06MOSCOW11276, UNITED RUSSIA AIMS TO WIN BY A WIDE MARGIN IN TUVA

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
06MOSCOW11276 2006-10-06 14:41 2011-08-30 01:44 UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY Embassy Moscow

VZCZCXRO2474
PP RUEHDBU RUEHLN RUEHVK RUEHYG
DE RUEHMO #1276/01 2791441
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 061441Z OCT 06
FM AMEMBASSY MOSCOW
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 3576
INFO RUCNCIS/CIS COLLECTIVE
RUEHXD/MOSCOW POLITICAL COLLECTIVE
RUEHLN/AMCONSUL ST PETERSBURG 3433
RUEHVK/AMCONSUL VLADIVOSTOK 1692
RUEHYG/AMCONSUL YEKATERINBURG 1937

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 03 MOSCOW 011276 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SENSITIVE 
SIPDIS 
 
DEPT FOR EUR/RUS 
 
E.O. 12958: N/A 
TAGS: PGOV KDEM PHUM PREL SOCI RS
SUBJECT: UNITED RUSSIA AIMS TO WIN BY A WIDE MARGIN IN TUVA 
 
MOSCOW 00011276  001.2 OF 003 
 
 
------- 
SUMMARY 
------- 
 
1. (SBU) Embassy visited the Republic of Tuva October 1-5, in 
advance of the October 8 regional election.  Tuva is tightly 
controlled by Regional Head Sherig-Ool Oorzhak, who became a 
member of United Russia (YR) eight months ago, and it is 
widely believed that YR will win a decisive majority, with 
the help of administrative resources and official 
encouragement.  While the Communist Party (KPRF) continues to 
have loyal followers and says it is confident it will exceed 
the seven percent threshold, it appears to be relatively 
weak.  Rodina, the Patriots' Party of Russia (PPR), and the 
Russian Party of Life (RPL) may end up cannibalizing each 
others' vote and barely cross the threshold, with the 
regional YR leadership showing little tolerance for the 
purported second party-of-power.  LDPR, a niche party in 
Tuva, is not expected to make the cut.  End summary. 
 
---------------------------- 
October 8 Regional Elections 
---------------------------- 
 
2. (SBU) Tuva is one of the poorest regions of the Russian 
Federation.  About 50% of its population lives below the 
poverty line and in some areas the unemployment rate is 
almost 30 percent.  Sherig-Ool Oorzhak has been Head of the 
Republic for 16 years.  His current term expires in April 
2007, but it is likely he will stand again for Head of the 
Republic because he is still in good health and is popular. 
However, United Russia (YR) Head Sholban Kara-Ool has his 
sights on the post and told us that the time has come for 
"new blood." 
 
3. (SBU) While there are 15 parties registered in Tuva and 
eight parties submitted documents, only six parties are 
participating in the October 8 elections -- United Russia 
(YR), the Communist Party (KPRF), Rodina, the Russian Party 
of Life (RPL), the Liberal Democratic Party of Russia (LDPR), 
and the Patriots' Party of Russia (PPR).  According to Tuva 
Election Commission (TEC) Chair Sholban Mongush, the Agrarian 
Party did not make the September 25 deadline to provide final 
documentation and the Pensioners Party's documents violated 
some election regulations.  Neither party contested the TEC's 
rulings.  Both PPR and RPL were rejected for violations but 
were reinstated after appealing to the courts.  Mongush 
complained that he still felt RPL's violations were real and 
they should not have been allowed to compete.  He said that 
the TEC had to reprint all the bulletins at great cost, in 
order to include RPL. 
 
4. (SBU) 162 deputies are up for election to the Velikiy 
Khural (parliament) -- 130 part-time deputies in the Chamber 
of Representatives and 32 full-time deputies in the 
Legislative Chamber.  The Chamber of Representatives will be 
elected by party list.  In the Legislative Chamber, 16 
deputies will be elected in single-mandate districts and 16 
by party list.  The necessary turnout for the election to be 
valid is 25 percent.  Kyzyl Mayor Dmitriy Dongak predicted 
the turnout would be 50 - 60 percent.  There are 
approximately 165,000 eligible voters in Tuva and 60,000 of 
them live in Kyzyl.  There are 184 polling stations in Tuva, 
31 of which are in Kyzyl.  Each party is allowed one observer 
at a time in a polling station.  There will be three roving 
Central Elections Commission representatives from Moscow 
observing the elections process on Sunday.  TEC Chair Mongush 
said that preliminary results would be available by October 9 
for Kyzyl and by October 11 for the regions.  Final results 
are required within 10 days of the elections, but he said 
they likely would be ready in 8 or 9 days. 
 
