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06KIEV558, UKRAINE: MAJOR REFUGEE NGO ON CHECHENS, UZBEKS

February 10, 2006

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
06KIEV558 2006-02-10 14:40 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Kyiv
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

 

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 KIEV 000558 

SIPDIS 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 02/10/2016 
TAGS: 
SUBJECT: UKRAINE: MAJOR REFUGEE NGO ON CHECHENS, UZBEKS 

REF: 05 KIEV 4971 

Classified By: Ambassador for reasons 1.4 (b) and (d). 

Summary 
------- 

1. (C) Two senior interlocutors from a major 
refugee-assistance NGO, the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society 
(HIAS), told us February 1 that Ukrainian authorities were 
continuing to refoul Chechen asylum seekers in violation of 
international law.  Our HIAS contacts warned of a surge in 
the number of Uzbeks illegally entering and living in 
Ukraine; HIAS was quietly working with "hundreds" of them to 
file asylum claims.  Uzbek "illegals," some of whom allegedly 
witnessed the May 2005 Andijon massacre, were reluctant to 
have any contact with Ukrainian authorities, justifiably 
fearing that they could be arrested, refouled, and subjected 
to cruel and unusual punishment by Uzbek security forces. 
According to the HIAS officials, Uzbek refugees have largely 
clustered in and around the eastern Ukrainian city of 
Kharkiv, where unscrupulous local cops have targeted them for 
shakedowns.  HIAS was working with IOM and the State 
Committee on Nationalities and Migration (SCNM) to establish 
a toll-free call center in Kiev, staffed by multi-lingual 
HIAS employees, many of them former asylum seekers, that 
could provide interpretation services to Ukraine's law 
enforcement community.  End summary. 

Ukraine Continuing To Refoul Chechens to Russia 
--------------------------------------------- -- 

2. (SBU) During a February 1 meeting in Kiev, the director of 
HIAS' Russia/Ukraine programs, Leonard Terlitsky, and the 
director of the HIAS Kiev office, Alexander Galkin, told us 
that Ukrainian authorities were continuing to refoul Chechen 
asylum seekers, in violation of international law (reftel). 
Since the beginning of 2006, HIAS had confirmed that seven 
Chechens had been refouled to Russia in three small groups; 
in one egregious case, border guards refouled a Chechen 
family over the protests of a HIAS lawyer who was helping 
them fill out asylum claims, our interlocutors asserted. 
Echoing what we have been told by UNHCR officials here, 
Terlitsky said that the State Border Guard Service (SBGS) has 
a standing, but unwritten, order to send Chechens back to 
Russia, adding that SBGS Chairman Mykola Lytvyn (note: 
brother of Rada Speaker Volodymyr Lytvyn) clearly "worried 
more about offending Moscow" than meeting Ukraine's 
obligations under international law. 

Number of Uzbeks Growing 
------------------------ 

3. (C) A matter of more urgent concern, Terlitsky and Galkin 
said, was the reported surge in the number of Uzbeks 
illegally entering and living in Ukraine.  Trusted contacts 
in the Uzbek community had told HIAS Kiev that there were now 
at least 3,000 such Uzbek "illegals," largely clustered in 
Kharkiv.  The majority were from the Fergana valley; some had 
allegedly witnessed, and fled Uzbekistan in the wake of, the 
May 2005 Andijon massacre.  Terlitsky and Galkin related that 
HIAS was quietly working with "several hundred" Uzbeks to 
prepare asylum claims.  Generally speaking, the Uzbeks 
accepted the help only reluctantly, justifiably fearing that 
contact with Ukrainian authorities could lead to arrest, 
refoulement, and certain mistreatment -- if not worse -- back 
in Uzbekistan.  Our contacts asserted that, in keeping with 
Karimov tradition, the Uzbek Embassy in Kiev continued to 
send out "security officers" to hunt down Uzbek illegals and, 
with alleged assistance from sympathetic elements within the 
Security Service of Ukraine (SBU), send them home against 
their will. 

The ATM Effect 
-------------- 

4. (SBU) Terlitsky said he was appalled to report that 
corrupt cops in Kharkiv were increasingly preying on the 
Uzbek community, shaking down illegals in exchange for not 
sending them back to Uzbekistan.  The average cop on the 
street, Terlitsky asserted, had figured out that Uzbeks were 
"really scared" and were "willing to pay significant cash 
bribes" to avoid being detained and sent home. 

Call Center: Bengali to Bantu 
----------------------------- 

5. (U) Ending on a positive note, our contacts reported that 
HIAS was working with IOM and the State Committee on 
Nationalities and Migration (SCNM) to establish a toll-free 
call center in Kiev, staffed by multi-lingual HIAS employees 
(many of them former asylum seekers), that could provide 
interpretation services to Ukraine's law enforcement 
community.  Often, our contacts explained, police officers 
and/or border guards could not communicate with illegal 
border-crossers they detained.  The call center, Terlitsky 
said, would be staffed by people who spoke everything from 
"Bantu to Bengali" and would at least "help the authorities 
communicate" with potential asylum seekers. 

Comment 
------- 

6. (C) Ambassador has raised the refoulement of Chechens with 
the Ukrainian Government and has received mixed signals in 
return.  SBGS Chairman Lytvyn denied that Chechens had been 
refouled and characterized Chechens in Ukraine as illegal 
job-seekers.  In contrast, SCNM Chairman Serhiy Rudyk 
acknowledged that Chechens had been refouled and that 
refoulement was a violation of international law -- but he 
also said he lacked the authority to make the SBGS stop doing 
it. 
HERBST

 

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