06MOSCOW12042, FORMER RUSSIAN PM KASYANOV: OPPOSITION WOES,

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
06MOSCOW12042 2006-10-27 11:43 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Moscow

VZCZCXRO2169
PP RUEHDBU
DE RUEHMO #2042/01 3001143
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 271143Z OCT 06
FM AMEMBASSY MOSCOW
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 4601
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 03 MOSCOW 012042 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SIPDIS 
 
DEPT FOR EUR/RUS 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 10/27/2016 
TAGS: PGOV PHUM PINR SOCI RS
SUBJECT: FORMER RUSSIAN PM KASYANOV: OPPOSITION WOES, 
REGISTRATION UPDATE 
 
 
Classified By: Ambassador William J. Burns: 1.4 (b) and (d). 
 
------- 
Summary 
------- 
 
1.  (C)  In a recent one-on-one lunch with Ambassador, a 
confident ex-prime minister Mikhail Kasyanov cited reasons to 
be optimistic about his presidential prospects: 
 
-- the business community's alleged latent support for his 
economic reform agenda; 
 
-- the weakness of current contenders Medvedev 
(inexperienced), Ivanov (distrusted) and Mironov 
(charisma-challenged); 
 
-- looming, unresolved economic and social problems; 
 
-- the lack of other strong contenders in the democratic camp. 
 
2. (C) Kasyanov's optimism contrasts sharply with pessimistic 
prognoses by analysts about the future of the 
western-oriented democratic opposition, whose micro-parties 
remain in disarray.  Another cause for pessimism is the 
refusal of the Federal Registration Service (FRS) to register 
Kasyanov's "Russian Popular Democratic Union (RPDU)."  The 
FRS maintains that the reasons for denying the RPDU were 
technical. Kasyanov and members of his organization see it 
otherwise, and have refused to re-apply.  Registration would 
have simplified the RPDU's financial dealings and laid the 
groundwork for its transformation into a political party. 
Kasyanov seconded the views of observers here that President 
Putin has no interest in staying beyond 2008, but cautioned 
that Kremlin rivalries might complicate his farewell. End 
summary. 
 
--------------------------- 
Kasyanov Remains Optimistic 
--------------------------- 
 
2.  (C)  In a recent one-on-one lunch at Spaso House, former 
PM Kasyanov was confident, verging on smug, about his future 
political prospects, arguing that he was playing "a long 
game."  Surveying the field of "democratic" leaders and 
political parties, Kasyanov was dismissive of Yabloko and 
SPS, arguing that their decision not to attend the July 2006 
Other Russia conference and implicit pact with the Kremlin 
had left them weaker, not stronger electorally.  Russian 
Republican Party (RPR) president Vladimir Ryzhkov, he 
predicted, would have to crawl back to the Other Russia fold 
after his resounding defeat in the October 2006 regional 
elections in Astrakhan; Kasyanov questioned whether RPR could 
expect to secure registration from the Central Election 
Commissioner.  As for his Other Russia partner, Garry 
Kasparov's lack of experience made him "excitable," but 
Kasyanov endorsed their working arrangement.  (Separately, 
Kasyanov's chief aides, Konstantin Merzlikin and Oleg 
Buklemishev, were less charitable, impugning Kasparov's 
"black and white" view of the world, rejecting his call to 
boycott the Presidential elections, and noting that the chess 
champion had not even informed them that his wife's pregnancy 
was the reason for his long sojourn in the U.S.) 
 
