07MOSCOW1008, TOMSK ELECTIONS: ALL PARTIES IN PLAY, ELECTION

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
07MOSCOW1008 2007-03-09 18:02 2011-08-30 01:44 UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY Embassy Moscow

VZCZCXRO1410
RR RUEHDBU RUEHLN RUEHVK RUEHYG
DE RUEHMO #1008/01 0681802
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 091802Z MAR 07
FM AMEMBASSY MOSCOW
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 8112
INFO RUCNCIS/CIS COLLECTIVE
RUEHXD/MOSCOW POLITICAL COLLECTIVE
RUEHLN/AMCONSUL ST PETERSBURG 3849
RUEHVK/AMCONSUL VLADIVOSTOK 1975
RUEHYG/AMCONSUL YEKATERINBURG 2273

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 04 MOSCOW 001008 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SENSITIVE 
SIPDIS 
 
DEPT FOR EUR/RUS 
 
E.O. 12958: N/A 
TAGS: PGOV PHUM KDEM SOCI PINR RS
SUBJECT: TOMSK ELECTIONS:  ALL PARTIES IN PLAY, ELECTION 
OUTCOME NOT IN DOUBT 
 
MOSCOW 00001008  001.2 OF 004 
 
 
------- 
Summary 
------- 
 
1. (SBU) With a well-educated population fed by six 
universities and at a safe distance from Moscow, the Siberian 
region of Tomsk seems tailor-made for liberal-leaning parties 
like Yabloko or SPS.  Disarray within those parties, a 
popular governor allied with the Kremlin-backed party United 
Russia, and voter apathy seem likely to ensure that neither 
SPS nor Yabloko crosses the seven-percent threshold to 
representation in the regional legislature March 11, however. 
 Among the positive moments in the current campaign:  all 
eight parties that applied to participate in the election 
were registered, as were the lion's share of the 
individual-mandate candidates.  The notable exception on the 
individual candidate list is defrocked Mayor Aleksandr 
Makarov whom, observers in Tomsk agree, was corrupt, but also 
too ambitious and outspoken for some in the region's 
political establishment.  End summary. 
 
Parties in Play 
--------------- 
 
2. (U) As in thirteen other regions in Russia, the Tomsk 
region is scheduled to hold elections on Sunday, March 11. 
At stake are all forty-two seats in the regional legislature. 
 Twenty-one of the regional deputies will be chosen from 
party lists.  The remaining twenty-one seats are being 
contested by individual candidates.  Unlike in other regions 
of Russia, all eight parties that applied to be registered 
were accepted by the Regional Election Commission. The 
participating parties are: 
 
-- United Russia (YR) 
-- the Liberal Democratic Party of Russia (LDPR) 
-- the Communist Party of the Russian Federation (KPRF) 
-- Patriots of Russia (PR) 
-- Yabloko 
-- the Conceptual Party "Unity" (CPU) 
-- the Union of Right Forces (SPS) 
-- For a Just Russia (SR) 
 
3. (U) YR, LDPR, and KPRF were automatically registered for 
the elections, as they are represented in the State Duma. 
PR, Yabloko, and the CPU gathered enough valid signatures to 
be registered, while SR and SPS were registered by paying the 
required deposit, nine million rubles. 
 
Single-Mandate Races 
-------------------- 
 
4. (U) One hundred and three candidates attempted to 
participate in the twenty-one single-mandate races.  In order 
to be registered, candidates were required to either collect 
400 valid signatures, or pay a deposit of 900 thousand 
rubles. The Regional Election Commission (REC) refused nine 
applications.  One of the nine was registered after appealing 
to court.  The candidacy of the most controversial potential 
contender, former Mayor Aleksandr Makarov, was rejected by a 
district election commission. (Makarov is currently under 
investigation and in jail.  See paragraph 10, below.)  The 
commission's decision was overturned by a Tomsk court, but 
Makarov was later excluded on the grounds that he had 
concealed information about his finances.  The other seven 
candidates were denied registration on the grounds that they 
had failed to collect enough valid signatures.  They did not 
appeal the REC's decision. 
 
