Monthly Archives: November 2007

07MOSCOW5627, MORE BUSINESS VIEWS ON PARLIAMENTARY ELECTIONS

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
07MOSCOW5627 2007-11-30 15:15 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Moscow

VZCZCXRO6016
PP RUEHDBU RUEHFL RUEHKW RUEHLA RUEHROV RUEHSR
DE RUEHMO #5627/01 3341515
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 301515Z NOV 07
FM AMEMBASSY MOSCOW
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 5613
INFO RUCNCIS/CIS COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEHXD/MOSCOW POLITICAL COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC PRIORITY
RUCPDOC/DEPT OF COMMERCE WASHDC PRIORITY

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 MOSCOW 005627 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SIPDIS 
 
DEPT FOR EUR/RUS, NSC FOR WARLICK 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 11/30/2017 
TAGS: ECON PREL PGOV EINV RS
SUBJECT: MORE BUSINESS VIEWS ON PARLIAMENTARY ELECTIONS 
 
 
Classified By: Ambassador William J. Burns for Reasons 1.4 (b/d) 
 
------- 
Summary 
------- 
 
1. (C) Boris Jordan, a well-known American businessman of 
Russian ancestry, said the December 2 parliamentary elections 
should be seen as part of President Putin's plan to continue 
to exercise influence after his current term expires, 
preferably from the sidelines.  Jordan expressed hope that 
bilateral relations would improve once Russia's elections 
were over, led by increasing economic ties.  Charlie Ryan, 
another leading American businessman in Russia, also saw the 
elections as part of an effort by Putin to retain influence, 
but said he still expected Putin to choose a strong successor 
and step further back when the new president showed he could 
control elite infighting without Putin's aid.  End Summary. 
 
--------------------------------------------- 
Boris Jordan on Election; Bilateral Relations 
--------------------------------------------- 
 
2. (C) Jordan told Econ MC that United Russia would have won 
the elections with 60-70 percent of the vote even without the 
pressure tactics the party has deployed.  Putin was genuinely 
popular and his endorsement of the party alone would have 
been enough.  Even allowing the opposition access to 
television would have made no difference.  That said, the 
leadership of United Russia besides Putin was average at best 
while the leadership of the opposition was even worse.  The 
bottom line was that Putin was in complete control. 
 
3. (C) Jordan said the conduct of the elections showed that 
Putin was not prepared to give up the reins of power. 
However, he thought Putin was tired from the effort it had 
taken to restore order to Russia following the chaos of the 
1990s and would prefer to exercise control from the 
sidelines.  Jordan said he fully expected Prime Minister 
Zubkov to be Putin's choice as his successor because of his 
personal loyalty to Putin.  However, he would not be 
surprised to see Putin return to the presidency in two to 
four years if the situation became unstable or if his 
influence began to slip. 
 
4. (C) Jordan added that he had once had a close relationship 
with Putin, which cooled after his dismissal as head of the 
NTV television station and after the 2004 presidential 
election when Putin began to distance himself more from "all 
things American."  The rising anti-Americanism connected with 
this election was troubling.  Jordan himself had recently 
come under attack in the Russian media solely because of his 
U.S. citizenship.  He hoped that after the elections the 
growing economic ties between the United States and Russia 
would provide the momentum needed to restore good bilateral 
relations. 
 
----------------- 
Ryan on Elections 
----------------- 
 
5. (C) Deutsche Bank's Ryan told Econ MC that as a long time 
resident of Russia and someone committed to the country's 
economic future, he found the conduct of the parliamentary 
elections deeply troubling.  It had also been unnecessary. 
Putin was wildly popular and his support alone would have 
guaranteed United Russia a massive victory.  He added that 
the opposition parties were largely irrelevant and that it 
was only the government's heavy-handed tactics that gave 
Kasparov and others any legitimacy at all. Ryan said he 
believed and hoped that United Russia's tactics were coming 
from the "bottom up," motivated by a desire on the part of 
the party cadre in various regions to outperform each other 
with respect to voter turnout and United Russia's share of 
the vote. 
 
6. (C) Ryan said he thought the parliamentary elections were 
an attempt by Putin to ensure his continued influence after 
the presidential elections by installing a parliament 
personally loyal to him.  Putin was also taking steps to 
assert greater control over Gazprom, the principal source of 
government revenue, through personnel changes with the same 
goal in mind.  Ryan noted a certain irony in Putin using the 
Duma in this manner, an institution he had weakened in favor 
of the presidency.  Ryan said Putin would ultimately be 
judged by history on how he handled the succession.  If as 
Ryan thought still likely, Putin chose a strong successor, 
 
MOSCOW 00005627  002 OF 002 
 
 
helped the new president establish the ability to arbitrate 
intra-elite disputes, and then retired gracefully he would be 
seen positively, regardless of any damage he had done to 
Russian democracy. 
 
BURNS

Wikileaks

07MOSCOW5615, GREF CONFIRMED AS SBERBANK PRESIDENT: EXODUS OF

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
07MOSCOW5615 2007-11-30 14:58 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Moscow

VZCZCXYZ0018
PP RUEHWEB

DE RUEHMO #5615/01 3341458
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 301458Z NOV 07
FM AMEMBASSY MOSCOW
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 5600
INFO RUEATRS/DEPT OF TREASURY WASHDC PRIORITY
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC PRIORITY

C O N F I D E N T I A L MOSCOW 005615 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SIPDIS 
 
STATE FOR EUR/RUS, EEB/IFD 
TREASURY FOR TORGERSON 
NSC FOR WARLICK 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 11/30/2017 
TAGS: EFIN ECON RS
SUBJECT: GREF CONFIRMED AS SBERBANK PRESIDENT: EXODUS OF 
MANAGERS RUMORED 
 
REF: MOSCOW 5043 
 
Classified By: Ambassador William J. Burns, Reasons 1.4 (b/d). 
 
------- 
Summary 
------- 
 
1.  (U) On November 28, Sberbank's shareholders confirmed 
former Economic Development and Trade Minister German Gref as 
the bank's new President and Chairman.  Gref said publicly he 
would work to retain key managers and provided a general 
overview of his plans for the bank.  Outgoing chairman Andrey 
Kazmin and First Deputy Chairman Alla Aleshkina tendered 
their resignations the same day.  Media reports are 
speculating that many key decision makers in Sberbank are 
planning to follow Kazmin and Aleshkina.  Russian Union of 
Industrialists and Entrepreneurs President Aleksandr Shokhin 
was quoted as saying that as many as 200 of Sberbank's 
directors would resign during the next two months and "follow 
Kazmin."  Although Gref's confirmation came as no surprise, 
the scope of the apparent dissatisfaction within the bank 
about his nomination was unexpected.  End Summary. 
 
---------------------- 
Gref In, Kazmin Out... 
---------------------- 
 
2.  (U) An extraordinary Sberbank shareholders' meeting on 
November 28 confirmed the nomination of former Economic 
Development and Trade Minister German Gref as the bank's new 
President and Chairman of the Board.  The approval had been 
expected.  The Central Bank of Russia (CBR), Sberbank's 
majority shareholder, put forward the nomination at a 
Sberbank supervisory council meeting October 16 (reftel). 
During the two-hour, November 28 meeting, Gref said he would 
work to retain the bank's key decision makers to help ease 
the transition.  He also outlined his early priorities for 
building on Kazmin's success in transforming the bank. 
Referring to the view of Sberbank as a large, conservative 
bank, Gref stated that his interest was in "showing that 
elephants can dance."  He explained that his short- to 
medium-term goals were to increase Sberbank's portfolio to 
include investment banking, expand the bank's international 
business, and enhance overall competitiveness. 
 
3.  (U) In October, the choice of Gref had prompted mixed 
reactions, with some observers lamenting Gref's lack of 
banking experience and others lauding his reform-mindedness. 
As soon as the nomination was approved, outgoing President 
and Chairman Andrey Kazmin and his First Deputy Chairman Alla 
Aleshkina announced their resignations.  Kazmin said he 
formally put forth his name for consideration as the new 
Russian Postal System's Director General, a competitive 
position to be decided by late December.  (Note: Putin had 
already supported Prime Minister Viktor Zubkov's nomination 
of Kazmin as Director General two months ago.  End Note.) 
Aleshkina did not state her post-Sberbank plans publicly, but 
the press speculated she would follow Kazmin to the Russian 
Postal System. 
 
