06MOSCOW10861, RUSSIA’S “DEMOCRATS” IN DISARRAY

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
06MOSCOW10861 2006-09-27 11:16 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Moscow

VZCZCXRO1735
PP RUEHDBU
DE RUEHMO #0861/01 2701116
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 271116Z SEP 06
FM AMEMBASSY MOSCOW
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 3055
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 010861 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 09/18/2016 
TAGS: PGOV PINR RS
SUBJECT: RUSSIA'S "DEMOCRATS" IN DISARRAY 
 
REF: MOSCOW 10620 
 
Classified By: Ambassador William J. Burns: 1.4 (b, d). 
 
1.  (C)  Summary:  Russia's "democrats" remain in 
near-terminal disarray.  Personality disputes, disagreements 
over accommodating with the Kremlin, differences over the 
viability of political activity, and difficulties in 
political party registration undercut efforts aimed at 
uniting in advance of the 2007 Duma elections.  While some 
believe the Kremlin wants a unified democratic (or 
"rightist") opposition, if only for appearances sake, the 
democrats remain stymied by Yabloko chairman Yavlinskiy's 
insistence on a paramount leadership role.  In meetings with 
the Central Election Commission and other senior government 
officials, the Ambassador will continue to underscore concern 
over the failure of the Russian Republican Party under 
Vladimir Ryzhkov to be registered to date; separately, the 
democrats will need to make tough decisions about their 
political future.  End Summary 
 
2.  (C)  In recent introductory calls on Yabloko's Grigori 
Yavlinskiy and Republican Party's Vladimir Ryzhkov, a picture 
of disorganization, backbiting, and alleged pandering to the 
Kremlin emerged, further complicating the prospects of a 
unified democratic opposition capable of crossing the seven 
percent threshold to the Duma. 
 
------------------- 
"Democrats" divided 
------------------- 
 
3.  (C)  The real issue, according to Ryzhkov, is that there 
are three camps within the democratic opposition: those who 
despise Putin and "argue for war crimes tribunals" (Committee 
2008's Kasparov, former Prime Minister Kasyanov), who have 
scant public traction; those who are prepared to seek some 
degree of accommodation with the Kremlin (SPS' Belykh and 
Yabloko's Yavlinskiy) and in return allegedly receive party 
registration, under the table support, some access to the 
media, and occasional meetings with Presidential 
Administration Deputy Head Vladislav Surkov; and those, like 
Ryzhkov, who oppose Putin, but continue to play within a 
"managed" system and are denied party registration, as well 
as access to the media and Kremlin leadership.  While Belykh 
doubted whether a union of rightist parties would cross the 
seven percent Duma threshold, Ryzhkov optimistically argued 
that they could garner between 10-15 percent of a general 
vote.  However, Ryzhkov stressed that personality and 
attitude towards the Kremlin are significant hurdles to the 
otherwise rational calculus to unite. 
 
4.  (C)  First and foremost, Ryzhkov, Belykh and SPS Chubays 
all agreed, Yavlinskiy is a pill, and his leadership of a 
combined democratic opposition would be a bitter one for many 
to swallow, given his insistence that all other parties 
subordinate themselves to Yabloko and admit to the policy 
errors of their past.  Yavlinskiy himself told us that the 
other democratic opposition "will all come to me, they have 
no other option," given the amendments to the electoral law 
that encourage the consolidation of political parties.  In 
his meeting with us, Ryzhkov accused Yavlinskiy of promising 
to "deliver" a united rightist opposition to Surkov, thereby 
rounding out the political spectrum.  Yavlinskiy dismissed 
Ryzhkov as "a nothing," while insisting that if he had access 
to the media, Yabloko alone would draw 15 percent.  Political 
consultant Dmitri Oreshkin told us that it's "psychological" 
-- Yavlinskiy does not want to come into the Duma as part of 
a rightist union, but as the undisputed leader of the 
"democratic" forces.  When Duma member and Party of 
Entrepreneurs representative Oksana Alekseyeva was asked what 
was the main obstacle to a coalition of Russia's 
traditionally democratic parties, she said without 
hesitation: "Yavlinskiy." 
 