"Locomotives" Head Party Lists 
------------------------------ 
 
5. (SBU) A number of the parties have attempted to win votes 
by having well-known politicians head their lists.  The 
ever-popular Vladimir Zhirinovskiy is leading LDPR Tomsk into 
the elections, and SPS National Chairman Nikita Belykh is at 
the top of his party's regional list.  The Kremlin-sponsored 
YR has not included National Chairman Boris Gryzlov on its 
Tomsk list, but it has given the number one spot to Tomsk 
Region Governor Viktor Kress, who is believed to be as 
popular in the region an President Putin is nationwide. 
Zhirinovskiy, Belykh, and Kress have no intention of becoming 
regional deputies if their parties cross the seven-percent 
threshold.  Each would step aside in favor of the number two 
candidate on his party's list.  A recently-passed Tomsk 
 
MOSCOW 00001008  002.2 OF 004 
 
 
Region law limits to one the number of prominent candidates 
on any list who have no intention of serving if elected, 
which has somewhat reduced the role of what in Russia are 
called "locomotives," or big-name candidates, in the region's 
campaign this time around. 
 
6. (SBU) Although the big names may have no intention of 
serving in Tomsk if elected they have been traveling 
regularly to the region in support of their respective 
parties.  Boris Gryzlov visited Tomsk on February 18, where 
he promised that the Tomsk Polytechnical University, one of 
the city's six universities, would become the third in Tomsk 
to be win a state contest for innovative programs, which 
brings with it a large amount of money. LDPR Chairman 
Vladimir Zhirinovskiy followe
d Gryzlov into town on February 
26.  About six thousand spectators massed for his meeting at 
the town's largest structure.  The SPS's Nikita Belykh also 
visited Tomsk in mid-February, as did KPRF Chairman Gennadiy 
Zyuganov. The conduct of a visit by SR Chairman Sergey 
Mironov, observers say, was marred by the regional 
authorities' attempts to prevent him from meeting with 
voters. 
 
Smear Campaign, Deceptive Advertising 
------------------------------------- 
 
7. (SBU)  Dirty tricks have allegedly marred the Tomsk 
campaign.  SPS has reported inter alia both to Governor Kress 
and to the Regional Election Commission (REC) that anonymous 
campaign material alleging that the party is in alliance with 
disgraced Tomsk Mayor Aleksandr Makarov has been distributed. 
Tomsk residents, according to SPS, have also found in their 
mailboxes leaflets reporting that the party had hired 
HIV-positive campaign workers and that SPS Chairman Belykh is 
one of Russia's hated oligarchs.  Efforts by local law 
enforcement, in tandem with the REC, had led to the 
confiscation of campaign materials.  The Deputy Chairman of 
the REC Eldar Yusybov told Embassy that, as of March 2, 
thirty-two complaints had been filed with the Commission. 
Most of those, he said, concerned campaign literature, and 
were filed overwhelmingly by political parties. 
 
8. (SBU) YR, SPS, and the KPRF complained to the REC that 
some of the Kremlin-cozy YR's advertising was deceptive.  One 
billboard, prominently displayed around town, suggested that, 
in casting their votes for YR, Tomskites were voting to 
re-elect the Governor.  After protests by other parties, the 
REC required that the offending advertisement be removed 
(although at least one was still visible during Poloff's 
March 1 - 2 visit).  The remaining YR advertisements that 
passed muster with the REC urged voters to "check the box for 
(Governor) Kress, and made scant allusion to YR.  YR's 
attempts to parlay Kress's popularity into votes seemed to 
have been supported by President Putin, who on March 5 
nominated the Governor for an additional term. (Kress has 
been Governor since 1991.)  The newly-elected regional 
legislature will vote on Kress's candidacy, and YR is 
presumably urging voters to ensure that their party is in the 
majority if they wish to see Kress remain. Two other parties 
--SPS and LDPR-- were quick to attach themselves to Kress's 
coattails.  Both announced that they would vote for the 
Governor, if elected.  The KPRF and SR told voters they would 
decide after the March 11 elections. (Local observers trace 
Kress' popularity to his perceived success in winning 
"special economic zone" status for the region, fostering the 
growth of institutes of higher education, and having Tomsk 
named the site for the July 2006 Russian - German Summit.) 
 
9. (SBU) Campaign billboards for all of the major political 
parties lined the streets.  LDPR's featured Zhirinovskiy, 
while SR's seemed to have been inspired by the 
post-Revolution poster art of Vladimir Mayakovskiy, with 
workers punching top-hatted capitalists in the nose.  Other 
SR posters advertised the party as the "new course of the 
President."  Scattered conversations during the March 1 - 2 
visit suggested that Tomskites were coming home each evening 
to mailboxes filled with campaign literature. 
 
