07MOSCOW2872, A CHANGE IN GOVERNMENT’S TACTICS TOWARD OTHER

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
07MOSCOW2872 2007-06-15 10:52 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL//NOFORN Embassy Moscow

VZCZCXRO6354
PP RUEHDBU
DE RUEHMO #2872/01 1661052
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 151052Z JUN 07
FM AMEMBASSY MOSCOW
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 1248
INFO RUCNCIS/CIS COLLECTIVE
RUEHXD/MOSCOW POLITICAL COLLECTIVE

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 MOSCOW 002872 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SENSITIVE 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 06/13/2017 
TAGS: PGOV KDEM PHUM SOCI RS
SUBJECT: A CHANGE IN GOVERNMENT'S TACTICS TOWARD OTHER 
RUSSIA 
 
 
Classified By: Ambassador William J. Burns.  Reason:  1.4 (b). 
 
------- 
Summary 
------- 
 
1. (SBU) The conduct of the June 9 St. Petersburg and the 
June 11 Moscow Other Russia (OR) demonstrations suggests that 
the authorities have decided to experiment with a somewhat 
more tolerant approaqch to a movement they have attempted to 
repress with a heavy hand on the assumption that, if left to 
its own devices, OR will fail to win a significant public 
following.  Both events were licensed by the authorities and 
saw a less intimidating police presence than at preceding OR 
marches.  About 350 demonstrators attended the June 11 Moscow 
event; many fewer than predicted by OR's leadership.  Mayor 
Luzhkov and Prime Minister Fradkov told the Ambassador they 
were pleased by the conduct of the marches.  The expected 
kick-start of the campaign season and resumption of OR 
marches in September, however, will be the real test of the 
GOR's newfound restraint. End summary. 
 
---------------------- 
Few Attend Moscow Demo 
---------------------- 
 
2. (SBU) The June 11 "March of Dissent," like its June 9 St. 
Petersburg counterpart, took place with minimal police 
presence, with the permission of the city authorities, and on 
a central city square.  No more than 350 protesters attended 
the Other Russia (OR)-sponsored event.  (Wire service reports 
of up to two thousand protesters accurately captured 
Kasparov's hyperbole, but were wrong.  The gathering was held 
at a fenced park, where it was easy to count the small number 
who attended.)  The protesters were addressed by outlawed 
National Bolshevik Party leader Eduard Limonov, United Civic 
Front head Garry Kasparov, Vanguard of Red Youth leader 
Sergey Udaltsov, Popular Democratic Union Presidium member 
Ivan Starikov, and others.  Udaltsov elicited some enthusiasm 
from the otherwise subdued crowd when he announced that the 
police had passed their regards to March participants after 
acknowledging that they had mistakenly detained him on the 
morning of the meeting. 
 
-------------------------- 
OR Organizers Elated at 
Apparent Government Change 
of Course 
-------------------------- 
 
3. (SBU) At a June 10 meeting, an elated Kasparov and Limonov 
told us they believed that the conduct of the June 9 OR march 
in St. Petersburg meant the GOR had turned a corner in its 
treatment of their movement.  Both were pleased that OR 
demonstrators were permitted to peacefully assemble and march 
the streets of the northern capital.  Particularly 
encouraging, they said, was the deportment of the police. 
The special forces troops had stayed in the background and 
had shed their intimidating visored helmets, bullet-proof 
vests, and shinguards.  Police presence (at both venues) was 
reduced and the atmosphere at the Moscow event was quite 
relaxed.  Kasparov and Limonov noted as well the change in 
the tenor of their conversations with Ministry of Internal 
Affairs officials.  The exchanges had become more 
constructive, less adversarial, they both said.  They 
portrayed the apparent change of heart to a realization by 
GOR officials that continued confrontation only generated bad 
publicity, both in Russia and abroad. Kasparov noted that 
advertising OR events remained problematic, however.  A 
special edition St. Petersburg newspaper had been confiscated 
by the authorities before it could be distributed, and Moscow 
area publishing houses had refused to print OR's meeting 
materials. 
 
4. (SBU) The June 13 Moscow press largely agreed, in the 
words of the national daily Moskovskiy Komsomolets, that 
after "nine scandalous demonstrations," the authorities 
understood that "it is better to license them, or the 
consequences will be even greater."  The national daily 
Kommersant quoted Public Chamber member and Executive 
Director of the Russian Foundation for Free Elections Andrey 
Przhezdomskiy as saying that "reason has finally triumphed 
over conflict." 
 
------------------------ 
Luzhkov, Fradkov Pleased 
------------------------ 
 
5. (SBU) In a brief June 12 conversation, Moscow Mayor 
Luzhkov told the Ambassador he was satisfied with how the OR 
 
MOSCOW 00002872  002 OF 002 
 
 
demonstration went; especially that conflict and other 
incidents had been avoided.  Luzhkov suggested that the 
city's new tolerance was the result of a conscious GOR 
decision to change tack.  In a separate conversation on the 
margins of the weekend St. Petersburg Economic Forum, a 
visibly pleased Prime Minister Fradkov noted that "even the 
demonstrators were in good form" at the concurrently staged 
OR event. 
 
------- 
Comment 
------- 
 
6. (SBU) Events in the fall, when Other Russia hopes to 
resume its street protests and the pressure of the impending 
elections will make the authorities nervous, will show how 
permanent the triumph of reason is.  The insignificant 
turnout in Mos
cow and St. Petersburg, and the apparent lack 
of a clear-cut OR strategy may help persuade the authorities 
that it is easier to let the protests run their course than 
to attempt to muscle them out of existence. 
BURNS

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