3.  (C) Whether or not Putin seeks a third term is the 
central, unresolved issue of the 2008 elections, according to 
Kasyanov, who noted that from a parochial perspective having 
Putin remain in office as social and economic issues came to 
a head was attractive.  Kasyanov, like most observers here, 
believes that Putin wants out.  However, he argued that Putin 
should be worried about his failure to date to transfer his 
own popularity to his presumed candidates for succession, 
Dmitriy Medvedev and Sergey Ivanov, who were not catching 
fire in the popular imagination.  Kasyanov predicted that the 
rivalries between Kremlin blocs would make it difficult for 
Putin to depart, with "old oligarchs" throwing their weight 
behind Medvedev and "new oligarchs" (i.e. Sechin) lacking 
confidence in the First Deputy Prime Minister and detesting 
MinDef Ivanov.  Kasyanov insisted, not once but three times, 
that it was only a question of three to five years "before 
the revolution comes." 
 
4.  (C)  Kasyanov's optimism was a function of his faith in 
the Russian business community's latent support for his 
economic reform agenda.  Noting that corruption was sure to 
play a larger role in the 2008 elections, Kasyanov attempted 
to fireproof himself, noting that additional charges of 
personal corruption might seep out, and volunteering that his 
recently acquired son-in-law, heir to a multimillionaire 
 
MOSCOW 00012042  002 OF 003 
 
 
Moscow construction firm scion, had a reputation for some 
shady real estate deals.  That aside, Kasyanov intimated that 
he was "still friends" with Sergey Ivanov, and that the 
inexperience of Medvedev and the charisma deficit of 
Federation Council Speaker Mironov would play into his hands, 
rendering him an attractive last-minute compromise candidate. 
 
--------------------- 
Other Russia Moribund 
--------------------- 
 
5.  (C)  Kasyanov's advisers told us that his political 
strategy remains largely unchanged.  Because he remains a 
political "untouchable," any effort to unite formally with 
membe
rs of the democratic opposition would provoke a Kremlin 
response.  Instead, the former Prime Minister will head the 
Russian Popular Democratic Union movement (with movements not 
subject to electoral commission requirements to prove a 
membership base of 50,000, distributed throughout at least 45 
of the 88 federal subjects) and use Other Russia as an 
incubator for opposition ideas.  Merzlikin and Buklemishev 
were careful to deny Kasyanov's leadership of Other Russia -- 
with earlier intimations having precipitated RPR Ryzhkov's 
repudiation of the Other Russia format.  Kasyanov continues 
to travel around the country, drawing Kremlin-friendly Nashi 
protesters at most locales.  Merzlikin noted with some irony 
that the Nashi protesters increased, rather than detracted, 
from Kasyanov's profile.  Neither Kasyanov aide complained of 
official harassment, with the exception that university 
campuses appeared to be off limits, with rectors pressured 
into canceling lectures by Kasyanov, despite initial 
enthusiasm in booking the former Prime Minister. 
 
6.  (C)  Other Russia founding member, Lyudmila Alekseyeva, 
acknowledged that it was reduced to a core group of about 30 
members meeting every six weeks to two months.  She defended 
the concept of the big opposition tent, expansive enough to 
include National Bolsheviks and quasi-Stalinists, and united 
only in the rejection of Putin, as a necessary recourse in a 
system dominated by the Kremlin.  Other Russia was more a 
"brand" than a political party.  Alekseyeva remains scathing 
in her criticism of SPS and Yabloko, labeling their decision 
to boycott Other Russia as a betrayal of democratic ideals, 
while conceding that their parties remain the incubators for 
the future democratic leadership of Russia. 
 
7.  (C)  Political scientist and hired consultant for United 
Russia, Boris Makarenko said that based on the latest polling 
conducted by his Center for Political Technologies he has 
"practically lost hope" for the liberal/democratic parties. 
Using Moscow polling data as an illustration, Makarenko noted 
that liberals garnered only about five percent of the vote, 
with "old Soviets" (i.e., those rejecting the market economy) 
polling in the 10-15 percent range.  The mass of voters, 80 
percent, hate the bureaucracy and the power structure (with 
the exception of Putin).  What divides them is their 
orientation to power: do they seek an accommodation and 
negotiations with the power structure (United Russia voters), 
or do Q prefer to yell at the system.  With this data, 
Makarenko argued, the new political union led by the Party of 
Life is well-poised to be an acceptable alternative to the 
party of power and well-placed to garner a respectable 
second-place showing in parliamentary elections.  At this 
stage, he underscored, there is no difference between United 
Russia and the Party of Life: they are competing for power, 
not fighting over ideas.  But, he noted, the emergence of an 
officially tolerated second party was a healthy development, 
if not one to exaggerate. 
 
