07MOSCOW3034, KREMLIN NON-AGGRESSION PACT WITH THE COMMUNIST

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
07MOSCOW3034 2007-06-22 08:47 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Moscow

VZCZCXRO2876
RR RUEHDBU
DE RUEHMO #3034/01 1730847
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
R 220847Z JUN 07
FM AMEMBASSY MOSCOW
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 1506
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 003034 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 06/22/2017 
TAGS: PGOV SOCI PINR RS
SUBJECT: KREMLIN NON-AGGRESSION PACT WITH THE COMMUNIST 
PARTY 
 
REF: MOSCOW 2582 
 
Classified By: Political M/C Alice Wells.  For reason 1.4 (d). 
 
------- 
Summary 
------- 
 
 1. (C) Communist Party (KPRF) contacts suggest that the 
Kremlin has agreed not to interfere in the party's election 
campaign efforts, in exchange for the KPRF's agreement to 
eschew direct criticism of Putin.  While some view this as an 
effort by Kremlin Presidential Administration Deputy 
Vladislav Surkov to reduce the popularity of the KPRF's 
erstwhile rival, Just Russia (SR), at least one 
Kremlin-connected analyst attributes the Communists' recent 
successes to the invigorating effect of party competition. 
While KPRF leader Zyuganov complains publicly about his 
party's lack of media access, we are struck by the rank and 
file's optimism in the lead up to the fall electoral season. 
End summary. 
 
------------------------- 
Kremlin Support for KPRF? 
------------------------- 
 
2. (C) On June 6, Ilya Ponomarev, head of the KPRF's 
Information Technology Center, told us that KPRF Chairman 
Gennadiy Zyuganov has been regularly meeting with the Kremlin 
and had arrived at an understanding which would allow the 
party to run a mildly oppositional campaign that it hoped 
would result in increased representation in the new Duma. In 
a June 8 meeting, SR Duma Deputy Gennadiy Gudkov underscored 
his party's suspicions that KPRF had some form of Kremlin 
support, given the Communists' increased access to national 
media and Kremlin invitations to participate in high profile 
policy fora.  Since the Kremlin has determined that it "can 
do business" with Zyuganov, Ponomarev said that the pressure 
from some in the KPRF leadership to ease him out of the party 
has diminished.  Ponomarev indicated, however, that the KPRF 
rank-and-file were not universally pleased with the 
conditions attached to the Kremlin's support, such as a ban 
on criticizing Putin directly.  (NOTE:  While Ponomarev did 
not go into the details of the KPRF's "deal," its outline 
resembles the SPS "accord" as described in reftel.) 
 
3. (C) Both Ponomarev and Gudkov asserted that the KPRF's 
improving fortunes were due to increased support for the 
party by Presidential Administration Deputy Vladislav Surkov, 
who had not favored the initial decision to create SR. 
Surkov's reluctance allegedly could be traced to the 
Kremlin's earlier experience with Rodina.  When Rodina 
captured the imagination of Russia's nationalists during the 
Moscow City elections of December 2005, the Kremlin's ardor 
for the party immediately cooled, Ponomarev related. 
 
--------------------------------- 
Or Will Kremlin Simply Step Back? 
--------------------------------- 
 
4. (C) Panorama political analyst Grigoriy Belonuchkin was 
less confident about KPRF's prospects. He suggested in a June 
7 conversation that there were no guarantees that the Kremlin 
would, in the end, honor deals reportedly made with 
second-tier contenders like KPRF, SR, LDPR, and SPS.  In any 
event, Belonuchkin said, any agreements were likely to be in 
the form of a promise "not to interfere" rather than to 
assist any of the second-rank parties.  Center for Political 
Technologies Deputy General Director Sergey Mikheyev 
concurred, and stressed that the Kremlin's real focus is the 
nationalists, who are more dangerous primarily because they 
have no one leader against whom pressure can be brought to 
bear. 
 
5. (C) The Kremlin-connected Director of the Center for 
Elections Politics Gleb Pavlovskiy insisted to us that the 
Presidential Administration's role in bolstering the KPRF was 
exaggerated.  One of the great unanticipated consequences of 
creating Just Russia, he noted, was its galvanizing effect on 
the KPRF base.  The Communists mobilized effectively in the 
March 2007 regional elections, he said, due to the need to 
secure their base from SR poaching.  Pavlovskiy asserted that 
the Kremlin had no interest in destroying the Communists, 
because many of the party's members would then drift towards 
extremism, and not towards SR leader Sergey Mironov's 
corporate-style leftism.  If the Communist party had reformed 
itself years ago, as sought by Putin, Pavlovskiy maintained 
that the Kremlin would not have had to go to the trouble of 
creating Just Russia.  At the regional level, we were told by 
Stavropol KPRF regional leader Viktor Goncharov that party 
members are feeling the pressure of political competition, as 
 
MOSCOW 00003034  002 OF 002 
 
 
both SPS and SR targeted what has been a secure Communist 
Party vote bank. 
 
6. (C) Tatyana Stanovaya, an analyst at the Center for 
Political Technologies, told us June 15 that the Kremlin's 
only goal was to avoid a United Russia constitutional 
majority in the next Duma.  Beyond that it was indifferent to 
which party -- SR or KPRF -- finished second.  Igor Bunin, 
the Center's Director, said their polling data and focus 
groups still put the Communists slightly behind SR's 
projected 12-15 percent in a Duma election. 
 
----------------------
-- 
KPRF's Campaign Strategy 
------------------------ 
 
7. (U) Although the KPRF may have the Kremlin's agreement not 
to interfere, the party's central leadership remains 
frustrated by the KPRF's inability to get airtime on 
government television and radio channels.  In a June 20 press 
conference, KPRF Chairman Gennadiy Zyuganov cited the media 
as KPRF's "real opponent" in the upcoming elections.  He 
called on the journalists present to highlight the 
"corruption and fraud" behind their coverage. 
 
8. (U) At his press conference, Zyuganov claimed that the 
party had solidified its support in the cities and would 
spend the summer shoring up its flagging rural support. In 
the autumn, he said, attention would turn to veterans and 
pensioners. The culmination of its campaign will be during 
the November holidays, when KPRF will discuss the results of 
its Duma initiatives. 
 
------- 
Comment 
------- 
 
9. (SBU) The most striking feature of the recent 
conversations is the general sense of confidence among 
party-linked interlocutors, perhaps traceable to the alleged 
understanding reached with the Kremlin; the general drift of 
other parties to the left, a part of the spectrum where the 
KPRF is first among equals; the continuing poor poll ratings 
of SR; and the KPRF's relatively strong showing in the March 
regional elections.  Adding to that confidence may be the 
party's proven ability to run an effective campaign in the 
regions and aggressively monitor the results of its campaign 
efforts during Russia's often unreliable polling process. 
BURNS

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