06MOSCOW12448, BRYANSK: CASE STUDY OF A REGIONAL PARTY OF POWER

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
06MOSCOW12448 2006-11-15 09:34 2011-08-30 01:44 UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY Embassy Moscow

VZCZCXRO9246
RR RUEHLN RUEHVK RUEHYG
DE RUEHMO #2448/01 3190934
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 150934Z NOV 06
FM AMEMBASSY MOSCOW
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 5165
INFO RUEHKV/AMEMBASSY KYIV 0014
RUEHSK/AMEMBASSY MINSK 5358
RUEHLN/AMCONSUL ST PETERSBURG 3554
RUEHVK/AMCONSUL VLADIVOSTOK 1758
RUEHYG/AMCONSUL YEKATERINBURG 2009

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 03 MOSCOW 012448 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SENSITIVE 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: N/A 
TAGS: PGOV PHUM KDEM SOCI RS
SUBJECT: BRYANSK: CASE STUDY OF A REGIONAL PARTY OF POWER 
 
 
1. (SBU) Summary: Once a keystone of post-Soviet Communist control, 
the political scene in Bryansk region is now dominated by United 
Russia (YR).  YR has attracted the youth, business, and elite vote - 
votes that used to be divided between the Communist Party and 
liberal parties like the Union of Right Forces (SPS).  The Communist 
Party is hanging on as the opposition, but its electorate is growing 
old and losing faith in the party.  SPS is increasingly marginalized 
and demoralized.  End Summary 
 
------------------------------------------- 
YR Consolidates Control Quickly Under Putin 
------------------------------------------- 
 
2. (U) From 2000-2004, YR made a concerted effort to consolidate 
control in Bryansk.  The region was one of only five in which Putin 
lost in the 2000 elections (it voted for Communist Gennadiy 
Zyuganov).  Therefore, YR pulled out all the stops to consolidate 
control in the 2003 State Duma elections and the 2004 presidential 
and gubernatorial contest.  As a result, Putin won the region by a 
considerable margin in 2004 and Nikolay Denin was elected State Duma 
deputy from the Bryansk single mandate district in 2003 and then 
governor of Bryansk region in December 2004. 
 
3. (SBU) The 2004 gubernatorial election was one of the most 
infamous in Russia in its use of smear tactics and other 
manipulations of the system -- and YR administrative resources.  A 
local court struck Denin's popular Communist opponent Yuriy Lodkin 
from the ballot in November 2004 in response to allegations that he 
violated election laws.  Lodkin's supporters charged that the courts 
were being manipulated to pave the way for Denin.  In the first 
round of elections, "against all" came in second with 21 percent, 
behind Denin with 43 percent, in a clear protest against Lodkin's 
exclusion from the ballot.  In the second round, Denin got 78 
percent of the vote compared with 10 percent for third place SPS 
candidate Yevgeniy Zelenko.  "Against all" got 10.6 percent. 
 
4. (SBU) In a November 1 meeting, Deputy Director of the Bryansk 
Regional Human Rights Association Sergey Kurdenko told us that Denin 
has been involved in other controversies.  There have been 
allegations that he funnels government funds to his Snezhka chicken 
processing factory. Although he was involved in a car accident in 
which he ran over two women (one of whom died), the regional 
prosecutor general did not pursue the case.  Denin does not enjoy a 
great deal of popular support in the region, but he has strong ties 
to the Kremlin, the State Duma, and the YR Central Committee. 
Individual YR regional deputies are more popular, mainly because 
they are young businesspeople who lobby for their local social and 
business interests. 
 
---------------------------------- 
YR Dominates All Branches of Power 
---------------------------------- 
 
5. (U) YR dominates all branches of executive and legislative power 
in the Bryansk region.  The regional governor and mayor of Bryansk 
belong to YR.  The party has majorities in both the regional Duma 
and Bryansk City Council.  In contrast, until 2004 KPRF was the 
dominant force in the Duma.  Now it has 12 seats in the 60-seat 
regional assembly, to YR's 35.  Kurdenko noted that there were no 
forces in the region able to credibly oppose YR.  In his view, YR is 
comparable to the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, but even 
stronger.6. (U) YR clearly controls the legislative process in the 
regional Duma.  The key issues are implementing national projects 
and getting Moscow to allocate more funds to the region. 
Maintaining federal support for Chernobyl survivor benefits and 
environmental programs also remains important.  According to 
Communist Deputy Stepan Panasov, regional Duma deputies from all 
parties resent that the national budget is running at a record-high 
surplus, while the regional budget is deeply in the red. 
 