-------------------------------------------- 
Registration Refusal "Politically Motivated" 
-------------------------------------------- 
 
8. (C) Kasyanov advisor Oleg Buklemishev told us October 25 
that Kasyanov's "Russian Popular Democratic Union" (RPDU) 
would not contest the Federal Registration Service's (FRS) 
October 23 refusal to register it.  Bulemishev joined 
Kasyanov in labeling the FRS's denial "politically 
motivated."  He disputed assertions by acting Director of the 
FRS's Directorate for Political Parties, NGOs, Religious, and 
Other Organizations Galina Fokina (as reported in the October 
24 edition of Izvestiya) that the RPDU was refused 
registration for purely technical reasons that could easily 
be remedied. Fokina said there were four reasons for the 
refusal.  She cited two in the Izvestiya piece: 
 
-- the use of two distinct organizational terms to describe 
the RPDU:  "movement" and "union"; 
-- the provision of the address of executive body, instead of 
 
MOSCOW 00012042  003 OF 003 
 
 
the address of the governing body. 
 
9. (C) Buklemishev rejected Fokina's assertion that the RPDU 
was refused for technical reasons, and referred Embassy to 
the full text of the FRS's refusal letter as evidence.  The 
October 23 letter, in addition to the reasons for refusal 
cited by Fokina in Izvestiya, alleges that parts of the 
RPDU's application were not in conformity with the Law on 
Non-Governmental Organizations.  It also holds that 
information provided to support the assertion that regional 
offices had been established in the Ulyanovsk region, the 
Republic of Chuvashiya, and the Republic of Mariy El was 
false.  The evidence it provides to support that contention 
suggests that the RPDU's application was at a minimum very 
carefully examined.  The letter notes, for example, that 
"E.S. Ksenofontova," allegedly listed in supporting documents 
as a founder of the Cheboksary (Chuvashiya) regional office, 
"has been in the United States since May 2006," while 
Cheboksary founders E.A. Nosova and S.V. Prokopeva told the 
FRS that they were not in the city on August 5, 2006, the day 
of the founding congress. 
 
10. (C) Buklemishev saw behind the FRS's willingness to comb 
the RPDU's application for discrepancies evidence of a 
political decision to keep Kasyanov's organization on the 
sidelines.  In any event, he said, unregistered or not, the 
RPDU would continue its efforts to build a democratic society 
in Russia.  Kasyanov and the other members of his team 
continued to travel around the country.  The RPSU was 
especially strong in the Bryansk and Tula regions. 
Buklemishev ascribed RPSU's strength in some of the regions 
to "local members able to provide" the political cover 
necessary to allow the RPSU prosper there. 
 
------- 
Comment 
------- 
 
11. (C) The RPDU does not have to be registered in order to 
continue it activities, but registration would simplify the 
movement's financial transactions and prepare the way for its 
transformation into a political party, should Kasyanov  want 
to pursue that option. The FRS put the RPSU application under 
a microscope, but the decision not to approve the FRS ruling 
and to address the technical issues doesn't seem to us to be 
politically astute.  Rodina and the Communist Party agree 
with Kasyanov that many of the legal requirements for 
registration are so onerous that all applicants are likely in 
technical violation of one or another of its provisions, 
making it easy for the FRS to single out those organizations 
whose leaders are a source of unhappiness for the Kremlin. 
Nonetheless, foreign NGOs which had been singled out for 
clearly political reasons were able to overcome the technical 
shortcomings identified and get themselves registered. 
BURNS

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