Daily Archives: February 5, 2008

08MOSCOW296, ELECTION COMMISSION MAKES COMPROMISE OFFER TO ODIHR

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
08MOSCOW296 2008-02-05 16:36 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Moscow

VZCZCXYZ0001
OO RUEHWEB

DE RUEHMO #0296 0361636
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
O 051636Z FEB 08
FM AMEMBASSY MOSCOW
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 6413
INFO RUCNCIS/CIS COLLECTIVE
RUEHXD/MOSCOW POLITICAL COLLECTIVE

C O N F I D E N T I A L MOSCOW 000296 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 02/05/2018 
TAGS: PGOV KDEM PHUM PREL SOCI RS
SUBJECT: ELECTION COMMISSION MAKES COMPROMISE OFFER TO ODIHR 
 
 
Classified By: Ambassador William J. Burns. 
Reasons:  1.4 (b), (d). 
 
1. (C) Summary:  At a February 5 lunch meeting Central 
Election Commission (CEC) Chairman Churov told Ambassador he 
had suggested to ODIHR in talks February 3 - 4 that it send 
five logisticians to Moscow February 5, twenty longer-term 
observers February 7, and 55 observers February 20 to observe 
the March 2 presidential elections.  Churov said that the CEC 
was prepared to be even more flexible than that, but he 
expected, after phone calls during the lunch with CEC 
colleagues who were in communication with ODIHR, that his 
compromise offer would be rejected.  Churov hinted that a 
visit to Moscow over the weekend by ODIHR Director Strohal, 
instead of by his aides, might have induced greater CEC 
flexibility.  Ambassador urged Churov to address ODIHR's 
concerns fully, and stressed that the U.S. would ultimately 
support ODIHR's judgment.  As of Tuesday evening Moscow time, 
the Finnish Ambassador told Ambassador that ODIHR 
representatives were still engaged with Churov, and the Finns 
were "mildly optimistic" that a compromise might still 
emerge.  End summary. 
 
CEC Offers Compromise 
--------------------- 
 
2. (C) At a February 5 lunch with Ambassador, Central 
Election Commission (CEC) Chairman Churov insisted that he 
wanted ODIHR to monitor the March 2 presidential elections. 
In February 4 talks with ODIHR representatives Gerald 
Mitchell and Mats Lindberg, the CEC had tabled a compromise 
offer that ODIHR send five observer mission logisticians as 
early as February 5, followed by twenty long-term observers 
on February 7, and a final 55 observers on February 20.  The 
offer, if accepted, would give the ODIHR observer team more 
time on the ground in advance of the elections than the 
original timetable proposed by the CEC.  The main sticking 
point between the two appears to be whether the bulk of the 
observer team will arrive on February 15, as proposed by 
ODIHR, or February 20, as offered by the CEC. 
 
3. (C) In phone calls with his staff during the lunch, Churov 
massaged CEC press guidance to keep the door open to ODIHR, 
although CEC staff members seemed to be telling him that 
ODIHR planned to reject the compromise timetable and not 
observe the March 2 presidential elections.  (ODIHR had been 
unable to monitor the December 2 Duma contest after the CEC 
restricted the size of the observation mission and reduced 
the length of time it could spend in Russia in advance of 
election day.) 
 
4. (C) While extending what he claimed to be an olive branch 
to the ODIHR, with whom he insisted he wanted to cooperate, 
Churov nevertheless alleged ODIHR had discredited itself in 
its observation of end-of-December elections in Georgia and 
the February 3 second round of the Serbian elections, where 
the EU had "not even consulted with ODIHR before pronouncing 
the elections free and fair."  Churov also hinted that, had 
ODIHR Chairman Strohal come to Moscow instead of sending two 
envoys, "who had only instructions and were not able to 
negotiate," the CEC might have shown greater flexibility. 
 
5. (C) In his answer to Ambassador's question, Churov 
ascribed the refusal of Putin successor Dmitriy Medvedev to 
participate in on-going debates with Zyuganov, Zhirinovskiy, 
and Bogdanov to the absence of a culture of debate in Russia. 
 "Candidates either scream at one another, or are absolutely 
boring," he said.  One of the lessons learned from the 
December 2 contest, Churov said, was that less media exposure 
is better.  He noted the relatively low-key advertisements 
for Medvedev to date and the somewhat more restrained 
coverage by the national media of the First Deputy Prime 
Minister's travels. 
 
