06MOSCOW11279, THE OCTOBER 8 REGIONAL ELECTIONS AS A PROVING

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
06MOSCOW11279 2006-10-06 15:05 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Moscow

VZCZCXRO2521
OO RUEHDBU
DE RUEHMO #1279/01 2791505
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
O 061505Z OCT 06
FM AMEMBASSY MOSCOW
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 3585
INFO RUCNCIS/CIS COLLECTIVE
RUEHXD/MOSCOW POLITICAL COLLECTIVE

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 MOSCOW 011279 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SIPDIS 
 
DEPT FOR EUR/RUS 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 10/06/2016 
TAGS: PGOV KDEM PHUM PREL SOCI RS
SUBJECT: THE OCTOBER 8 REGIONAL ELECTIONS AS A PROVING 
GROUND FOR 2007 
 
REF: A. VLADIVOSTOK 130 
     B. YEKATERINBURG 359 
     C. YEKATERINBURG 360 
     D. MOSCOW 11137 
     E. MOSCOW 11172 
 
Classified By: DCM Daniel A. Russell. Reasons:  1.4 (b) and (d). 
 
------- 
Summary 
------- 
 
1. (C) The October 8 elections are being viewed by 
commentators here as a rehearsal for the 2007 State Duma 
elections (which some see as a rehearsal for the 2008 
presidential contest). Viewed from that vantage point, the 
contests, in nine regions and republics of Russia, should 
offer the Kremlin an opportunity to assess the future of a 
managed, two-party system; gauge the mood of the electorate; 
and determine what works, what does not, in producing the 
desired electoral outcome.  This election in some of the 
regions will serve as the debut for the Russian Party of Life 
(RPL), the second Kremlin-fostered party, after United 
Russia, to throw its hat into the ring.  How RPL fares on 
October 8 will likely determine what part it will play in the 
Presidential Administration's plans for the 2007 contest. 
End summary. 
 
--------------------------- 
A New Kremlin Party Appears 
--------------------------- 
 
2. (C) On October 8, as many as 14 million voters in nine 
regions will go to the polls in what many commentators here 
view as a dress rehearsal for the 2007 State Duma elections. 
Differentiating these elections from contests that took place 
in March this year is the presence in some of the regions of 
two "Kremlin" parties:  United Russia (YR) and the Russian 
Party of Life (RPL).  The appearance of RPL --which is in the 
middle of a merger with the Russian Party of Pensioners (RPP) 
and Rodina-- has reportedly caused confusion, and engendered 
resistance in some of the regions.  Local elites, who had 
become accustomed to supporting one, state-sponsored party, 
this time around have been confronted with the unaccustomed 
task of backing two contenders, and attempting to divine 
which of them, based on their reading of the Kremlin tea 
leaves, is the more deserving. 
 
----------------------------- 
Nine Regions, Different Rules 
----------------------------- 
 
3. (C) Elections will take place October 8 in the Republics 
of Karelia, Tuva, and Chuvashiya; the regions of Primorye, 
Astrakhan, Lipetsk, Novgorod, Sverdlovsk; and the Jewish 
Autonomous Region.  Different laws regulate the conduct of 
the elections in each place.  The minimal voting age is 
either 20 or 21 years, the minimal voter turnout required 
ranges from 20 to 33 percent, and voters in four of the 
regions (Karelia, Tuva, Primorye, the Jewish Autonomous 
Region) will retain the option of voting against all of the 
candidates or parties running.  The threshold which any party 
must cross to representation in its legislature is 7 percent 
in every region. 
 
----------------------- 
Election as Litmus Test 
----------------------- 
 
4. (C) In addition to the Kremlin's experiment with managed, 
two-party democracy, this election will likely be used by 
those with their eye on 2007 to gauge: 
 
-- the effect of an infusion of administrative resources on 
election results; 
-- the mood of the electorate, to the extent that is possible 
when the election playing field is less than level; 
-- the ability of the regions to produce the desired results 
at the polls; 
-- which mechanisms work, which do not, with an increasingly 
sophisticated, and perhaps jaded, voter. 
 
