07MOSCOW1067, REGIONAL ELECTIONS: COMMUNISTS BENEFIT FROM

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
07MOSCOW1067 2007-03-13 15:47 2011-08-30 01:44 UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY Embassy Moscow

VZCZCXRO3983
OO RUEHDBU RUEHLN RUEHVK RUEHYG
DE RUEHMO #1067/01 0721547
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 131547Z MAR 07
FM AMEMBASSY MOSCOW
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 8190
INFO RUCNCIS/CIS COLLECTIVE
RUEHXD/MOSCOW POLITICAL COLLECTIVE
RUEHLN/AMCONSUL ST PETERSBURG 3862
RUEHVK/AMCONSUL VLADIVOSTOK 1982
RUEHYG/AMCONSUL YEKATERINBURG 2283

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 03 MOSCOW 001067 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SIPDIS 
SENSITIVE 
 
E.O. 12958: N/A 
TAGS: PGOV KDEM PHUM PINR RS
SUBJECT: REGIONAL ELECTIONS:  COMMUNISTS BENEFIT FROM 
UNITED RUSSIA - JUST RUSSIA STAND-OFF 
 
REF: A. MOSCOW 1023 
 
     B. ST. PETERSBURG 57 
 
MOSCOW 00001067  001.2 OF 003 
 
 
1. (SBU) Summary:  Although final results are not yet in, the 
big news of the elections which took place in fourteen 
regions March 11 appears to be the strong showing by the 
Communist Party, which overcame an attempt to steal its 
thunder by the Kremlin-fostered For A Just Russia party to 
win more votes in most regions than it had in 2003.  While 
Vladimir Zhirinovskiy's LDPR tallies were less than its 
results in 2003, March 11 demonstrated that the one-man LDPR 
still has legs.  Union of Right Forces (SPS) Chairman Nikita 
Belykh pegged his party's electoral successes to a campaign 
that stressed the "social aspects."  His critics disagreed, 
and traced strong showings by SPS in as many as five regions 
to a Kremlin boost, financing by UES Chairman Anatoliy 
Chubais, and the party's new-found populism.  End summary. 
 
----------------------- 
Communist Party Bounces 
----------------------- 
 
2. (SBU) Although final results are not in as of March 13, 
the outlines of the March 11 elections in fourteen regions 
(ref a) are becoming clearer.  The Communist Party of the 
Russian Federation (KPRF) seems to have strengthened its 
position in a number of regions.  Observers and the KPRF 
itself traced the party's improved positions in ten of the 
fourteen contests (St. Petersburg, Tomsk, Stavropol, Pskov, 
Omsk, Murmansk, Moscow, Leningrad, Volograd, Komi) to a 
combination of a protest vote by an electorate tired of 
pre-packaged parties, the KPRF's ability to defend its 
interests in the regions, and an election that had 
Kremlin-fostered parties United Russia and For A Just Russia 
too preoccupied with one another to focus on their 
competitors. 
 
3. (SBU) Fund for Effective Politics Chairman Gleb Pavlovskiy 
termed the KPRF's performance one of the surprises of the 
campaign, and he saw it as evidence that For A Just Russia 
had failed in its mission to subtract votes from the left. 
Pavlovskiy thought that For A Just Russia had gotten on the 
scoreboard at the expense of United Russia.  (In fact, if the 
2003 Duma elections are used as a baseline, United Russia 
improved its take in ten of the fourteen regions this time 
around.) Center for Political Technologies Director Aleksey 
Makarkin March 13 played down the significance of the KPRF 
gains, while conceding their status as the only "real" 
political party in Russia.  Makarkin stressed that regional 
parliamentary elections, with generally lower voter turnouts, 
play to the KPRF's strength, its loyal and disciplined 
voters. 
 
4. (SBU) A major surprise for observers was the KPRF's tally 
in St. Petersburg, where it garnered over sixteen percent on 
March 11, as opposed to 7.9 percent in 2003.  The party's 
improved results may indeed indicate that St. Petersburg is 
becoming more like the rest of Russia or, as Yabloko's 
Political Section Chief Galina Mikheeva suggested in a March 
13 conversation with Embassy, KPRF St. Petersburg may have 
benefited from votes cast by those tired of the GOR's efforts 
to manage their democracy. In the wake of the KPRF's success, 
Pavlovskiy excluded the possibility of a December Duma race 
alliance with For A Just Russia as "not in the interests" of 
the surging Communists.  Makarkin suggested that the KPRF and 
For A Just Russia, not SPS, had benefited from the Yabloko 
protest vote because of the bitter rivalry between the two 
"liberal" parties in St. Petersburg. 
 
-------------------------------------- 
Serious Violations in Dagestan Alleged 
-------------------------------------- 
 
5. (SBU) In a March 13 press conference, Chairman Gennadiy 
Zyuganov alleged that violations in Dagestan had been so 
serious that he would ask the Duma March 14 to investigate 
and, possibly, have elections there invalidated. 
 