------------------------ 
So, Who Else Is Leaving? 
------------------------ 
 
4.  (U) Media accounts speculated that in addition to Kazmin 
and Alekshina, a mass resignation was expected during the 
next two months, which reflected a broad-based disagreement 
with Gref as the new Sberbank president.  Many senior members 
of the board and mid-level operations directors reportedly 
timed the submission of their resignation letters to coincide 
with the November 28 shareholders' meeting so they would 
close out their final year with the bank on a "high note," 
according to business dailies Kommersant and Vedomosti. 
President of Russia's Union of Industrialists and 
Entrepreneurs Aleksandr Shokhin noted that "150-200 Sberbank 
staff--managers and directors--will leave and follow Kazmin, 
probably to the bank that will be established within the 
Russian Postal System." 
 
----------------------- 
Banking Sector Reaction 
----------------------- 
 
5.  (C) Reports on the potential "exodus" of mid-level 
managers have surprised some observers.  Managing Partner of 
the Institute for Social-Economic and Investment Projects 
 
Leonid Baron said "although Gref enjoyed only a lukewarm 
reception following the Central Bank's nomination, I don't 
think many expected the ranks of Sberbank's directorial staff 
would be vacated."  ING Bank Economist Tatyana Orlova 
commented that she understood "there was a loyalty to Kazmin, 
but Gref would probably rely heavily on these managers to 
sustain Kazmin's legacy, particularly early on."  In Orlova's 
view, the mass resignations signaled "a mass missed 
opportunity." 
 
6.  (C) International Industrial Bank Deputy Chairman Aleksey 
Zlobin said that Gref's stated intentions for the bank, which 
Duma Property Committee Chairman Viktor Pleskachevsky echoed 
in comments to the press, "proved that the state plans to, 
and will, take a larger share of the banking sector in the 
intermediate term."  Sberbank's size and access to resources 
could squeeze the private sector out of some investment 
banking areas, the leasing market, and possibly insurance, &#x00
0A;according to Zlobin.  UralSib Bank Deputy Chairman Vladimir 
Ryskin said he doubted Sberbank would be as flexible as 
companies interested in conducting IPOs might prefer, "but 
that will probably change once Gref has a better 
understanding of the bank's capabilities." 
 
7.  (C) UralSib Bank First Deputy Chairman Vladimir Ryskin 
said the reported senior- and mid-level attrition the bank 
might experience by early next year raised questions about 
Gref's ability to assemble a management team and continue 
Kazmin's success.  This issue, however, was beside the point: 
"The CBR does what it is told to do, and a couple of months 
ago, they were told to nominate Gref, probably by Putin. 
Putin's concern was not so much management of Sberbank, whose 
improved status he genuinely credits to Kazmin.  His concern 
was taking care of his friend German Gref." 
 
------- 
Comment 
------- 
 
8.  (C) Gref will have a short honeymoon period, given the 
increased global concerns and lingering aftereffects in 
Russia of the U.S. subprime crisis.  Sberbank's ability to 
weather this period will test Gref's abilities and that of 
his management team.  If the rumored exodus of managers 
proves true, Gref's challenges will be even greater. 
BURNS

Wikileaks

07MOSCOW5613, RUSSIAN ATTENDANCE AT NEW DELHI AVIAN AND PANDEMIC FLU

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
07MOSCOW5613 2007-11-30 14:46 2011-08-30 01:44 UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY Embassy Moscow

VZCZCXRO5545
RR RUEHAG RUEHAST RUEHDA RUEHDBU RUEHDF RUEHFL RUEHIK RUEHKW RUEHLA
RUEHLN RUEHLZ RUEHPOD RUEHROV RUEHSR RUEHVK RUEHYG
DE RUEHMO #5613 3341446
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 301446Z NOV 07
FM AMEMBASSY MOSCOW
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 5598
INFO RUEHRC/USDA FAS WASHDC 5117
RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE
RUEHTA/AMEMBASSY ASTANA 0139
RUEHBK/AMEMBASSY BANGKOK 0798
RUEHBJ/AMEMBASSY BEIJING 4327
RUEHHI/AMEMBASSY HANOI 1520
RUEHPF/AMEMBASSY PHNOM PENH 0404
RUEHUM/AMEMBASSY ULAANBAATAR 0279
RUCPDOC/DEPT OF COMMERCE WASHDC
RUEHPH/CDC ATLANTA GA
RUEAUSA/DEPT OF HHS WASHDC
RHEFAFM/DIRAFMIC FT DETRICK MD//MA-1//
RHMFIUU/DTRA ALEX WASHINGTON DC//CT//
RHEFSNG/HMSNG WASHINGTON DC
RUFGNOA/HQ USEUCOM VAIHINGEN GE
RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHDC
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC

UNCLAS MOSCOW 005613 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SENSITIVE 
SIPDIS 
 
STATE FOR G/AIAG/SUMMERS AND BOGGESS 
STATE ALSO FOR EUR/RUS, EB/TPP/ATP, EB/TPP/BTA, OES/STC 
USDA FOR OSEC/DAN CAINE, FAS FOR OSTA/MACKE, 
-  WRIGHT, LEIER, ROSENBLUM; OCRA/THOMAS, 
-  FLEMINGS; OA/PATRICK CLERKIN 
HHS FOR SAWYER, STEIGER 
FAS PASS FSIS AND APHIS 
SECDEF FOR OSD 
VIENNA PASS APHIS/TANAKA, BRUSSELS PASS 
- APHIS/FERNANDEZ 
USDOC 3150/DAVID FULTON/MOLLY COSTA/ITA/CS/OIO/EUR 
GENEVA PASS HEALTH ATTACHE 
DEPARTMENT PASS USAID FOR GH/RCS/EE/ROSENBERG 
CDC ATLANTA PASS SEPRL FOR DAVID SUAREZ 
 
E.O. 12958: N/A 
TAGS: TBIO KFLU EAGR PREL RS
SUBJECT: RUSSIAN ATTENDANCE AT NEW DELHI AVIAN AND PANDEMIC FLU 
CONFERENCE 
 
REF:  STATE 159330 
 
1. (SBU) We shared reftel information about the upcoming Avian and 
Pandemic Influenza Conference in New Delhi with Russian officials at 
the International Departments of the MFA, Health and Social 
Development Ministry, the Federal Surveillance Service for Consumer 
Rights Protection and Human Well-Being (Roszdravnadzor), and the 
Federal Veterinary and Phytosanitary Surveillance Service 
(Rosselkhoznadzor).  On November 30, Deputy Director Alexander 
Pankin of the MFA's International Department advised us that the 
Russian Embassy in New Delhi would send a representative to the 
conference.  He also noted that Russia was not planning to make any 
additional international pledges for avian and pandemic influenza 
during the conference.  Nikolay Vlasov, Head of Rosselkhoznadzor's 
Veterinary Directorate, told us that two of his agency's 
veterinarians would attend the conference at GOR expense.  The 
Health and Social Development Ministry and Rospotrebnadzor said that 
they would not be sending representatives to the New Delhi 
Conference. 
 
BURNS

Wikileaks

07MOSCOW5612, FOREIGN POLICY, RHETORIC AND ELECTIONS

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
07MOSCOW5612 2007-11-30 14:08 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Moscow

VZCZCXRO4930
PP RUEHDBU
DE RUEHMO #5612/01 3341408
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 301408Z NOV 07
FM AMEMBASSY MOSCOW
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 5596
INFO RUEHZG/NATO EU COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUCNCIS/CIS COLLECTIVE PRIORITY

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 MOSCOW 005612 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 11/28/2017 
TAGS: PREL PINR RS
SUBJECT: FOREIGN POLICY, RHETORIC AND ELECTIONS 
 
 
Classified By: DCM Daniel A. Russell for reasons 1.4 (b/d). 
 
1.  (C) Summary: International issues have received little 
attention in the run-up to the December 2 Duma elections, 
reflecting broad consensus behind Putin's foreign policy. 
Russia's positions on the top issues that do resonate with 
the Russian public - Kosovo, NATO enlargement, missile 
defense, CFA and Georgia - have been skillfully marketed to 
the electorate as proof positive that Russia is back as a 
great power, its influence is growing vis-a-vis the United 
States, and its activism on the international scene is 
essential to contain America's global ambitions.  Likewise, 
Putin's tough talk on U.S.-funded NGOs and ODHIR election 
observers is another reminder of just how vivid memories of 
Russia's humiliation and powerlessness in the 1990s remain 
for the elite and the general public.  The attractiveness of 
Putin's policies and rhetoric on all of these issues has been 
used to bolster popular support for the President himself and 
United Russia during the electoral campaign.  All politics in 
Russia will continue to be truly local during the run-up to 
both this weekend's Duma elections and the presidential 
contest three months from now, and, in staking out tough 
foreign policy positions to demonstrate Russia's 
assertiveness, Putin and other senior officials will likely 
continue to show little regard for the reaction their 
statements generate from the United States and Europe.  End 
summary. 
 