6. (C) Churov insisted that the December 2 Duma elections had 
been free and fair and dismissed the work of the NGO Golos, 
which had alleged widespread shortcomings in the conduct of 
the elections, as largely derived from unsubstantiated media 
reports.  He contrasted Golos' observation work with that of 
the Communist Party which, Churov said, had fielded 30 
thousand observers and examined 42 percent of the voting 
protocols in drawing its conclusions about the elections. 
Ambassador emphasized the importance the U.S. and many others 
attach to unfettered access for Golos and other local 
observers. 
BURNS

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08MOSCOW295, RUSSIA EMPHASIZES STABILITY IN GOTX RELATIONS

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
08MOSCOW295 2008-02-05 15:32 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Moscow

VZCZCXYZ0000
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DE RUEHMO #0295/01 0361532
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
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TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 6411
INFO RUEHXD/MOSCOW POLITICAL COLLECTIVE
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC

C O N F I D E N T I A L MOSCOW 000295 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 02/03/2018 
TAGS: EINV ENR EPET PGOV PREL PTER
SUBJECT: RUSSIA EMPHASIZES STABILITY IN GOTX RELATIONS 
 
REF: A. 07 MOSCOW 5701 
 
     B. 07 MOSCOW 5231 
     C. 07 MOSCOW 5955 
     D. ASHGABAT 7 
     E. 07 ASHGABAT 1335 
 
Classified By: Political M/C Alice G. Wells.  Reasons 1.4 (b) and (d) 
 
1. (C) Summary:  Russian MFA officials and think tankers 
argue that Russia is comfortable with its relationship with 
the Berdimuhamedov regime, with the GOR emphasis on Turkmen 
stability over rapid democratic reform.  Russia is pushing 
Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) membership on an 
indifferent GOTX.  Russia remains concerned about the 
long-term viability of Turkmenistan's gas reserves and 
competition for the GOTX's supplies has given Ashgabat more 
leverage in price negotiations.  Russia sees itself as the 
big winner in the GOTX-Iranian gas dispute, and is banking on 
close historical ties to strengthen its position as dominant 
customer.  GOR investment in education and infrastructure, 
both current and hoped-for, are primarily aimed to promote 
Russia's primacy in Turkmenistan's political and economic 
development.  End Summary. 
 
------------------------- 
Stability Is Top Priority 
------------------------- 
 
2. (C) Russian MFA officials and the think tank community 
discount the possibility of major political disputes between 
Russia and Turkmenistan, with the GOR comfortable with its 
warm relationship with the Berdimuhamedov regime.  Aleksandr 
Romansich, Counselor in the MFA Third CIS Department, and 
Vladimir Zharikhin of the CIS Institute both told us Russia's 
top priority in Turkmenistan was stability.  Arguing that 
political party leaders in Turkmenistan are largely clan 
leaders, Zharikhin asserted that Turkmenistan would find it 
difficult to achieve democracy in the Western sense.  Free 
and open elections would simply mean rival clans would 
struggle for power every few years.  Romansich separately 
agreed, arguing that, for the time being, Turkmenistan 
understood only strong leadership; two strong candidates for 
the post of president would simply result in a civil war. 
Democratic development should not be "rushed."  Romansich 
asserted that Russia would rather see authoritarianism in 
Turkmenistan than Islamic fundamentalism or chaos. 
 
------------------ 
Russia Pushing SCO 
------------------ 
 
3. (C) Murad Yazberdiev, Counselor of the Embassy of 
Turkmenistan in Moscow, told us his government has no plans 
to join the CSTO or the SCO.  Romansich said the GOR 
understood Turkmen reservations, but added that Russia would 
continue to solicit Turkmenistan membership in the SCO. 
Romansich argued that Turkmenistan has been a reliable CIS 
member, and that SCO membership would facilitate greater 
cooperation among Turkmenistan and its neighbors. 
 
