06MOSCOW10013, RUSSIAN FEDERATION COUNCIL CHAIRMAN ON US,

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
06MOSCOW10013 2006-09-10 08:28 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Moscow

VZCZCXRO6045
PP RUEHDBU
DE RUEHMO #0013/01 2530828
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 100828Z SEP 06
FM AMEMBASSY MOSCOW
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 1979
INFO RUCNCIS/CIS COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEHXD/MOSCOW POLITICAL COLLECTIVE PRIORITY

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 MOSCOW 010013 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 09/09/2016 
TAGS: PREL PHUM PGOV RS
SUBJECT: RUSSIAN FEDERATION COUNCIL CHAIRMAN ON US, 
EXTREMISM LAW, INTERNAL POLITICS 
 
REF: MOSCOW 9817 
 
Classified By: Ambassador William J. Burns: 1.5 (b) and (d). 
 
1.  (C)  Summary:  In advance of his trip to the US to 
commemorate 9/11, Russian Federation Council Chairman Sergey 
Mironov previewed with the Ambassador a fall legislative 
effort to amend the Law on Extremism.  Mironov said the 
reaction to the announced merger of leftist political parties 
was enthusiastic, but discounted the ability of Russia's 
beleaguered "democrats" to get beyond leadership differences 
in time to compete successfully for the 2007 Duma.  Mironov 
took issue with criticism of Russia, praised Putin's 
reassertion of Russian national interests, reaffirmed the 
need for US-Russian partnership, and welcomed further 
US-Russia senatorial exchanges.  While Mironov appears to be 
an obedient player in the political competition being readied 
for the 2007 and 2008 elections, it will be important to 
monitor whether the populist appeal of the leftist parties' 
platform challenges the management of Russia's democracy. 
End Summary 
 
U.S. Visit; 9/11 remembrance 
---------------------------- 
 
2.  (SBU)  In a September 8 meeting with the Ambassador, 
Federation Council Chairman Sergey Mironov reviewed his trip 
to the United States for the New Jersey dedication of the 
statue by Russian sculpture Zurab Tsereteli in honor of the 
victims of 9/11.  Mironov said he would meet with CFR 
President Richard Haass, hold his second conversation with 
Henry Kissinger, conduct an interview with the Washington 
Times, anticipated a meeting with UNSYG Annan, and would wrap 
up his short visit with a press conference before 
Russian-American journalists.  The events of 9/11, he 
underscored, were a tragedy that had served to unite the US 
and Russia.  Mironov noted Putin's personal interest in the 
dedication. 
 
On the Agenda: Amending the Extremism Law 
----------------------------------------- 
 
3.  (C)  Beyond the traditional focus on the budget, Mironov 
confirmed that the Federation Council would take up 
amendments to the Law on Extremism -- a law that Mironov 
characterized as necessary, but excessive.  In particular, 
criticism of the government should not qualify as extremism. 
The Ambassador welcomed this initiative, noting that the 
recent outburst of racial tensions and violence in Karelia 
highlighted situations where there would be sharp differences 
of opinion on the performance of the government that 
constituted legitimate and normal political dialogue. 
 
New Opposition Leftist Party Takes Root 
--------------------------------------- 
 
4.  (C)  Now was the time and place, Mironov explained, to 
create a new, powerful political party that would not be a 
pale imitation of the party of power, United Russia.  The 
platform of the newly merged three parties (reftel) would 
focus on the protection of workers, particularly civil 
servants, with a special emphasis on the needs of the retired 
military, who left the service in the prime of life, but were 
poorly equipped to adjust to the civilian workplace and 
unable to live on their miserly pensions.  The union of 
political parties was necessary to combat the monopolization 
of political life by United Russia.  Consultations were going 
well, with chapters already present in half of the federal 
jurisdictions.  In contrast to United Russia, Mironov noted, 
his party would need to rely on the popular support of the 
Russian people, rather than administrative resources.  To 
date, Mironov expressed satisfaction at the enthusiasm 
generated by the announcement of the merger. 
 