Foreign Policy Consensus 
------------------------ 
 
2.  (C) Putin's foreign policy is not up for serious debate. 
Most voters associate Russian foreign policy with the 
dramatic and sustained increase in standard of living, the 
regaining of international respect, and the strengthening of 
Russia's influence vis-a-vis the U.S. and the West. 
Specifically, Russia's resolve to publicly challenge the U.S. 
on key issues like the Iraq war, U.S. MD plans in Europe, 
NATO expansion, Kosovo, Georgia, and the CFE Treaty resonates 
well with the political elite and general public alike. 
Russians vividly remember the hardships and humiliation 
following the collapse of the Soviet Union and are satisfied 
with a foreign policy course that restores Russia's 
"greatness." 
 
3.  (C) Reliable polling data clearly show that Russians 
generally accept the claims against the USG and its policies. 
 Most polls suggest that an increasing percentage of Russians 
"hold a negative impression of the USG" (up to 40% in a 
Levada poll) and that U.S.-Russian relations will be "tense 
and hostile" for the next 10-15 years. 
 
4.  (C) Not surprisingly, opposition politicians on the 
campaign trail have ignored foreign policy, except to largely 
endorse Putin's course, while focusing their attention on 
pocket-book issues.  The published platforms of the leading 
parties, in fact, underscore the strong consensus on foreign 
policy issues.  It goes without saying that United Russia and 
the Kremlin-blessed Just Russia fully support and promote the 
achievements of Putin's foreign policy.  To the extent that 
the Communists and LDPR have criticized the current Putin 
administration and the pro-Kremlin parties, it is for being 
too soft on the U.S. and too weak in protecting Russian 
strategic interests abroad, pointing to the GOR's handling of 
relations with its neighbors as the clearest example.  LDPR 
leader and Duma candidate Vladimir Zhirinovskiy said in a 
recent interview that Russia should "show (its) neighbors 
that a break in ties with Russia would be a lot more painful 
for them than for us," and he called for the use of energy 
prices to prevent the Czech Republic and Poland from agreeing 
to U.S. MD plans. 
 
5.  (C) On the other side of the spectrum, the fringe liberal 
parties/coalitions, including Yabloko, Union of Right Forces, 
and Other Russia, have been more vocal about the anti-U.S. 
trends in Russia's foreign policy, but commentators point out 
that even these parties have voiced only muted criticism, 
mainly to avoid further damage to their standings in the 
polls.  One of the most Western-leaning (if little known) 
parties, the Democratic Party of Russia envisions Russia in a 
European defense alliance without the United States. 
Undergirding the caution of liberal parties, however, is a 
genuine disagreement, even among the most pro-Western of 
commentators and politicians here, with the U.S. support for 
Kosovo's independence, NATO enlargement to Georgia and 
Ukraine, missile defense deployments in Poland and the Czech 
Republic, and the Saakashvili government in Georgia. 
 
The Enemy at the Gate 
--------------------- 
 
6.  (C) Given the strong domestic support for Putin's foreign 
 
MOSCOW 00005612  002 OF 002 
 
 
policy, the GOR is playing up its foreign policy "successes," 
particularly its self-proclaimed role as a check against 
American "hegemony," mainly to help divert attention from the 
domestic challenges (e.g., food prices, inflation, 
demographic trends) and to bolster support for Putin and his 
government in the parliamentary and presidential elections. &
#x000A;Accusations by Putin regarding U.S. "meddling" in Russia's 
electoral process are the most recent examples of the 
Kremlin's efforts to rally voters against an external enemy, 
tapping not-so-latent Russian sentiments that the West (read 
U.S.) does not want a strong Russia. 
 
7.  (C) Putin has sharpened his criticism of alleged U.S. 
assistance to opposition parties and NGOs, and warned that 
outsiders should keep their "snotty noses" out of Russian 
affairs.  State television reinforced these official 
statements by broadcasting (one week before the December 2 
elections) an expose on the "direct links" between the 
November 24-25 protests led by opposition organization Other 
Russia and alleged U.S.-funded efforts to foment an orange 
revolution in Russia.  GOR officials have also reacted 
angrily to ODHIR's recent decision not to send observers to 
monitor the Duma elections.  On November 26, Putin told a 
group of young United Russia leaders that the State 
Department was behind ODHIR's decision, and FM Lavrov earlier 
blamed ODHIR for the problems with accreditation that 
prompted its pullout. 
 
8.  (C) In addition to alleged links between opposition 
political parties and the West, voters have been frequently 
offered by Putin and others a history of the 1990s that had 
Europe and the United States dictating terms to a Russia on 
its knees.  Putin's campaign stump speech reminds voters of 
that "fact" and contrasts it with the independent, 
self-assertive Russia he presides over today.  Running 
through this fall's campaign has been a comment falsely but 
persistently attributed to former Secretary of State Albright 
that Russia "unjustly" controls the lion's share of the 
world's natural resources.  The alleged quote has surfaced in 
Putin's national open line with Russian citizens and has been 
alluded to in at least two other of his televised appearances 
to suggest that the United States is unhappy with Russia's 
current prosperity and would end it if it could. 
 
9.  (C) Even among liberal critics of Putin, such as Russia 
in Global Affairs editor Fedor Lukyanov, the GOR is able to 
tap the resentment of Western efforts to hold Russia up to a 
measuring stick.  Lukyanov wrote a lengthy op-ed in Gazeta.ru 
that vigorously defended the official reaction to the ODHIR 
decision.  Lukyanov asserted that the GOR was not interested 
in manipulating the ODIHR mission; in fact, Russia's 
democracy is sufficiently developed and does not need to be 
"quality certified" by outsiders.  Lukyanov repeated familiar 
arguments that ODHIR maintains lower standards for Western or 
Western-leaning governments, and cited the relatively 
favorable assessment of Kazakhstan's parliamentary elections 
as an example. 
 
Comment 
------- 
 
10.  (C) As one commentator told us, Russia's current foreign 
policy "transcends even Putin."  Russia's assertive 
international course is in harmony with the fundamental views 
and concerns of most Russians.  Not surprisingly, Putin, his 
administration and United Russia have all ratcheted up claims 
of success and the rhetoric on the international front during 
this electoral campaign period.  It is telling that little, 
if any, thought seems to have been given to the reaction this 
tough talk would predictably engender from the West.  We 
expect this trend to continue through next March, as 
presidential succession continues to be the top issue 
occupying Putin and his retinue. 
BURNS

Wikileaks

07MOSCOW5609, RUSSIA ENERGY: NO DEAL ON KOVYKTA THIS YEAR?

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
07MOSCOW5609 2007-11-30 13:32 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Moscow

VZCZCXRO4364
PP RUEHDBU RUEHFL RUEHKW RUEHLA RUEHROV RUEHSR
DE RUEHMO #5609 3341332
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 301332Z NOV 07
FM AMEMBASSY MOSCOW
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 5593
INFO RUCNCIS/CIS COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEHXD/MOSCOW POLITICAL COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC PRIORITY
RHEBAAA/DEPT OF ENERGY WASHDC PRIORITY
RUCPDOC/DEPT OF COMMERCE WASHDC PRIORITY

C O N F I D E N T I A L MOSCOW 005609 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SIPDIS 
 
DEPT FOR EUR/RUS, FOR EEB/ESC/IEC GALLOGLY AND WRIGHT 
EUR/CARC, SCA (GALLAGHER, SUMAR) 
DOE FOR HARBERT, HEGBORG, EKIMOFF 
DOC FOR 4231/IEP/EUR/JBROUGHER 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 11/30/2017 
TAGS: EPET ENRG ECON PREL RS
SUBJECT: RUSSIA ENERGY:  NO DEAL ON KOVYKTA THIS YEAR? 
 
REF: MOSCOW 3054 
 
Classified By: Econ MC Eric Schultz for Reasons 1.4 (b/d) 
 
1. (C) TNK-BP International Affairs Director Shawn McCormick 
confirmed to us on November 30th that a deal between Gazprom 
and TNK-BP on Gazprom's purchase of TNK-BP's 62.5% share of 
the giant Kovykta gas field in East Siberia will likely not 
be concluded this year.  Press reports cited a Gazprom 
representative as announcing on November 29th a "delay" in 
the transaction.  When announced in June of this year 
(reftel), negotiations leading to a final settlement were 
supposed to be concluded by November.  That deadline slipped 
to December, and now, it seems, to 2008. 
 
