the West's motivations and are the most influential opponents of the engagement agenda. Bortnikov, Fradkov, and Nurgaliyev appear to share similar views about dealing with the outside world, shaped by their experiences in Russia's security service/military ("silovik") structures. They tend toward a cold war mentality, which sees the U.S. and its allies working to weaken and undermine Russia and have made public accusations to that effect. Of the three, only Fradkov has any real experience in foreign relations gained during his tenure as Russian ambassador to the EU from 2003-2004 and his work in the Ministry of Foreign Trade during the 1990s. 

5. (C) It is difficult to assess their private thinking -- they tend to avoid open political conflict and lead professionally quiet lives. Their public statements provide little concrete information about their views beyond the official line and they have kept our diplomats and officials at arms length. Nevertheless, there are indications that they value work with other services on specific issues of mutual interest. Perhaps most telling, Nurgaliyev has supported cooperative relationships with his counterparts around the globe, demonstrated by his personal efforts to secure an INTERPOL training center in Moscow, and he has been a good partner for the U.S. in its efforts to protect intellectual property rights. Moreover, Nurgaliyev has openly lamented the culture of corruption with Russia's law enforcement system MOSCOW 00001051 002 OF 003 and has been a strong supporter of Medvedev's well-publicized, if largely unrealized, campaign against corruption. 

Political Players 
----------------- 

6. (C) The security service leaders play a far more open political role than their counterparts in the West. Your three interlocutors accrue political power in the Russian system by virtue of their ability to initiate legal charges against political enemies -- turning the courts into weapons of influence rather than independent arbiters. They control large numbers of men and resources -- the MVD alone has more than 190,000 soldiers in its internal security divisions. Despite their similar outlook and background, they are often competitors for influence against each other -- with shadowy conflicts occasionally bubbling up into public spats. 

7. (C) None of the three are considered to be within the "inner circle" of Kremlin decision-making and instead enjoy the reflected power of their sponsors and allies (as well as that of their own bureaucratic competence). According to a noted expert on the services, Fradkov and Bortnikov share a background in dealing with economic issues -- working behind the scenes to check the influence of Russia's powerful business magnates and advance the interests of their allies. Fradkov, who allegedly worked for Soviet intelligence in the 1970s in brokering arms sales to India, was given a mandate at the time of his appointment to FSB chief to "protect the interests of Russian companies abroad." As during his tenure as Prime Minister, Fradkov works closely with the powerful state corporations and has ties to the influential First Deputy Prime Minister Igor Sechin. Bortnikov spent his entire career in the FSB working on economic issues; before his appointment as Director, he headed the FSB Economic Security Service. During his tenure there, Bortnikov worked behind the scenes in the government's campaign against the oligarchs. Many here consider Bortnikov as the protege of his predecessor, Nikolay Patrushev, now the Secretary of the Security Council, and indirectly allied with Sechin. 

Focused On State Security 
------------------------- 

8. (C) Despite the changes since the collapse of the Soviet Union, Russia's security services hew closer ideologically to the model of the Imperial Okhrana (secret police) than the law-enforcement services of our Western allies. Law enforcement of the type for which the FBI has responsibility in the U.S. -- criminal prosecution, organized crime, and counter-terrorism -- is only part of the portfolio that the FSB and MVD share (in conjunction with Prosecutor's office), and often political factors temper the services' enthusiasm for pursuing prominent targets. Independent analysis suggests that some members of the security services are allied with various organized crime structures or turn a blind eye to the activities of known criminals. Only when political winds change, does the law enforcement machine move after prominent criminals. For example, crime boss Sergei Shnaider (better known as Semyen Mogilevich) not only enjoyed freedom of movement in Russia and official protection, but he was brought in by Gazprom to manage gas sales to Ukraine through the shady RosUkrEnergo venture. Only when he lost his political cover, for reasons that are unclear, he lost the support of his political cover and was arrested in January 2008. 

9. (C) State (regime) security remains the services' primary responsibility and all three organizations devote considerable attention and resources to counter-intelligence and domestic intelligence work. After the "color" revolutions in Georgia and Ukraine, Russian security services stepped up their efforts against the U.S. and other Western powers, whom they blamed for inciting the protests and overthrowing the governments in Tbilisi and Kyiv. Their officers maintain constant vigilance against the official U.S. government presence through active surveillance and they have sought to stifle U.S. humanitarian programs in the North Caucasus. MVD forces have been deployed to harass and intimidate political opposition protests while "investigations" against Western-supported NGOs for trumped up charges (like using pirated software) have hindered the work that those organizations seek to accomplish. 

10. (C) The threat of separatism, extremism, and terrorism -- particularly in the North Caucasus -- are a priority issue for the security services. Despite the decision last week to MOSCOW 00001051 003 OF 003 end the State of Emergency for Chechnya, ethnic conflict and social unrest continue to simmer in Ingushetia, Dagestan, and other republics in the troubled Caucasus region. The MVD has more than 15,000 soldiers stationed in Chechnya, an additional regiment in Ingushetia, and has created three "special forces" (spetznaz) counter-terrorism units in Moscow, Smolensk, and Chelyabinsk.

A Challenging Relationship 
-------------------------- 

11. (C) The road ahead will be difficult, but the timing of the journey -- with the Kremlin backing a more cooperative relationship -- is perhaps the most promising in several years. Since your 2004 trip to Russia, the success of joint investigation programs with the MVD and FSB on organized crime, counter-terrorism, and cybercrime has demonstrated the potential gains that a cooperative relationship can provide. Unfortunately, the law enforcement relationship has followed the vicissitudes of the broader U.S. Russia relationship, circumscribing the scope and depth of our joint efforts. Moreover, the continued skepticism of the security service leadership about U.S. intentions have set limits on the types of cooperation that the Russians are willing to achieve. It is unclear that we have reached a decisive turning point, but the vigor in which the FSB has pursued your visit (including stumping up the money to cover the refueling and airport fees) suggests the possibility of at least a partial thaw in relations after the bitter winter that followed last year's war in Georgia. At a minimum, we can expect the Russian side to welcome your continued advocacy for the Joint FBI-MVD working group on organized crime, efforts to jointly work to fight cybercrime, and other cooperative projects. We expect them to be receptive to a renewed invitation for a law enforcement officer to attend the FBI's National Academy at Quantico (occupying a slot that was not filled in January). RUBIN