---------------------- 
Very Managed Democracy 
---------------------- 
 
5. (C) The elections this Sunday will occur against the 
background of the same factors that have made previous 
contests less than democratic: 
 
MOSCOW 00011279  002 OF 003 
 
 
 
-- the media deck is stacked in favor of the sponsored 
parties:  YR and in some cases RPL; 
-- compliant electoral commissions and courts have in some 
cases prevented the participation of parties, like Yabloko in 
Karelia, and many individual candidates.  In some cases, 
candidates have been intimidated and have "voluntarily" 
withdrawn; 
-- in rural areas and areas with a large employer, voters may 
be told whom to vote for; 
-- administrative resources have flowed to the Kremlin's 
favorite parties and candidates. 
 
6. (C) Still, the elections results will very generally 
reflect the will of the voters. 
 
----------------------------- 
Rocky Start for Party of Life 
----------------------------- 
 
7. (C) Observers here trace the creation of a second, 
centrally-sponsored party broadly to: 
 
-- rivalries within the Kremlin; 
-- an attempt to channel the electorate's dissatisfaction 
with the status quo,
 and hence with YR, into a safe 
alternative party; 
-- an effort by President Putin to divide and conquer, or at 
least control, Kremlin factions. 
 
7. (C) The Kremlin's enthusiasm for managed democracy has not 
been universally embraced in the regions.  In Lipetsk (ref 
e), YR and RPL appear to be competing for votes, although 
party representatives allege that their parties complement 
one another.  Sverdlovsk region (refs b and c) and Moscow 
appear to be at loggerheads over the RPL, whose ticket is led 
by Yevgeniy Roizman, a maverick who is anathema to the city 
and regional administrations.  In Chuvashiya (ref d), Moscow 
prevailed to have one party, Rodina, registered as the 
standard bearer for the RPL-RPP-Rodina alliance, but in doing 
so engendered much resentment among Cheboksary RPL members. 
In Primorye (ref a), the three "allied" parties --Rodina, 
RPL, RPP-- are all separately on the ballot and the 
controversial mayor of Vladivostok has formed his own bloc to 
contest the elections. 
 
8. (C) In addition to local resentment of Moscow's decision 
to establish a second party over the heads of the regions, 
there is undoubtedly unhappiness with the complexities 
created by another official contender on the ballot.  It is 
easier to use administrative resources and control of the 
media to advance the fortunes of one party than two, and the 
emergence of the RPL no doubt creates angst among local 
leaders uncertain of what it signifies about the power 
balance in the Kremlin and what that ultimately means for 
future center - region relationships. 
 
9. (C) Further complicating the task of producing the "right" 
election results is YR's diminishing popularity in some 
regions (refs a,b,c).  (Primorye has apparently been tasked 
to win 45 percent of the vote, while Sverdlovsk region and 
Chuvashiya are each on the hook for 50 percent.) 
 
---------- 
The Voters 
---------- 
 
10. (C) Observers throughout the regions generally expect 
voter turnout this time around to drop slightly, with the 
electorate arranged in four broad categories: 
 
-- "sophisticated" voters who, according to some commentators 
are tired of being manipulated and will not vote; 
-- employees of Russia's vast public sector, who will 
generally vote for one of the two Kremlin-sponsored parties; 
-- pensioners, some of whom will remain loyal to the 
Communist Party.  The remainder will vote for the party of 
Putin, YR; 
-- the heterogeneous "others," generally urban voters whose 
choices on October 8 will span the spectrum. 
 
------- 
Comment 
------- 
 
11. (C) Most Moscow commentators have focused on what the 
formation of a second government party says about Kremlin 
infighting and the ability of Moscow to write a script that 
will be acted convincingly in the regions.  If that script 
 
MOSCOW 00011279  003 OF 003 
 
 
proves convincing to the voters and the local elites, it will 
likely be used as the rough draft for the 2007 contest. 
BURNS

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