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Cablegate: Kashin Protests, but Not to Embassy or Mfa

VZCZCXYZ9268
PP RUEHWEB

DE RUEHMO #0635 0661330
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 061330Z MAR 08
FM AMEMBASSY MOSCOW
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 7046
INFO RUCNCIS/CIS COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEHXD/MOSCOW POLITICAL COLLECTIVE PRIORITY

UNCLAS MOSCOW 000635

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PHUM SOCI RS KJUS
SUBJECT: KASHIN PROTESTS, BUT NOT TO EMBASSY OR MFA

1. (SBU) Aleksandr Kashin, who was paralyzed from the chest
down as a result of a 1998 traffic accident involving then
Consul General in Vladivostok Douglas Kent, traveled to
Moscow on March 3 where he reportedly continues a hunger
strike, apparently initiated to draw attention to his plight
and to indicate his frustration with what he sees as a lack
of response from the USG. According to press reports, Kashin
took up residence at the Hotel "Zvezda" accompanied by a
nurse in order to meet with his US-based lawyer, the Ministry
of Foreign Affairs, and the Russian media. As of March 6, he
has not/not contacted the Embassy, nor has he been in touch
with the MFA.

2. (SBU) While reportedly rejecting a U.S. offer of a USD
100,000 humanitarian payment (as reported by the press, but
not officially communicated to the USG by Kashin or his
lawyer), Kashin has sought to re-kindle public interest in
his case. He began a hunger strike on February 18 and
claimed that he is living only on water, according to press
reports. (Our consulate in Vladivostok reports that local
press stories suggest he suspended his strike while
recuperating in a local hospital.) According to the
newspaper Pravda, Kashin complains that he has not had a
response to his letters to President Bush, Secretary Rice or
Assistant Secretary Fried and claimed he would continue his
fast "until he dies or until his demands are met" -- he
continues to seek a payment of $10 million in "moral damages."

3. (SBU) A Vladivostok lawyer told the Russian press that
Kashin may have grounds to appeal to the GOR for assistance,
since the MFA accredited Kent as a foreign diplomat and is
therefore responsible for Kent's actions while in Russia.
Officials at the MFA's North America Department on March 4
were unaware of any legal plans by Kashin to seek GOR
financial support. In a separate conversation on February
29, MFA North America Director Igor Neverov acknowledged the
difficult situation that Kashin's hunger strike posed for the
U.S. and welcomed efforts to find a "humanitarian package"
for Kashin. Neverov noted the affair is problematic for the
GOR, since a Russian citizen had been crippled by an American
diplomat, with no apparent legal relief on the part of the
U.S. The MFA's preference is to keep this issue low-key, but
Neverov recognized that the prospect of Kashin re-engaging
with the national press may preclude this.
BURNS

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