06MOSCOW10692, ODIHR DIRECTOR STROHAL’S VISIT: OSCE “REFORM” AND

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
06MOSCOW10692 2006-09-22 15:09 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Moscow

VZCZCXRO7356
PP RUEHDBU RUEHFL RUEHLA RUEHMRE RUEHROV RUEHSR
DE RUEHMO #0692/01 2651509
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 221509Z SEP 06
FM AMEMBASSY MOSCOW
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 2832
INFO RUCNOSC/OSCE POST COLLECTIVE PRIORITY

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 MOSCOW 010692 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 09/22/2016 
TAGS: PREL PGOV OSCE RS
SUBJECT: ODIHR DIRECTOR STROHAL'S VISIT:  OSCE "REFORM" AND 
RUSSIA'S 2008 ELECTIONS 
 
Classified By: Minister-Counselor for Political Affairs Alice G. Wells. 
  Reasons: 1.4 (B/D) 
 
1.  (C)  Summary:  During a September 19 meeting with OSCE 
Office of Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) 
Director Strohal, DFM Grushko emphasized once again Russia's 
desire for OSCE "reform."  However, ODIHR's harshest critic 
had much softened his tone, according to Strohal, while still 
pushing for specific changes to ODIHR election monitoring in 
time for the Brussels Ministerial.  Strohal also met with 
Human Rights Ombudsman Vladimir Lukin to discuss the NGO 
registration process.  Central Elections Commissioner 
Aleksandr Veshnyakov told Strohal that Russia planned to 
invite an ODIHR team to observe Russian elections, but the 
MFA was less certain, asserting that Moscow wanted progress 
on OSCE reform before making a decision.  End Summary. 
. 
BANGING ON THE REFORM DRUM 
-------------------------- 
 
2.  (C)  Strohal told guests at a working lunch hosted by the 
Belgians that his discussions with DFM Grushko had been 
constructive and that Grushko had been pragmatic.  Grushko 
had reiterated standard GOR complaints that OSCE placed 
excessive emphasis on the human dimension and that ODIHR was 
focused too much on east-of-Vienna monitoring.  In a later 
conversation with ODIHR Russia Desk Officer Holly Ruthrauff 
(please protect), she told us that despite the usual barrage 
of criticism about ODIHR methodology, Grushko had been more 
conciliatory than expected.  Grushko did argue that the ODIHR 
handbook was not an OSCE document because it had never been 
formally endorsed by the OSCE Permanent Council (PC).  He 
warned that Moscow believed there was much work to be done 
with ODIHR before the Brussels Ministerial in December. 
 
3.  (C)  In a follow-up with the MFA Acting OSCE Desk 
Director, Vladimir Yanin asserted that that the GOR's 
objections to OSCE methodology were not political but "purely 
of a technical nature."  However, the "technical" changes 
Russia would like to see would give Moscow a veto over 
monitoring missions.  Yanin said Russia wanted ODIHR to 
produce an annual list of elections which would be presented 
to the Permanent Council for its decision as to which 
countries ODIHR would send its monitoring teams.  Moscow also 
wanted the election monitoring Heads of Mission to be 
selected by the Permanent Council, that the role of 
short-term election observers be more clearly specified, and 
that OSCE official languages other than English also be used 
in monitoring. 
. 
NGO REGISTRATION 
---------------- 
 
4.  (C)  Strohal told his lunch guests that he had pitched 
Human Rights Ombudsman Vladimir Lukin on a joint program on 
human rights in the military; Lukin was interested but 
noncommittal.  Lukin discussed the NGO registration process 
with Strohal, explaining that he was gathering information 
from the regions and would then make a decision on whether 
concerns needed be raised with the GOR.  Strohal met 
separately with local NGOs, who noted their concerns over 
implementation of the NGO laws and uncertainty about their 
legal requirements. 
. 
RUSSIAN ELECTIONS 
----------------- 
 
5.  (C)  Central Election Commissioner Aleksandr Veshnyakov 
made clear in his meeting with Strohal that Russia plans to 
invite an ODIHR team to observe Russian elections, according 
to ODIHR's Ruthrauff.  Only after ODIHR's needs assessment -- 
which ODIHR plans as early as next June -- would the scope of 
monitoring be clarified. Ruthrauff told us later that that 
there were fears that no matter how early the needs 
assessment was conducted, all important "deals" would have 
been made in advance and the elections would become a pro 
forma exercise.  If "early voting" was used in the upcoming 
elections, monitoring would become even messier and more 
complicated.  Ruthrauff concluded that even if Russia was not 
satisfied with ODIHR's methodology, it would still be too 
damaging not to invite ODIHR to observe the 2008 elections. 
In poloff's discussions at the MFA, Acting Director Yanin 
would not discuss GOR plans vis-a-vis OSCE monitoring of 
2007/2008 elections.  Despite Veshnyakov's informal promise 
to Strohal to "invite" ODIHR, Yanin said that no clear 
decision had been made and that Moscow would review the 
situation after the Brussels Ministerial. 
 
6.  (C)  In his meeting with NGO representatives, Strohal 
heard concerns about the use of electronic balloting, which 
will be first tested in Novgorod in October regional 
elections.  Strohal raised this issue with Commissioner 
 
MOSCOW 00010692  002 OF 002 
 
 
Veshnyakov, who noted that a decision to move forward with 
electronic ballots would be implemented gradually and be 
informed by the results of testing. 
 
COMMENT 
------- 
 
7.  (C)  While Strohal attempted to spin the results of his 
visit in a positive fashion, it seems clear that in the 
run-up to Brussels we will hear increasing
calls by the GOR 
for institutional changes that would limit monitoring mission 
autonomy. 
BURNS

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