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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
06MOSCOW4839 2006-05-05 06:55 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Moscow

DE RUEHMO #4839/01 1250655
P 050655Z MAY 06

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 MOSCOW 004839 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 05/04/2016 
Classified By: Ambassador William J. Burns. Reasons: 1.4 (B/D). 
1. (C) SUMMARY:  Ending lengthy speculation, the Kremlin 
announced on May 2 that President Putin will present his 
annual Address to the Federal Assembly on May 10.  Delays in 
its delivery, which some had expected to take place in early 
April, fueled rumors that Putin had been dissatisfied with 
early drafts and that disagreements flared within the Kremlin 
about what the address should contain.  Russian Security 
Council Deputy Secretary Spasskiy told the Ambassador on 
April 27 that the address would include a substantial focus 
on Russia's role in the world.  With Spasskiy and other 
senior GOR officials, the Ambassador underscored the 
opportunity the address offered to present a more positive 
image of Russia abroad, outline long-term plans for economic 
and political modernization, and send a strong signal against 
ethnic violence and extremism to the domestic audience.  The 
upcoming address is likely to restate recent pronouncements 
by Kremlin and other GOR officials about a more confident 
Russia committed to cooperation with the West but on what it 
would view as more equal terms.  END SUMMARY. 
2. (U) Kremlin press spokesman Aleksey Gromov's May 2 
announcement that Putin would make his Address to the Federal 
Assembly on May 10 ended weeks of speculation.  Expectations 
that the address might take place in early April did not pan 
out, and rumors circulated about several dates later that 
month.  Most recently, some observers had predicted Putin 
would make his address in St. Petersburg on April 28 during 
celebrations of the Duma's centennial.  The press noted, 
however, that the current address was within the normal 
timeframe for such speeches; among the six Putin has 
presented, the earliest was on April 3 and the latest on July 
3. (SBU) Rumors also swirled about the cause of the delays. 
Those rumors centered on Putin's reported dissatisfaction 
with early drafts of the text.  Vedemosti reported that in an 
April 12 meeting with State Duma leaders, Putin expressed 
unhappiness with an initial draft.  Kommersant reported that 
Putin rejected an initial draft written by a team headed by 
G-8 Sherpa Igor Shuvalov and Kremlin chief speech writer 
Dzhakhan Pollyyeva.  By one unconfirmed report, Pollyyeva was 
even forced to take a vacation to remove her from the 
drafting process.  Kremlin economic advisor Arkadiy 
Dvorkovich (the principle drafter of last year's address) 
reportedly was involved in at least one draft text. 
According to Kommersant, the Kremlin called in Higher School 
of Economics head Yaroslav Kuzminov and others from that 
university to help with the drafting.  Other reports 
attributed much of the delay to dissatisfaction by new 
Presidential Administration (PA) head Sergey Sobyanin with 
the influence that "liberal economists" had had on the draft. 
4. (C) Observers hypothesized various reasons for Putin's 
dissatisfaction with the early drafts.  Moscow Carnegie 
Center scholar Andrey Ryabov speculated to us that the delays 
resulted from Putin's failure to define a central message in 
the address due to his lack of a clear vision for the future. 
 A Center for Political Technologies (CPT) analysis said that 
the address was delayed because Putin was frustrated that, 
while Russia had the resources to wield its influence, it did 
not know how to use them or for what goals.  That view was 
shared by independent radio station Ekho Moskvy chief editor 
Aleksey Venediktov, who told us that Putin felt that the 
early drafts were wishy-washy, reflecting a lack of dynamism 
that he also perceived in his Cabinet lately.  Putin wanted 
the address to present a vigorous and well-defined vision of 
Russia's future, Venediktov said, and pressed his team to do 
extensive redrafting, which produced the delays. 
5. (C) In an April 27 conversation with the Ambassador, 
Security Council Deputy Secretary Nikolay Spasskiy said the 
address had been delayed by disagreements about what it 
should contain.  Holidays in the first two weeks of May 
created further delays, with Putin wanting to present his 
address only after the Victory Day celebrations.  Spasskiy 
confirmed that Pollyyeva had a lead role in drafting, with 
Presidential Administration (PA) Head Sergey Sobyanin and 
MOSCOW 00004839  002 OF 002 
Deputy Head Vladislav Surkov also contributing.  Sobyanin's 
role was proving greater than expected, Spasskiy commented. 
PA Aide Sergey Prikhodko and Security Council head Igor 
Ivanov had been involved in the drafting process as well. 
6. (C) Spasskiy confirmed reports that the address would 
focus to a significant extent on Russia's proper place in the 
world.  Having laid out the challenges on the international 
ene, Putin would highlight the need to strengthen Russia's 
ability to compete in the global economy, including the 
improvements to be effected by the national priority 
projects.  The address would include discussion of energy 
issues, military doctrine, and the war on terrorism. 
Prikhodko and State Duma International Relations Committee 
Chair Konstantin Kosachev separately confirmed to the 
Ambassador the thrust of Spasskiy's prediction that a central 
theme of the speech would be Russia's place in the world. 
7. (C) In all three meetings and in a meeting with PA Aide 
Sergey Yastrzhembskiy, the Ambassador highlighted that the 
address offered Putin an opportunity to underscore Russia's 
interest in playing an active and responsible role on the 
international scene.  It was also an opportunity to lay out a 
clear vision for how Russia intends to modernize economically 
and politically to compete effectively in a changing world. 
Given signs of growing xenophobia in Russia, the Ambassador 
stressed, the address also allowed Putin to send a clear 
message that such behavior was unacceptable.  Such high-level 
signals could have a major impact in countering xenophobic 
trends in Russia, the Ambassador noted to his interlocutors. 
8. (C) In recent months, those inside or closely associated 
with the Kremlin have sought to define Russia's current 
ideological direction.  Most significantly, in his "February 
theses" (reftel), Surkov elaborated on his idea of 
strengthening Russia's "sovereignty."  On the foreign policy 
side, that meant ensuring that Russia would be competitive 
and among the major decisionmakers on the international 
scene.  Surkov stressed that Russia sought to cooperate with 
the international community, but on more equal terms than in 
the 1990s.  Domestically, it meant that Russia would make its 
own decisions, without undue influence from outside.  Surkov 
argued that achieving such sovereignty required that Russia 
make changes to confront the challenges posed by the 
realities of the 21st century. 
9. (C) Putin's previous six addresses to the Federal Assembly 
centered on specific priorities, with a particular focus on 
the economy and domestic scene.  The upcoming address, by 
contrast, is expected to raise issues involved in a broader 
clarification of Russia's ideological direction that many see 
as especially important in the context of the expected 
presidential succession in 2008.  The address will also be 
scanned avidly for any possible hints as to whether Putin is 
"leaning" toward Dmitriy Medvedev, Sergey Ivanov, or any 
other candidate for that succession. 
10. (C) Putin may also use the address to send messages about 
the issues of the day, including Iran, and perhaps to lay the 
groundwork for the upcoming G-8 Summit.  It would be odd, as 
well, if Putin did not use the address to reprise some of his 
recent remarks on Gazprom and its international expansion 
plans.  It bears mention that while Putin's addresses to the 
Federal Assembly have been important occasions at which he 
has set out key directions of action for the government, they 
have also frequently been left with inadequate follow-up and 
done little to change realities on the ground. 


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