08TBILISI713, SANAKOYEV’S HOPES AND FEARS FOR SOUTH OSSETIA

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
08TBILISI713 2008-04-29 13:58 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Tbilisi

VZCZCXRO0782
OO RUEHBW RUEHFL RUEHKW RUEHLA RUEHROV RUEHSR
DE RUEHSI #0713/01 1201358
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
O 291358Z APR 08
FM AMEMBASSY TBILISI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 9355
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE IMMEDIATE

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 TBILISI 000713 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SIPDIS 
 
DEPT FOR EUR DAS BRYZA & EUR/CARC 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 04/28/2017 
TAGS: PGOV PREL GG
SUBJECT: SANAKOYEV'S HOPES AND FEARS FOR SOUTH OSSETIA 
 
 
Classified By: Ambassador John F. Tefft for reasons 1.4(b&d). 
 
Summary 
------- 
1. (C) Dmitry Sanakoyev outlined for Washington and Embassy 
representatives April 21 his achievements in his first year 
as leader of the Georgian-recognized Temporary Administrative 
Unit of South Ossetia, and laid out his vision for a future 
in which young men in the region have other opportunities 
besides a career carrying a gun.  Sanakoyev expressed great 
concern that Russian President Putin's recent decision to 
expand ties with Georgia's separatist regions might mean new 
Russian customs posts and economic unification with the 
separatist-controlled part of South Ossetia.  This would 
resemble "true annexation" by Russia, Sanakoyev said, and 
would isolate the areas he controls.  He called on the 
international community to support Georgia's opposition to 
Russia's steps, and called on Georgia to move ahead with 
plans to define precisely what South Ossetian autonomy would 
mean.  End Summary. 
 
Successes and Challenges 
------------------------ 
2. (C) Sanakoyev began the meeting in his Kurta headquarters 
by outlining for EUR/CARC Conflict Resolution Advisor Michael 
Carpenter and Poloff his own transformation from someone who 
had fought the Georgians and served in the de facto 
administration into someone who believed that autonomy within 
Georgia was the only way to secure a better, more democratic 
future for South Ossetia.  Sanakoyev said that since the 
election of Eduard Kokoity as de facto president in 2001, the 
separatist leadership had intentionally stoked ethnic hatred, 
and the Russians had brought in large amounts of money and 
arms in order to use South Ossetia for their own purposes of 
opposing NATO.  Sanakoyev, who won unofficial elections in 
November 2006 and then received official Georgian sanction in 
May 2007, said he had already overseen considerable 
improvements in his region's infrastructure, including 
natural gas networks, roads, heating of schools, an 
electricity network delinked from Russia, sports facilities, 
and economic development projects.  He stressed that Kokoity 
had responded by blocking the road connecting Sanakoyev's 
area with the separatist-controlled area, and had arrested 
multiple people inside the separatist region who supported 
Sanakoyev's work.  While the Georgian government had set up a 
state commission to define South Ossetia's autonomy, 
Sanakoyev noted, Kokoity had forbidden anyone in his area 
from taking part.  Sanakoyev identified one of his main 
challenges as communicating his vision of an autonomous and 
democratic South Ossetia to the closed society in Tskhinvali. 
 
Russia's Dangerous Game 
----------------------- 
3. (C) Sanakoyev said it appeared to him that Russia was 
using the pretext of Kosovo independence to "legalize its 
policies" in the separatist regions, as reflected in Putin's 
April 16 instructions to the Russian government.  Sanakoyev 
said it was his "personal opinion" that, aside from the 
United States, the West had failed to speak strongly against 
these Russian actions and had left Georgia "unprotected." 
Carpenter noted there had been some recent European 
statements critical of the Russian decree, but Sanakoyev 
reiterated his view that Russia and Kokoity had largely been 
given "carte blanche" to change the status quo to their 
advantage.  He noted that Russia's policy was to divide the 
U.S. and the Europeans, knowing that in such circumstances it 
could act with impunity.  Sanakoyev said he was particularly 
concerned that Russia would increase its already considerable 
economic support to the Tskhinvali regime.  In the short run, 
he said, the greatest dangers were that Russia would 
establish customs posts in the separatist region and would 
integrate the region into the Russian banking system.  These 
steps would create huge hardships for the population in his 
area, Sanakoyev said, and drive the separatist-controlled 
villages even further into the Russian orbit. 
 
Pressure Increasing in the Separatist Region 
-------------------------------------------- 
4. (C) Sanakoyev said a spate of bombings in the separatist 
area in the last few months served Russian and separatist 
purposes by making the region look more unstable in the eyes 
of internationals and by increasing fear in the population as 
a justification for tougher measures internally.  Sanakoyev 
said power struggles inside the separatist region were hard 
to predict, but he thought numerous recent arrests there -- 
some for corruption and others for alleged support of 
Sanakoyev -- would increase discontent and could possibly 
lead to further "terrorist actions."  Sanakoyev said 
Kokoity's regime was entirely dependent on Russian patronage 
and its internal support was limited to pensioners and young 
people who had grown up after the early 1990s conflict. 
 
TBILISI 00000713  002 OF 002 
 
 
These young people, Sanakoyev said sadly, knew only the 
profession of the soldier; firing a rifle had become a 
central part of their psychology.  Sanakoyev said his own 
vision was a South Ossetia tied into the Georgian eco
nomy in 
order to create other opportunities for people.  For this to 
happen, he noted, there would have to be a customs regime at 
the Roki Tunnel border crossing with Russia and a change in 
the separatist regime's insistence on blocking connections 
with the Georgians. 
 
Comment 
------- 
5. (C) With Georgian financial support, the Temporary 
Administrative Unit has managed to make considerable 
improvements in the area it controls.  One example is the 
steep bypass road through Eredvi, which we took to Kurta.  It 
is still unpaved, but it has been considerably improved since 
last year, and has been partially re-routed so that it no 
longer runs past the Russian peacekeeping post "Pauk."  This 
road is especially important because it is the region's only 
lifeline as long as the de facto authorities continue to 
block the highway that runs through Tskhinvali.  But despite 
this and other accomplishments, Sanakoyev's mood was not 
especially optimistic; he was clearly worried about what 
steps the Russians would take in South Ossetia to implement 
Putin's new instructions, and he was dismayed that the West 
(Europe especially) had not spoken out against these 
instructions more strongly.  At the same time -- in a remark 
seemingly aimed at the Georgian officials present in the 
meeting as well as at us -- he noted the Georgians should 
move ahead with the work of the state commission to define 
South Ossetia's autonomous status.  Sanakoyev seemed to 
understand what some Georgian officials may not intuitively 
grasp: that to reintegrate the separatist regions, Georgia 
will have to communicate its vision of autonomous democratic 
and economic development directly to the local population. 
 
TEFFT

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