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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
06MOSCOW11172 2006-10-04 15:32 2011-08-30 01:44 UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY Embassy Moscow

DE RUEHMO #1172/01 2771532
R 041532Z OCT 06

E.O. 12958: N/A 
MOSCOW 00011172  001.2 OF 003 
1. (SBU) Lipetsk oblast and city are tightly controlled by 
United Russia Governor Oleg Korolyev. Oblast regional 
elections will be held on October 8 and it is widely believed 
in Lipetsk that YR will win a decisive majority. While the 
Communist Party (KPRF) continues to have loyal followers, it 
appears to be losing ground.  The Russian Party of Pensioners 
(RPP) and the Russian Party of Life (RPL) contend that their 
parties have attracted some of the KPRF defectors, who live 
largely in the oblast's rural regions. RPL Chairman Sergey 
Mironov has chosen Lipetsk as the proving ground for his 
party, and he has made several campaign trips to the oblast. 
His efforts in Lipetsk seem to have the tacit blessing of the 
Kremlin, which has allowed the RPL to use a picture of 
President Putin in its campaign.  While most observers 
predict that the RPL will not cross the 7 percent threshold 
to representation in the regional council, RPL believes that 
it will win 10-12 percent of the vote, which should translate 
into 4 - 6 seats on the Council. End summary. 
2. (SBU) On October 8, the electorate will elect a new 
regional council.  The last regional council election was 
held in April 2002.  At that time, 36 single-mandate deputies 
were elected.  The KPRF nominated 13 candidates and the LDPR 
- 4 candidates.  Only one of those, a candidate from the 
KPRF, was elected. Among the remainder of those elected were 
11 heads of district and city administrations. (They were 
elected before the law prohibiting state officials from 
holding office was enacted, and were therefore allowed to 
retain their jobs in the administration.)  In by-elections 
held in April 2004, candidates from both RPL and YR ran, but 
were not elected. 
3. (SBU) At stake in the October 8 election are 28 
single-mandate seats and 28 party-list seats.  Deputy 
Chairman of the Regional Election Commission (REC) Boris 
Lunev explained that single-mandate seats remained because 
the oblast had announced its election prior to enactment of 
the federal law eliminating them.  The number of seats in the 
council has been increased from 38 to 56. To get on the 
ballot, single-mandate candidates must collect valid 
signatures from two percent of the voting population, or 
about 640 signatures. If the REC finds all the signatures are 
valid then the candidate is included on the ballot.  Once 
accepted, the REC can remove a candidate only with the 
court's concurrence. 
4. (SBU) Mark Goldman and Vasiliy Rodionov of the Lipetsk 
Association of Human Rights alluded to problems with the REC 
during the last election. In a separate meeting, Russian 
Party of Pensioners representative Lyudmila Yaskova told us 
that the difficulties with the REC lay in getting petition 
signatures approved. Union of Right Forces (SPS) 
representative Oleg Diachkin was philosophical about not 
running in this election, claiming that administrative 
resources make it impossible for competitors to compete with 
the incumbent parties. He vowed, however, that SPS would be 
active in the Duma elections next year. 
5. (SBU) There are few signs on the street that Lipetsk is in 
the middle of an election campaign, let alone one that is 
predicted to be the litmus test of RPL Sergei Mironov's 
political viability. Public buildings have simple signs 
announcing the October 8 election. Plekhanov Square, a major 
intersection, has one large billboard featuring YR and the 
slogan "we're together."  The billboard is dominated by a 
local statue of Peter the Great, which was apparently 
commissioned not long ago by YR. On a nearby sidestreet is a 
YR billboard depicting an ambulance and bearing the slogan 
"for the President's national projects."  Such billboards are 
few. The majority of advertising is in the form of posters 
stuck to lampposts.  While LDPR reigns over the space in 
front of the Central Department Store, most lampposts bear YR 
posters featuring a teacher; and many of these have been 
pasted over the RPL campaign literature. A picture of Mironov 
MOSCOW 00011172  002.2 OF 003 
with Putin, about which there has been much national media 
interest, bears the quote "the Party of Life is a good sign 
for Russia" but no explicit endorsement. 
6. (SBU)  The local television station is bereft of political 
advertising.  Although our interlocutors told us that there 
was advertising in the morning and in the evening, one would 
need to watch assiduously in order to catch it.  Lunev 
explained that oblast-sponsored advertising was allocated on 
a calculus related to the number of signatures a can
got. Otherwise, according to Yaskova, the cost is 
prohibitively expensive. 
7. (SBU) YR, especially within the oblast administration, 
reacted defensively to Poloff's visit. Anatoliy Larin of the 
oblast administration asked how we had found people with whom 
to meet. He worried that we were there to make insinuations 
about a lack of democracy.  Larin claimed that no problems 
existed, and that everyone was happy with the status quo. 
Every issue, Larin said, was exhaustively debated and 
consensus was reached before proceeding. Rodionov separately 
agreed that everything was discussed, but insisted that YR 
made all the decisions. 
8. (SBU)  The YR party representatives with whom we met are 
young and appear to be being groomed for power.  Aleksei 
Demikov, head of the local Molodaya Gvardiya (MG) arm of YR 
claimed that MG had over 2000 members and told us that it was 
active in universities, orphanages, and schools.  According 
to him, young people are attracted to it because it is an 
avenue for self-actualization.  As Demikov described MG, it 