5. (SBU) Beginning October 7, all "agitation" will stop (even 
on TV and radio) and no campaign materials will be allowed 
within 50 meters of a polling station. During the campaign, 
parties were allowed free airtime on state-owned media -- 40 
seconds per day (except weekends) on radio and 50 seconds per 
day (except weekends) on TV. According to Regional Head of 
Rodina Damdinchap Khovalig, while the authorities have 
followed the rules, most of the TV airtime was slotted for 
late morning when no one except pensioners were watching. 
Radio spots were broadcast before 8 A.M.  As a result, the 
parties relied on fliers and pamphlets to reach voters. 
 
6. (SBU) According to First Deputy Chairman of Tuva Aleksandr 
Brokert, YR and PPR (which consists mostly of businesspeople) 
 
MOSCOW 00011276  002.2 OF 003 
 
 
have well-organized campaigns with a definite focus. KPRF, 
RPL, and Rodina are campaigning on criticism of the party in 
power, and LDPR has largely been silent.  He said there is 
not much party identification in Tuva because the population 
is small and people will vote for those they know (frequently &#x000
A;a relative, friend, coworker, or boss).  According to Mayor 
Dongak, the main issues for the electorate are housing, 
salaries, utilities (especially heat since winter 
temperatures in Tuva can reach minus 50 C), and crime. 
 
--------------------------------------------- - 
United Russia Sparing No Expense to Woo Voters 
--------------------------------------------- - 
 
7. (SBU) United Russia has pulled out all the stops in Tuva 
to ensure a solid win on October 8.  Local hero and Minister 
of Emergency Situations Sergey Shoigu visited Kyzyl and was 
featured heavily on TV and in YR's campaign posters.  He was 
also featured at length in a campaign film shown by YR on 
October 4 during a two-and-a-half hour long Soviet-style 
concert held in Kyzyl's main theater.  Head of Republic 
Oorzhak, three Russian State Duma deputies (including the 
extremely popular three-time Olympic-gold-medal-winner 
wrestler Aleksandr Karelin), and other high-ranking officials 
gave speeches, followed by performances by well-known local 
celebrities and dance troupes.  The audience consisted mainly 
of pensioners, veterans, government workers, and Molodaya 
Gvardiya members (YR's youth wing), and their friends.  There 
was something for everyone -- pop songs and the YR bear 
mascot for the young generation, Soviet nostalgia songs for 
pensioners and veterans, traditional Russian and traditional 
Tuvan performances to appeal to both nationalities in the 
audience.  Molodaya Gvardiya helped organize the event and 
participated in several dance numbers.  According to 
independent journalist Sayana Mongush, seats were also padded 
with people from the regions who were persuaded to attend 
even though they were not YR members because it was a free 
trip to a concert in Kyzyl.  She also said that pressure was 
put on the performers, who were not paid for their efforts, 
to participate in the concert.  Other famous Tuvans such as 
the renowned throat-singer Kongar-Ool Ondar have been 
recruited to campaign for YR throughout Tuva's regions. 
 
8. (SBU) Later, at a dinner that included Karelin, Brokert, 
and other Tuvan business and political leaders, Kara-Ool said 
he expected YR to get at least 65 percent of the vote on 
October 8 (Oorzhak has claimed YR will get 80 percent).  He 
was pragmatic about his reasons for being a part of YR: he 
wants to eventually become head of Tuva and YR, as the party 
of power, seems to be the best option.  He said the region 
needed a new, younger leader (i.e., himself); Oorzhak was a 
Soviet relic.  Kara-Ool mentioned his participation in the 
USG's Open World program as a huge learning experience for 
him.  He actively used the knowledge gained in the U.S. to 
further his political career.  YR's connection to the 
National Projects makes it, Kara-Ool thought, the most 
practical way to attract funding to the region. 
 
------------------------------------------- 
Black PR Tactics Used Against Party of Life 
------------------------------------------- 
 
9. (SBU) There is considerable enmity between RPL and YR in 
Tuva.  Head of Parliament Vasiliy Oyun heads RPL's list and 
is Oorzhak's chief critic.  In March, 13 YR deputies of the 
Legislative Chamber urged President Putin to dismiss Oorzhak 
for incompetence.  They were all expelled from YR, and 
although later reinstated, many subsequently joined RPL. 
 
