07MOSCOW373, MIXED MESSAGES ON ANTI-DEMONSTRATION LAW

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
07MOSCOW373 2007-01-30 14:11 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL//NOFORN Embassy Moscow

VZCZCXRO2497
RR RUEHDBU
DE RUEHMO #0373/01 0301411
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
R 301411Z JAN 07
FM AMEMBASSY MOSCOW
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 6959
INFO RUCNCIS/CIS COLLECTIVE
RUEHXD/MOSCOW POLITICAL COLLECTIVE

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 MOSCOW 000373 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SENSITIVE 
SIPDIS 
 
DEPT FOR EUR/RUS 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 01/29/2017 
TAGS: PGOV PREL PINR KDEM RS
SUBJECT: MIXED MESSAGES ON ANTI-DEMONSTRATION LAW 
 
Classified By: POL M/C Alice G. Wells.  Reasons:  1.4 (b) and (d). 
 
------- 
Summary 
------- 
 
1. (C) On January 24, a United Russia Duma Deputy withdrew 
amendments to the law on demonstrations that, if adopted, 
would have significantly restricted the circumstances under 
which public meetings could occur.  The withdrawal seemed to 
spell the end of an effort by some in the Presidential 
Administration and in the Duma to ensure that law enforcement 
bodies have the legal apparatus necessary to keep street 
action to a minimum in advance of, and after, elections.  The 
tortured history of the amendments, which were submitted, 
withdrawn, and softened before being re-submitted and again 
rebuffed, suggested a miscommunication between the 
Presidential Administration and its governing United Russia 
party, as well as, possibly, disagreement within the 
Presidential Administration itself.  End Summary. 
 
-------------- 
The Amendments 
-------------- 
 
2. (U)  On January 19, United Russia, Rodina, and LDPR 
deputies submitted legislative amendments that proposed 
banning public demonstrations of any kind in the two weeks 
before and the two weeks after election day.  In addition, at 
any other point during an election campaign, the amendments 
would have allowed government authorities to request the 
courts to prohibit any demonstration where illegal activities 
might be expected to take place.  The amendments also would 
have prevented those who had been found guilty of extremism 
from organizing demonstrations.  The only Duma faction that 
did not support the proposal was the Communist Party (KPRF). 
 
--------------------- 
Objections all Around 
--------------------- 
 
3. (U) According to media reports, Deputy Head of the 
Presidential Administration Vladislav Surkov made a rare trip 
to the Duma on the day the amendments were initially 
submitted, where he instructed its authors to "soften" them. 
The weekend saw a torrent of objection to the amendments, in 
both print and televised media.  Various Duma members 
announced on January 22 that they had withdrawn their 
support, while independent deputy Vladimir Ryzhkov argued 
that the proposed amendments were unconstitutional.  Only 
Movement Against Illegal Immigration (DPNI) Chairman 
Aleksandr Belov shrugged off the possible ban, noting that 
the only punishment for violating the new law would be a 
fine.  In the wake of the debate and Surkov's intervention, 
the first draft was withdrawn. 
 
4. (U) On January 23, the legislation was reintroduced in a 
version that eliminated the provision banning demonstrations 
in the two weeks preceding and following elections.  The 
milder draft of the law sparked controversy among Duma 
deputies as well, leading Duma Chairman Boris Gryzlov to 
announce that he would not support the legislation. 
Gryzlov's announcement prompted United Russia Duma Deputy 
Vladimir Semago to announce on January 24 that the amendments 
had been withdrawn and would "not be re-introduced in the 
near future" since the authors could not agree on how to make 
the legislation palatable to Duma deputies. 
 
--------------------------------------------- -- 
Continued Worries About An "Orange Revolution"? 
--------------------------------------------- -- 
 
5. (SBU)  Indem think tank political analyst Yuriy Korgunyuk 
told us January 25 that the legislation had likely been the 
work of an overzealous Duma deputy, and guessed that it had 
run into opposition because the Kremlin's fear of an "Orange 
Revolution" had passed. Russian Newsweek journalist Mikhail 
Fishman told us the same day that Kremlin unease at the 
prospect of a Russian "Orange Revolution" had long since 
abated.  He joined Korgunyuk in positing that the proposal 
might have been a trial balloon floated, then withdrawn in 
the face of the absence of a consensus in the Duma.  The 
Center for Political Technology's Aleksey Makarkin was quoted 
as saying that, in the absence of any political party or 
other movement popular enough to spark an "Orange 
Revolution," the legislation may have been aimed at the 
presidential election; perhaps at former prime minister 
Mikhail Kasyanov's expected candidacy. 
 
 
MOSCOW 00000373  002 OF 002 
 
 
6. (C)  "Other Russia's" Garry Kasparov told us January 24 
that the law was unnecessary because the Ministry of Interior 
already had the tools to control public behavior.  He 
surmised that United Russia had learned that President Putin 
would not sign such a bill and did not want to be associated 
with public repudiation by the President of a legislative 
initiative as the Duma election campaign was gathering steam. 
 A January 25 Kommersant article attributed the final 
decision to withdraw the second, milder version of the bill 
to an intervention by Head of the Presidential Administration 
Sergey Sobyanin.  Sobyanin's intervention, Kasparov said, 
suggested at a minimum that he and his subordinate Surko
v 
were getting contradictory messages from Putin, or that the 
conflict remained unresolved. 
 
7. (SBU)  Saying that the amendments had been a surprise to 
most Duma deputies, KPRF Duma Deputy Svetlana Savitskaya 
agreed in a January 24 meeting with us that the threat of an 
"Orange Revolution" was non-existent.  Savitskaya alleged 
that the election results were likely to be falsified in some 
districts, and saw the amendments as an attempt to give 
greater control in the face of unrest to the winners of those 
races. 
 
------- 
Comment 
------- 
 
8. (SBU)  The authors' apparent surprise at the negative 
reaction from some of their colleagues and at the Kremlin's 
efforts to retract the legislation suggests a disconnect 
between at least some in the pro-Kremlin United Russia party 
and the Kremlin.  The massive police presence at two meetings 
staged in autumn 2006 -- the "Russian March" and the "Other 
Russia" meeting -- may have been taken by the proponents of 
the legislation as evidence that the Presidential 
Administration was worried that demonstrations in an election 
year could spin out of control.  Whatever the case, the fate 
of the anti-demonstration legislation, like the recent 
stand-off spawned by a bill proposing the relocation of the 
Constitutional Court to St. Petersburg, suggests that the 
minimal spadework necessary to ensure that legislation sails 
through the legislative process is not being done. 
BURNS

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