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Cable Gate Day Four

Russia is a “virtual mafia state” with rampant corruption and scant separation between the activities of the government and organised crime. Vladimir Putin is accused of amassing “illicit proceeds” from his time in office, which various sources allege are hidden overseas. And he was likely to have known about the operation in London to murder the Russian dissident Alexander Litvinenko, Washington’s top diplomat in Europe alleged.

• British and US officials colluded to manoeuvre around a proposed ban on cluster bombs, allowing the US to keep the munitions on British territory, regardless of whether a treaty forbidding their use was implemented. Parliament was kept in the dark about the secret agreement, approved by then-foreign secretary David Miliband.

• US diplomats believed that the Sri Lankan president, Mahinda Rajapaksa, bore responsibility for a massacre last year that is the subject of a UN war crimes inquiry.

• Russia armed Georgian separatists in South Ossetia and Abkhazia and carried out a wave of “covert actions” to undermine Georgia in the runup to the 2008 Russian-Georgian war, according to US diplomats.

• President Dmitry Medvedev was described by US diplomats as a junior figure, who “plays Robin to Putin’s Batman”.

• Gas supplies to Ukranian and EU states are linked to the Russian mafia, according to the US ambassador in Kiev.

• Moscow’s veteran mayor Yuri Luzhkov was accused by the US ambassador of sitting on top of a “pyramid of corruption” involving the Kremlin, Russia’s police force, its security service, political parties and crime groups by the US ambassador.

• Miliband’s campaign to champion aid and human rights during the Sri Lankan humanitarian crisis last year was largely motivated by a desire to win favour with Tamil voters in the UK, according to a Foreign Office official.

Der Spiegel

• The US is sceptical that Russian President Medvedev has much of a future, believing Putin to be “in the driver’s seat”.

• Having helped to build up Georgia’s military capabilities, the US made last-ditch diplomatic attempts to try to prevent it going to war with Russia in 2008. Washington’s envoy to the Caucasus warned Georgia that war would “cost it valuable support in Washington and European capitals”, while publicly George W Bush and his secretary of state, Condoleezza Rice, continued to give their unqualified support to Georgia.

• The US has long been trying to loosen Russia’s grip on Ukraine, according to diplomatic cables. On the inauguration of the new Ukrainian president, Viktor Yanukovych, they sought to make him a US partner thereby striking a diplomatic blow against the Kremlin.

Le Monde

• The US embassy in Moscow criticised the IMF, the World Bank and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development for offering huge loans to Russia it felt were not justified.

El País

• One of the biggest objectives at the US embassy in Madrid over the past seven years has been trying to get the criminal case dropped against three US soldiers accused of the killing of a Spanish television cameraman in Baghdad. Telecinco cameraman José Couso was killed on 8 April 2003 during a tank shelling of the Hotel Palestine where he and other journalists were staying while they were covering the Iraq war. US diplomats held a host of meetings about the case with high-ranking members of the Spanish government.

New York Times

• The Russian prime minister, Putin, often did not show up at his office, according to rumours cited in a document titled Questioning Putin’s Work Ethic.

• US diplomats warned of increasing distrust of the United States in Canada. They described “negative popular stereotyping” of Americans on Canadian TV. They also said Canadians “always carry a chip on their shoulder” in part because of a feeling that their country “is condemned to always play ‘Robin’ to the US ‘Batman'”.


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