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06KIEV743, UKRAINE: MFA DEFENDS DEPORTATION OF UZBEKS, LABELS

February 23, 2006

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
06KIEV743 2006-02-23 17:05 2011-08-30 01:44 SECRET Embassy Kyiv
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

 

S E C R E T SECTION 01 OF 04 KIEV 000743 

SIPDIS 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 02/23/2016 
TAGS: PHUM PGOV PINR SOCI PREF PREL PTER UP UZ
SUBJECT: UKRAINE: MFA DEFENDS DEPORTATION OF UZBEKS, LABELS 
THEM "ISLAMIC MILITANTS" 

REF: A. HULTMAN-GWALTNEY 2/16 EMAIL 

     B. KIEV 659 

Classified By: Deputy Chief of Mission Sheila Gwaltney for reasons 1.4 
(b) and (d). 

Summary 
------- 

1. (S) In a written response to our February 17 non-paper 
about Ukraine's refoulement of a group of Uzbek asylum 
seekers (refs A and B), MFA asserted that the Uzbeks had been 
deported in accordance with domestic and international law, 
dismissed the Uzbeks' asylum claims as "manifestly 
unfounded," and characterized them as "Islamic radicals." 
Separately, UNHCR's Kiev-based Deputy Regional Representative 
Isabelle Mihoubi told us that in a "very tense" meeting 
February 21, MFA Consular Department head Borys Bazylevsky 
had defended the refoulements and had asserted that the 10 
deported Uzbeks were involved in "terrorist activities" in 
Crimea.  Mihoubi said she and Regional Representative Simone 
Wolken poked big holes in the MFA case and pressed Bazylevsky 
on the whereabouts of the 11th Uzbek who was detained in 
Simferopol but who did not show up in Tashkent.  Bazylevsky 
claimed that the man had been released "to relatives" in 
Ukraine, an assertion contradicted by the Uzbek community in 
Kiev.  Mihoubi said Bazylevsky privately confided that he had 
been ordered to deliver the "party line" to UNHCR and added 
that Foreign Minister Tarasyuk had called in the Uzbek Charge 
to ask that the deported men be treated humanely.  Mihoubi 
said that in an extraordinary follow-on meeting at the State 
Committee for Nationalities and Migration (SCNM), Deputy 
Chairman Serhiy Chekhovych had ridiculed the MFA position as 
"nonsense" and asserted that the SCNM was going to take legal 
action against the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) for 
violating the European Convention on Human Rights.  On 
February 23, Bazylevsky told DCM that the 10 Uzbeks were 
members of Akromiya, a Hizb ut-Tahrir splinter group; the 10 
were Islamic militants involved in illegal activities. 
Bazylevsky acknowledged, though, that the incident could have 
been handled better, adding that it had been a "learning 
experience" for the Ukrainian government.  End summary. 

MFA: We're Good 
--------------- 

2. (SBU) As promised by Foreign Minister Tarasyuk, MFA 
responded in writing to Ambassador's February 17 demarche 
regarding Ukraine's February 14 refoulement of a group of 
Uzbek asylum seekers (refs A and B).  According to an MFA 
non-paper faxed to the Embassy February 22, the Uzbeks were 
deported in accordance with Ukrainian and international law; 
they were not refouled.  The non-paper noted, among other 
things, that the Uzbeks had arrived in 2005 via Russia and 
Moldova, had "manifestly unfounded" asylum claims, were 
involved in spreading Islamic extremism, and waived -- in 
writing -- their right to appeal their deportation to 
Uzbekistan.  The document also "emphasized" that Uzbekistan 
was a "State Party to the 1984 Convention against Torture and 
Other Cruel, Inhumane or Degrading Treatment or Punishment." 
(Note:  See para 11 for the full text of the non-paper.) 

UNHCR: Nonsense 
--------------- 

3. (C) UNHCR's Kiev-based Deputy Regional Representative 
Isabelle Mihoubi told us February 22 that she and Regional 
Representative Simone Wolken had been called to the MFA on 
the evening of February 21 to discuss the incident with the 
head of the MFA Consular Department, Borys Bazylevsky. 
During what Mihoubi described as a "very tense" meeting, 
Bazylevsky handed over a non-paper similar to the one we 
received and asserted that the 10 Uzbeks were "Islamic 
militants" involved in "terrorist activities" in Crimea.  In 
rebuttal, Mihoubi and Wolken: 

-- Pointed out that there is no provision in Ukrainian law 
for an asylum seeker to "waive" the right to an appeal; 

-- Asked to see GOU files on the Uzbeks to verify the claim 
that the asylum applications were "manifestly unfounded," a 
request that was immediately shot down by Bazylevsky; 

-- Noted that, despite Bazylevsky's charges that the Uzbeks 
were involved in terrorism, the Uzbeks had not been convicted 
of anything in any Ukrainian criminal court; and, 

-- Stressed that Ukraine should have at least deported the 
Uzbeks back to Moldova and Russia, where they had come from, 
as opposed to sending them straight to Tashkent and almost 
certain mistreatment at the hands of the Uzbek security 
forces. 

