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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
06MOSCOW12857 2006-12-08 15:47 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Moscow

DE RUEHMO #2857/01 3421547
P 081547Z DEC 06

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 MOSCOW 012857 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 12/08/2016 
Classified By: Ambassador William J. Burns for reason 1.4(d) 
1. (C) SUMMARY: United Russia (YR) approved its party 
platform and action plan for the next ten years at its 
convention in Yekaterinburg on December 2.  Party luminaries 
followed a tight script, staked United Russia's claim to the 
political center with a populist tilt, and rallied its 
members for the upcoming campaign season.  The speakers 
repeatedly stressed "sovereign democracy" when taking shots 
at domestic political competition and western countries. 
Moscow Mayor Luzhkov took a populist pot-shot at the United 
States, and attacked ministers in the federal government for 
caring more about the stabilization fund than they do for 
Russia's future. The convention saw two unexpected 
announcements: a legislative proposal for the direct election 
of the Federation Council, and the omission of Russian 
Railways General Director Yakunin from the list of new 
members of the party's Supreme Council.  Presidential 
Administration Deputy Head Surkov was notable by his absence. 
--------------------------------------------- --------- 
Something for Everybody - Three Goals and Ten Projects 
--------------------------------------------- --------- 
2. (U) United Russia Party (YR) Chairman and State Duma 
Chairman Boris Gryzlov delivered the keynote speech of the 
December 2 conference.  In his speech, he presented the 
party's platform and goals for 2007-2017. Gryzlov also 
unveiled a report titled "The Russia That We Choose."  The 
platform emphasized three themes: Reversing Russia's 
demographic decline, creating a "culture of innovation," and 
fighting corruption.  The report listed ten projects for the 
next ten years, including: raising the minimum wage; 
reforming education and healthcare; investing in youth, 
agriculture, and regional development; and streamlining the 
bureaucracy while raising the standards for public officials. 
--------------------------------------------- ---- 
Luzhkov Lashes Out Foreign and Domestic Opponents 
--------------------------------------------- ---- 
3. (U) Moscow Mayor Luzhkov delivered a fiery, populist 
speech that excoriated the West, the oligarchs, and those 
Russians responsible for the "time of troubles" in the 1990s. 
 Now, Luzhkov said, Russia is "back in the game after a 
painful timeout, and it has become a member of the community 
of sovereign democracies, no better or worse than the United 
States or Europe." Luzhkov particularly criticized the U.S., 
saying that "for 15 years, they taught us to use market laws. 
We were very good students, so they shouldn't complain now. 
They must understand that Russia will not be like the Native 
Americans, driven to the reservation while our natural 
resources are stripped from us." 
4. (U) Luzhkov then aimed his fire at some Russian government 
officials. He roundly condemned the stabilization fund, 
calling it the "sterilization fund" which he demanded be used 
to beef up pensions, improve infrastructure, and spur 
economic growth.  He singled out Economic Development and 
Trade Minister German Gref. "Gref! Stop talking about 
economic development in China and do it in Russia!" 
5. (U) Moscow-based political analyst Dmitriy Oreshkin told 
us that Luzhkov's firm grasp on the reins of power in Moscow 
give him the self-confidence to freely criticize Putin 
associates in a way that other United Russia officials 
cannot.  Oreshkin told us that Luzhkov had recently beaten 
back two efforts by the Presidential Administration to cut 
him down to size.  He compared the Mayor to Tatarstan 
President Shamiev, as someone whom the Kremlin has to treat 
as an equal. 
6. (U) In his speech to delegates, Emergency Situations 
Minister and United Russia Presidium member Sergey Shoigu 
laid out United Russia's electoral goals: maintaining its 
majority in the State Duma and increase the number of 
regional parliaments where it has a majority. Shoigu boasted 
that YR now controls 65 regional parliaments and claims 69 
governors as members. YR Chairman Boris Gryzlov amplified 
Shoigu's comments, saying YR's goal was a majority in every 
