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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
07MOSCOW1674 2007-04-12 14:51 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Moscow

DE RUEHMO #1674/01 1021451
P 121451Z APR 07

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 MOSCOW 001674 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 04/11/2017 
Classified By: Ambassador William J. Burns.  Reason:  1.4 (d). 
1. (C) In its April 11 reaction to the release of the 2006 
Supporting Human Rights and Democracy report, the Ministry of 
Foreign Affairs further stoked a fire that was set by an 
April 7 front-page article in the national daily Kommersant 
and fed with criticism by State Duma Foreign Affairs 
Committee Chairman Kosachev, Duma Chairman Gryzlov, and 
others.  All bristled at what they saw as USG interference in 
Russia's internal affairs.  Embassy contacts traced Russian 
sputtering to increased sensitivity in advance of national 
legislative and presidential elections, pre-election 
posturing, a downturn in relations sparked by increasingly 
sharp disagreements over Georgia and Kosovo and, more 
worryingly, a desire to put the political opposition on 
notice that it might be tarred with the U.S. brush as this 
all-important campaign year progresses. End summary. 
Barrage of Criticism 
2. (C) In what was perhaps a sign of worse to come, the 
national daily Kommersant April 7 featured a front-page 
article on the release of the Supporting Human Rights and 
Democracy Report (SHRD).  Kommersant's generally restrained 
coverage this time gave way to criticism of what it saw as 
the USG's effort to manage Russia's political process.  The 
Kommersant piece was followed at the beginning of the week by 
an equally stinging public rebuke by the generally more 
moderate Chairman of the Duma's Foreign Affairs Committee 
Konstantin Kosachev.  Kosachev reiterated his complaint about 
the alleged U.S. intention to "finance projects within the 
framework of the.  .  .Duma and presidential elections" in an 
April 9 meeting with American Jewish Congress (AJC).  AJC 
contacts told us that Kosachev seemed genuinely offended, as 
did Minister of Foreign Affairs Lavrov, who told AJC 
representatives in a meeting the same day that "it looks like 
the U.S. is trying to show us how to run a democracy." 
3. (U) Duma Chairman Gryzlov April 10 was less politic than 
Kosachev, describing the SHRD exercise as "interference by 
another state in Russia's affairs" and a product of the 
"politics of double standards."  Gryzlov was followed a day 
later by the MFA which lambasted the report in a 
five-paragraph statement. Official Moscow's reaction was, of 
course, re-played on all television channels the evening of 
April 11, and continued to get press play April 12, with 
articles in Izvestiya and in the official Rossiyskaya Gazeta, 
which featured criticism by moderate Federation Council 
Chairman Sergey Mironov, and United Russia General Counsel 
Vyacheslav Volodin.  The MFA planned to continue its attack 
with an April 12 midday press conference by Deputy Minister 
of Foreign Affairs Yakovenko. 
Why the Sensitivity? 
4. (C) Embassy contacts traced Russian sensitivity to the 
election year and the frayed state of U.S.-Russian relations. 
 Human Rights Watch's Allison Gill told us that GOR reaction 
to criticism had sharpened recently, and anything that 
smacked of foreign interference in the Duma and presidential 
elections would set it off. Ekho Moskvy Editor Aleksey 
Venediktov, who spoke to us before the MFA weighed in, 
thought that the reactions of leading politicians were 
designed for internal use as the election year unfolded. 
Venediktov noted that the Kremlin would not tolerate outside 
interference in an election process that was not as managed 
as it had hoped it would be. Kremlin-friendly analyst 
Andrannik Migranyan commented that simmering disagreements 
over Kosovo and Georgia had made Russia's opinion makers even 
more sensitive to criticism from the United States. 
Need for Cover 
5. (C) United Civic Front's Garry Kasparov April 11 argued 
that the GOR's reaction in the end tapped into a popular 
sentiment here.  He told us that the only way for even 
would-be opposition politicians in the current environment to 
establish their street credentials with the public was to 
credibly allege that they were not corrupt, that they were 
anti-Kremln, and anti-U.S.  By "anti-U.S.," Kasparov 
clarified, he meant only, not in the pocket of the West. The 
MOSCOW 00001674  002 OF 002 
NGO Golos's Liliya Shabanova agreed that the current 
atmosphere was poisonous, making it even more imperative that 
NGOs like hers seek cover by working with 
government-sponsored entities like the Central Election 
Commission-associated Russian Foundation for Free Elections 
(RFFE). Shabanova thought that in the current environment 
Golos needed RFFE assistance to establish and maintain 
relationships with the central election commission and 
regional commissions. 
6. (C) The NGO Foundation for Information Policy 

Development's (FIPD) Director Svetlana Kolesnik seconded and 
amplified on Shabanova's remarks, noting that "in the current 
political environment, it makes sense to cooperate with 
organizations like the Russian Foundation for Free 
Elections," and not to work only with Russia's "strong 
7. (C) Official Russia's protracted blustering about the SHRD 
is traceable to the same sensitivity about the role of 
foreign entities in the country's domestic political 
processes that prompted the passage of the stringent NGO law 
in early 2006.  As this all-important election year 
progresses, we can expect that sensitivity to only increase. 
This puts a premium on USG efforts to engage all sides here, 
including a truculent Russian government that wants to paint 
US engagement as focused on engineering a political outcome, 
rather than on strengthening an electoral process. 


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