is less a means to spark the political interest of youth and 
more of a club, where youth can gain experiences they 
otherwise would not have. Demikov said that banks and 
enterprises finance MG activities as a form of advertisement. 
He was not willing to name the chief sponsors. 
9. (SBU) Valeriy Zhybenko, a local YR representative, who had 
spent some time in Chicago, described YR's campaign as highly 
personalized. YR campaign workers meet potential voters 
individually and endeavor to solve their problems. According 
to Zhybenko, campaign financing is no problem. (It is clear 
from the location of YR headquarters --steps from the oblast 
administration building and undergoing complete renovation-- 
that there is no lack of money, and a belief that YR will 
remain in power after October 8.)  Both Demikov and Zhybenko 
rated RPL's chance of success as zero and agreed that the 
number of KPRF voters was dwindling. 
10. (SBU) On the contrary, the regional representatives of 
the RPL, Sergei Grushevskiy and Larissa Ksenofontova, 
expressed confidence that their party would win 10 - 12 
percent of the vote, or 4 - 6 seats.  Money is "no problem" 
they said.  It flows from the RPL's Moscow headquarters. When 
asked why they were confident of a win, Ksenofontova quoted 
Mironov in contending that the RPL represented "opposition to 
monopolism."  According to Ksenofontova, the YR is concerned 
with global issues, while the RPL focuses on the human 
dimension, although she was unable to identify which issues 
were global. Ksenofontova believed that YR is doing a good 
job, but "someone else" needed to look after the people and 
provide education, health care, interesting jobs, and, most 
importantly, help raise the birthrate. 
11. (SBU) The RPL party list is headed by Mironov, who has 
made three campaign trips in the last few months. When in 
Lipetsk recently, Duma Speaker Boris Gryzlov told reporters 
that Mironov's campaign had to be taken seriously.  Although 
Mironov told Lipetsk voters that he would not sit on the 
council if RPL gains representation, Mikheyev believes that, 
regardless, victory is key to Mironov's national political 
aspirations. Moscow political technologists believe Lipetsk 
is critical to the RPL's political future. A victory of 10 - 
12 percent would provide a significant morale boost and send 
a clear signal to the regions that Mironov's party is being 
accommodated by the Kremlin in advance of the 2007 
parliamentary elections. 
MOSCOW 00011172  003.2 OF 003 
12. (SBU) All interlocutors, with the exception of YR, 
described a great economic gap between the city and the 
oblast, which is being exploited during the campaign. 
According to Union of Right Forces representative Oleg 
Diachkin, rural voters are regularly told by the oblast 
administration that if they do not vote "correctly," they 
will not be allotted a new tractor or continued subsidies. 
The opposition, on the other hand, seeks to exploit 
increasing dissatisfaction within the agricultural sector to 
win votes. Although rural voters have historically backed the 
Communist Party (KPRF), rival parties agree that the 
increasingly extreme stance taken by the KPRF's Lipetsk 
branch has alienated traditional supporters. Sergey Mikheyev 
of the Center for Political Technologies told us that such 
alienation plays into the hands of the Presidential 
Administration, one of whose underlying goals is to chip away 
at support for the KPRF in this historically "red" region. 
13. (SBU) As befits a city that was recently named the best 
equipped and well-built Russian city, Lipetsk is clean and 
orderly.  It boasts working fountains; well-groomed roads, 
children in suits and ties or plaid pinafores, and many 
fashionably-dressed adults. New construction is ubiquitous. A 
statue of Lenin surveying the valley dominates the city's 
central square, around which is ranged the Lipetsk Oblast 
Administration building and the Lenin Cathedral, currently 
undergoing renovation. 
14. (SBU) Lipetsk appears to be thriving. In addition to the 
metallurgical plant (LMP), which employs a large percentage 
of the working-age population, the Governor last year won 
approval for a free economic zone, and a white goods plant 
had since been built.  According to the SPS's Diachkin, 
investors benefit from tax breaks, but each deal is 
negotiated individually. Relations between Governor 
Korolyev's administration and the center are civil, he said, 
and there is little wrangling over the terms offered 
prospective investors.  The Oblast Administration's Larin 
claimed that Lipetsk is financially independent of the center 
and averred that, unlike elsewhere in Russia, the oblast 
economy is not tied to oil. Yaskova of the RPP agreed, but 
thought too much of the oblast's revenues were being siphoned 
off by the center.  More should be retained to subsidize the 
agricultural sector and support medical care, she thought, 
especially the escalating costs of medicine. 
15. (SBU) Ethnic minorities are not in evidence. Goldman told 
Emboff that it is very difficult for minorities to obtain 
permission to live in Lipetsk.  Sergei Mikheyev of the Center 
of Political Technologies described the oblast as one of the 
most homogenous in Russia. 
16. (SBU) The oblast administration has firm control over the 
economics and politics of Lipetsk.  For the moment, many
its citizens are content with the improving standard of 
living, and the parties contesting this election seem to have 
adjusted their strategies accordingly. While non-incumbents 
face greater challenges in electoral participation, the 
oblast has not refused to include any of the major parties on 
the ballot. The Lipetsk election can be viewed as a 
referendum on the Kremlin's efforts to establish a managed, 
two-party system. While the RPL clearly believes that Lipetsk 
is their moment, YR may not have gotten the memo. 


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