------------------------------------ 
Gas:  Russia's Top Bilateral Concern 
------------------------------------ 
 
4. (C) The experts, Russian MFA representatives, and Turkmen 
Embassy officials agree that the main issue in the 
Russo-Turkmen relationship is ensuring gas supplies. 
Turkmenistan delivers gas not only to Russia, but 
increasingly to China, Iran, and its other neighbors.  This 
has caused many to question the long-term viability of 
Turkmenistan's gas reserves, which is especially important to 
Russia, given its heavy reliance on Turkmenistan to supply 
European markets.  Turkmen Embassy officials dismissed 
concerns that Turkmenistan does not have enough gas to supply 
its neighbors (ref A).  He argued that such claims are made 
by "slackers who are not specialists."  Russian experts and 
the MFA disagree, although MFA's Romansich argued that with 
greater Russian investment, more gas fields could be 
developed, which would help Turkmenistan fulfill its 
obligations to its customers. 
 
5. (C) Increased competition for Turkmenistan's gas gives it 
a great deal of leverage in price negotiations (ref B), but 
according to Romansich, Russia's desire to be the dominant 
supplier of gas to Europe means it will remain an important 
customer for the foreseeable future.  Russia controls 
Turkmenistan's gas export routes to Ukraine and has recently 
solidified its position as the country's primary gas customer 
(ref A and C).  In the current gas dispute between 
Turkmenistan and Iran, caused by Turkmenistan's desire to 
raise the price Iran pays for gas (ref D), Russia has used 
its reserves to fill the supply void to countries that 
purchase from Iran, such as Turkey, further undermining 
Iran's reputation as a reliable gas supplier.  As some press 
reports and even Romansich have argued, Russia is the big 
winner in this dispute.  Pointing to Russia's close 
historical ties with Turkmenistan, Romansich argued that, 
"Old friends are better than new ones," and Russia hopes this 
will strengthen its position as one of Turkmenistan's 
reliable customers. 
 
----------------
-------------- 
Russia Bullish On Turkmenistan 
------------------------------ 
 
6. (C) Romansich said the GOR is also looking for ways to 
invest in Turkmenistan's Avaza Tourism Zone (ref E), 
automobile factories, and other areas of the Turkmen economy. 
 The GOR also wants to help rebuild Turkmenistan's education 
system, largely by encouraging Russian instruction in Turkmen 
schools.  Zharikhin pointed out that this would serve 
Russia's interests in the short and long term.  As 
Turkmenistan seeks to join Russia as a major gas supplier in 
the region, strong economic and cultural linkages would help 
keep Turkmenistan in its sphere of influence. 
 
------- 
Comment 
------- 
 
7. (C) As Turkmenistan increasingly pursues an independent 
foreign policy, we look for Russia to increasingly turn to 
soft power to keep a stable, gas-producing Turkmenistan as 
close as possible.  Increasing investment in Turkmenistan, as 
well as promoting cultural ties, will most likely continue. 
The GOR hopes Russian investment in education, and in 
particular Russian language instruction, will mean future 
generations will look favorably at Russia. 
BURNS

Wikileaks

08MOSCOW290, APPLICATION OF THE U.S. – RUSSIA CTR AND MPC&A DIPLOMATIC

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
08MOSCOW290 2008-02-05 13:08 2011-08-30 01:44 UNCLASSIFIED Embassy Moscow

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INFO RHMFIUU/DEPT OF ENERGY WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY

UNCLAS MOSCOW 000290 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: N/A 
TAGS: PARM PREL RS
SUBJECT: APPLICATION OF THE U.S. - RUSSIA CTR AND MPC&A DIPLOMATIC 
NOTE DELIVERED 
 
REF: STATE 6686 
 
1.  On January 29, Embassy delivered reftel diplomatic note and the 
suggested response note regarding the application of the U.S. - 
Russia Cooperative Threat Reduction (CTR) Umbrella Agreement and 
Materials Protection Control and Accounting (MPC&A) agreements to 
DOE's Second Line of Defense (SLD) and Radiological Threat Reduction 
(RTR) programs to Aleksey Karpov, Senior Counselor in the MFA 
Department for Security and Disarmament Affairs.  Moscow DOE 
delivered a courtesy copy to Rosatom's Vladimir Kuchinov immediately 
following Embassy's delivery of the notes to MFA. 
 