The Missing Man 
--------------- 
4. (C) Mihoubi said that she and Wolken pressed Bazylevsky 
for details on the 11th Uzbek detained in Simferopol.  They 
noted that UNHCR had only confirmed that 10 Uzbeks made it to 
Tashkent, where they were being held in "isolated 
confinement."  The Uzbek community in Kiev, they told 
Bazylevsky, had alleged that the missing man might have been 
beaten to death by Uzbek security forces at the detention 
facility in Simferopol.  According to Mihoubi, the "visibly 
uncomfortable" Bazylevsky claimed that the man had been 
released to relatives liv
ing in Crimea.  Mihoubi and Wolken 
pressed him to explain why an alleged Islamic militant 
reportedly involved in terrorism would simply be released 
from detention and allowed to "walk the streets with his 
relatives"; Bazylevsky had no response.  (Note:  A prominent 
Uzbek community leader here told RFE/RL's Kiev Bureau 
February 21 that the missing man had no relatives in Ukraine.) 

5. (C) After the meeting concluded, Mihoubi related that the 
distressed Bazylevsky told her and Wolken privately (with no 
MFA staff present) that he had been ordered to deliver the 
"party line" to UNHCR.  Foreign Minister Tarasyuk's game plan 
for handling the growing public relations crisis revolved 
around insisting that no laws had been broken and depicting 
the deportation as a routine consular matter.  He added that 
Tarasyuk had called in the Uzbek Charge d'Affaires and asked 
for "assurances" from Tashkent that the deported Uzbeks would 
be treated humanely. 

SCNM Taking Legal Action Against SBU? 
------------------------------------- 

6. (C) The UNHCR representatives' meeting at the MFA was 
followed by an extraordinarily candid session at the State 
Committee on Nationalities and Migration (SCNM), Mihoubi 
related.  She said that she and Wolken met with SCNM Deputy 
Chairman Serhiy Chekhovych, as Chairman Serhiy Rudyk was 
traveling (ref B).  Chekhovych pointedly called the MFA 
non-paper "nonsense" and handed over government dossiers on 
the deported Uzbeks.  Mihoubi asserted that just a cursory 
review of the files showed that the men, some of whom had 
witnessed the May 2005 massacre in Andijon and/or had family 
members severely punished for taking part in the uprising, 
had asylum claims that merited serious review; the claims 
were not "manifestly unfounded." 

7. (C) Mihoubi said that Chekhovych told them that the SCNM 
had officially asked the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU), 
in writing, to provide an explanation of what had happened to 
the Uzbeks on February 14.  Mihoubi said that next, to her 
shock, Chekhovych asserted that the SCNM was going to take 
legal action against the SBU by filing a complaint with the 
criminal chamber of the Supreme Court alleging that the SBU 
knowingly violated Article 3 of the European Convention on 
Human Rights (which prohibits refoulement).  According to 
Mihoubi, Chekhovych added that President Yushchenko had asked 
the government to keep him up to date on the incident; the 
SBU, he asserted, had assured Yushchenko that "everything is 
perfect." 

MFA: They Were Islamic Militants 
-------------------------------- 

8. (S) In a late afternoon meeting February 23, Bazylevsky 
told DCM that the 10 deported Uzbeks were members of 
Akromiya, the Hizb ut-Tahrir splinter group that was at the 
center of the Andijon events.  This had been confirmed by the 
SBU indpendent of information from the Karimov government. 
The 10 were trying to set up an Akromiya branch in Crimea and 
were raising funds for the organization, which, according to 
Bazylevsky, explicitly embraced the use of violence against 
the Ukrainian government.  Citing material from the SBU, he 
asserted that foreign Islamic militants were flocking to 
Crimea "like bees to honey," including alleged militants from 
Afghanistan, Malaysia, Saudi Arabia and Turkey.  Bazylevsky 
underscored that the 10 had been deported from Ukraine in 
accordance with the law.  They were dangerous, and the 
situation in Crimea was tense, he said, noting that he had 
been in Chicago on 9/11 (where he served as Ukrainian Consul 
General) and hoped that "America would understand" Ukraine's 
security concerns.  He offered to put the Embassy directly in 
touch with the SBU to get more detailed information on the 
deported Uzbeks.  In response to a question from DCM, 
Bazylevsky said that the 11th Uzbek detained in Simferopol 
was not dead or in the hospital.  He had been released 
because he was innocent and was currently with relatives in 
Ukraine, Bazylevsky claimed.  (Note: The Ukrainians have not 
yet shared these details with UNHCR or the EU.) 

