07MOSCOW2463, VOLGOGRAD MAYORAL ELECTION: JUST RUSSIA BOUNCED,

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
07MOSCOW2463 2007-05-25 13:28 2011-08-30 01:44 UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY Embassy Moscow

VZCZCXRO6811
RR RUEHDBU RUEHLN RUEHPOD RUEHVK RUEHYG
DE RUEHMO #2463/01 1451328
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 251328Z MAY 07
FM AMEMBASSY MOSCOW
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 0618
INFO RUEHXD/MOSCOW POLITICAL COLLECTIVE
RUCNCIS/CIS COLLECTIVE
RUEHLN/AMCONSUL ST PETERSBURG 4136
RUEHYG/AMCONSUL YEKATERINBURG 2452
RUEHVK/AMCONSUL VLADIVOSTOK 2137

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 MOSCOW 002463 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SENSITIVE 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: N/A 
TAGS: PGOV KDEM PINR SOCI RS
SUBJECT: VOLGOGRAD MAYORAL ELECTION: JUST RUSSIA BOUNCED, 
KPRF BEATS UNITED RUSSIA 
 
MOSCOW 00002463  001.2 OF 002 
 
 
1. (SBU)  Summary:  In what was portrayed as an electoral 
upset by the national media, Communist Party (KPRF) candidate 
Roman Grebennikov won the May 20 Volgograd mayoral election, 
with United Russia State Duma Deputy Vasiliy Galushkin coming 
in a distant third.  "For A Just Russia's" (SR) candidate was 
struck from the ballot days before the election in a campaign 
marred by dirty tricks and counterattacks.  While local 
results generally have little predictive value for the 
December Duma elections, some commentators have claimed that 
they point to voter disillusionment with United Russia and 
note that SR's Kremlin support may be withering.  A closer 
reading of the results shows that this was a victory of a 
well-known local candidate, whom United Russia is moving 
quickly to co-opt.  End summary. 
 
------------------------------------- 
United Russia Fumbles, KPRF Takes All 
------------------------------------- 
 
2. (U)  On May 20, 31-year-old KPRF candidate Roman 
Grebennikov won 32.74 percent of the vote in the Volgograd 
mayoral election.  Voter turnout was 38 percent. 
Unaffiliated acting mayor Roland Kheryanov took 23.85 percent 
and the candidate of the pro-Kremlin United Russia party, 
Duma Deputy Vasiliy Galushkin, ran an erratic campaign and 
garnered only 20.35 percent.  SR nominated construction 
company general director Oleg Mikheyev less than a month 
before election day and he was struck from the ballot three 
days before the election. 
 
--------------------- 
Litigious Campaigning 
--------------------- 
 
3. (U)  The election campaign was rife with attempts to 
de-register candidates.  Mikheyev was de-registered on April 
28 for bribing voters, supposedly as a result of a deal 
between United Russia and KPRF Volgograd Governor Nikolay 
Maksyuta.  Mikheyev continued campaigning until the appeal 
was upheld on May 17, at which point, according to Indem 
analyst Yuriy Korgunyuk, he called on his supporters to vote 
for Grebennikov.  Grebennikov survived two de-registration 
attempts.  Both Kheryanov and Galushkin withstood charges of 
illegal use of administrative resources.  In the week before 
the election, a tape surfaced of Galushkin's campaign workers 
using threats to extract contributions from factory workers. 
Days before the election, Galushkin attempted to drop out of 
the race because of unnamed "pressure," which was rumored to 
have been from United Russia's national leadership.  His 
subsequent decision to stay in the race may not have been 
sanctioned by United Russia's leadership. 
 
------------------------- 
Defeat for United Russia? 
------------------------- 
 
4. (SBU)  Some commentators have billed United Russia's 
defeat in Volgograd as the product of growing disillusionment 
with the Kremlin party in the Volga region.  (NOTE:  SR's 
Viktor Tarkhov won Samara's mayoral election in October 2006 
and A Just Russia won the party vote in Stavropol's March 
2007 regional election.)  Grebennikov is a well-known and 
popular local politician, a lawyer who has been a regional 
duma deputy since 1998, and was speaker from 2001-2005. 
Indem's Korgunyuk told us that the result was unsurprising 
given Grebennikov's prominence in Volgograd.  He thought 
Grebennikov's success had nothing to do with his party 
affiliation.  Further, Korgunyuk noted that in the 
traditionally Communist "red belt," KPRF membership did not 
hurt. 
 
5. (SBU) United Russia may not have been wholeheartedly 
behind its candidate either.  In an apparent effort to 
distance the party from Galushkin's faltering campaign, 
Volgograd United Russia representative Yuriy Oleynikov 
highlighted before the election that the platforms of all the 
favorite candidates matched United Russia's.  United Russia 
Duma Deputy and First Deputy Chairman Vyacheslav Volodin 
stated that the party had supported multiple candidates, one 
of whom was Grebennikov.  According to United Russia's 
website, Duma speaker Boris Gryzlov had meetings in which 
Grebennikov had called himself an independent candidate who 
would work with all parties.  And indeed, Grebennikov's 
ballot entry also listed him as an independent.  The KPRF's 
Ivan Melnikov dismissed such talk as United Russia's attempt 
to deflect attention from the "obvious" defeat of its brand. 
 
 
MOSCOW 00002463  002.2 OF 002 
 
 
6. (SBU)  Nonetheless, Grebennikov has promised to work with 
United Russia, which has majorities in the city, regional, 
and State dumas.  Governor Maksyuta, who refused to ally 
himself with any of the mayoral candidates, attended a United 
Russia party meeting endorsing Galushkin ten days before the 
election. 
 
---------------------------- 
Just Russia Too Threatening? 
---------------------------- 
 
7. (SBU)  A Just Russia Duma Deputy Oksana Dmitrieva told us 
on May 21 that she considered the Volgograd result to be 
further evidence of A Just Russia's waning popularity with 
the Kremlin.  She argued that the KPRF is now being 
positioned as the "opposition" party.  VTsIOM analyst Leontiy 
Byzov concurred.  Byzov noted to us that while provincial 
results do not predict what will happen nationally, the KPRF 
appears to be increasingly popular.  He argued that KPRF's 
popularity is now in the Kremlin's interest because SR is not 
siphoning off KPRF votes, as was intended, instead it has 
become apparent that SR is taking United Russia votes. 
 
------- 
Comment 
------- 
 
8. (SBU)  As closer examination usually reveals, all politics 
are local and the image of a United Russia dominated Russia 
is often challenged by local election outcomes.  In this 
case, United Russia could not keep a good man down -- even if 
he is a Communist -- and has moved quickly to co-opt him. 
BURNS

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