09TBILISI1221, GEORGIA: RUSSIA THREATENS MILITARY ACTION AFTER

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
09TBILISI1221 2009-07-02 13:41 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Tbilisi

VZCZCXRO5175
OO RUEHDBU RUEHFL RUEHKW RUEHLA RUEHNP RUEHROV RUEHSL RUEHSR
DE RUEHSI #1221/01 1831341
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
O 021341Z JUL 09 ZDK
FM AMEMBASSY TBILISI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 1853
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEKJCS/OSD WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RHEHAAA/NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 TBILISI 001221 
 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: / 
TAGS: PGOV PREL RU GG
SUBJECT: GEORGIA: RUSSIA THREATENS MILITARY ACTION AFTER 
SOLIDER DEFECTS 
 
REF: A. A) TBILISI 0148 
     B. B) RUSSELL-BEYRLE-TEFFT TELCON 
 
Classified By: AMBASSADOR JOHN F. TEFFT, REASON: 1.4 (B.D) 
 
1.  (U)  This is an action request, please see paragraph 8. 
 
2.  (C)  Summary:  A Russian solider crossed into undisputed 
Georgian territory near Perevi on July 1.  He hid in the home 
of a local resident until the MOIA took custody of him at 
approximately 2200 on July 1 when he requested asylum.  Early 
on July 2, the Georgian Government alerted us to the asylum 
request, and informed us that the Russian unit commander in 
Perevi had threatened to attack undisputed Georgian territory 
if the solider was not returned in four hours.  EUMM 
confirmed the threat, and reported the movement of several 
BMPs and troops up to the checkpoint at Perevi.  MOIA 
confirmed that four BMPs and 30 soldiers had moved to the 
checkpoint.  The soldier was transferred to Tbilisi and after 
coordination with the US, EUMM and UNHCR, the soldier was 
interviewed by UNHCR and determined to be a qualified asylum 
seeker.  The UNHCR has officially requested the GOG to apply 
the Geneva Convention in this case.  The GOG is hopeful that 
UNHCR will act quickly to issue travel papers for the solider 
and move him to a third country.  End Summary. 
 
3.  (C)  On July 2 Georgian Deputy Minister of Internal 
Affairs Eka Zguladze call the Ambassador to inform him that a 
Russian soldier had crossed into undisputed Georgian 
territory at Perevi and requested asylum.  The solider, 
reported in the media as Dmitri Artemiev, escaped into 
Georgia on July 1 and hid at the home of a local resident 
until he requested asylum from the MOIA at 2200.  On the 
morning of July 2, the local Russian commander reportedly 
told the Georgians that if the soldier was not returned 
within 4 hours, Russia would attack Georgia.  Zguladze asked 
for our urgent advice.  She said Georgia wanted to do the 
right thing on a humanitarian basis.  Because of Georgia's 
international legal obligations they could not return th 
solider, but they also did not want a blowup with Russia. The 
Ambassador suggested that the GOG contact UNHCR and ask that 
they facilitate the asylum request in order to move the 
discussion from a bilateral to an international level.  The 
Ambassador passed the same message to National Security 
Advisor Eka Tkeshelashvili.  The GOG welcomed the suggestion 
and said they would contact UNHCR immediately. 
 
4.  (C)  Post then contacted the local head of UNHCR Peter 
Nicolaus and informed him of the situation.  UNHCR staff, 
with UNHCR HQ approval, interviewed Artemiev at the UNHCR 
Tbilisi office together with Georgian Ministry of Refugees 
and Accommodations (MRA) officials.  UNHCR spoke with the 
solider and informed him of his rights and the steps for 
protection available through the GOG process.  With the 
agreement of the MOIA and MRA, Artemiev was moved to the MRA 
reception center for asylum seekers in Tbilisi. 
 
5. (C)  EUMM chief Hansjoerg Haber informed the Ambassador 
that EUMM had activated its hotline with the Russian military 
in South Ossetia and advised the Russians to pull back the 
BMP tanks and soldiers that they had advanced to the 
checkpoint.  Haber supported the idea of asking UNHCR to be a 
primary actor in this case. Later in the day, Haber confirmed 
that Artemiev appeared to have suffered from recent beatings. 
 EUMM Deputy Janvier went to the ABL to meet with Tarasov. 
No report of this meeting has yet emerged. 
 
6.  (C)  Following Embassy Moscow's discussions with the 
Q6.  (C)  Following Embassy Moscow's discussions with the 
Russian MFA (following ref B), the MOIA reported that Russian 
forces and BMPs moved away from the checkpoint and back into 
Perevi.  The situation appears to have stabilized.  The 
Russian soldier remains in the custody of the Georgian 
Ministry for Refugees and Accommodations, who is working with 
UNHCR and ICRC in hopes of find a way to provide third 
country settlement for the solider. 
 
7.  (C) COMMENT:  We understand Artemiev was fully aware of 
the early defection of the Russian solider Glukhov, and that 
Glukhov now lives in Georgia (reftel).  In an interview with 
the press, he lamented the poor conditions and beatings that 
Artemiev faced in the military.  Given the treatment of 
Russian conscripts and the porousness of the South Ossetian 
administrative boundary, post fears that we will see more 
defections.  The international community together with the 
Georgians need to develop a system for dealing with these 
types of case to ensure that they do not become a pretext for 
Russian military action. 
 
8.  (C)  ACTION REQUEST:  Post requests that the Department 
work with UNHCR, ICRC and our European counterparts to 
 
TBILISI 00001221  002 OF 002 
 
 
establish a system for dealing with potential future Russian 
military def
ections in order to stem potential violence. 
TEFFT

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