--------------------------- 
YR Also Dominates the Media 
--------------------------- 
 
7. (U) In 2005, Governor Denin named Anatoliy Terebunov  acting 
deputy governor for media and regional affairs.  Terebunov was 
previously the editor of the opposition paper "Bryanskiy 
Perekrestok."  Soon after Terebunov's appointment, editors of the 
region's six state-supported newspapers were asked to submit their 
resignations.  Terebunov and Denin did not bother to hide the 
political motives behind their pressure on the editors, saying in 
public that "the administration intends to cauterize them no matter 
how much they moan."  Local RTR television journalist Andrey 
Anufrikov told us that "Bryanskiy Perekrostok" is now the "voice" of 
the administration, and that other media outlets do not stray far 
from the administration's line. 
 
8. (U) Four years ago, the All-Russian Television and Radio Company 
 
MOSCOW 00012448  002 OF 003 
 
 
(VGTRK) bought
 out all local TV and radio companies and 90 percent 
of the staff was fired.  Now VGTRK has a virtual monopoly on TV and 
radio in Bryansk.  The head of VGTRK in Bryansk belongs to YR and 
cooperates with Denin. Two private companies - Ren TV and TV Channel 
60 - are represented in Bryansk, but Ren TV's audience is one-tenth 
of VTGRK's and the TV Channel 60 audience share is even smaller. 
 
----------------------------------- 
United Russia Attracting Youth Vote 
----------------------------------- 
 
9. (SBU) According to Vladimir Proyanenkov, Head of the Bryansk YR 
Executive Committee, YR has 35 branches in all 28 districts of 
Bryansk Oblast and about 8,500 members.  Young people make up about 
thirty percent of the party.  YR's electorate comes from both cities 
and rural districts, but its general level of education is higher 
than the region's average.  YR has infiltrated former Communist 
strongholds in the rural districts by buying up businesses and 
taking over management of public institutions, and by encouraging 
employees to vote for YR in elections, according to our contacts. 
 
10. (SBU) In a meeting with Emboffs, Proyanenkov mentioned that the 
local YR branch criticized the YR's new party program for lack of 
concrete goals and figures, and for not paying enough attention to 
professional education, demographic issues, and health care. 
Proyanenkov said that the YR faction closely cooperates with Rodina, 
SPS, and Social Democratic factions.  The KPRF, he said, was the 
only real opposition in the regional Duma.  Proyanenkov does not 
believe that the newly formed "For A Just Russia" party will 
threaten YR's dominance. 
 
------------------------------------ 
Previously Strong KPRF Losing Ground 
------------------------------------ 
 
11. (SBU) YR is gradually squeezing the KPRF's electorate, wooing 
many of its followers with promises of a better future and alleging 
that KPRF mismanagement during the 1990s is the source of the 
region's current economic problems.   In a November 1 meeting, 
Bryansk KPRF Executive Committee and KPRF regional Duma faction 
member Stepan Panasov told Emboffs there were 3,300 KPRF members in 
the region.  The party's working class base was shrinking and its 
electorate now mainly comprised middle-aged members of the 
"intelligentsia" and veterans.  He said young people are not joining 
the KPRF -- only five percent of the region's youth supports the 
party.  The allegiance of the  rural population has shifted to the 
local authorities, who are generally YR members. 
 
------------------------- 
SPS Struggling in Bryansk 
------------------------- 
 
12. (SBU) "Democratic" parties pose little threat to YR in the 
region, primarily due to leadership issues at the national level. 
Gennadiy Novikov, Executive Director of SPS Bryansk regional branch, 
told Emboffs that the Bryansk SPS branch has only 694 members, and 
funding difficulties restrict it to  two employees and a one-room 
office.  Per Novikov, the SPS central office pays little attention 
to regional branch needs.  Novikov termed SPS Head Nikita Belykh a 
poor leader, and doubted that Belykh would be successful in the 
December Perm legislative by-elections.  (Belykh is from Perm and is 
heading the SPS ticket there.) 
 
13. (SBU) Novikov said the SPS electorate in Bryansk region included 
teachers, doctors, and students, although the latter were less 
likely to vote.  With money the chief motivating factor for many of 
the region's youth, YR's complement of young businesspeople and aura 
of success make it a magnet for the region's young.  Novikov 
contended that local YR deputies are the same faces and the same 
"thieves" who used to be KPRF deputies.  He termed the Russian Party 
of Life a compliant party and believed that the new "For A Just 
Russia" party had little to offer. 
 
------- 
Comment 
------- 
 
14. (SBU) United Russia has eclipsed the Communist party and 
established itself as the clear party of power in Bryansk - for now. 
 As United Russia's rapid replacement  of the Communist Party in a 
former red stronghold indicates, political fortunes can change 
quickly, however.  While SPS and other established parties have 
failed to make inroads, the newly-formed "For AJust Russia" party 
may be in a better position to pose a challenge to YR in the region, 
if Kremlin support for it is backed by administrative resources. 
While Governor Denin has been a controversial figure, he continues 
to enjoy the Kremlin's favor and his position --for now-- appears 
secure. 
 
MOSCOW 00012448  003 OF 003 
 
 
 
BURNS

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