06MOSCOW6268, SEARCH FOR NEW RUSSIAN PROCURATOR GENERAL OVERLAID

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
06MOSCOW6268 2006-06-09 16:38 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Moscow

VZCZCXRO4096
PP RUEHDBU
DE RUEHMO #6268/01 1601638
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 091638Z JUN 06
FM AMEMBASSY MOSCOW
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 7489
INFO RUCNCIS/CIS COLLECTIVE
RUEHXD/MOSCOW POLITICAL COLLECTIVE
RUEAWJA/DEPT OF JUSTICE WASHDC

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 MOSCOW 006268 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SIPDIS 
 
DEPARTMENT FOR INL/PRAHAR 
DOJ FOR OPDAT (LEHMANN) AND OIA (BURKE) 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 06/09/2016 
TAGS: PGOV PHUM PINR KCRM RS
SUBJECT: SEARCH FOR NEW RUSSIAN PROCURATOR GENERAL OVERLAID 
BY KREMLIN POLITICS 
 
REF: MOSCOW 5934 
 
Classified By: Minister-Counselor for Political Affairs Kirk Augustine. 
 Reasons 1.4 (B/D). 
 
1. (C) SUMMARY.  Over the past week analysts have tried to 
read the tea leaves swirling around Vladimir Ustinov's abrupt 
June 2 dismissal as Procurator General.  Speculation has 
largely shifted from the reasons behind his departure to 
educated guessing about the effects the choice of his 
replacement may have on presidential succession and the 
balance of power between competing Kremlin factions.  The 
dominant view at present is that Ustinov's departure has 
weakened the position of Presidential Administration Deputy 
head Igor Sechin, who is regarded as the leader of the 
so-called "siloviki" faction.  Whether the appointment of the 
new Procurator General will be intended to establish a "new 
balance" in the President's entourage, or will be accompanied 
by other substantial firings and appointments, is being hotly 
debated in the absence of reliable information.  END SUMMARY. 
 
2. (SBU)  Observers continue to assess the motivations behind 
last week's sudden dismissal of former Procurator General 
(PG) Vladimir Ustinov.  Among the frequently discussed 
theories now being given currency is that Ustinov's departure 
was the opening salvo in what could be a broader shake-up of 
the GOR cabinet reflecting fault lines within the Kremlin. 
That scenario posits that Putin had been unhappy with 
Presidential Administration (PA) Deputy Chief Igor Sechin and 
the "siloviki" faction, comprised of current and former 
security service officials and nominally headed by Sechin. 
Most analysts have thought that the siloviki were in the 
ascendancy within the Kremlin, gaining greater influence 
relative to economic liberalizers.  Putin in this view chose 
to dismiss Ustinov, a close Sechin ally, to demonstrate 
displeasure with silovik overreaching and check the 
Sechin-Ustinov tandem before it gained more momentum.  Media 
reports also speculate that at least four ministers -- Yuriy 
Chayka (Justice), German Gref (Economic Development and 
Trade), Andrey Fursenko (Education and Science), and Yuriy 
Trutnev (Natural Resources) -- could lose their jobs by the 
end of the summer as part of an effort to re-balance the 
alignment of power between the Kremlin's "liberal" wing, 
loosely associated with First Deputy Prime Minister (and 
former PA Chief) Dmitriy Medvedev, and Sechin's "siloviki." 
 
3. (C)  Some contacts have told us that Ustinov's removal 
represents a setback for Sechin and the "siloviki," at least 
in the near-term.  In this view Medvedev and, perhaps to a 
lesser extent, fellow unofficial presidential contender and 
Deputy Prime Minister/Defense Minister Sergey Ivanov were 
principal beneficiaries of the development, in part because a 
clipping of Sechin's wings would limit his ability to 
undermine their presidential chances.  (Some analysts believe 
Sechin has been working against both Sergey Ivanov and 
Medvedev as presidential succession candidates in order to 
convince Putin that he has "no choice" but to remain in power 
beyond 2008.  Any weakening of Sechin's influence, in this 
analysis, reinforces the notion that Putin genuinely intends 
to step down in 2008.)  Our contacts explained that Putin had 
become concerned with the growing influence of the 
"siloviki," citing their role, e.g., in last month's transfer 
of the Federal Customs Service from Gref's ministry to the 
office of Prime Minister Mikhail Fradkov, a member of the 
"siloviki" wing.  Our contacts were not sure to whether 
Ustinov's removal was also tied to the government's recently 
announced anti-corruption campaign. 
 
4. (C)  The selection of Ustinov's successor will also have 
direct implications for Kremlin politics.  Dmitriy Kozak and 
Aleksandr Konovalov, PolPreds for the Southern and Volga 
Districts respectively, are still considered front-runners, 
but "Kommersant" has quoted unidentified sources as 
indicating that those two are not in fact on Putin's 
shortlist.  However that may be, Kozak's appointment as 
Procurator General (PG) would bring him back to Moscow and 
undoubtedly lead many to conclude that he had joined Medvedev 
and Sergey Ivanov as succession front-runners.  Meanwhile, 
Duma Deputy Aleksandr Lebedev speculated to the Ambassador 
that Viktor Cherkesov, Director of the Federal 
Counter-Narcotics Service, is another possible contender. 
According to Lebedev, Cherkesov has close ties to Putin, is 
not associated with Sechin or the "siloviki," and is "due for 
a change" in position, Lebedev said. 
 
5. (C)  Other names being floated as possible successors 
include Chayka, who previously held the job in an acting 
 
MOSCOW 00006268  002 OF 002 
 
 
capacity, Acting PG Yuriy Biryukov, and two Deputy PG's -- 
Yuriy Zolotov in the Urals Federal District and Valentin 
Simuchenkov in the Siberian Federal District.  The latter two 
are considered pol
itically neutral.  Some predict that Putin 
will announce the new PG personally a few days before the 
next session of the Federation Council on June 23, when the 
chosen candidate can be confirmed by that body. 
 
6. (C)  COMMENT.  The choice of Ustinov's successor will be 
seen first and foremost through the prism of succession 
politics.  If Kozak -- or Cherkesov -- were selected as the 
new PG, observers would regard either as having been jumped 
into the running for the presidency, with reform of the 
procuracy a test he must handle successfully, just as 
Medvedev is seen as being tested by his handling of the 
national priority projects and Ivanov by his management of 
the military and military-industrial complex.  Konovalov is 
identified by many as "Medvedev's man," and his appointment 
would be read as a sign Medvedev is in the ascendancy. 
Appointment of a technocratic figure not known to be linked 
to any of the perceived succession "heavyweights" would spur 
speculation about whether the Procuracy was being taken out 
of politics or simply made more responsive to direct 
management by Putin.  With the President's proclivity to make 
unexpected personnel decisions (e.g., the appointment of 
Fradkov as Prime Minister in 2004), no one is confident which 
way Putin will choose to tilt the gameboard. 
BURNS

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