------------------ 
LDPR Sags Slightly 
------------------ 
 
6. (SBU) Vladimir Zhirinovskiy's LDPR crossed the threshold 
to representation in thirteen of fourteen elections, but saw 
its numbers drop in eleven regions.  Still, observers predict 
that it, along with United Russia, For A Just Russia, and 
KPRF remained strong enough cross the threshold to Duma 
 
MOSCOW 00001067  002.2 OF 003 
 
 
representation in December.  In a March 12 conversation, LDPR 
Duma Deputy Aleksey Mitrofanov termed the results "not bad." 
He was unhappy only with Moscow region results, where initial 
announcements that LDPR had crossed the seven percent 
threshold were followed by a near-final count that put the 
party under seven percent.  The party, Mitrofanov said, is 
investigating and may protest the results. 
 
---------------------------- 
SPS Claims Campaign 
Change Behind Better Re
sults 
---------------------------- 
 
7. (SBU) Also acquitting itself well on March 11 was the 
Union of Right Forces (SPS).  At a March 13 press conference, 
SPS Chairman Nikita Belykh traced his party's strong showing 
to its focus on the "social aspect" in its campaign.  (SPS 
critics say the "social aspect" is really "populism" and 
argue that the party has strayed from its earlier allegiance 
to free-market principles.)  Belykh justified at length his 
party's new program, describing it as a logical extension of 
its free-market ethos.  "The welfare of pensioners is part of 
the capitalist value system," Belykh summed up. 
 
8. (SBU) Belykh insisted that SPS had won at least seven 
percent of the vote in every region where it was registered; 
a claim that few election observers find credible.  He 
claimed there was concrete evidence that the vote had been 
manipulated in Omsk, Orel, and the Moscow regions.  SPS would 
contest the results of those contests in court, he said. 
Poor results in St. Petersburg were the fault of SPS, Belykh 
said. The party had been too preoccupied with Yabloko's 
election saga, and had missed a golden opportunity. 
 
9. (SBU) The verdict is out on whether SPS can become the 
fifth party to cross the threshold into the Duma in December. 
 Makarkin noted that a serious launch of "Civilian Power," 
the re-branded, Kremlin-linked business group with liberal 
pretensions, could reduce the SPS vote bank by a percentage 
point or so; just enough to spoil its chances. 
 
--------------------------------- 
Yabloko - SPS Alliance Impossible 
--------------------------------- 
 
10. (SBU) Yabloko's Mikheeva believed that SPS's cordial 
relations with the Kremlin had paved its way to the March 11 
results. She bitterly alleged that SPS campaign manager Anton 
Bakov's strategy consisted of "buying votes."  Yabloko's near 
failure to get on the election scoreboard March 11 did not 
mean it would contemplate an alliance with SPS, she said. 
 
11. (SBU) Belykh at his press conference agreed that an SPS - 
Yabloko alliance was impossible.  He described the parties' 
ideologies as too different to allow for cooperation.  In a 
March 12 conversation, IMEMO Director Aleksey Arbatov also 
dismissed talk of a tactical merger.  SPS sponsor Anatoliy 
Chubais still conjures up memories of 1990s "oligarch 
capitalism" for too many voters, he said. Arbatov described 
SPS as the "authorized voice" of the liberals, which has 
allowed it easy access to Chubais-channeled funding and made 
a merger with Yabloko unnecessary.  Makarkin noted that SPS's 
aggressive tactics towards Yabloko, including buying off some 
of its Moscow-region party leaders, had further poisoned 
relations. 
 
--------------------------------- 
For A Just Russia Gets on the Map 
--------------------------------- 
 
12. (SBU) Although For A Just Russia's solid performance was 
eclipsed in media reporting by the KPRF's 
stronger-then-expected showing, the elections in the end put 
Sergey Mironov's party solidly on the political map.  Current 
results show it finishing second in four of the fourteen 
regions and above seven percent in every election except 
Omsk.  Makarkin argued that prospects were good for A Just 
Russia to further consolidate its gains now that wary 
regional leaders had proof that the Kremlin was prepared to 
tolerate two ruling parties in regions were For A Just Russia 
had fared well. 
 
------- 
Comment 
------- 
 
13. (SBU) Although the results are not final, and plans by 
 
MOSCOW 00001067  003.2 OF 003 
 
 
some to challenge the results in Dagestan, Moscow region, and 
elsewhere may somewhat change their complexion, observers 
provisionally agree that the showings of United Russia, For A 
Just Russia, KPRF, and LDPR on March 11 have paved their way 
to Duma representation in December. SPS, they believe, will 
have to further strengthen its hold on the electorate in the 
eight months remaining until the election if it is to succeed 
as a faction.  The results of single-mandate races were not 
discussed here.  There are rumors throughout the regions that 
many "independent" deputies elected March 11 are either 
United Russia or For A Just Russia proxies, or businessmen 
inclined to cooperate with them. 
BURNS

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