Among the documents released by WikiLeaks—none of which, their supporters insist, is indiscriminate—is an August 2006 classified US diplomatic cable on the lavish wedding party thrown by Gadzhi Makhachev, political boss of the Avar ethnic group in Russia’s Caucasus republic of Dagestan, for his 19-year-old son. Makhachev is a Duma member, chief of the Dagestan Oil Company, and warlord who gained fame for leading the defense of Dagestan against the incursions of Chechen guerilla fighter Shamil Basayev ten years ago. The leaked cable contains much juicy gossip on Caucasus politics, and unflattering depictions of local political figures. Despite WikiLeaks’ stated policy of only releasing documents that reveal newsworthy official malfeasance, we see nothing in this lengthy cable that meets that standard. However, the text is certain to be deeply embarrassing for the US diplomatic corps in Russia and the Caucasus. Ultimately, it may say more about hidden agendas behind WikiLeaks than about US designs…
The cable has sparked a predictable slew of denials. The Washington Post reported Dec. 4 that although the dispatch was signed “Burns,” the State Department denied that it was written by the obvious suspect, Undersecretary William J. Burns, who was US ambassador to Moscow at the time. Makhachev, who was depicted as living in decadent excess (complete with “luxurious houses in Makhachkala, Kaspiysk, Moscow, Paris and San Diego; and a large collection of luxury automobiles, including the Rolls Royce Silver Phantom” in which the bride was delivered to the reception), issued his own retort: “I don’t have houses in Moscow, Paris or San Diego, and I have never driven a Rolls Royce.”
The most embarrassing bit of gossip was that while the “official” (Moscow-installed) Chechen president Ramzan Kadyrov attended (“looking shorter and less muscular than in his photos, and with a somewhat cock-eyed expression on his face”), Makhachev was snubbed by Dagestan’s own president. From the cable:
During lunch, Gadzhi took a congratulatory call from Dagestan’s president, Mukhu Aliyev. Gadzhi told Aliyev how honored he would be if Aliyev could drop in at the wedding reception. There was a degree of tension in the conversation, which was between two figures each implicitly claiming the mantle of leadership of the Avars. In the event, Aliyev snubbed Gadzhi and did not show up for the wedding, though the rest of Dagestan’s political leadership did.
The entertainment featured drunken jet-skiing and the traditional lezginka dance. We are informed that President Kadyrov “danced clumsily with his gold-plated automatic stuck down in the back of his jeans (a houseguest later pointed out that the gold housing eliminated any practical use of the gun, but smirked that Ramzan probably couldn’t fire it anyway).”
Also in attendance was the chief rabbi of the Mountain Jews. Syrian-Jewish singer Avram Russo was invited—but was shot a few days before the wedding. In his place was Benya the Accordion King—another Jewish name. Also preforming was a “gypsy” band that one reveler sneered was really Jewish.
We surmise that the decision to release this bit of diplomatic scuttlebutt was made by Israel Shamir, WikiLeaks’ man in the former Soviet Union. In the recent crackdown in Belarus, Shamir is accused of providing dictator Alexander Lukashenko with intelligence on dissidents who were then rounded up and tortured by the hundreds. By releasing the “Burns” cable, was Shamir acting in league with Lukashenko to undercut US regional efforts to isolate his regime?
Despite his apparent Jewish origins, Christian convert Shamir is a notorious anti-Semite. His website today prominently featured pom-pom waving for Holocaust deniers and for Mahmoud Ahmedinejad, attacks on secularism, and such non-ironic headlines as “Down With Human Rights” and “In Defense of Prejudice“—this in response to ADL protests of Shamir’s references to war-mongering “Jewish media-lords.” There are also photos of Shamir standing proudly beside Julian Assange and Cynthia McKinney.
The far right contains a staunchly anti-globalist, anti-imperialist, anti-neoliberal, anti-American and anti-Zionist nucleus… While the Left has been gentrified and has gone upmarket, rebellious working class youth are much more likely to join far right militants than a left-wing group. The leftists’ infatuation with immigrants and gender minorities also undermines their appeal to indigenous [sic!] underprivileged workers.
These words may contain some insight into why thousands of “leftists” around the world are rallying around Julian Assange and WikiLeaks—while displaying no concern for their ugly fascistic connections. Shamir’s website contains the following terse statement on the question:
As Israel Shamir became a source of much controversy in connection with Wikileaks, please read this statement. Israel Shamir supports Wikileaks, agrees with its ideas and admires its head, Julian Assange. However, Israel Shamir is NOR a member, NEITHER an employee of Wikileaks: he is a free lance writer accredited with Wikileaks.