10. (SBU) In the past week, fliers appeared in Kyzyl accusing 
RPL candidates -- and particularly the head of the party and 
former mayor of Kyzyl Zoya Sat -- of betraying the ideals of 
Shoigu.  While the TEC is investigating the fliers, TEC Chair 
Mongush said it was unlikely anyone will be apprehended. 
Sayana Mongush theorized that fliers had been posted by 
either Rodina or YR Moscow political strategists.  Their 
strategy would backfire, because too many Kyzylites know the 
candidates personally and know the allegations are false. 
She said that it was a mistake for campaigns to be directed 
by outsiders since they know very little about Tuvan culture 
and attitudes. 
 
-------------------------- 
Rodina's Vote May Be Split 
-------------------------- 
 
 
MOSCOW 00011276  003.2 OF 003 
 
 
11. (SBU) Rodina has approximately 640 members in Tuva.  The 
party is running 15 candidates on the party list and no 
single-mandate candidates.  Regional Head Khovalig said that 
some members left Rodina for the Party of Life.  He expressed 
hope Rodina will cross the 7 percent threshold, but admitted 
that Rodina is competing for the same electorate as RPL, 
making it possible that neither party will succeed.  Khovalig 
welcomed the creation of the upcoming new Rodina--Party of 
Life--Pensioners Party union because it would provide greater 
opposition to YR. 
 
12. (SBU) Khovalig blamed YR and Oorzhak for the region's 
problems, saying that the situation in Tuva had steadily 
deteriorated in the past 16 years.  He also said YR was 
behind an event last Saturday, in which a truck with Rodina 
fliers and pamphlets was stopped several times on the way to 
Kyzyl from the printing plant for document checks.  When the 
truck reached Kyzyl, police accused the party of exceeding 
the number of fliers and pamphlets allowed by election law 
without explaining the basis for their suspicions.  They made 
Rodina volunteers count all the pamphlets until 4 A.M., when 
it was finally agreed that their number did not exceed 
allowable limits. 
 
------------------------------------ 
Communist Party Seems Over-Confident 
------------------------------------ 
 
13. (SBU) The KPRF operates out of a one-room office in a 
shabby building in downtown Kyzyl surrounded by busts of 
Lenin and old USSR Communist Party banners.  Regional KPRF 
Head Vladimir Sodunam said that there are about 1000 
registered members in Tuva and about 110 in Kyzyl.  They were 
mainly older people, but 12 people in their 20s had joined in 
the last two months.  The party is running 18 candidates on 
the party list and six single-mandate candidates.  He 
expressed confidence that the party would win more than 7 
percent of the votes, even with its limited resources because 
the number of Communist supporters in the electorate was much 
greater than the officially registered members.  He 
complained that other parties had purloined the KPRF's 
campaign slogans. 
 
--------------------------------------------- ------------ 
Rally By Non-United Russia Parties "For Honest Elections" 
--------------------------------------------- ------------ 
 
14. (SBU) On September 18, over 2000 people from Kyzyl and 
several other regions took part in a rally against United 
Russia's use of administrative resources in the October 8 
election campaign.  The speakers from all opposition parties 
-- KPRF, Party of Life, Rodina, LDPR, Pensioners Party, and 
Patriots' Party -- called for honest elections and for 
regional and local officials to stop intimida
ting 
subordinates with dismissal and other consequences if they 
did not back YR.  Rodina Head Khovalig told us that 
intimidation was especially rife in Tuva's regions, where 
heads of schools, hospitals, and other public institutions 
are told to "encourage" their subordinates to vote for United 
Russia.  Sayana Mongush said that many people in the 
intelligentsia and cultural spheres will not vote at all in 
the elections because they are "fed up" with being 
manipulated by the parties and authorities. 
 
------- 
Comment 
------- 
 
15. (SBU)  The regional administration has firm control over 
the economics and politics of Tuva.  For the moment, most of 
its citizens above all want an improvement in their standard 
of living, and they will back whatever party makes the most 
convincing promise of a better life.  With the combined 
resources of Oorzhak, Kara-Ool, Shoigu, and Karelin, YR it is 
virtually guaranteed a decisive majority on October 8. 
BURNS

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