Mayor Makarov 
------------- 
 
10. (SBU) Tomsk's Mayor is currently in jail awaiting trial. 
His attempts to get on the ballot for the March 11 elections 
have apparently been thwarted.  Makarov has been accused of 
corruption (the police allegedly found USD 2 million in his 
 
MOSCOW 00001008  003.2 OF 004 
 
 
apartment at the time of their surprise search, and he is 
alleged to have diverted government land to private 
construction projects).  Observers polled during Poloff's 
visit agree that the Mayor was corrupt but noted that 
"everyone in power is" and praised Makarov for his energy. 
An informal poll shown on Tomsk's TV-2 during Poloff's visit 
had ten thousand respondents supporting Makarov and an equal 
number opposed.  His mistake, Tomsk observers believe, was to 
have vocally opposed federal plans to have mayors appointed 
and to have announced his intention to become speaker of the 
regional legislature.  In setting his cap for the speaker 
job, Makarov stepped on the toes of one of Governor Kress's 
proteges, the current Speaker Maltsev. 
 
The Media:  Tentative 
--------------------- 
 
11. (SBU) Contacts suggested that the 2006 amendment to the 
law on extremism and amendments to the electoral law had made 
coverage of the election more complicated for the media.  At 
a February 17 meeting of the Tomsk Regional Election 
Commission with the media, REC Deputy Chairman Eldar Yusybov 
agreed that the law was very complicated and noted that the 
mass media was protecting itself by limiting its coverage of 
the campaign. The Director of the Tomsk NGO Golos Yelena 
Sidorenko held that it was difficult for the media to tell 
the difference between "information and agitation."  Their 
preference, she said, was to pay minimal attention to the 
campaign.  The Deputy Editor of the analytical weekly Tomsk 
News Aleksandr Krasnoperov reported, however, that the law 
notwithstanding, he was continuing to publish "edgy" 
materials about the campaign. He noted that the law provides 
for several warnings before legal action could be taken.  His 
newspaper, to date, had encountered no problems, he said. 
 
SPS:  Demoralized 
----------------- 
 
12. (SBU) The Leader of Tomsk's SPS (and Rector of the 
University of Radioelectronics) Anatoliy Kobzev told Poloff 
March 2 that he believed YR was the source of much of the 
anonymous "dirty tricks" his party had been subject to. 
(Kobzev is number two on an SPS party list headed by Party 
Chairman Nikita Belykh.  Number three on the list is 
Radioelectronics Prorector Aleksandr Uvarov.  SPS was 
fielding no single-mandate candidates.)  Kobzev noted that 
SPS had run in tandem with Yabloko in the last city council 
elections. Together, the parties had garnered 8.57 percent of 
the vote.  With the amended electoral law prohibiting 
electoral blocs, and the Moscow SPS, Yabloko leaderships 
unwilling to merge, Kobzev believed that neither Yabloko nor 
his party would cross the seven-percent threshold to 
representation in the regional legislature. 
 
13. (SBU) Kobzev described no restrictions on media access 
"if you have money."  His party had little funding and, other 
than the television and newspaper space allotted it by law, 
SPS campaign advertising was limited to the occasional 
billboard, leaflets, and a monthly newspaper "Right Bank." 
Kobzev said the SPS Chairman Nikita Belykh had drawn "a small 
crowd" during his recent visit to Tomsk.  Kobzev reminisced 
fondly about the time when Yegor Gaydar and Anatoliy Chubais 
headed the party and it was "much more
 successful."  He saw 
no way for SPS to counter the money and administrative 
resources at the disposal of YR. 
 
Yabloko:  Defiant 
----------------- 
 
14. (SBU) If Kobzev was subdued, the contingent from Yabloko 
Poloff encountered March 2 was defiant.  They reported that 
national party Chairman Grigoriy Yavlinskiy would visit Tomsk 
March 5 in an attempt to revive a campaign they admitted was 
unlikely to succeed.  In Yabloko's way, they said were YR's 
administrative resources, which gave it the ability to 
"confuse voters."  (Kobzev reported that Yabloko Tomsk had 
virtually ceased to exist as a party following the death in 
2000 of then-leader Aleksandr Pletnev.  Pletnev had been the 
Speaker of the Tomsk Regional Council.  With his 
disappearance, according to Kobzev, Yabloko had been taken 
over by a "criminal," Anatoliy Rybkov, who had undercut the 
party's image in Tomsk.  In their meeting with Poloff, the 
delegation from Yabloko sounded equally negative about SPS, 
describing the party as wallowing in "populism." 
 
 
MOSCOW 00001008  004.2 OF 004 
 
 
YR:  Confident 
-------------- 
 
15. (SBU) In a brief, March 1 meeting, YR Duma Deputy 
Aleksandr Zharkikh seemed uninformed and unconcerned about 
the upcoming elections.  He was certain that YR would ride 
Governor Kress's coattails to a majority in the regional 
legislature.  Zharkikh dismissed all competing parties, 
including SR, although he acknowledged that the latter had 
its "patrons in Moscow." 
RUSSELL

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