06MOSCOW11695, ELECTORAL COMMISSION CHAIRMAN ON ELECTIONS

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
06MOSCOW11695 2006-10-19 06:13 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Moscow

VZCZCXRO3643
OO RUEHDBU
DE RUEHMO #1695/01 2920613
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
O 190613Z OCT 06
FM AMEMBASSY MOSCOW
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 4142
INFO RUCNCIS/CIS COLLECTIVE
RUEHXD/MOSCOW POLITICAL COLLECTIVE

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 MOSCOW 011695 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SIPDIS 
 
DEPT FOR EUR/RUS 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 10/19/2016 
TAGS: PGOV PHUM KDEM SOCI RS
SUBJECT: ELECTORAL COMMISSION CHAIRMAN ON ELECTIONS 
 
REF: A. MOSCOW 11413 
     B. MOSCOW 11388 
 
Classified By: DCM Daniel A. Russell:  1.4 (b,d). 
 
------- 
Summary 
------- 
 
1. (C) Central Electoral Commission (CEC) Chairman Aleksandr 
Veshnyakov reviewed the October 8 regional elections, recent 
developments in electoral technology, prospects for the 2007 
regional and national (Duma) elections, and possible further 
amendments to the election law in a meeting with Embassy 
October 13.  Highlights: 
 
 
-- the CEC plans to introduce a voter hotline and offer 
informational seminars both for would-be election observers 
and parties registered after January 1, 2007; 
 
-- the Novgorod experiment with electronic voting was a 
success and will be continued; 
 
-- there are plans to introduce SMS reporting of vote tallies 
for interested election observers; 
 
-- voter participation had plunged about 20 percent in 
Karelia October 8 because of the de-listing of Yabloko and 
the elimination of the "against all" option for the 
thoroughly disenchanted voter; 
 
-- legislation is under consideration in the Duma which could 
allow for the calling of "snap" elections and could make 
registration requirements for political parties more 
stringent; 
 
-- Veshnyakov will lead a small delegation to the U.S. at the 
time of the November elections.  End summary. 
 
------------------------------------- 
Electronic Voting a Qualified Success 
------------------------------------- 
 
2. (C) Central Electoral Commission (CEC) Chairman Aleksandr 
Veshnyakov opened his meeting with Embassy October 13 by 
describing his impressions of Russia's latest experiment with 
electronic voting, in Novogorod on October 8.  Veshnyakov 
described the voting process as easy to use by voters of all 
ages, but he thought a public awareness campaign would be 
needed, should the CEC decide to use electronic voting more 
widely in Russia.  The process met the standards of the 
Council of Europe, and observers from Hungary, Ukraine, 
Australia, Austria, and Great Britain had been favorably 
impressed with the experiment. 
 
---------------------------- 
SMS Vote Tracking Experiment 
---------------------------- 
 
3. (C) Another initiative being pioneered by the CEC, said 
Veshnyakov, is SMS vote-tally reporting.  Noting that there 
are 130 million mobile phones in Russia, Veshnyakov said the 
CEC had "patented" a process for providing real-time polling 
station results to "anyone" with a phone who has subscribed 
to the service.  Veshnyakov touted the initiative as designed 
to overcome the Russian voter's distrust of the electoral 
process.  As designed, it would allow voters to compare 
tallies provided at local polling places with those reported 
to regional electoral commissions.  Veshnyakov said the 
experiment had been tried on a limited scale in Novgorod.  It 
would be more widely introduced in the March 2007 regional 
and national (Duma) elections. 
 
------------------------------------------ 
A Look at the October 8 Regional Elections 
------------------------------------------ 
 
4. (C) Veshnyakov pronounced himself satisfied with the 
conduct of the October 8 regional elections (reftels).  He 
thought the election results showed that the more 
ideologically democratic parties (Yabloko, SPS, the 
Republican Party) were in trouble.  Yabloko had done poorly 
--two percent-- in Primorskiy Kray, one of the few contests 
it had entered, while the SPS had declined to participate. 
Veshnyakov noted parenthetically that a key proving ground 
for SPS will be the December 3 election in Perm, where SPS 
Chairman Nikita Belykh will head his party's list.  The 
Republican Party's performance was also underwhelming, it 
polled about one percent in Astrakhan.  The lesson, 
 
MOSCOW 00011695  002 OF 002 
 
 
Veshnyakov thought, was that the parties must unite, but 
"they won't, and that is the problem." 
 
5. (C) Veshnyakov was more optimistic about prospects for the 
"new left."  Its three parties --the Russian Party of Life, 
the Party of Pensioners, and Rodina-- separately did well in 
several of the nine races, and he thought their collective 
performance would be better once they merged on October 28. 
 
6. (C) Voter turnout on October 8 was "about what it had 
been" in the previous, March elections.  Veshnyakov noted 
participation had increased in six regions and declined in 
the remaining three.  The only cause for concern, he 
admitted, was Karelia, where turnout plummeted about twenty 
percent.  Veshnyakov ascribed the slump to: 
 
-- the de-listing of Yabloko, "which might have won 10 - 15 
percent of the vote there," and a subsequent boycott by its 
voters; 
-- disturbances in Kondopoga, which may have kept some timid 
voters from the polls, 
-- the absence, this time around, of an "against all" ballot 
option for the thoroughly disenc
hanted voter. 
 
--------------------- 
Looking Ahead to 2007 
--------------------- 
 
7. (C) With the new election law amendments scheduled for 
full implementation as of January 1, 2007, Veshnyakov 
forecast a reduction of the number of registered parties from 
the current 34 to "more than ten."  The CEC was planning a 
series of informational meetings with the remaining 
registered parties early in 2007, which he invited Embassy 
representatives to attend.  On the agenda as well would be 
efforts, both electronically and through seminars, to inform 
election observers of the procedures and of their rights. 
Also planned was the introduction of a hotline, where voters 
will be able to air their complaints about the electoral 
system or their observations about the conduct of a given 
election.  Public Chamber member Andrey Przhezdomskiy who 
accompanied Veshnyakov at the meeting, described plans to 
unite the efforts of discrete organizations and to complement 
the CEC's attempts to create an educated pool of election 
observers thoughout the country. 
 
8. (C) Veshnyakov thought it possible there could be further 
modifications to the electoral law before the 2007 regional 
and national elections.  (The current Duma session is the 
last in which changes can be introduced which would affect 
the 2007 contests.)  He was worried by some proposals 
currently under discussion in the legislature.  Among them: 
 
-- an amendment that would allow for the calling of "snap" 
elections; 
-- proposals that would make it more difficult to register 
political parties; 
-- further language on extremism that could be used to bar 
candidates or their parties from participation in elections. 
 
The CEC was lobbying against any further changes to existing 
electoral legislation.  He expected the picture to clarify in 
early November. 
 
9. (C) Veshnyakov told Embassy he would lead a delegation of 
5 - 7 persons to Washington, D.C., and "one or two other 
destinations" in conjunction with the November U.S. 
elections.  Embassy offered to assist Veshnyakov and his 
delegation. 
BURNS

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