06MOSCOW3388, RUSSIAN DEMOCRATIC OPPOSITION LEADER BORIS NEMTSOV

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
06MOSCOW3388 2006-03-31 13:51 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Moscow

VZCZCXRO8818
PP RUEHDBU
DE RUEHMO #3388/01 0901351
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 311351Z MAR 06
FM AMEMBASSY MOSCOW
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 3388
INFO RUCNCIS/CIS COLLECTIVE
RUEHXD/MOSCOW POLITICAL COLLECTIVE

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 MOSCOW 003388 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 03/31/2016 
TAGS: PGOV PREL PHUM PINR RS
SUBJECT: RUSSIAN DEMOCRATIC OPPOSITION LEADER BORIS NEMTSOV 
GETS PERSONAL 
 
REF: MOSCOW 1083 
 
Classified By: Charge d'Affaires Daniel A. Russell. Reasons 1.4 (B/D). 
 
1.  (C) In a March 27 meeting with the Ambassador, democratic 
opposition leader Boris Nemtsov: 
 
-- Strongly condemned the falsified election results in 
Belarus, where the people faced a "catastrophic situation"; 
 
-- Suggested that negotiations to form a new government in 
Ukraine would be prolonged and contentious; 
 
-- Noted that talks to unite Russia's democratic opposition 
continued, but that liberals needed new leadership to attract 
popular support and enhance their overall position; and 
 
-- Interspersed his comments with a range of personal views 
concerning various local and regional leaders.  END SUMMARY. 
 
2.  (SBU) Ambassador met with Boris Nemtsov on March 27. 
Nemtsov, a former Governor of Nizhniy Novgorod and Deputy 
Prime Minister during the Yeltsin era, has long been 
associated with liberal economic policies and democratic 
politics.  Most recently, he was appointed by the Union of 
Right Forces (SPS) to serve as that party's representative on 
a committee charged with uniting the country's democratic 
opposition forces.  He has also served as an advisor to 
Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko following the 2004 
Orange Revolution and has been an outspoken supporter of 
Belarus opposition leader Aleksandr Milinkevich. 
. 
--------------------------------------------- - 
BELARUS ELECTIONS A CATASTROPHE FOR THE PEOPLE 
--------------------------------------------- - 
 
3.  (C) Nemtsov roundly condemned the current situation in 
Belarus.  The March 19 elections had been falsified and, 
subsequently, protesters had been beaten and arrested.  He 
welcomed official statements by the U.S. and EU condemning 
these events but, overall, Nemtsov concluded that a popular 
revolution along the lines of the Orange Revolution in 
Ukraine was unlikely.  The opposition was neither as well 
organized nor as effective as the forces that brought Viktor 
Yushchenko to power in Kiev.  As a result, the people of 
Belarus faced a "catastrophic situation." 
 
4.  (C) Referring to possible implications for the 
relationship between Belarus and Russia, Nemtsov did not 
believe there would be any significant change in direction, 
including in the continuing negotiations to establish a Union 
State.  Moscow had congratulated Aleksandr Lukashenko almost 
immediately after the polls closed and would continue to 
defend the embattled regime against criticism from the West. 
Nemtsov claimed that President Putin did not personally like 
Lukashenko (he likened the relationship to the World War 
II-era ties between Hitler and Mussolini), but the two 
leaders needed each other.  In any case, Nemtsov thought 
Putin's recent tilt toward support for "dictators" and 
populist politicians of various types in Belarus and Central 
Asia was not worthy of a G-8 leader.  At the same time, 
Nemtsov warned that Lukashenko, who was "worse than 
Milosevic," maintained considerable popular support in both 
Belarus and Russia which, along with his political 
connections, could conceivably propel him to the presidency 
of a future Russia-Belarus Union State. 
. 
------------------------------------- 
ARDUOUS POWER NEGOTIATIONS IN UKRAINE 
------------------------------------- 
 
5.  (C) Turning to the situation in Ukraine following the 
March 26 parliamentary elections, Nemtsov characterized the 
majority of Ukrainian politicians, including Viktor 
Yanukovych and former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko, as 
either "criminal or corrupt."  The major difference among 
them was one of degree rather than quality.  Nemtsov said 
that while Yushchenko was well-intentioned, he was never able 
to overcome the entrenched business interests, deep-seated 
corruption, or continuing GOR opposition that ultimately 
rendered U.S. and Western praise for the "Orange Revolution" 
premature.  Nemtsov said Putin, in particular, had never 
gotten over Yanukovych's defeat in 2004. 
 
