06MOSCOW12168, RUSSIA: LEFT-OF-CENTER PARTY MERGER FINALIZED

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
06MOSCOW12168 2006-11-01 13:43 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Moscow

VZCZCXRO6304
PP RUEHDBU
DE RUEHMO #2168/01 3051343
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 011343Z NOV 06
FM AMEMBASSY MOSCOW
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 4746
INFO RUEHXD/MOSCOW POLITICAL COLLECTIVE
RUCNCIS/CIS COLLECTIVE

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 MOSCOW 012168 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 11/01/2016 
TAGS: PINR KDEM PGOV RS
SUBJECT: RUSSIA: LEFT-OF-CENTER PARTY MERGER FINALIZED 
 
REF: ST PETERSBURG 690 
 
Classified By: Ambassador William J. Burns: 1.4(d) 
 
1. (SBU) SUMMARY: On October 28, the new Spravedlivaya 
Rossiya ("A Just Russia") party was formally established in a 
merger of the Russian Party of Life, Rodina, and the Party of 
Pensioners.  The leader of the new party is Federation 
Council Chairman and Russia Party of Life Chairman Sergey 
Mironov, who proclaimed the new party's support for President 
Putin at the founding conference.  Spravedlivaya Rossiya has 
positioned itself to be the main rival of Kremlin-sponsored 
United Russia and will have its first test in the regional 
legislative elections in March.  United Russia and the 
Communist Party both downplayed the importance of the new 
party, but both will likely lose voters to it. Observers 
believe that the creation of Spravedlivaya Rossiya 
strengthens Putin's hand, as he has broadened his party base 
to include both United Russia and the new party, without 
being tied down by either. END SUMMARY. 
 
2. (U) The merger of the Russian Party of Life (RPL), Rodina, 
and Party of Pensioners (RPP) was finalized at the new 
Spravedlivaya Rossiya (SR) party conference in Moscow on 
October 28.  In near-unanimous votes, the party members 
approved the party structure, leadership, and plans for the 
next year.  In a show of Kremlin support for the merger, 
President Putin sent his congratulations to the party, 
saying, "Your decision to join forces testifies to the growth 
of the creative potential of Russian society." 
 
------------------------ 
Leadership and Structure 
------------------------ 
 
3. (U) Leadership posts were distributed evenly among the 
merging parties.  SR is led by Sergey Mironov, currently 
Federation Council Chairman and the leader of the RPL. 
Rodina leader Alexander Babakov will lead the party 
presidium, and RPP leader Igor Zotov will be Secretary of the 
party's central council. 
 
4. (U) SR will have a congress as its supreme ruling body, a 
central council that will manage affairs between congresses, 
and a presidium that will attend to all immediate matters. 
The central council will consist of 165 deputies divided 
equally among the three parties.  The presidium will contain 
33 positions also divided equally among the three parties. 
The regional party leadership will be distributed based upon 
regional strength, with RPL and RPP each getting 21 regional 
leadership positions, Rodina getting 29, and 14 to be decided 
later. 
 
5. (U) SR will be built upon Rodina's organizational base, 
which will make the official registration process simple. 
Rodina will officially change its name and then issue new 
party membership cards to all RPL, RPP, and Rodina members. 
Mironov predicted that SR will have 500,000 members.  (Note: 
Although Mironov stated that this would be Russia's largest 
party, United Russia claims membership of more than 1.2 
million. End note.) 
 
-------- 
Ideology 
-------- 
 
6. (U) At a press conference following the party convention, 
Mironov said, "we believe that there is a great deal of 
unfairness in our country.  That is why we need to start with 
reforms of salaries and pensions." Mironov took aim at 
oligarchs "who we see every year on the list in Forbes, who 
have taken for themselves the wealth of Russia's natural 
resources."  SR's goal would be to reduce the income gap 
between Russia's richest 10 percent and poorest 10 percent 
from the current ratio of 30 times to only two times. 
 
7. (U) Mironov firmly set SR in opposition to both United 
Russia and the Communist Party (KPRF).  In contrast to United 
Russia, "the party of power," his party would be the "party 
of the people."  The KPRF ideology is "outdated."  He 
predicted that soon members of other parties would defect to 
SR.  "Let United Russia tremble," he said, when they see his 
party's strength grow.  In response, United Russia presidium 
member Andrey Issayev predicted that United Russia would give 
the new party "a serious bashing" in the regional elections. 
 
------- 
Dissent 
------- 
 
8. (U) The only dissenting voice at the conference was by 
Duma Deputy Yuriy Savelyev, the leader of the St. Petersburg 
 
MOSCOW 00012168  002 OF 003 
 
 
chapter of Rodina.  Savelyev was frozen out of a SR party 
leadership position in St. Petersburg in favor of the 
regional RPL leader, Oleg Nilov (reftel).  Savelyev's ouster 
may have been prompted by his criticism of the parliamentary 
commission report on Beslan, which put him in conflict with 
Mironov.  Savelyev stated that he would not join the new 
party because of ideological differences, namely that Rodina 
was an opposition party and that SR is not.  He is 
threatening to take his St. Petersburg supporters with him, 
but even he was not optimistic that many of them would follow 
his lead. 
 
