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Cablegate: Icrc Hopes Its President's Moscow Visit

VZCZCXRO0854
PP RUEHLN RUEHPOD RUEHVK RUEHYG
DE RUEHMO #0177/01 0250745
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 250745Z JAN 08
FM AMEMBASSY MOSCOW
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 6260
INFO RUEHXD/MOSCOW POLITICAL COLLECTIVE

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 MOSCOW 000177

SIPDIS

DEPARTMENT FOR PRM/ECA

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREF PGOV PHUM PINR ICRC RS
SUBJECT: ICRC HOPES ITS PRESIDENT'S MOSCOW VISIT
MEANS IMPROVED RELATIONS WITH RUSSIA

1. (SBU) Summary: In Moscow January 14-16, the
International Committee of the Red Cross President
sought to "upgrade" relations between the Geneva-
based organization and the Russian Federation as
well as encourage a more systematic, concerted
Russian approach to solving the cases of the
country's disappeared. While Russian ministers were
generous with their time, and meetings were
reportedly cordial, no specific pledges to cooperate
emerged from the trip. End Summary.
2. (U) ICRC President Jakob Kellenberger visited
Moscow January 14 to 16, his first foray to Russia
since 2001. He met with Russian Foreign Minister
Sergey Lavrov for 90 minutes January 15 and for a
full two-and-a-half hours with Minister of the
Interior Rashid Nurgaliyev the next day. According
to Francois Blancy, deputy head of the ICRC's
delegation in the RF, Kellenberger will return to
Russia in November to mark the 140th anniversary of
the St. Petersburg Declaration. (Note: The 1868
Declaration of Saint Petersburg grew out of the
invention by Russian military authorities of a
bullet that exploded on contact with its target. The
then-Russian Government, unwilling to use the bullet
itself or to allow another country to take advantage
of it, suggested that the use of the bullet be
prohibited by international agreement. The
Declaration thus confirmed the customary rule
according to which the use of weapons that cause
unnecessary suffering is prohibited. End note.)
3. (U) Blancy told Refcoord January 22 that
Kellenberger, a Swiss former diplomat, wants the
ICRC to work as closely with Russia as it does with
the U.S. and European countries in order fully to
integrate the Russian perspective in ICRC policy and
planning - an "upgrade" the RF welcomes. Thus this
visit was about consultation, Blancy asserted, and
did not aim at achieving any new agreements on joint
endeavors.
Missing: Any Deliverable
-------------------------
4. (SBU) Overall, Blancy declared, the ICRC and
Russia have no areas of disagreement; however, the
issue of missing persons remains highly sensitive.
Blancy would only say that Moscow appears to
understand the ICRC's role in working to get answers
for frightened and grieving families of the over
1100 people missing in the North Caucasus. "It's a
bit premature to say more than that" at this time,
Blancy hedged.
5. (SBU) In spite of Kellenberger's lobbying, Russia
did not agree immediately to adopt the ICRC's Model
Law on the Missing
(http://www.icrc.org/Web/eng/siteeng0.nsf/htm lall/mi
ssing-model-law-010907/$File/Model%20law.miss ing-
0907_eng%20.pdf ), which aims to coordinate official
agencies' efforts to find people and incorporates
measures to prevent disappearances and to support
affected families. Nor did the parties resolve
their long-term disagreement over ICRC monitoring
visits to North Caucasus detainees (the ICRC stopped
such visits in 2004 in protest at what it complained
were excessively restrictive conditions imposed by
authorities). Blancy reported that both sides
reiterated regret that no solution has yet been
found that would permit resumption of this
traditional Red Cross activity.
6. (SBU) Blancy pronounced the ICRC satisfied with
Kellenberger's trip thanks to the GOR's express
commitment, however abstract, to search actively for
missing persons; and its welcoming of continued ICRC
efforts to promote RF armed forces' understanding of
and adherence to international humanitarian law
(IHL). His interlocutors informed Kellenberger that
the Ministry of Interior has already incorporated
the basics of IHL in its troops' curriculum and
preferred future ICRC trainings instead to address
advanced and specialized issues. ICRC training at
Interior, which had halted last year, will resume
later in 2008, as soon as the Red Cross can come up
with new modules, Blancy affirmed.
Comment
-------

7. (SBU) The ICRC has chosen a path of constructive
engagement with Moscow. Kellenberger evidently
hopes that his "carrot" approach -- more prestige
attached to the relationship in return for
ministers' time - will have a salutary effect. As

MOSCOW 00000177 002 OF 002


the Red Cross has reduced its North Caucasus
humanitarian aid budget to $11 million this year
(from about $20 million in 2007), the ICRC, if it
wishes to matter in the lives of ordinary Russian
citizens, must hope the ministers will actually
listen - and act.

Blancy Bio
----------

8. (U) Biographic note: Francois Blancy, a
Frenchman, took up the Deputy Head of ICRC Russian
Delegation post in December 2007. He has been with
Red Cross since 1994, specializing in protection and
tracing and serving in the North Caucasus from 1998-
2000. He is married to a Russian citizen of Balkar
(Caucasian) ethnicity and has three sons, ages 20,
8, and 5.

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