09TBILISI1237, GEORGIA: UPDATE ON DEFECTION OF RUSSIAN SOLDIER

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
09TBILISI1237 2009-07-06 14:11 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Tbilisi

VZCZCXRO7710
OO RUEHDBU RUEHFL RUEHKW RUEHLA RUEHNP RUEHROV RUEHSL RUEHSR
DE RUEHSI #1237 1871411
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
O 061411Z JUL 09
FM AMEMBASSY TBILISI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 1866
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RHEHAAA/NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RUEKJCS/OSD WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY

C O N F I D E N T I A L TBILISI 001237 
 
SENSITIVE 
SIPDIS 
 
PLEASE PASS TO POTUS TRAVELING PARTY IN MOSCOW. 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 07/06/2019 
TAGS: PGOV PREL RU GG
SUBJECT: GEORGIA: UPDATE ON DEFECTION OF RUSSIAN SOLDIER 
 
REF: TBILISI 1222 
 
Classified By: AMBASSADOR JOHN F. TEFFT FOR REASONS 1.4 B AND D 
 
1. (C) Summary.  The Russian soldier who requested asylum 
from Georgia met with his family in Tbilisi on July 4 and 5. 
EUMM, UNHCR, along with the Swiss (as the protective power 
for Russia in Georgia), Georgians and Russians, coordinated 
these meetings between Artemiev and his family.  Artemiev's 
parents were accompanied to Tbilisi by Russian Commander in 
South Ossetia Colonel Tarasov (not public, do not disclose), 
who in turn was escorted by the Gori police chief.  After an 
initial meeting with his parents on July 4, Artemiev decided 
to return to Russia, but the next day he changed his mind and 
decided to continue the asylum process.  Artemiev is 
currently staying in a private residence in Tbilisi instead 
of the regular Ministry of Refugees and Accommodations (MRA) 
housing, mainly to avoid press stakeouts.  EUMM, UNHCR and 
the Swiss commended all parties, especially the Georgians, 
for handling the situation fairly.  End summary. 
 
2. (C) On July 4, Artemiev's parents, accompanied by local 
commander of Russian forces in South Ossetia Colonel Tarasov, 
arrived in Tbilisi for a meeting with their son.  According 
to our interlocutors, Artemiev refused to meet with Russian 
officials, including Tarasov.  In the end, the soldier met 
privately with his parents for about four hours.  At the end 
of the meeting, Artemiev declared he was ready to return to 
Russia.  One of the mediators present convinced him to stay 
for another night before making any decisions, and UNHCR 
advised Artemiev that if he did choose to go back, he would 
need to sign a standard document declaring he was leaving of 
his own free will. 
 
3. (C) Artemiev spent the night at an MRA apartment with his 
mother, while his father stayed at the Russian interest 
section.  The next day, Artemiev stated that he wanted to 
stay in Georgia and continue the asylum process.  The 
Russians made one last attempt to change his mind, asking him 
to meet privately with his father, but he refused to do so, 
saying that he did not want to be influenced in his decision. 
 The Swiss Ambassador and the EUMM reported that the parents 
are divorced and Artemiev had not seen his father for seven 
years.  According to the Swiss, the Russians accepted the 
outcome. 
 
4. (C) UNHCR is providing funding to MRA to accommodate 
Artemiev in a private residence to mitigate Artemiev being 
hounded by the press and because normal MRA housing is full. 
According to EUMM, the Government of Georgia will provide 
Artemiev with housing and a stipend for four months while the 
case is adjudicated, and UNHCR will continue to monitor the 
situation.  The Swiss Embassy, in their role as 
representative of Russian interests in Georgia, continues to 
assist with communication between the Georgians and Russians. 
TEFFT

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