06MOSCOW12498, FURTHER ELECTORAL LAW CHANGES: MORE LEVERS OF

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
06MOSCOW12498 2006-11-17 14:26 2011-08-30 01:44 UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY Embassy Moscow

VZCZCXRO2275
RR RUEHDBU RUEHLN RUEHVK RUEHYG
DE RUEHMO #2498/01 3211426
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 171426Z NOV 06
FM AMEMBASSY MOSCOW
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 5239
INFO RUCNCIS/CIS COLLECTIVE
RUEHXD/MOSCOW POLITICAL COLLECTIVE
RUEHLN/AMCONSUL ST PETERSBURG 3571
RUEHVK/AMCONSUL VLADIVOSTOK 1774
RUEHYG/AMCONSUL YEKATERINBURG 2026

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 MOSCOW 012498 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SENSITIVE 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: N/A 
TAGS: PREL PGOV KDEM RS
SUBJECT: FURTHER ELECTORAL LAW CHANGES: MORE LEVERS OF 
CENTRAL CONTROL 
 
REF: MOSCOW 11388 
 
MOSCOW 00012498  001.2 OF 002 
 
 
1. (SBU) Summary.  A draft electoral law, which passed its 
third and final Duma reading on November 17, contains vague 
provisions which could be used to increase levers of central 
control over the electoral process.  The draft would allow 
the exclusion of candidates who run negative TV ad campaigns 
against their opponents and bar candidates guilty of 
undefined "extremist" behavior.  The same bill would do away 
with requirements for minimum voter turnout.  Senior figures, 
including the Chairman of the Federation Council and the head 
of the Central Election Commission (CEC), oppose the bill, 
fearing it will further increase voter apathy. End Summary. 
 
 
The Amendments 
-------------- 
 
2. (U)  A working group of Duma deputies and Central Election 
Commission (CEC) members resuscitated a draft electoral law 
which passed its first reading in July 2006 despite forceful 
objections by the CEC Chairman Aleksandr Veshnyakov.  In the 
first reading, the legislation had included amendments to the 
Electoral Rights law that would have re-established early 
voting and excluded candidates who had incorrectly filled out 
their registration documents or been convicted of extremism. 
At the time, Veshnyakov spoke out forcefully against the law 
as discrediting the democratic process.  (Reftel.) 
 
3. (U) The Duma/CEC working group emerged with about a 
hundred amendments on November 8.  While the working group 
dropped the early voting provision, it expanded the exclusion 
provisions and introduced a new provision abolishing the 
minimum required voter turnout.  The exclusion provisions now 
allow candidates who incorrectly fill out their registration 
documents a chance to correct them.  However, candidates may 
now be excluded if they make negative comments about other 
candidates in TV campaigns.  The provisions dealing with 
negative comments, while vague, forbid candidates from: 
calling on voters to vote against another candidate; 
describing the negative consequences of voting for an 
opposing candidate; giving information about another 
candidate with negative commentary; or, creating a negative 
impression among voters about a certain candidate. 
Candidates may also be barred if they have been 
administratively punished for using Nazi slogans or other 
undefined extremist behavior. 
 
 
Supporters say... 
----------------- 
 
4. (SBU) United Russia Duma Deputy Aleksandr Moskalets, 
author of the voter turnout amendment, argued that other 
democracies do not require minimum voter turnouts to validate 
an election and that the bill is a sign of Russia's developed 
democracy.  Tapping his worn copy of the Russian 
Constitution, he emphasized to us that all the election law 
had to do was ensure that citizens had the right to go to the 
polls and vote.  He took issue with the notion that the 
candidate exclusion amendments were draconian saying that if 
candidates could prove that their accusations were true, then 
they were within their rights to make them, but claimed the 
burden of proof would be on the accuser.  Finally, Moskalets 
said the bill reflected the need to keep extremist sentiments 
out of the political arena. 
 
 
But Opposition Voices Fear... 
----------------------------- 
 
5. (U) Commentators' responses have focused on the removal of 
the minimum voter requirement and been generally negative. 
Many conclude that Russia is not ready to take this step. 
They worry that Russia's apathetic electorate will see a 
diminished role for itself and find even less reason to 
participate.  Therefore, the argument goes, only voters 
subject to the pressure of administrative resources would 
cast their ballots.  Sergey Mironov, Chairman of the 
Federation Council and leading architect of the new Just 
Russia party, has also told the press that the removal of 
minimum voter turnouts is premature. 
 
6. (SBU) Sergey Reshulskiy, Communist Party Duma Deputy, was 
unsparing to us in his criticism of the proposed amendments, 
terming them absurd.  He told us the exclusion provisions 
would give unfettered power to the election commissions, as 
 
MOSCOW 00012498  002.2 OF 002 
 
 
well as additional opportunities for corruption. 
 
7. (SBU) Comment.  Although the Federation Council (upper 
house) is not in the habit of blocking legislation, Mironov's 
opposition raises that possibility.  More fundamentally, the 
legislation would cede further power to electoral commissions 
and regional courts to exclude candidates on vague grounds, 
such as "negative" TV ads, leaving them considerable leeway 
in interpretation. 
BURNS

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