07MOSCOW966, OTHER RUSSIA’S BOUNCE FROM GOR OVERREACTION

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
07MOSCOW966 2007-03-07 12:02 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Moscow

VZCZCXRO8248
PP RUEHDBU
DE RUEHMO #0966/01 0661202
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 071202Z MAR 07
FM AMEMBASSY MOSCOW
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 8037
INFO RUCNCIS/CIS COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEHXD/MOSCOW POLITICAL COLLECTIVE PRIORITY

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 MOSCOW 000966 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 03/07/2017 
TAGS: PGOV KDEM PINR PHUM SOCI RS
SUBJECT: OTHER RUSSIA'S BOUNCE FROM GOR OVERREACTION 
 
REF: ST PETERSBURG 50 
 
Classified By: Political M/C Alice G. Wells: 1.4 (b, d). 
 
Summary 
------- 
 
1.  (C) An adviser to ex-Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov, 
United Civil Front leader Garry Kasparov, and Yabloko Deputy 
Chairman Sergey Ivanenko told us in the wake of the March 3 
Other Russia demonstration in St. Petersburg (reftel) that: 
 
-- While reports of violence were overblown, St. Petersburg 
Governor Matviyenko's overreaction was the cause of the 
march's success; 
 
-- Republican Party President Vladimir Ryzhkov's defection 
and the Yabloko party leadership's continued repudiation of 
Other Russia still leaves the opposition umbrella outside the 
liberal political mainstream; 
 
-- Kasyanov's alliance with Kasparov and Other Russia is an 
uneasy one, despite unabating GOR resistance to his 
presidential ambitions. 
 
-- Other Russia plans a mid-April march in Moscow, but lacks 
a coherent strategy to capitalize on its St. Petersburg 
success.  End summary. 
 
Suppression of March Backfires Painfully for Matviyenko 
--------------------------------------------- ---------- 
 
2. (C) Adviser to former Prime Minister Kasyanov, Oleg 
Buklemishev, told us March 5 that Other Russia was buoyed by 
the miscalculation of local authorities in violently breaking 
up its March 3 demonstration in St. Petersburg -- a mistake 
that he attributed personally to Governor Matviyenko.  The 
Governor had crossed the political line in preventing the 
registration of Yabloko, despite its strong base of support. 
Her almost "irrational" hatred of local independent deputy 
Sergey Gulyaev, who has lead the charge against the city 
administration's championing of the controversial Gazprom 
City construction project, was another factor in the 
miscalculation.  Thanks to Matviyenko's polarizing actions, 
he argued, the local Yabloko branch defied its party 
leadership's boycott of Other Russia, and local citizens were 
willing to vote with their feet on Nevskiy Prospekt against 
the Governor's "patently unfair" tactics. 
 
3. (C) Buklemishev conceded that Kasyanov missed the most 
dramatic moments of the demonstration, having hopped into a 
waiting car after his speech to 500-1000 demonstrators, who 
were surrounded by militia.  Only after Kasyanov's departure 
did the crowd, with Gulyaev and the National Bolsheviks in 
the lead, break through to Nevskiy Prospect where, to the 
surprise of Other Russia organizers, several thousand more 
citizens were prepared to join in the demonstration. 
4. (C) United Civil Front leader Garry Kasparov in a March 6 
conversation said he was surprised by the turn of events in 
St. Petersburg.  He had expected fewer than two thousand 
would attend the meeting, then disburse after a few remarks 
by the organizers.  Kasparov joined Buklemishev in 
attributing the success of the march to miscalculations by 
Matviyenko, who twice on St. Petersburg television warned 
viewers not to attend the "extremist" event.  Announcements 
in the city's subways had also provided unpaid advertising to 
the march, and the heavy-handed response of the militia had 
won the event unexpected international attention. 
Matviyenko's inept handling of the event, Kasparov guessed, 
had likely damaged her reputation among at least some in the 
Kremlin, who would have preferred that Other Russia's meeting 
had been peacefully contained, as it had been in Moscow. 
 
5. (C) Kasparov called Gulyaev the march's locomotive. It was 
Gulyaev, he said, and who had led the demonstrators toward 
the police precinct headquarters where National Bolshevik 
Party leader and meeting participant Eduard Limonov had been 
taken after his arrest early in the event.  (Kasparov later 
in the conversation alleged that Matviyenko had personally 
ordered Limonov released from detention, so that the city 
would not have to contend with further street action from 
young National Bolsheviks.)  When police presence there had 
proved too strong, it was Gulyaev who had turned the march 
down Nevskiy Prospekt, where Other Russia participants were 
joined by St. Petersburgers out for a stroll. 
 
6. (C) Contrary to media reports, "very few" demonstrators 
were beaten, said Kasparov, and he knew to date of only one 
about whom Other Russia was concerned, a spontaneous 
participant in his twenties named Nikolay Lipkin who had 
suffered a concussion and broken nose.  Lipkin had been held 
in police precinct headquarters 27 for five hours without 
 
MOSCOW 00000966  002 OF 003 
 
 
medical attention.  Other Russia planned to attempt to press 
criminal charges against precinct police chief Yevgeniy 
Lyzhovskiy on Lipkin's behalf, Kasparov said. 
 
