07MOSCOW1895, KREMLIN REACTION TO YELTSIN’S DEATH

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
07MOSCOW1895 2007-04-24 13:53 2011-08-30 01:44 UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY Embassy Moscow

VZCZCXRO5114
OO RUEHDBU RUEHLN RUEHPOD RUEHVK RUEHYG
DE RUEHMO #1895/01 1141353
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 241353Z APR 07
FM AMEMBASSY MOSCOW
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 9662
INFO RUCNCIS/CIS COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEHXD/MOSCOW POLITICAL COLLECTIVE PRIORITY

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 MOSCOW 001895 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SENSITIVE 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: N/A 
TAGS: PREL PGOV PINR RS
SUBJECT: KREMLIN REACTION TO YELTSIN'S DEATH 
 
 
1. (SBU) SUMMARY:  President Putin publicly praised Boris 
Yeltsin as a leader of courage and conviction, instrumental 
in bringing democracy to Russia.  Official media echoed these 
themes, focusing on the positives of Yeltsin's leadership and 
making little mention of economic woes and instability of 
1990s commonly blamed on Yeltsin.  After an initial pause, TV 
news coverage of Yeltsin's death and legacy was substantial, 
but not blanket.  In accordance with Russian Orthodox 
practice, Yeltsin will be buried on the third day after 
death.  Putin and most senior Russian officials are expected 
to attend the funeral.  Foreign representation is still 
largely undecided; German President Kohler is one of the few 
confirmed European attendees.  End Summary. 
 
PUTIN'S TV ADDRESS 
------------------ 
 
2.  (U) In brief televised remarks to the nation on April 23, 
Putin called Yeltsin a historic figure not just in Russia, 
but throughout the world.  Putin credited Yeltsin with 
bringing democracy to Russia and establishing the conditions 
for a "free, open and peaceful country."  He highlighted 
Yeltsin's role in establishing a new constitution which "gave 
people the opportunity to freely express their thoughts and 
to freely choose power in Russia."  Putin termed Yeltsin a 
"brave, warm-hearted, spiritual person."  He commended 
Yeltsin for taking upon himself "the trials and tribulations 
of Russia, peoples' difficulties and problems."  Putin 
declared April 25 a national day of mourning, with flags to 
be flown at half mast and entertainment programming suspended 
on television and radio networks.  As part of the day of 
mourning, Putin postponed his scheduled address to the 
Federal Assembly (the annual State of the Federation) by one 
day, to April 26. 
 
MEDIA 
----- 
 
3.  (SBU) Official media followed the respectful themes laid 
out in Putin's remarks, with press and television coverage of 
Yeltsin's death and legacy positive.  TV repeated images of 
Yeltsin on the tank in 1991 and his December 31, 1999 
transfer of power to Putin.  Russian TV largely glossed over 
the political and economic upheavals of the 1990s that most 
Russians associate with Yeltsin.  Russian television networks 
did not interrupt their afternoon programming to announce the 
death, but devoted extensive portions of their normal news 
broadcasts to Yeltsin.  Gazeta.ru noted the delay in 
coverage, suggesting that news organizations were waiting for 
a cue from the Kremlin on how they should report the story. 
Gazeta noted that CNN and the BBC had broken the story, with 
reactions from various world capitals and extensive coverage 
of Yeltsin's life.  Russian networks did not broadcast their 
first reports until almost an hour and half after the 
official announcement. 
 
4. (U)  Print media gave substantial coverage, with few 
papers departing from the general laudatory treatment of 
Yeltsin's career.  Kommersant, under a page one headline "We 
Suffered a Great Tragedy Today," referred to Yeltsin's 
decision to attack the Parliament in 1993, the 
loans-for-shares auctions in 1994-95, and Yeltsin's 
relationships with various oligarchs as tactical defeats that 
Yeltsin turned into strategic victories. 
 
5.  (SBU) Kommersant also touched on the relationship between 
Yeltsin and Putin.  While most of the quotes from Putin and 
Yeltsin that Kommersant printed expressed mutual respect and 
admiration, the paper also ran oblique criticisms between the 
two.  Yeltsin was quoted as saying in 2003 that opposing 
opinions should always have a place in society and that he 
had told Putin that.  Kommersant also published Putin's swipe 
at Yeltsin from his address to the nation in 2006 in which he 
said that "the hopes of millions had been pinned on the 
changes in the 1990s but neither government nor business 
lived up to these hopes."  Kommersant also ran a commentary 
by Dmitriy Kamyshev questioning whether the appointment of 
Putin was Yeltsin's biggest mistake. 
 
ARRANGEMENTS 
------------ 
 
6. (SBU) Yeltsin will receive a state funeral April 25.  He 
will then be buried at Novodevichiy Cemetery in Moscow.  This 
follows the Russian Orthodox practice of burial on the third 
day after death.  The funeral will be held in Christ the 
Savior Cathedral.  Putin and much of the Russian leadership 
are expected to attend.  Foreign delegations are still 
putting together their delegations.  German President Kohler 
is coming, but former Chancellor Kohl is not, for health 
reasons.  The UK Embassy informs us that Prince Andrew will 
 
MOSCOW 00001895  002 OF 002 
 
 
come; we understand the French have not yet made a decision 
on their representation.  The Japanese Embassy informs us 
that Japan is not sending a delegation; representation will 
come from the Embassy.  We anticipate that most heads of 
State from former Soviet republics will attend. 
 
BURNS

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