regional parliament, a continued majority in the State Duma, 
and a "sustainable majority" in the Federation Council. 
United Russia vs. A Just Russia 
7. (U) Throughout the day, United Russia leaders contrasted 
their party to opposition parties, especially the second 
Kremlin-sponsored party, "Just Russia" (SR). "Only centrism 
can be the base for Russia's future," said Gryzlov, in a 
MOSCOW 00012857  002 OF 002 
swipe at the more left-leaning SR.  Gryzlov said that SR was 
filled with "irresponsible populists" who weaken Russia's 
multi-ethnic and multi-denominational nature. 
8. (C) Shoigu unexpectedly suggested adopting Federation 
Council Chairman Sergei Mironov's long-standing proposal for 
the direct election of Federation Council members. (
Currently, for each region, one Federation Council member is 
appointed by the governor, and the other is chosen by the 
regional legislature.  While Mironov has talked about 
introducing this legislation for years, he has not done so.) 
Shoigu recommended introducing and approving this legislation 
quickly so that it would be in effect before the March 2007 
regional elections.  Morozov told us on December 7 that 
United Russia was indeed serious about this proposal, but the 
details were still under discussion. 
9. (U) Fear of demographic decline was liberally sprinkled 
throughout the day's speeches. One speaker said that Russia 
is experiencing "the equivalent of wartime losses" as 600,000 
Russians die every year before reaching retirement age. 
Speakers called for increased spending on health care and for 
clean water, and for greater benefits for mothers and young 
familles. Luzhkov said, "Young mothers are a needed 
profession.  Two children for every woman would stabilize the 
population. In Russia, every woman should have three!" 
--------------------------------------------- -------------- 
Enlarging the party's Supreme Council - What about Yakunin? 
--------------------------------------------- -------------- 
10. (U) At the close of the convention, the party voted to 
adopt the party platform and some internal party rules.  They 
also approved the addition of four members to the party's 
Supreme Council: the governors of Krasnodar, Khabarovsk and 
Kemerov regions, and Rosoboronexport General Director Sergey 
Chemezov.  The three governors join the President of 
Tatarstan to give the Council executive representation from 
the southwest, center, Siberia, and the Far East. 
Conspicuously missing from the list was Vladimir Yakunin, the 
head of Russian Railways.  Although United Russia announced 
on November 25 that Yakunin would be added to the Council, 
and he appeared in Yekaterinburg with Gryzlov on December 1 
to unveil a new locally-produced locomotive, he was absent 
from the party convention. 
11. (C) Morozov told us that Yakunin decided that he would 
still be associated with the party, but not in an official 
role.  Dmitry Oreshkin, an analyst from Merkator, guessed 
that Yakunin himself had decided not to join because he did 
not want to be tied to a party so closely associated with the 
government.  Oreshkin said that Yakunin entertains 
presidential ambitions that would only be harmed by joining 
United Russia. Yevgeniya Albats from Ekho Moskvy passed along 
a rumor that Yakunin was in the process of creating the 
equivalent of a presidential exploratory committee. 
12. (C) In addition to the inclusion of the three governors 
and Chemezov in the Supreme Council, Chechnya's Prime 
Minister Ramzan Kadyrov was elected to the party's 150-member 
General Council.  Kadyrov's candidacy was the only proposal 
during the convention that saw even slight opposition from 
the delegates; 18 of the 535 secret ballots were cast against 
Kadyrov.  In what is perhaps another sign that at least some 
of the YR leadership is worried about the party's image as 
2007 approaches, the media on December 8 reported that Tomsk 
Mayor Aleksandr Makarov and First Deputy Mayor Sergey 
Lazarev, both of whom have been charged with extortion, have 
been expelled from YR. 
13. (C) The convention was notable for its professional 
organization and focus.  The only place for YR to go from its 
stranglehold on political power, however, is down.  With 
Putin's decision to encourage political competition, United 
Russia is preparing to lose seats in the 2007 March regional 
and State Duma, although much will hinge on Sergey Mironov's 
management of SR, and the mood of an increasingly indifferent 


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