2. (C) There is speculation in the press that the delay is 
partly due to difficulty in valuing the asset, the worth of 
which may be dependent on a pending gas sales agreement with 
China.  TNK-BP President Robert Dudley confirmed as much 
recently when he told us that the transaction had still to be 
"intensely reviewed" by lawyers, accountants, and valuators, 
and that the original timeline was "a little ambitious." 
 
3. (C) There are additional press reports linking the delay 
to rumored discussions of a possible purchase by Gazprom of 
the half of TNK-BP owned by Russian billionaires Mikhail 
Fridman, Viktor Vekselberg, and Amcit Leonid Blavatnik's 
Access Industries.  BP Russia International Affairs Director 
Anton Mifsud-Bonnici told us November 30th that those reports 
are "pure speculation."  He said BP is still in "active 
discussions" with Gazprom on the Kovykta deal, which is to be 
part of Gazprom and BP's much ballyhooed "strategic 
international joint venture." 
 
------- 
COMMENT 
------- 
 
4. (C) The Kovykta field is a lynchpin of Russia's East 
Siberian gas development plan.  Delays in concluding its 
transfer to Gazprom will unfortunately likely also delay its 
promising output. 
BURNS

Wikileaks

07MOSCOW5600, CIVIC FORCE: A KREMLIN EXPERIMENT GONE NOWHERE

WikiLeaks Link

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
07MOSCOW5600 2007-11-30 12:58 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Moscow

VZCZCXRO3834
PP RUEHDBU
DE RUEHMO #5600/01 3341258
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 301258Z NOV 07
FM AMEMBASSY MOSCOW
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 5580
INFO RUCNCIS/CIS COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEHXD/MOSCOW POLITICAL COLLECTIVE PRIORITY

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 MOSCOW 005600 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 11/30/2017 
TAGS: PGOV PHUM SOCI RS
SUBJECT: CIVIC FORCE: A KREMLIN EXPERIMENT GONE NOWHERE 
 
REF: A. MOSCOW 05417 
 
     B. MOSCOW 03841 
 
Classified By: Political M/C Alice G. Wells.  Reason:  1.4 (d). 
 
------- 
Summary 
------- 
 
1. (C) The political party Civic Force (GS) began life as a 
Kremlin project and has enjoyed the freedom of action and 
access to the media that come with that status. Unlike other 
small, right-wing parties (such as Yabloko and the Union of 
Right Forces (SPS)), who have encountered problems in 
conducting their election campaigns, GS's chief problems have 
been lack of voter recognition, a small campaign war chest, 
and the inability of GS leader Barshchevskiy to parlay his 
name-recognition value into votes for his party.  As a 
result, GS will join Yabloko and SPS as an also ran on 
December 2, and is unlikely to get even the three percent of 
the vote necessary for continued federal financing.  End 
summary. 
 
------------------------------ 
Free From Kremlin Interference 
------------------------------ 
 
2. (C) In a November 15 conversation, Civic Force party (GS) 
Press Spokesman Aleksandr Agamov acknowledge that GS had 
encountered no administrative resistance to its campaign. 
Unlike Yabloko and SPS (ref A), GS has been able to contract 
for the printing and distribution of campaign materials, has 
not had its regional party offices vandalized, and has not 
been harassed by Kremlin-friendly youth groups like "Nashi." 
GS Chairman Barshchevskiy appears frequently on national 
television, both during the national debates transmitted 
free-of-charge by the federal channels, and on the channels' 
various talk shows. 
 
3. (C) Lack of Kremlin interference, has not meant Kremlin 
assistance, however. Agamov complained that as a small, new 
party GS had not been able to attract the financial resources 
necessary to pay for expensive television time, billboards, 
and for printing literature. 
 
4. (C) Agamov told us that GS had done little advertising in 
Moscow because of the expense, and the cost meant that buying 
television time was not seriously considered, forcing the 
party to conduct a "virtual" campaign over the internet 
Instead, the party had concentrated its TV ads on the regions 
where, unfortunately, it has little name recognition. 
 
------------------- 
A Failed Experiment 
------------------- 
 
5. (U) Agamov admitted that GS had been a Kremlin experiment 
from the start. GS began with the blessing of the Kremlin, 
and may have been initially designed to thwart the efforts of 
Yabloko and/or SPS. Its efforts have continued to receive the 
blessing of Presidential Administration Deputy Head Vladislav 
Surkov (ref B).  According to Agamov, the Kremlin's 
experiment was part of an attempt to give a voice to the 
middle class, whose interests did not lie with the Communist 
Party or United Russia. 
 
6. (U) According to recent polls, GS is barely visible to the 
electorate.  Levada Center has reported less than one percent 
of respondents indicating they would vote for GS.  VTsIOM and 
FOM report similar results.  All differences between these 
polling agencies are within the margin of error, and in fact 
the margin of error includes zero meaning, conceivably, that 
GS has no support among the electorate. 
 
7. (C) Agamov did not hide behind excuses and optimistic 
rhetoric when discussing his party's chances.  Although he 
did overestimate the response the party received in recent 
polls (he claimed three percent), he acknowledged that the 
party still faced a steep battle in getting to seven percent. 
 He pointed out--wishfully, perhaps--that SPS was polling at 
1.5 percent prior to the March regional elections, but 
ultimately received about seven percent.  His optimism was 
keyed to undecided voters and the rumored tendency of 
Russians to change their minds in the voting booth. 
 
8. (U) References to GS have been hard to find in the press. 
Over the past two weeks, only five mentions of the party were 
found and then only in the regions.  One article, an op-ed 
piece by Party Chairman Mikhail Barshchevskiy discussed the 
potential consequences of the recently adopted law on local 
self-government.  A second article from Chelyabinsk mentioned 
Viktor Pokhmelkin who recently left SR for GS, and has been 
 
MOSCOW 00005600  002 OF 002 
 
 
spearheading an effort to improve road conditions and road 
safety in Russia. The remaining articles mentioned GS only in 
passing, barely noting the existence of the party. 
 
------------------------------------- 
A Complicated Relationship with Putin 
------------------------------------- 
 
9. (C) GS has not criticized Putin or his administration 
during the campaign, although the party's leadership has 
little affection for YR or Putin's more unliberal and 
undemocratic policies.  GS has focused instead on a peaceful 
transfer of power that they expect will occur after the Mar
ch 
2008 elections. Putin's lame-duck status make criticism of 
him irrelevant. 
 
10. (C) The GS leadership has, however, been willing to 
criticize United Russia (YR).  According to Agamov, the 
majority of the Russian electorate, like Putin, knows that YR 
has been ineffective, but believe that tolerating its 
continued dominance is the price of stability. YR has been 
successful in parlaying the popular desire for continued 
stability into a vote for YR.  GS, on the other hand, sees 
significant threats to continued stability in coming years 
including the bureaucracy to which YR is beholden. 
 
------- 
Comment 
------- 
 
11. (C) Civic Force began life as the Kremlin-orchestrated 
counter to Yabloko and SPS, but constraints on its ability to 
operate independently left it with little leverage and it has 
failed to register with the voters. As the fates of Just 
Russia and GS will likely show on December 2, launching a 
party in the current political environment without active 
Kremlin support has proven daunting. 
BURNS

Wikileaks

07MOSCOW5598, PUTIN AND UNITED RUSSIA DOMINATE MEDIA IN RUN UP

WikiLeaks Link

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
07MOSCOW5598 2007-11-30 12:28 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Moscow

VZCZCXRO3384
PP RUEHDBU
DE RUEHMO #5598/01 3341228
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 301228Z NOV 07
FM AMEMBASSY MOSCOW
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 5576
INFO RUCNCIS/CIS COLLECTIVE
RUEHXD/MOSCOW POLITICAL COLLECTIVE

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 MOSCOW 005598 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 11/29/2017 
TAGS: PGOV PREL KDEM PHUM KPAO RS
SUBJECT: PUTIN AND UNITED RUSSIA DOMINATE MEDIA IN RUN UP 
TO DUMA ELECTIONS 
 
REF: MOSCOW 5584 Classified By: Ambassador William J. Burns for reason 1.4 (d)

1. (C) Summary. All one has to do is watch the national nightly news to see that President Putin, his administration, and United Russia garner the majority of coverage in the run up to the December 2 Duma elections. Over the past two months, three-fourths of the national television coverage and over half of the national print media coverage has gone to United Russia and Putin. The cause of this skewed coverage is clearly a combination of Kremlin influence and media self-censorship. Even insiders at the state-run media have candidly told us that the media coverage is lopsided and cited examples of Kremlin pressure. Despite United Russia's clear and overwhelming lead, the Kremlin is still employing overkill tactics to secure its advantage. Several noted that this practice is not new and began with Yeltsin's 1996 presidential campaign; what is new is the extent of the one-sidedness of the news and campaign coverage in United Russia's favor. Looking ahead to March, most media insiders are bracing themselves for a more restrictive environment in the run up to the presidential elections. End summary.

