07MOSCOW3841, SURKOV GIVES GREEN LIGHT TO CENTER-RIGHT PARTY

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
07MOSCOW3841 2007-08-06 14:16 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Moscow

VZCZCXRO2352
RR RUEHDBU
DE RUEHMO #3841/01 2181416
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
R 061416Z AUG 07
FM AMEMBASSY MOSCOW
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 2704
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 003841 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 08/06/2017 
TAGS: PGOV PINR SOCI RS
SUBJECT: SURKOV GIVES GREEN LIGHT TO CENTER-RIGHT PARTY 
 
Classified By: Acting POL M/C Colin Cleary for reason 1.4 (d). 
 
------- 
SUMMARY 
------- 
 
1. (C) At a closed door convention July 31, Presidential 
Administration Deputy Head Vladislav Surkov reportedly gave 
the Kremlin's blessing to Mikhail Barshchevskiy's 
pro-business and economic reform-oriented Civic Force (CF) 
party's efforts to cross the seven percent threshold and be 
represented in the Duma following the December parliamentary 
elections.  Surkov's support has only reinforced the view 
that CF is a Kremlin tool designed to potentially foil the 
prospects of Duma-bound "liberal" party.  Following Surkov's 
endorsement, a CF representative told us that the party 
expects to receive no help, but also no interference, from 
the Kremlin as it campaigns in the fall.  End summary. 
 
--------------------- 
Surkov Endorses Party 
--------------------- 
 
2. (C) On July 31, Mikhail Barshchevskiy's center-right Civic 
Force (CF) party staged a convention in Moscow as part of its 
increasingly strenuous attempts to make voters aware of its 
party platform and its efforts to cross the seven-percent 
threshold to representation in the Duma in the December 
elections.  CF's efforts on July 31 were aided by the 
presence of Presidential Administration Deputy Head Vladislav 
Surkov, who spoke behind closed doors to the estimated 350 
delegates present.  CF Press Spokesman Aleksandr Agamov told 
us August 2 that CF Chairman Barshchevskiy had long been 
angling for an appearance by Surkov.  Agamov confirmed press 
reports that Surkov in his speech had given the green light 
to CF.  The tacit agreement, Agamov thought, meant that the 
Kremlin would neither actively help nor hinder CF's efforts 
to get on the scoreboard in the Duma elections. 
 
3. (C) Agamov also confirmed that Surkov had sketched in his 
speech a place for CF on the right-center part of the 
political spectrum.  Surkov's remarks suggested Kremlin 
discomfort with the continued perceived leftward drift of the 
electorate and of parties such as the Communists and Just 
Russia that are pursuing them. 
 
4. (C) Per Agamov, in addition to the delegates, the CF 
convention was attended by about one hundred businessmen from 
the regions.  CF hoped that they would understand Surkov's 
presence as a sign that they could contribute to CF's 
campaign without retribution from the Kremlin. Agamov hoped 
that media reports would trickle out to Russia's governors 
and mayors, as well. Agamov worried that, Surkov's remarks 
notwithstanding, most governors were too closely tied to the 
pro-Kremlin United Russia party to allow CF's campaign to go 
forward unhindered. 
 
--------------- 
CF's Electorate 
--------------- 
 
5. (C) In the wake of Surkov's endorsement, Agamov thought 
that CF's task was to energize its core voters, whom he 
identified as "the intelligentsia, small and medium 
entrepreneurs, and others who are alienated from the 
political process."  In an earlier interview, Barshchevskiy 
described CF as the party of "the professional elite." 
 
6. (C) CF, said Agamov, had not yet decided on the shape of 
its 80 - 110 required districts.  Once that was done, then 
local CF conferences would compose local party lists, which 
would be discussed and finalized at a national party 
conference to be held September 15 - 20.  In separate 
interviews, Barshchevskiy has predicted that the party could 
win 20 - 25 percent of the vote, "if (CF's message) is 
heard." 
 
7. (C) Other than the brief media flurry generated by 
Surkov's appearance at the convention, publicity for the CF 
has been limited to political ads above some of Moscow's 
central boulevards, and Barshchevskiy's occasional 
appearances on television.  The party's other efforts to 
generate publicity have been underwhelming.  Embassy visited 
a July 30 CF-organized rally in central Moscow entitled "You 
Must Decide Whom You Support; the Right Wing or Someone 
Else."  The rally was attended by about fifty student-age 
protesters who knew nothing of the party and told Emboff they 
had been paid to take part. 
 
------------------ 
Financial Barriers 
------------------ 
 
MOSCOW 00003841  002 OF 002 
 
 
 
8. (C) Although CF had recently moved its headquarters to a 
new building much closer to the city center where its staff 
occupies four floors, Agamov was clearly worried about the 
party's lack of financial resources.  He stressed several 
times the expense of the fall campaign, and noted that CF had 
no parastatal backer like United Russia's Gazprom or SPS's 
RAO UES. 
 
9. (C) Agamov said that CF expected no difficulties, other 
than financial, in gaining television air time. 
Barshchevskiy is well known in his capacity as government 
representative to the Constitutional Court, and he is 
telegenic.  Agamov noted that the July 31 CF conference was 
covered by the press and featured on most of the national 
n
etworks, as have been many of CF's election-year 
initiatives.  Barshchevskiy and his party have generally 
confined themselves to mild criticism of the GOR. 
Barshchevskiy has pegged the lack of democracy in Russia to 
"the lack of an economic basis for democracy," but has 
criticized the Kremlin's decision to have governors appointed 
instead of elected, and has argued that it was "unwise" for 
the GOR to have prevented Other Russia from staging its 
marches of dissent. 
 
------- 
Comment 
------- 
 
10. (C) The green light from Surkov only reinforces the 
belief that CF is a "Kremlin project" that will be used, if 
necessary, to undercut its increasingly populist rival, the 
Union of Right Forces (SPS).  In the absence of active 
Kremlin support, CF will face the task of overcoming regional 
resistance or indifference to its efforts and of attracting 
enough money to run a national campaign.  CF has never 
electioneered before (it sat out the March regional contest), 
and it seems unlikely that the members of the intelligentsia 
and entrepreneurs, whom it describes as its core electorate, 
are numerous and active enough to propel it into the Duma. 
All signs are that, if left to its own devices, CF will 
squabble with Yabloko and other minor parties for the handful 
of votes that comprise Russia's diminished center-right 
segment of the political spectrum. 
RUSSELL

Wikileaks

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