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Cablegate: Countering Disinformation in Dushanbe

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.




E.O. 12958: N/A

1. SUMMARY: Is the United States responsible for the "Color
Revolutions" in Georgia, Ukraine, and Kyrgyzstan? Are Americans
employed in such organizations as CARE and the National
Democratic Institute spies fomenting revolution? Are
U.S.-funded legal assistance programs designed to turn children
against their parents? If the Russian disinformation campaign
is to be believed, all of the above is true, and unfortunately,
much of it is believed.

2. The aggressive, on-going Russian disinformation campaign in
Tajikistan and throughout the former Soviet States targets
American NGOs, USAID and U.S. programs, calling into question
U.S. initiatives, and sometimes succeeding in shutting down
U.S.-supported programs. To advance the President's and the
Secretary's U.S. foreign policy and transformational diplomacy,

Post requests that the Department coordinate a regional response
to counter this campaign and highlight American programs and
intentions. END SUMMARY

3. Central Asian populations have almost no other source of
news and information than Russia's mass media and their own
Russian-dominated state media. Democratic forces in the region,
such as they are, trust the propaganda and believe the United
States has backed off in its support for democracy because of
superior pressure from Moscow. The anti-American disinformation
campaign is coming from the old-guard in Moscow who have been on
a roll for a year now, with plenty of coverage in the press, and
access to high level Tajik officials behind-the-scenes.

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4. The Tajik press has published several anti-NGO articles in
the last six months. Two examples include:

- On September 29, Tajik language Tojikiston published an
article critical of CARE International's activities in
Tajikistan, alleging CARE deliberately introduced contaminated
seed potatoes into Tajikistan.

- On 24 November, the Tajik State-owned, Tajik language
newspaper Jumhuriyat published "What does ABA/CEELI want with
the teenagers?" The slanderous attack on a U.S.-NGO alleged
that the American Bar Association/Central European and Eurasian
Law Initiative is out to create young revolutionaries.
ABA/CEELI's "Street Law" program, designed to introduce eighth
to tenth grade students to legal issues and the profession of
law is now in jeopardy because of the article.

5. In November, Embassy Dushanbe began a media campaign to
educate the public on NGOs' and USAID's activities in
Tajikistan. To date, Post has submitted three articles to the
local press highlighting NGOs for their work in micro credit
assistance, business investment development, and business and
economic law. So far, Tojikiston is the only newspaper to
publish the articles, and only in English, which limits the
public diplomacy outreach. The campaign will continue well
into 2006.

6. The Embassy took the high road on the CARE attack, and did
not respond to the charge, thereby not creating a media frenzy.
On the ABA/CEELI attack, the Ambassador took the offensive,
received positive press, and effectively refuted the charges.
Post will continue to press locally, but would sincerely
appreciate every bit of high-level assistance we can get. The
Secretary's defense of NGOs in Russia, for example (on her Kiev

trip) helped to offset the tone from the Russian press, but this
message has to be loud enough and clear enough to be heard
through the noise created by the Russian press.

7. Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov believes the United States
plotted the "color revolutions", (which have failed and led to
instability) and the U.S. is responsible for igniting a "New
Cold War." He characterized USAID as a "U.S. NGO" bent on

dominating the CIS "information space." This
mischaracterization of U.S. efforts in the region needs to be
addressed directly, because the mistrust it generates impacts so
very directly on U.S. interests. Right now the U.S. Government
seem to be losing the game in this region on a day-to-day basis.
More support from Washington, for our NGO's, our investors, and
our U.S. assistance would be most welcome.


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