The Facts ---------

2. (SBU) Statistics of print and broadcast coverage devoted to political parties and politicians during the election campaign have been produced by multiple groups from across the political spectrum as well as non-governmental organizations. Taken together, a clear consensus emerges that Putin, his administration, and his party United Russia receive the overwhelming majority of news and campaign coverage in the print and broadcast media. According to unpublished statistics from Transparency International Russia, from September 1 to November 23 television and newspapers mentioned United Russia nearly three times more (1371 mentions) than Just Russia (490 mentions) or the Liberal Democratic Party of Russia (LDPR) (437 mentions). The print media covered more parties than the broadcast media, although United Russia still received double the attention given to any other party in the country's national newspapers, taking one-third of the total print press political coverage.

3. (SBU) United Russia also dominated the national television airwaves; the opposition parties Union of Right Forces (SPS) and Yabloko each received one tenth of the television coverage given to United Russia (370 stories about United Russia, and only 31 about SPS and 36 about Yabloko), according to Transparency International Russia. A recent survey by the Center for Research on the Political Culture of Russia showed that United Russia received -- on average -- 64 percent of the total political coverage on Russian national television from November 1 to 13, and up to 80 percent of the prime time coverage. The television dominance of the president, his administration, and United Russia becomes clear when added together: according to the Center for Journalism in Extreme Situations (CJES), it accounted for more than 86 percent of state-owned First Channel's evening news in October and November, 81 percent of state-owned RTR's coverage, 90 percent of Gazprom-owned NTV's political coverage, 77 percent of Mayor Luzhkov's TV Center's coverage, and 54 percent of independent REN-TV's political coverage. Almost all of the coverage was positive (with the exception of the arrest of Deputy Finance Minister Storchak and the REN-TV broadcasts).

4. (U) According to CJES statistics, November differed slightly from October, as some national networks aired news about parties other than United Russia. The coverage, however, was almost universally negative: First Channel devoted 0.8 percent of its political coverage to SPS, and REN-TV broadcast negative stories about Putin, members of his cabinet, United Russia, LDPR, the Communist Party (KPRF) and SPS. REN-TV's audience share is small compared to the major networks, resulting in Russian television viewers being fed overwhelmingly positive stories about Putin and United Russia almost exclusively in October and November.

5. (SBU) The political discussion on the internet has been more open, but Transparency International Russia's Yelena Panfilova claims that participants in the on-line political discussions are unlikely to vote. "Most of the people who vote don't read news on the internet," Panfilova told us. She pointed to an on-line survey in which bloggers indicated that they were not inclined to go to the polls on December 2 as evidence.

Kremlin Influence MOSCOW 00005598 002 OF 003 -----------------

6. (C) United Russia benefited from the president's control of the government-owned media, particularly TV channels First Channel and RTR. NTV's news director Petr Orlov told us that NTV had provided relatively little coverage of the election campaign, because (1) as a commercial station (not directly state-owned) they are not obligated to place paid political advertising, and (2) there was "no real debate or discussion" happening in the elections and therefore, NTV's viewers were not interested. Orlov conceded that the majority of NTV's political stories during news programs could be credited to United Russia, but he claimed the amount of coverage was a trick of methodology. "If there is a four minute segment on health in Russia, and the final 20 seconds is a quote from the head of the Duma Committee on Health, who is a member of United Russia," Orlov said, "do you count four minutes or 20 seconds?" Orlov told us NTV is keeping its own accoun
ting of how much time is given to politicians and political parties as they expect a spate of lawsuits after the Duma elections.

7. (C) First Channel's popular anchor Vladimir Pozner was forthcoming in his assessment of why the television coverage is so skewed. He said that First Channel's Director, Konstantin Ernst, received several phone calls from the Kremlin in November telling him to increase negative coverage of other parties, whereas in October he had been mostly prodded to provide positive coverage of United Russia. Pozner pushed the envelope during this election season and Ernst instantly felt the sting: When Pozner told a joke on his weekly program about Putin and the CEC's support of United Russia, Ernst received five angry phone calls from the Kremlin telling him to pull Pozner's show or edit out the joke. The show had been broadcast live (and would rebroadcast later in the day to enable viewers in other time zones to see it), and so Pozner says he refused to edit the show and told Ernst that if his show was canceled, he would hold a news conference and make a big stink. Pozner believes himself to be a special case, and knows his actions jeopardize Ernst's job. That, he said, is the only thing which keeps him from going "too far" on his show. He candidly told us that he does not see how Kremlin influence and Russian media self-censorship could get any worse than it is.

8. (C) The Russian Government is also forcing the state-run channels to air political advertising during prime viewing hours. According to NTV's Orlov, First Channel's Ernst complained during a media meeting with the Central Election Commission that his channel hadn't been paid from the 2003 campaign, and was later "forced" to air 2007 advertising for United Russia without any promise of payment. Orlov speculated that Ernst had relented because he had been threatened with losing his job.

Self-Censorship ---------------

9. (C) Not all broadcast outlets admitted to phone calls and Kremlin instructions, and some suggested that such tactics are not necessary. TV Center's Mikhail Ponomarev told us, "Our priority is United Russia. If I do not cover them, I will be fired, and my successor will cover them." Aleksey Simonov of the Glasnost Defense Fund reinforced Ponomarev's thesis that the media doesn't need instructions, because, "By now, everyone understands what to do." According to CJES Director Oleg Panfilov, many news editors rely on their own "sound" judgment when determining who to feature on their news programs. Of the national networks, only REN-TV has slightly bucked the trend and produced its own political footage (other channels often take prepared news reels) on United Russia, KPRF, Yabloko, and SPS.

10. (C) Aleksey Venediktov, Editor-in-chief of the editorially independent radio station Ekho Moskvy, told us the Kremlin complained about Ekho giving air time to opposition candidates. Since United Russia prohibits its members from appearing on the station's programs, Venediktov noted that the only people to talk to were from parties other than United Russia. "They are afraid to come on our programs because we will ask them questions," Venediktov told us. Local authorities recently closed the Ekho affiliate in Penza until December 5, citing "technical reasons," but Venediktov said its Penza affiliate had booked opposition candidates for programs, something the government didn't want to allow. Venediktov also noted that Ekho's ratings had recently sky-rocketed, possibly owing to its independent editorial stance.

Does it Matter? --------------- MOSCOW 00005598 003 OF 003

11. (C) Media insiders are divided about whether any of this matters. NTV's Orlov told us it wouldn't matter if more coverage was given to smaller parties because politically active Russians want to vote for winners. First Channel's Pozner claimed that more air time for all parties would lead to a real democratic competition. "This is not a popular election," Pozner said, "it's a selection by the media." Pozner stated this has been common practice since 1995, when (then-President) Boris Yeltsin had five percent popular support going into the 1996 campaign. Pozner recounted how then-media moguls Vladimir Gusinskiy, Boris Berezovskiy, and others, met in Davos and decided to wage a media war on Yeltsin's behalf because they could not accept that Communist Party leader Gennadiy Zyuganov had 30 percent popular support. Pozner was adamant that if there was a level playing ground, United Russia might not even exist. "Who are its members?" he asked. "No one other than those in power. It has no broader party base."

12. (C) Those we spoke with almost universally agreed that the media environment will get worse before the presidential elections in March, yet they all revealed a degree of uncertainty. Venediktov was characteristically nervous about Ekho's future, saying, "These are dicey times." Orlov is keeping his head down, and said NTV is staying below the radar and away from unpleasant stories -- such as the November 24 - 25 demonstrations in Ingushetiya (reftel) -- so as not to give the Kremlin an excuse to crack down on them. Several regional newspaper editors shook their heads in bewilderment when we asked about the future. Conventional wisdom is that the government will wait until after the Duma election to see how things come out, and then decide whether to be even more restrictive in its approach to the media in the run up to the presidential race. BURNS 0 11/30/2007 11322 PGOV,PREL,KDEM,PHUM,KPAO,RS PUTIN AND UNITED RUSSIA DOMINATE MEDIA IN RUN UP TO DUMA ELECTIONS All one has to do is watch the national nightly news to see that President Putin, his administration, and United Russia garner the majority of coverage in the run up to the December 2 Duma elections. Over the past two months, three-fourths of the national television coverage and over half of the national print media coverage has gone to United Russia and Putin. The cause of this skewed coverage is clearly a combination of Kremlin influence and media self-censorship. Even insiders at the state-run media have candidly told us that the media coverage is lopsided and cited examples of Kremlin pressure. Despite United Russia's clear and overwhelming lead, the Kremlin is still employing overkill tactics to secure its advantage. Several noted that this practice is not new and began with Yeltsin's 1996 presidential campaign; what is new is the extent of the one-sidedness of the news and campaign coverage in United Russia's favor. Looking ahead to March, most media insiders are bracing themselves for a more restrictive environment in the run up to the presidential elections. End summary.