Mea Culpa 
--------- 

9. (C) In response to questions from the DCM, Bazylevsky 
acknowledged that the authorities in Crimea had not handled 
the incident in a sophisticated manner; he groused that "the 
Crimeans think they're more clever than Kiev."  The incident 
had highlighted the need for closer coordination within the 
Ukrainian government on cases like this, especially between 
Kiev and the regions.  Lessons had been learned; for example, 
the incident had prompted a review of the political asylum 
process, which Bazylevsky described as "currently very hazy." 
 Bazylevsky also defended Ukraine's treatment of Uzbek 
refugees in general, noting that in 2005 Ukraine granted 
refugee status to 24 of 28 Uzbek applicants.  DCM impressed 
on Bazylevsky that, even if the GOU was concerned that the 
Uzbeks were terrorists, the GOU should have fulfilled its 
international obligations by involving UNHCR early in the 
process and initiating legal procedures against the asylum 
seekers. 

Comment 
------- 

10. (C) If the UNHCR and SCNM accounts are correct, the SBU 
worked with its Uzbek sister service to detain political 
opponents of the Karimov government and send them back to 
Tashkent against their will.  We have heard a variety of 
speculative explanations as to "why": the gas crisis has made 
Ukraine loathe to offend Karimov (despite the fact that 
Ukraine only gets a small amount of gas from Uzbekistan); the 
mostly pro-Russia, pro-Yanukovych Crimean authorities did it 
to embarrass Yushchenko in the run-up to the March Rada 
elections; or, this was a case of business-as-usual 
cooperation among security services to the detriment of 
illegal immigrants.  In the MFA variant, active terrorist 
elements have been removed from Crimea, where they intended 
to do harm to Ukraine.  In any case, as the SCNM threat to 
sue its fellow GOU agency the SBU demonstrates, the Ukrainian 
government has difficulty in taking coordinated action in 
support of its stated principles and goals; it appears to 
have stumbled badly in this case.  And the issue does not 
appear to be going away.  Human rights activists and Rada MPs 
have pledged to form an independent commission to look into 
the matter; Crimean Tatar MP Refat Chubarov will be one of 
the commission members.  Bazylevsky also mentioned that 
Ambassador Shamshur would be delivering a demarche on this 
incident on February 23 in Washington.  The Embassy will also 
follow up with the SBU on the offer of more detailed 
information about the deported Uzbeks. 

Text of MFA Non-Paper 
--------------------- 

11. (SBU) Begin unofficial Embassy translation: 

Citizens of the Republic of Uzbekistan arrived in Ukraine in 
May-June 2005 from the Russian Federation and Moldova, which 
are recognized as safe countries. 

In February, these individuals applied for refu
gee status at 
the Migration Service Directorate in the Autonomous Republic 
of Crimea.  Upon due examination of their applications, the 
Directorate decided not to process documents for granting 
refugee status to the above individuals because their 
applications were manifestly unfounded and did not meet the 
requirements of Ukraine's Law on Refugees.  Such an approach 
is also based on the 1983 UNHCR Executive Committee 
Conclusion No. 30 "The Problem of Manifestly Unfounded or 
Abusive Applications for Refugee Status." 

In accordance with Ukrainian and international law, and the 
1977 UNHCR Executive Committee Conclusion No. 8 
"Determination of Refugee Status," the Uzbek citizens were 
accorded the right to appeal the decision in a court of law. 
According to the copies of their personal written statements, 
attached to the case, they declined to appeal. 

During their stay in Ukraine, the above citizens spread the 
ideology of radical trends in Islam, which contradicts UN 
principles and the laws of Ukraine, lived in Ukraine in 
violation of the rules of their stay, and refused to leave 
Ukraine voluntarily.  On February 14, 2006, in accordance 
with the relevant rulings of the Kiev District Court in 
Simferopol, the Uzbek citizens were expelled from Ukraine. 

Therefore, the actions of the authorities toward the above 
individuals were in line with Ukrainian law, and do not 
constitute a violation of Ukraine's international treaty 
obligations. 

In addition, it must be noted that the 1951 Convention 
relating to the Status of Refugees does not cover the above 
aliens because the Convention pertains to individuals who 
have been accorded the status of refugee. 

It must be emphasized that it is not a question of 
extradition of the Uzbek citizens, but rather a question of a 
well-founded refusal to grant refugee status, and expulsion 
from Ukraine to a State Party to the 1984 Convention against 
Torture and Other Cruel, Inhumane or Degrading Treatment or 
Punishment. 

End translation. 

12. (U) Visit Embassy Kiev's classified website: 
www.state.sgov.gov/p/eur/kiev. 
HERBST

 

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