Liberal Rightist Forces in Disarray, Few Prospects 
--------------------------------------------- ---- 
 
5.  (C)  Mironov was pessimistic about the prospects for 
unity among the "democrats," noting that there was no end to 
the long-running soap opera of divisions within the political 
leadership of Yabloko, SPS, and the Republican Party. 
Comparing the relatively seamless cooperation between the 
three newly merged political parties (and fresh from a trip 
with new party cohort and Rodina party Chairman Babakov to 
Astrakhan), Mironov said the rightists were plagued both by 
leadership disputes, as well as by a lack of resonance among 
the Russian public.  Complicating the issue was the fact that 
United Russia already espoused many of the "rightist" 
economic principles championed by the democrats, narrowing 
the political field open to them.  Mironov concluded that the 
rightist political parties had zero chance of crossing the 
 
MOSCOW 00010013  002 OF 002 
 
 
threshold into the 2007 Duma. 
 
Defense of Putin, Umbrage at Misguided US Criticism 
--------------------------------------------- ------ 
 
6.  (C)  Mironov noted Putin's optimism about relations with 
the United States, but took issue with sharp comments 
emanating from the US political establishment on trends in 
Russia.  Russia was an independent, sovereign country that 
had its own national interests to protect, just as
America 
was an "imperial" power, with interests that would sometimes 
lead it in a separate direction.  Mironov underscored the 
pragmatic basis of Russian foreign policy, its embrace of 
flexible alliances, and its espousal of multiple vectors and 
poles in international relations.  The GOR, he stressed, 
sought partnership with the US, at the same time that it 
would protect its own sphere of influence.  He praised Putin 
for not being afraid to articulate Russian national interests 
and reassert GOR influence, at the same time that he sought 
to strengthen the US-Russia partnership.  The world was not 
well-served by unipolarity.  The GOR emphasis, Mironov 
repeated, would be on Russia's national interests, with 
active pursuit of relations in southeast Asia, Europe and 
Latin America. 
 
7.  (C)  The Ambassador explained that criticism from 
American leaders and the US foreign policy establishment 
reflected real concern over the growing concentration of 
power in the Kremlin and the weakness of institutions 
critical to providing healthy democratic checks and balances. 
 Mironov responded that the US misinterpreted political 
developments within Russia, pointing to the debate that 
erupted following the Kremlin decision to appoint, rather 
than elect, Governors.  Mironov recalled his visit to Canada, 
where he claimed that the distribution of power between the 
center and the provinces made leaders sympathetic to Russian 
concerns over the dilution of federal authority.  No country, 
Mironov said (alluding to the Yeltsin legacy) could tolerate 
the dissolution of its authority; no country, he repeated, 
voluntarily divested itself of influence over its territory. 
The relationship between the President and the Governors was 
now healthy.  Without reforms, Mironov insisted, Russia would 
not function.  Mironov, pointing to criticism and debates in 
the mass media, and unfettered access to internet, dismissed 
criticism of government encroachment in the media. 
 
8.  (C)  Mironov underscored the sea change in attitude among 
Russians, who in the depths of the 1990's used to refer to 
Russia as "this country," rather than "my country." 
Etymology reflected the psychology of the moment, he 
underscored.  Now there was palpable pride in the fact that 
Russia was able to assert itself and its interests in 
international relations, as well as a sense of common 
purpose.  Materially, intellectually, and culturally, the 
country was moving forward.  The Ambassador responded that 
his interlocutors often accused the US of underestimating 
what Russians had overcome in the 1990s.  However, while 
there may be elements of competition in Russian and US 
relations, both countries benefited from cooperation-- 
including, between members of the legislative branches. 
Mironov agreed, and said he looked forward to the potential 
return visit of Senator Lott to Russia, as part of the 
US-Russia senatorial exchange. 
 
Comment 
------- 
 
9.  (C)  Mironov defines the "loyal opposition," whose 
political prominence has been more a function of his 
friendship with Putin than his dynamism on the hustings. 
While the verdict is out on the degree to which the union of 
leftist parties will fare among regional leaders looking to 
curry favor with the party of power, its populist appeal to 
those elements of society who believe that the windfall oil 
wealth of Russia has not trickled down could resonate.  The 
provincial elections and the leadup to the 2007 Duma 
elections will provide the first evidence of whether managed 
democracy produces any surprises.  End Comment 
BURNS

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