Wikileaks

07MOSCOW5596, RUSSIA: INTERPRETING PUTIN’S DUMA VICTORY

WikiLeaks Link

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
07MOSCOW5596 2007-11-30 11:23 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Moscow

VZCZCXRO2350
OO RUEHDBU
DE RUEHMO #5596/01 3341123
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
O 301123Z NOV 07
FM AMEMBASSY MOSCOW
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 5573
INFO RUCNCIS/CIS COLLECTIVE IMMEDIATE
RUEHXD/MOSCOW POLITICAL COLLECTIVE IMMEDIATE

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 MOSCOW 005596 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 11/28/2107 
TAGS: PGOV PINR SOCI KDEM RS
SUBJECT: RUSSIA: INTERPRETING PUTIN'S DUMA VICTORY 
 
Classified By: Ambassador William J. Burns: 1.4 (b, d). 
 
1.  (C)  Summary:  The significance of the December 2 Duma 
elections is the magnitude -- and not the fact -- of Putin's 
win and how he can use this "vote of confidence" to dictate 
presidential succession.  Having been transformed into a 
referendum on Putin, the parliamentary elections are a step 
backward in Russia's evolution and a reaffirmation of 
personality over political institutions.  Reversing efforts 
to engineer an acceptable opposition party, Putin tied his 
political afterlife to the success of the ruling party. 
While Putin's win will be real, reflecting both the 
complacency of the public and the paucity of the opposition, 
the size of his majority will be inflated by the blatant use 
of administrative resources, domination of television, and 
black p.r. against opposition politicians.  Observers will 
assess the quality of the Putin victory by voter turnout, 
whether United Russia secures a constitutional majority, and 
the magnitude of the Communist Party's second place finish. 
Kremlin sensitivities over appearing to be "another 
Kazakhstan" may help two pro-Putin opposition parties also 
limp across the threshold.  Putin's victory will provide an 
institutional patina to his selection of an heir presumptive, 
but doesn't alter the fundamental fact of life that Putin the 
man, and not the party leader, controls this political 
transition.  End Summary 
 
A Referendum, Not an Election 
----------------------------- 
 
2.  (C)  The December 2 Duma elections are not about a new 
parliament, but about Putin and the quantitative mandate that 
he seeks in order to legitimize his continued influence over 
the Russian body politic after he steps down from the 
presidency in May 2008.  The outcome is largely foreordained 
and backed up by professional polling data: a lopsided win by 
the ruling United Russia party and a second place finish by 
the Communist Party, with one or two pro-Putin "opposition" 
parties perhaps limping across the seven percent threshold. 
The magnitude -- and not the fact -- of the United Russia win 
will be the story, and the plotline is dominated by the 
question of how successful Putin will be in transferring his 
sky-high popularity ratings to a lackluster political party, 
which he himself has derided as "not great, but the best we 
have." 
 
3.  (C)  In terms of democratic political development, this 
election is retrograde: a step away from the development of 
coherent political parties.  The storyline could have been 
different.  Until Putin's surprise decision in early October 
to lead United Russia into the polls, this election was about 
the emergence of the Kremlin-blessed Just Russia opposition 
party, whose message of social justice could have challenged 
the Communists' lock on the left-leaning electorate; for a 
brief few months, we saw in our travel to regional capitals 
the beginnings of elite competition between Just Russia and 
United Russia.  During this interregnum, United Russia 
moderates spoke optimistically about building credible and 
more European-looking political parties, and Kremlin 
spin-meisters even saw room for a liberal party in the Duma 
mix, with the more compliant Union of Right Forces reaching 
what it thought was a firm deal with the Kremlin for its 
share of administrative resources. 
 
Dominated by Putin, but Marred by Violations 
-------------------------------------------- 
 
4.  (C)  When Putin changed his mind, and linked his future 
political fate with United Russia, official encouragement of 
political competition, as well as any tolerance towards 
liberal parties critical of the Putin, evaporated.  A 
mini-cult of personality campaign quickly took off, 
embarrassing to the liberal Russian elite, but apparently 
popular (or at least palatable) among the masses.  Part 
Madison Avenue (slick television ads, a U.S.-styled 
convention replete with shimmying girl bands and film idols) 
and part Communist-era nostalgia (milkmaids, Communist youth 
camp songs, public paeans and "spontaneous" demonstrations in 
support of the great leader), Putin's campaign literally 
dominates the landscape -- with the "Putin's Plan -- Russia's 
Victory" campaign poster omnipresent throughout Russia's 
eleven time zones. 
 
5.  (C)  No one here, not even the fiercest critic of the 
Kremlin, believes that Putin -- or his designated political 
vehicle, United Russia -- faces any credible threat from any 
pole on the political spectrum.  Public complacency and a 
craving for "normalcy" reign, fed by eight years of 
uninterrupted economic growth, full coffers, and the pride 
associated with Russia's reemergence as a major global 
player.  The Kremlin has been able to ignore the biting 
liberal critique of Putin's democratic retrenchment, rising 
 
MOSCOW 00005596  002 OF 003 
 
 
corruption, and state corporatism, because liberal 
politicians have spent their time devouring each other, 
fighting ideological battles from the 1990's, flirting with 
com
pacts with Putin, and resolutely refusing to unite behind 
one party.  As one independent editor put it to us: "the 
liberals have no instinct for survival."  On the other end of 
the spectrum, the Communists remain locked in the past, with 
party leader Zyuganov taking no steps to modernize his 
message or to expand his vote bank beyond the cohort of loyal 
pensioners.  During the past eight years, Zyuganov has 
delivered the Communist vote on almost every legislative 
issue of importance to Putin and Putin has returned the favor 
by rarely criticizing Zyuganov directly. 
 
6.  (C)  However, while Putin's win will reflect the 
legitimate choice of Russia's voters, the size of his 
majority will not.  As in 2003, the Duma campaign has been 
distinguished by the blatant use of administrative resources, 
the ruling party's domination of the state-controlled 
television, and the use of "black p.r." against opposition 
candidates, as well as covert restrictions placed on their 
ability to campaign (e.g., the frequent cancellation of 
conference halls due to last-minute "repairs" or "electricity 
outages").  Credible reports, including those gathered during 
our regional travel, indicate that governors (65 of whom head 
United Russia regional party lists), mayors and others in the 
official food chain are under pressure to deliver 70 percent 
of the voters to United Russia, with the ethnic republics 
anxious to overfulfill the plan.  (Chechen President Kadyrov 
has boasted publicly that Putin will receive 100 percent of 
his republic's votes.)  In this mix, even the criticism of 
the statistically imperceptible Other Russia opposition 
movement led by Garry Kasparov, who does not have a political 
party to challenge Putin, proved intolerable. 
 
Interpreting the Duma Returns 
----------------------------- 
 
7.  (C)  Because Putin's United Russia is presumed to garner 
a majority of votes, the definition of winning has shifted. 
The following factors will determine how local pundits 
measure the Kremlin's success: 
 
--  Voter Turnout:  Anything below the 2003 turnout of 55.75 
percent will be considered an embarrassment, and a tepid 
endorsement of Putin's intent to play a significant role in 
Russia's political future.  Not surprisingly, university 
rectors, bureaucrats, and state directors have been exhorted 
to get out the United Russia vote.  In some localized 
instances, United Russia supporters may have ordered state 
workers to show up at the office on Sunday with an absentee 
ballot in hand (over three times as many absentee ballots 
have been issued, compared to 2003); meanwhile, the range of 
positive inducements around polling places such as free food 
and entertainment has grown to include free gynecological 
checkups (sic) and psychiatric counseling. 
 
--  Constitutional Majority:  Despite United Russia denials, 
the Kremlin wants a constitutional majority (67 percent), 
which necessitates at least a 60 percent win.  (Note: Since 
most parties won't cross the seven percent threshold, their 
percentage of the vote will be distributed to the winners on 
a proportional basis.)  This is substantially higher than the 
37.57 percent won by United Russia in 2003.  Putin and his 
circle have assiduously attempted to lower expectations, with 
a simple majority painted as a winning outcome.  Putin 
reportedly told Prodi that United Russia would get 55 percent 
of the vote, with the Communists scoring 12 percent, and both 
LDPR and Just Russia securing around the seven percent 
minimum.  Privately, the Kremlin drumbeat is for 70 percent. 
 
