07MOSCOW2997, FOR A JUST RUSSIA” STRUGGLES TO FIND ITS PLACE

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
07MOSCOW2997 2007-06-20 13:26 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Moscow

VZCZCXRO0669
RR RUEHDBU
DE RUEHMO #2997/01 1711326
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
R 201326Z JUN 07
FM AMEMBASSY MOSCOW
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 1448
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 002997 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 06/20/2017 
TAGS: PGOV SOCI KDEM RS
SUBJECT: "FOR A JUST RUSSIA" STRUGGLES TO FIND ITS PLACE 
 
 
Classified By: Political Officer Bob Patterson.  Reason:  1.4 (d). 
 
------- 
Summary 
------- 
 
1. (C) Recent conversations with members of the For a Just 
Russia (SR) party suggest that the process of forming party 
lists has set off a struggle that may leave on the sidelines 
deputies who have less money to spend or less influence with 
the Kremlin.  Some interlocutors worried that SR was in 
danger of not crossing the seven percent threshold to 
representation in the Duma, and even less likely to hold the 
Kremlin's United Russia (YR) party to less than fifty percent 
of the vote in the December Duma elections.  Pressure against 
SR in the regions continues, although the party remains a 
magnet for regional politicians unable to strike a deal with 
United Russia.  It is also attracting entrepreneurs and, in 
some cases, members of westward-leaning democratic fringe 
parties looking for a way to remain, or become, influential 
in national politics.  End summary. 
 
------------------- 
Hopes for Opposition 
SR Fade Among Some 
------------------- 
 
2. (C) Recent conversations with Duma deputies Viktor 
Pokhmelkin, Gennadiy Gudkov, and Oksana Dmitrieva, as well as 
For A Just Russia (SR) Central Political Council member 
Mikhail Demurin and party International Department Head 
Vladimir Simindei suggested that the next two months will see 
something of a struggle for the party's soul, with those who 
had hoped that SR could act as a tool for shaking up the 
GOR's too comfortable United Russia-dominated nomenklatura 
increasingly inclined to believe that money or Kremlin ties 
alone will determine who is included on the electable part of 
the SR party list. 
 
3. (C) In a June 7 conversation, Pokhmelkin described a 
"serious struggle" within SR, with only a minority of its 
members hoping to make the party an agent for change. 
(Pokhmelkin entered the Duma as an individual mandate 
candidate.  With the move to a party list-only system in 
December 2008, he has been forced to find a berth in one of 
the parties with prospects for representation in the Duma.) 
Somewhat compensating for his group of likeminded deputies' 
lack of numerical strength, said Pokhmelkin, was its 
comparative visibility.  Pokhmelkin named Dmitrieva and 
Gudkov as among those in the group agitating for the creation 
of a party that would openly oppose at least some policies of 
the United Russia party.  Complicating their task, he said, 
was the lack of open debate about the party's future. 
Instead, what he characterized as "businessman" seemed to 
have the ear of SR Chairman Sergey Mironov, and he worried 
they would be awarded the lion's share of key party list 
slots at the party congress in September.  An SR dominated by 
businessmen and compliant regional politicians would mean 
that the party would side with YR on most issues, Dmitrieva 
said, and her hopes of using the party to advance causes she 
believed important to Russia's economic future would fade. 
 
------------ 
Mironov Weak 
------------ 
 
4. (C) Pokhmelkin was reluctant to criticize Mironov's 
stewardship of SR.  He was "not completely comfortable" with 
Mironov, but acknowledged that, as a friend of Putin, the SR 
Chairman did bring some benefits to the party.  Later in the 
conversation, Pokhmelkin described Mironov as "not a strong 
leader" whose influence would be even further diminished once 
the President left office in 2008."  Gudkov acknowledged that 
he had negotiated the terms of his Peoples Party-SR merger 
with Mironov, but referred more frequently to Presidential 
Administration Deputy Vladislav Surkov in discussing SR's 
future. 
 
------------------ 
Party Workers 
Criticize Strategy 
------------------ 
 
5. (C) In a surprisingly frank June 7 conversation, Demurin 
and Simindei elaborated on Pokhmelkin's veiled criticism of 
Mironov.  SR's efforts to stake out the left had been done 
too crudely, they thought, and in a way that played to the 
strengths of the Communist Party, instead of outflanking it. 
"We are a contemporary version of the KPRF," Simindei 
confessed, "but still too lightweight."  (Gudkov called 
"Kremlin support" of the KPRF "dangerous."  He rejected 
rumors that SR was contemplating a merger with the KPRF, but 
 
MOSCOW 00002997  002 OF 002 
 
 
said that SR would be willing to accept defectors from the 
Communist Party should they want to switch sides.)  SR had 
failed to attract to date well known regional figures, 
leading to what they called a serious "politician deficit." 
In those cases where they had succeeded in attracting 
reasonably well-known politicians, they did not fit SR's 
leftist image.  Demurin mentioned multi-millionaire Aleksandr 
Lebedev, who may head the party's Moscow list, as a case in 
point.  "He's too rich to talk convincingly about the needs 
of pensioners," Demurin thought, "and no match for (Moscow 
Mayor) Luzhkov." 
 
--------------------- 
Aspirations for a 
Multiparty Democracy 
--------------------- 
 
6. (C) Dmitrieva and Gudkov hoped that the December elections 
would see a genuine, competitive two-party system emerge. 
Dmitrieva joined Pokhmelkin in believing that Putin genuinely 
wanted to see such a system in place, but that it was 
possible that "the bureaucracy" would not allow such a system 
to develop. Dmitrieva termed the bureaucracy the main 
opponent to democratic governance in Russia. Gudkov expressed 
fears about the centralizing tendencies of the current 
government.  He thought the drift to less freedom feeds the 
growth of extremism.  There may be a crisis looming if the 
fringe protest movements cannot be directed into a peaceful, 
democratic arena, Gudkov worried. 
 
7. (C) What was needed, Gudkov thought, was "democracy along 
European lines."  For such a system to develop, a democratic 
opposition party or parties responsive to its constituents 
must be encouraged.  Gudkov said he had argued for such a 
model in a recent conversation with Presidential 
Administration Deputy Vladislav Surkov.  Surkov, he said, had 
agreed with him. 
 
------- 
Comment 
------- 
 
8. (C) The above comments represent the thoughts of a 
minority in the SR as the party lists gel.  However, the 
anxiety expressed by Gudkov, Pokhmelkin, and Dmitrieva, and 
the disillusionment described by party apparatchiks Demurin 
and Simindei suggest continued disarray in a party that was 
created from three dissimilar parties only last October and 
that has run into considerable resistance in the regions as 
it has attempted to establish itself. 
BURNS

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