-------------- 
Future outlook 
-------------- 
 
9. (U)
 The party will immediately commence work on its 
bylaws, which will incorporate proposals from the parties and 
from the regions, and will be finalized at the next party 
congress in February.  Babakov said that the party's 
intention is to secure a majority in the Russian Duma in the 
December 2007 elections.  Mironov dismissed speculation that 
he might run for President in 2008, and emphasized that the 
party was focused on legislative elections in 2007. 
 
---------------------------------------- 
Reaction from United Russia and the KPRF 
---------------------------------------- 
 
10. (C) Leonid Goryainov, the chain-smoking director of 
United Russia's Central Executive Committee information 
service, told us on October 31 that the creation of SR was 
good for the country and for United Russia.  "We are against 
any monopoly on power, and welcome the competition.  Now the 
country can stop having this pointless debate about 'Is 
Russia a democracy?' Of course we are a democracy. Now let us 
focus on matters of substance, like income tax rates." 
Goryainov predicted that United Russia would likely lose 
ground to SR, which he said would win 15-20 percent of the 
seats in the 2007 Duma elections. 
 
11. (C) Per Goryainov, "it was indecent for Mironov to talk 
so much about the need for an opposition party when he had 
never voted against any major United Russia proposal."  The 
defection of some United Russia members to SR would only 
strengthen United Russia. "This will free the party of 
opportunists who only want power and who are not committed to 
United Russia's program.  Let those who disagree leave, and 
we can openly debate our differences, party to party." 
 
12. (C) Putin loyalists ascribe different motives behind the 
Presidential Administration's tinkering with political 
parties.  Goryainov described SR as a means to end for 
Putin's legacy: A stable multi-party democracy for Russia. 
"Those who suggest only raw power politics in these affairs 
misconstrue the President's motives."  Putin was using his 
training as a lawyer and his knowledge of stable, multi-party 
systems to create a similar lasting system for Russia. 
Vitaliy Tretyakov, Editor of Moscow News and an adviser to 
United Russia, provided a more candid assessment, noting that 
the party system is "a mechanism of the Presidential 
Administration, a pretense, a project." 
 
13. (U) At an October 26 press conference, KPRF leader 
Gennadiy Zyuganov said that SR, like United Russia, was an 
artificial creation that posed no real threat to the KPRF. 
"They are again trying to take votes from us, but they will 
fail, just like they failed with Rodina."  KPRF Duma Deputy 
Ivan Melnikov contended that Mironov, far from being an 
opposition figure, "has in fact supported United Russia on 
every vote!"  Melnikov sees the creation of SR as a 
validation of the KPRF platform. "The country has failed to 
stand on only one right leg.  This new party is now using our 
leftist rhetoric, as is United Russia." 
 
14. (C) The Center for Political Technologies' Sergey 
Mikheyev agreed that SR would likely win about 20 percent of 
the seats in the 2007 Duma elections.  Their main task would 
be in the regions where they need to work on combining 
fractious elements into a united party.  He predicted that 
this new party would pull some supporters from the KPRF, but 
that the real loser would be United Russia, which is very 
worried about how much it would lose. 
 
----------------- 
What's in a name? 
----------------- 
 
15. (U) The new party's official name is transliterated 
"Spravedlivaya Rossiya: Rodina, Pensiyoniry Zhizn" and can be 
translated as "A Just Russia: Motherland, Pensioners, Life." 
The party's flag is similar to the Russian tri-color (and 
 
MOSCOW 00012168  003 OF 003 
 
 
similar to United Russia's banner), except the red band at 
the bottom is much broader, with "Spravedlivaya Rossiya" 
written in gold letters. 
 
------- 
Comment 
------- 
 
16. (C) The SR party has now been firmly established, with 
the Kremlin's support and blessing, as a left-of-center 
counterweight to United Russia and a forum for intra-Kremlin 
rivalries to be fought out.  It enables the Kremlin to 
potentially outflank incipient opposition movements that have 
brought down neighboring governments, by allowing Putin to 
react to swings in the national mood without being tied down 
by a party base or ideology. 
 
17. (C) The news is not good for United Russia, practitioners 
of a "sovereign democracy" under one ruling party, who had 
until now enjoyed a monopoly on both governmental power and 
on Putin's image.  Many voters, who supported United Russia 
because of its affiliation with Putin, may now find an 
alternative in SR.  The first cracks in the dam appeared last 
week in Samara, when for the first time an RPL candidate 
defeated a United Russia candidate for mayor; and on October 
27, when three United Russia Duma deputies from Saratov 
defected to the new Kremlin party. 
BURNS

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