--  Communists' Tally:  If the Communists poll more than 14 
percent, most analysts here will read the higher than 
expected turnout as a protest vote against Putin, with 
liberals casting their ballot with the only party that can 
reliably be expected to cross the seven percent threshold. 
(There has been much liberal commentary over how to vote 
against Putin, without inadvertently giving support to United 
Russia.  Because of the seven percent threshold, these 
commentaries argue that a vote for one of the minor liberal 
parties ends up benefiting Putin, since United Russia will 
receive a proportional share of the votes "wasted" on parties 
that don't enter the Duma.) 
 
--  Number of Victorious Parties:  Whether the pro-Putin 
"opposition" LDPR and Just Russia secure their minimum seven 
percent also will reflect Kremlin sensitivities over not 
appearing to be "another Kazakhstan."  According to polling 
data, both parties are hovering within statistical reach 
(LDPR at 6 percent; Just Russia at 4 percent).  Whether the 
Kremlin can walk (promote Putin) and chew gum (provide some 
dollops of electoral support to LDPR and Just Russia) at the 
 
MOSCOW 00005596  003 OF 003 
 
 
same time remains a question mark.  LDPR's Zhirinovskiy is a 
superb if odious campaigner, whose foul-mouthed and 
outrageous antics often attract a nationalist or youth vote. 
His three-minute campaign speech, which immediately followed 
Putin's much ballyhooed November 28 pep talk to the nation, 
is read here as Kremlin support for LDPR aspirations. 
(Zhirinovskiy's "opposition" spiel centered entirely on his 
support for Putin's policies.) 
 
Election Results: Implications for Succession 
--------------------------------------------- 
 
8.  (C)  The Duma outcome sets the stage for Putin's 
designation of a presidential successor, whose nomination can 
come no later than December 23 (and most expect will happen 
more quickly, with the convening of a United Russia party 
conference).  The presumption has always been that Putin 
would "anoint" a successor, and polls have consistently 
supported that a majority of Russians would vote for whomever 
he designated.  However, the Duma elections will add 
legitimacy to Putin's centrality in the process and provide 
an institutional veneer.  While our best guess is that PM 
Zubkov and First Deputy Prime Ministers Medvedev and Ivanov 
remain the front-runners, the greater Putin's mandate, 
conceivably the greater the possibility that he could select 
a dark horse candidate as his heir presumptive. 
 
Comment 
------- 
 
9.  (C)  Derided as irrelevant only two months ago, the Duma 
elections have become an important stepping stone in the 
succession process, but the central fact of Russian political 
life remains the same.  Putin remains the arbiter of Russia's 
political transition. 
BURNS

Wikileaks

07MOSCOW5595, UNITED RUSSIA AND THE DUMA ELECTIONS

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
07MOSCOW5595 2007-11-30 11:06 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Moscow

VZCZCXRO2078
PP RUEHDBU
DE RUEHMO #5595/01 3341106
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 301106Z NOV 07
FM AMEMBASSY MOSCOW
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 5571
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 005595 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 11/30/2017 
TAGS: PGOV KDEM PINR SOCI RS
SUBJECT: UNITED RUSSIA AND THE DUMA ELECTIONS 
 
 
Classified By: Ambassador William J. Burns. Reason:  1.4 (d). 
 
1. (C) Summary:  With Putin's decision to back United Russia 
in the Duma race, the prospect, faintly entertained about one 
year ago of creating something like a real political party 
system has completely disappeared, and United Russia has 
become a vehicle for Putin's aspirations to remain 
influential after he leaves office in 2008. United Russia's 
change in status: from the party of power to a means to 
Putin's end, has caused anxiety in the party, which remains a 
collection of political heavyweights who have in common 
little beyond their interest in continued power. Their fear 
that the Russian voter may not share that interest has 
produced insecurity and with it a rough campaign that, in its 
efforts to guarantee a constitutional majority for the party 
and a mandate for the President, is willing to step on the 
knuckles of anyone who gets in the way. End summary. 
 
Putin's Decision Changes All 
---------------------------- 
 
2. (C) United Russia's orderly march to a constitutional 
majority in the December 2 Duma elections turned into a 
scramble to provide a mandate for Putin with the President's 
October 1 decision to head the party's list. With Putin's 
announcement, United Russia went from being the party of 
power in the election campaign to a bit player in the 
continuing drama of what Putin will do when he leaves office 
next year. 
 
3. (C) The campaign has been tough on Just Russia, SPS, and 
to a lesser extent the Communists, but it has been bruising 
for United Russia as well. The party lost some of its luster 
when Putin in Krasnoyarsk described it as filled with 
opportunists.  United Russia, Putin said, is an imperfect 
tool, but the "best available" for continuing his legacy. 
Putin's public criticism, which he repeated at the Luzhniki 
rally, made United Russia fair game for other parties as 
well.  Their attacks and United Russia's need to take a 
back-seat to Putin, have left the party looking less like a 
high-flying collection of elite politicians and more like the 
parties it is competing with as voters go to the polls on 
December 2. 
 
The Party Struggles 
------------------- 
 
4. (C) Adding to the strains on United Russia has been the 
need to coopt or preempt those eager to compete for the task 
of being indispensable to Putin as he searches for a way to 
remain influential after his presidency. In response to 
"spontaneous" meetings around the country calling for Putin 
to either remain for a third term or become Russia's 
"national leader," and weekly invitations to Putin from Just 
Russia's Mironov to remain President as long as he wants, 
United Russia on November 6 floated a national leader project 
of its own. It also followed the Tver congress of citizens 
agitating for Putin as national leader with a similar party 
rally at Luzhniki. Although United Russia, after negative 
media reactions, distanced itself from party member 
Abdul-Khakim Sultygov's national leader proposal, the party's 
Presidium and Higher Council adopted a resolution to 
"preserve for Putin the status of national leader." 
 
5. (C) Tension inside United Russia has been increased by 
persistent rumors of a purge should Putin want to head the 
party at some point after the Duma elections.  Putin's public 
criticisms of United Russia have only heightened that 
anxiety.  At a minimum, Putin's entry into the race has been 
jarring for politicians like United Russia Chairman Gryzlov, 
who has had to take a back-seat to Putin in party matters and 
who now heads United Russia's list in St. Petersburg instead 
of the federal troika.  Gryzlov is not by temperament as 
slavishly loyal to Putin as Just Russia Chairman Sergey 
Mironov, and the last two months could not have been easy on 
him. 
 
6. (C) United Russia has also been struggling to provide an 
electoral mandate for Putin.  Until the President began 
actively campaigning on November 13 in Krasnoyarsk, United 
Russia's ratings had stagnated.  On November 6, Presidential 
Administration Deputy Vladislav Surkov in a closed meeting 
reportedly criticized United Russia for expecting Putin to 
win the mandate for them.  Surkov allegedly told the United 
Russia candidates to spend more time campaigning in their 
districts, less time waiting to uncork the champagne. In 
spite of United Russia's monopoly on the media, 
near-limitless administrative resources, a campaign team that 
includes virtually all of the nation's governors, and the 
leadership of a genuinely popular President, the requirement 
that it produce a mandate for Putin has been an additional 
source of strain. Creating tension as well, no doubt, has 
 
MOSCOW 00005595  002 OF 002 
 
 
been the possibility that administrative resources may have 
to be finessed in order to push the Kremlin's stepchild, Just 
Russia, over the seven-percent threshold. 
 
7. (C) United Russia's internal polling may also show that 
the
 deck that has been stacked in its favor may be producing 
a protest vote in that part of the country --urban areas-- 
where results are less subject to administrative control. 
Fear of a statistically-significant protest vote may account 
for the hysterical tone of some of the campaigning, as well 
as for the search for an "enemy" --internal or external-- 
against whom the Russian voter is being asked to unify. 
 
8. (C) One index of the Kremlin's anxiety on that score may 
have been Vyacheslav Nikonov's November 29 Izvestiya article, 
"Election Uncertainties for Putin and United Russia," which 
was perhaps commissioned to help manage expectations on the 
eve of the election.  Nikonov argues that "When a party holds 
a secure lead in the polls for a long time, the electorate 
become complacent."  Later in the article, he speculates that 
heavy-handed tactics in the regions may "turn people off from 
voting for United Russia."  Nikonov also follows others in 
United Russia and the Kremlin in low-balling a mandate for 
Putin at a mere sixty percent of the vote. 
 