6.  (C) Nemtsov predicted that the negotiations to establish 
a new government would be prolonged and arduous.  He thought 
Tymoshenko had been a "catastrophe" when she had been PM last 
year but conceded that her second-place finish strengthened 
her hand and might allow her to regain her former position. 
A repeat of the Tymoshenko Government would be another 
"catastrophe."  In the meantime, Nemtsov speculated that 
 
MOSCOW 00003388  002 OF 002 
 
 
Yanukovych might have the strongest hand.  In addition to his 
party's first-place finish in the elections, Yanukovych might 
be able to exploit differences between Yushchenko and 
Tymoshenko, including Yushchenko's evident unwillingness to 
see Tymoshenko become PM again. 
 
7.  (C) Regardless of who took over the government helm in 
Kiev, Nemtsov said the new PM would have to pay more 
attention to Moscow.  In this respect, he said Yanukovych was 
harder to predict.  Clearly
supported by Moscow, Yanukovych 
nevertheless had promised during the campaign to keep the 
country on its pro-Western course.  Nemtsov was unsure of the 
extent to which policy would change -- or not -- as a result, 
although he mentioned that relations with Poland could become 
more complicated.  He was certain, however, that the 
country's plans to join NATO would slow since most Ukrainians 
(not only those in the eastern part of the country) were not 
enthusiastic about joining the Alliance. 
. 
----------------------------- 
DEMOCRATS NEED NEW LEADERSHIP 
----------------------------- 
 
8.  (C) Asked about prospects for uniting Russia's democratic 
opposition forces, Nemtsov said discussions were continuing 
with the main political players, but a genuine coalition was 
still out of reach.  He singled out Yabloko's Grigoriy 
Yavlinskiy as one of the main obstacles.  Although Yavlinskiy 
agreed in principle that unity, or at least closer 
cooperation on joint lists, would be desirable, the Yabloko 
leader was still reluctant to make meaningful concessions for 
the sake of a broader coalition.  Nemtsov surmised that 
Yavlinskiy had not abandoned his personal goal of becoming 
president.  A lack of financial support was also an obstacle, 
especially for smaller parties like Vladimir Ryzhkov's 
Republican Party. 
 
9.  (C) In the meantime, Nemtsov said the democrats needed an 
infusion of new leadership, along with a new message, that 
would spark public interest.  Former Prime Minister Mikhail 
Kasyanov was the only option for the time being, but Nemtsov 
said he was relatively weak and had not yet been able to cast 
aside a "very negative image" as a corrupt politician. 
Nemtsov alleged that Kasyanov had been involved in numerous 
cases of bribe-taking and official corruption; the widely 
reported case of his dacha was just the tip of the iceberg. 
. 
----------------------------------- 
A LITTLE BIT OF COLOR FOR EVERYBODY 
----------------------------------- 
 
10.  (C) Over the course of our conversation, Nemtsov 
commented on various personalities.  Among other things, 
Nemtsov: 
 
-- Claimed there were only four honest politicians in the 
country -- Communist Party leader Gennadiy Zyuganov, Our 
Choice leader Irina Khakamada, Yabloko's Yavlinskiy, and 
himself.  With the exception of Zyuganov, the other three 
have been close associates of Nemtsov over the years.  Among 
the most corrupt are recently deposed Rodina Party President 
Dmitriy Rogozin, Rodina faction leader Sergey Glazyev, and 
Kasyanov. 
 
-- Said Putin feared being overthrown or assassinated, 
especially on the orders of Chechen separatists or exiled 
business leader Boris Berezovskiy, whom Putin had personally 
tried to convince British PM Tony Blair last October to 
extradite to Russia. 
 
-- Maintained close ties with Vladislav Surkov, Deputy Head 
of the Presidential Administration, including during the 
money laundering raids against Neftyanoy Bank, Nemtsov's 
former bank, last December.  He claimed that Surkov had 
warned him in advance that the raid was "political," which 
was one of the factors that had prompted Nemtsov to resign 
from the bank's board. 
RUSSELL

Wikileaks

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