5.  (C)  Second, tactics among democratic parties diverge. 
The Other Russia conference organized in advance of the G8 
summit clarified the divisions: Yabloko and SPS rejected the 
conference outright -- Yavlinskiy declined to be one of a 
crowd, and Belykh said that he didn't like the company that 
the conference organizers were prepared to keep in order to 
show that opposition to Putin's Russia was alive and well. 
Outside observers, including Oreshkin, Indem President 
Georgiy Satarov and Ekho Moskvy chief editor Aleksey 
Vennediktov, endorsed the line that both parties chose to 
continue their tacit understanding with the authorities, 
according to which the Kremlin tolerates their fundraising 
and views them as politicians with whom they are prepared to 
do business.  As evidence of this tacit accord some point to 
Surkov's invitation of both Belykh and Yavlinskiy to a public 
roundtable debate on his conception of "sovereign democracy." 
 (In the case of SPS, Oreshkin argued that an additional 
 
MOSCOW 00010861  002 OF 002 
 
 
factor dictating compromise with the Kremlin was Chubays' 
focus on securing Administration support for the reform of 
RAO UES.)  While Ryzhkov endorsed the Other Russia 
conference, he subsequently repudiated Kasyanov's efforts to 
transform the conference into a party that would further 
Kasyanov's presidential bid.  The Republican Pa
rty will no 
longer attend Other Russia functions. 
 
6.  (C)  Finally, there are disagreements over the political 
landscape and room for maneuver in the presidential 
elections.  Yavlinskiy was dismissive of electoral politics 
-- predicting that Putin's inner circle would prevail upon 
him to remain in power for a third term; indifferent to the 
unification of leftist parties -- characterizing it a Kremlin 
project doomed to fail; and fatalistic about his role -- 
arguing that he was waiting "for the fall" of Russia and 
devoting his time to preparing the next generation of 
intellectual elite.  In contrast, Ryzhkov reiterated that he 
was prepared to play in the system and was actively working 
to establish credible party chapters, despite continuing 
difficulties with the election commission authorities, 
including the party's removal from the electoral list in 
Chechnya.  Ryzhkov believed that there was still political 
room for maneuver, and heralded the unification of leftist 
parties as a "positive development" since it weakened the 
hold of United Russia. 
 
----------------------- 
Ryzhkov's Moral Dilemma 
----------------------- 
 
7.  (C)  Ryzhkov acknowledged that unless he compromised with 
the Kremlin along the lines of Yabloko and SPS, there was 
little prospect of success for his party, which remains 
unregistered, and his political future.  While he accepted 
this intellectually, he noted that morally it continued to 
cause him pause.  Ryzhkov reiterated his rejection of the 
political stance of Kasyanov and Kasparov, stating that it 
was important to recognize Russia's political realities, and 
gave us the impression that he was leaning toward compromise 
with Yabloko and SPS.  Ryzhkov requested US assistance in 
underscoring concern over the difficulties faced by the 
Russian Republican Party in securing its registration.  While 
the CEC has until the end of the year to complete its review 
of the Republican Party, Ryzhkov predicted that the party's 
application would be rejected, following a series of 
"technicalities" that have plagued his party's efforts to 
organize over the last year. 
 
------- 
Comment 
------- 
 
8.  (C)  As the rightist parties continue negotiations, many 
observers believe that the Kremlin also seeks a union of 
democratic parties, if only to round out the political 
spectrum and provide legitimacy to the electoral process. 
Efforts by Republican Party and Yabloko regional leaders in 
Astrakhan (septel) to unite are indicative of pressures 
within both party structures to create viable political 
alliances, and last year's agreement between SPS and Yabloko 
to join forces secured the democrats a presence in the Moscow 
Duma.  The Ambassador will continue to raise the status of 
the Russian Republican Party in meetings with the Central 
Election Commission and senior government officials. 
BURNS

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