Other Russia Still Outside the Mainstream 
----------------------------------------- 
 
7. (C) Immediately prior to the demonstration, Republican 
Party President Vladimir Ryzhkov delivered a political blow &#
x000A;to Other Russia, by withdrawing his support on the grounds 
that its collection of Stalinist and National Bolshevik 
fellow-travellers were unpalatable.  Buklemishev argued that 
Ryzhkov's defection was politically irrelevant and derided 
the Republican Party leader and Yabloko's Yavlinskiy for 
continuing to try to find an accommodation with the 
authorities.  Kasparov agreed with Buklemishev that Ryzhkov 
was simply feigning unhappiness with the state of affairs in 
Russia.  "At the end of the day, he likes his soft chair in 
the Duma," Kasparov said, and Ryzhkov's unwillingness to cast 
his lot with Other Russia was part of his plan to remain part 
of the political establishment. 
 
8. (C)  Kasparov conceded that it was unlikely that Yabloko 
St. Petersburg's cooperation with Other Russia foretold a 
schism in the party.  Yabloko leader Grigoriy Yavlinskiy 
remained in charge and unwilling to cooperate.  Kasparov 
thought Yavlinskiy hoped to be tapped by the Kremlin as the 
"democratic" candidate for President in the event that 
Kasyanov's candidacy gained traction.  When we spoke with 
Yabloko's Deputy Chairman, Ivanenko stepped carefully around 
the behavior of the party's St. Petersburg organization at 
Saturday's rally.  He lightly criticized the decision to 
affiliate with Other Russia for the day, saying "our voters 
will not know what the line of the party is" if such joint 
efforts continued.  Ivanenko questioned the wisdom of allying 
the party with Limonov's "radical left" party.  In the same 
breath, he understood that members of his party were appalled 
at the electoral "farce" that was unfolding in St. 
Petersburg.  Ivanenko thought Yabloko would be willing to 
work with Kasparov's United Civil Front, and he guessed that 
one-half of Civil Front members were already members of his 
party.  Ivanenko had no kind words for the St. Petersburg 
administration, whose "unprecedented cruelty" had marred the 
March 3 meeting. 
 
9. (C) Ivanenko said that Yabloko Chairman Yavlinskiy's 
determination to eschew Other Russia would not be influenced 
by the Supreme Court's March 6 refusal to hear the party's 
appeal its exclusion from the March 11 St. Petersburg ballot. 
 He found it "laughable" that the Court claimed to have no 
jurisdiction over the Central Election Commission's behavior. 
 The only good news, Ivanenko said, was that the authorities' 
reaction to Yabloko's attempt to participate in the electoral 
process suggested that they viewed it as a threat to the 
powers-that-be. 
 
Kasparov and Kasyanov: Uneasy Partners 
-------------------------------------- 
 
10. (C) Tensions are apparent among Other Russia's more 
mainstream adherents.  Kasparov described Kasyanov's early 
departure from the rally as a by-product of the fact that the 
ex-Prime Minister was unnerved by "events that he cannot 
control." He implied that Kasyanov may be hedging his bets as 
Other Russia's plan of action unfolds.  Kasyanov, Kasparov 
said, "still behaves like a prime minister."  He is reluctant 
to interact with the media because he cannot anticipate the 
questions they might ask.  The core of Other Russia "is 
Limonov and me," Kasparov said.  He described the "Other 
Russia" coalition as fragile, even in the wake of its 
unplanned success in St. Petersburg.  Buklemishev confirmed 
to us that Kasyanov was equivocal about the umbrella 
opposition and believed that his decision to continue with 
Other Russia came at a cost, since his image as a centrist 
was tarnished among business community supporters who have 
little patience for the antics of Limonov and Anpilov. 
 
11. (C) While Kasyanov may have doubts about Other Russia, 
Buklemishev confirmed that his participation still generated 
the most publicity for his presidential ambitions.  The GOR's 
most effective tactic against Kasyanov was silence.  The 
former Prime Minister generally received no air time on 
central television.  The recent resurrection of corruption 
charges against a former GOR official, for which Kasyanov has 
been called to testify as a witness, was a departure from 
this tactic and was the first time "in several months" that 
Kasyanov's name appeared on television.  Buklemishev 
attributed this latest campaign to the "liberal" camp within 
the Kremlin, specifically to the supporters of First Deputy 
Prime Minister Medvedev.  Claiming multiple Kremlin sources 
for this information, Buklemishev said the most recent 
anti-Kasyanov effort, which was more public relations than 
 
MOSCOW 00000966  003 OF 003 
 
 
hard ball tactics, was prompted by the fact that Kasyanov 
outshone Medvedev as a technocratic candidate: a better 
businessman, more experienced government official, and 
smoother English speaker, Kasyanov made the putative 
successor look immature by comparison. 
 
Next Steps 
---------- 
 
12.  (C)  Kasparov said he had shelved earlier plans to set 
up an alternative ballot box in St. Petersburg, to which 
disaffected voters could take their ballots, in order to 
record their unhappiness with the conduct of the March 11 
election.  Voters instead were being urged to put a line 
through their ballots.  Next on Other Russia's agenda was a 
mid-April rally in Moscow, with a simultaneous rally in St. 
Petersburg contemplated.  Buklemishev did not know the degree 
to which Kasyanov would participate in upcoming Other Russia 
events. 
 
Comment 
------- 
 
13. (C) Kasyanov's early departure from an protest he thought 
had ended and Kasparov's surprise at the publicity generated 
by the march, in addition to his modest hopes for future such 
efforts, seem to confirm that the gathering's "success" was 
accidental.  The St. Petersburg Administration's failure to 
adequately evaluate an event that, if left to run its course, 
would likely have drawn no more than a few thousand 
demonstrators and little media attention, provided a 
short-term boost to Other Russia's profile.  However, 
Kasparov seems to have no clear plan for capitalizing on the 
publicity generated and for giving Other Russia the momentum 
it needs if it is to become a factor that the authorities 
cannot ignore as this political year proceeds. 
BURNS

Wikileaks

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