The Party List 
-------------- 
 
9. (U) United Russia itself remains less a unified political 
party than, according to Institute for Strategic Assessments 
President Aleksandr Konovalov, "a group of ambitious 
bureaucrats who more often than not hate each other." 
Director of the Foundation for the Development of Information 
Politics Aleksandr Kynev described United Russia as a "Noah's 
Ark that influential national and regional clans sail from 
one Duma election to the next."  The current party list seems 
to bear that out. 
 
10. (C) By all accounts the composition of the list was the 
subject of intense contention over the summer. The leadership 
reportedly struggled to accommodate the many powerful 
politicians who wanted to figure in the top half of the 
600-member list, which under every election scenario will be 
guaranteed a place in the Duma.  (If United Russia wins 66 
percent of the vote, as some forecast, 371 of its candidates 
will become deputies.)  It was also important to the party's 
fortunes that local heavyweights, governors for example, head 
United Russia's lists in their regions in order to draw 
voters to the party, although those "locomotives" will not 
serve in the Duma if elected. The United Russia list was in 
the end unveiled at its October 1 convention, and it was a 
virtual "who's who" of politics in Russia. Among the 600 
candidates were 192 of the 303 deputies of the current United 
Russia Duma faction and 65 of the 84 current governors. 
Sixty-three of the governors head United Russia's regional 
lists while two --Aleksey Lebed of Khakasiya and Valentina 
Matvienko of St. Petersburg-- are number two in their 
regions. The list features four ministers:  Agriculture's 
Gordeev, Deputy PM Zhukov, Natural Resources Minister 
Trutnev, and Minister for Emergencies Shoygu.  Also on the 
list are at least 27 mayors and dozens of regional deputies. 
 
Comment 
------- 
 
11. (C) United Russia is less than four years old.  It 
emerged at the end of 2003 from the Fourth Congress of the 
"Unity and Fatherland" party.  With 1,730,000 members in all 
regions of the country and virtually the entire nation's 
elite in its ranks, United Russia seemed poised before 
Putin's October 1 decision to continue creating a world in 
which, a la Gryzlov, "Parliament is not a place for 
discussions" and "marches are only festive."  United Russia, 
according to Gryzlov, "defends the interests of those who 
don't need revolutions:  financial, economic, cultural, 
political, orange, red, brown, or gay."  Unfortunately, the 
complacent politics that Gryzlov longs for have collided with 
Putin's aspiration to re-configure the system in order to 
allow for his continued relevance.  That collision may 
ultimately produce the world that Gryzlov wants, but there 
may be some bumps along the way. 
BURNS

Wikileaks

07MOSCOW5591, ANGARSK INTERNATIONAL URANIUM ENRICHMENT CENTER:

WikiLeaks Link

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
07MOSCOW5591 2007-11-30 07:41 2011-08-30 01:44 UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY Embassy Moscow

VZCZCXRO9825
PP RUEHDBU RUEHLN RUEHVK RUEHYG
DE RUEHMO #5591/01 3340741
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 300741Z NOV 07
FM AMEMBASSY MOSCOW
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 5562
INFO RUCNCIS/CIS COLLECTIVE
RUEHII/VIENNA IAEA POSTS COLLECTIVE
RHEBAAA/DEPT OF ENERGY WASHDC

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 MOSCOW 005591 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SENSITIVE 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: N/A 
TAGS: KNNP IAEA PREL RS
SUBJECT: ANGARSK INTERNATIONAL URANIUM ENRICHMENT CENTER: 
MOVING FORWARD 
 
 
Sensitive but unclassified; please protect. 
 
Summary 
-------- 
 
1. (SBU)  Russia's plan to establish an international uranium 
enrichment center in Angarsk (Siberia) -- which stems from a 
Putin proposal made almost two years ago -- is moving 
forward.  Russian officials and experts are confident in the 
ability of the Angarsk facility to handle increased demand 
for enrichment services.  Kazakhstan has signed on as a ten 
percent owner.  Russia is approaching other potential 
partners and consulting on modalities with the IAEA.  Embassy 
has requested to visit the facility in December.  End Summary. 
 
Background: A Putin Initiative 
------------------------------ 
 
2. (U) In January 2006, President Putin proposed the creation 
of international uranium enrichment centers as a way to allow 
countries pursuing nuclear power to have increased access to 
nuclear fuel consistent with nonproliferation goals.  In 
September 2006, Rosatom announced plans for the establishment 
of such a center at the Angarsk Electrolysis Chemical Combine 
in Siberia, one of four uranium enrichment facilities 
operating in Russia.  The facility would operate under IAEA 
safeguards and be open "to all IAEA member states which meet 
nuclear arms non-proliferation requirements."  Following the 
signature of an intergovernmental agreement between Russia 
and Kazakhstan, Kazatomprom agreed to assume a ten percent 
ownership share of the Angarsk center. 
 
TENEX: Looking For More Partners 
-------------------------------- 
 
3. (SBU) On November 16, EST Counselor and DOE Moscow Office 
Deputy Director met with Aleksey Grigoriev, General Director 
of the state-owned uranium services company Tenex (which is 
under the Atomenergoprom umbrella).  Grigoriev's 
responsibilities include serving as director of the Angarsk 
international enrichment center project.  Grigoriev 
underlined to us that the Angarsk concept and the Global 
Nuclear Energy Partnership (GNEP) shared common goals.  He 
said his main task as director of the Angarsk project was to 
"turn Putin's words into reality."  He reported good progress 
toward that end, including recent moves to provide the 
Angarsk center's headquarters in Moscow with dedicated staff 
and budget.  (Previously, he said, staff working on the 
Angarsk project had been on loan from other offices.) 
 
4. (SBU) Tenex currently holds 90% of the ownership of the 
Angarsk center.  Grigoriev told us Kazakhstan would likely 
put up the money to cover its ten percent stake by the end of 
the year.  He noted that Kazakhstan may also provide supplies 
of natural uranium for the center's operations.  Grigoriev 
emphasized to us that Tenex was actively holding talks with 
other potential partners.  He cited Armenia as the most 
likely next shareholder.  He listed Ukraine, South Korea, 
Finland and Japan as among other prospects. 
 
5. (SBU) Grigoriev told us that the equity stake for new 
shareholders would come from Tenex's 90% share.  The goal is 
to take Tenex down, eventually, to 51%.  Grigoriev confessed 
that Tenex was still working out the center's business plan. 
Tenex may, at least initially, subsidize the price of 
enrichment services to attract clients.  Clients of the 
center do not necessarily have to become shareholders. 
However, Grigoriev explained that shareholders would be first 
in line for supplies and get a share of any profits. 
 
IAEA/Nonproliferation Role Central 
---------------------------------- 
 
6. (SBU) Grigoriev underlined the importance of the IAEA's 
role.  IAEA teams have been out to visit Angarsk.  All 
activities, including delivery and disposal of fuel, would 
take place under IAEA safeguards.  Russia and the IAEA would 
guarantee supplies and services from the center as long as 
the clients abide by IAEA requirements.  Grigoriev said that 
to advance nonproliferation goals, Russia understood that the 
price for enrichment services had to be attractive.  However, 
at least as important for potential clients -- he cited 
Vietnam or Indonesia as examples -- are guarantees from 
Russia and the IAEA regarding supplies. 
 
Capacity in Angarsk: Not a Problem 
---------------------------------- 
 
7. (SBU) Grigoriev assured us that the Angarsk center has 
 
MOSCOW 00005591  002 OF 002 
 
 
ample capacity to meet projected demand.  A variety of 
experts with whom we have spoken in recent weeks -- including 
nuclear scientists intimately familiar with the facility -- 
agree.  Kurchatov Institute Vice President Nikolay 
Ponomarev-Stepnoi told us that a major advantage of Angarsk 
from a non-proliferation perspective is that it is an 
existing national facility with spare capacity.  He is 
convinced Angarsk has sufficient capacity to meet existing as 
well as projected demand for enrichment services.  Nikolay 
Laverov, Vice President of the Russian Academy of Sciences 
(and a nuclear scientist), agreed that ex
cess capacity at 
Angarsk was more than sufficient to meet demand.  If future 
demand required, Laverov envisioned expanding capacity 
through outside participation.  Anton Khlopkov, Executive 
Director of the Center for Policy Studies (PIR) told us he 
understood plans were underway to triple the enrichment 
capacity at Angarsk by 2015. 
 
Comment 
------- 
 
8. (SBU) The Angarsk initiative underlines Russian leadership 
in nonproliferation while opening up a potentially lucrative 
market in nuclear fuel services.  There is momentum behind 
the project, although establishment of the center has likely 
been slowed by Rosatom's ongoing reorganization.  Embassy is 
awaiting a reply from Rosatom on our request to visit the 
site the week of December 17. 
BURNS

Wikileaks