2. Karpov stated that he would submit the diplomatic note for review 
by experts and contact us when he had a response. 
 
BURNS

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08MOSCOW288, MEDVEDEV: MANAGING A FOREIGN POLICY NOVICE

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
08MOSCOW288 2008-02-05 11:58 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Moscow

VZCZCXYZ0007
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INFO RUCNCIS/CIS COLLECTIVE
RUEHXD/MOSCOW POLITICAL COLLECTIVE

C O N F I D E N T I A L MOSCOW 000288 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 02/01/2018 
TAGS: PREL PGOV ECON RS
SUBJECT: MEDVEDEV: MANAGING A FOREIGN POLICY NOVICE 
 
REF: A. MOSCOW 260 
     B. MOSCOW 179 
     C. MOSCOW 270 
 
Classified By: Ambassador William J. Burns: 1.4 (b, d). 
 
1.  (C)  Summary:  Given Dmitriy Medvedev's foreign policy 
inexperience and disastrous initiation in Russia's Ukrainian 
policy, we are likely to see a period of extended "regency," 
with Putin strongly influencing the shape and direction of 
the Medvedev administration.  The awkwardness inherent in 
this transition has already led Chancellor Merkel to propose 
a Moscow visit in March, when both the President and 
President-elect can be consulted without the protocol 
complications that arise when Putin shifts to the White 
House.  There is no institutional counterpoint to the 
presidency in Russian foreign policy decisionmaking.  While 
advocates of a Putin third term see the current President as 
indispensable, moderates hope that as Medvedev comes up to 
speed, Putin will disengage.  His European orientation, 
refreshing lack (to date) of anti-Western demagoguery, and 
the ideological elasticity of "Plan Putin" give Medvedev room 
to maneuver.  Managing relations with the U.S. may prove to 
be Medvedev's most difficult account, and one he has shied 
away from tackling.  End Summary 
 
Beware the Foreign Policy Novice 
-------------------------------- 
 
2.  (C)  If Dmitriy Medvedev's biography gives hope to 
liberals that a reform course will be charted internally (ref 
a), the next president's almost complete lack of foreign 
policy credentials fuels speculation about Putin's sustained 
influence over Russia's relations with the world.  As 
Carnegie Center's Dmitriy Trenin underscored to us, 
Medvedev's one known foreign policy gambit was a fiasco, when 
-- from his position as Putin's representative on the Gazprom 
Board -- he oversaw Russia's ruinous gas war with Ukraine in 
winter 2006.  From allowing Ukraine to prolong inconclusive 
negotiations, to issuing the New Year's diktat on the gas 
cutoff, failing to foresee the European reaction to Russian 
tactics, and missing the public relations dimension to the 
crisis, Medvedev flunked an early leadership test.  World 
Economy Institute analyst Aleksandr Tsipko separately agreed 
with Trenin's analysis, and argued that Medvedev also was 
linked to the Kremlin's misadventure in deploying "political 
technologists" to attempt to shore up the Yanukovich regime 
after the rigged elections of November 2004, which former 
Deputy Minister for Energy Milov also confirmed.  Observers 
believe that Medvedev's initial mis-steps steered him away 
from greater involvement in foreign policy. 
 
3.  (C)  While Medvedev, as the presumptive next president of 
Russia, met with Serbian Radical leader Nikolic on January 28 
and is slated to meet Jordanian King Abdullah in 
mid-February, he has kept his foreign policy comments to 
generalities (ref b).  Several foreign policy experts with 
ties to the Kremlin told us that there is no Medvedev foreign 
policy team; to the contrary, Trenin noted that an informal 
think tank organized to support Medvedev (primarily on the 
international economic front) by Renaissance Capital Chairman 
Igor Yurgens was shuttered in early 2007.  Kremlin watchers, 
such as Profile magazine's Svetlana Babayeva, are not aware 
of think tank types being tasked to brief Medvedev on foreign 
policy issues, with the Kremlin-commissioned Center for 
Political Technologies Deputy Director Boris Makarenko 
telling us "it's not in the cards: Medvedev's team is Putin's 
team."  While Trenin interprets the absence of activity 
harshly -- as indicative of Medvedev's disinterest in 
asserting his autonomy -- others view this as evidence of the 
"regency" period that will follow the May 7 inauguration. 
 
Enter Putin as Regent 
--------------------- 
 
4.  (C)  Not surprisingly, it is the same die-hard advocates 
of a third term for Putin who now posit the current 
President's indispensability on the grounds of Medvedev's 
foreign policy inexperience.  Foundation for Effective 
Politics Director Gleb Pavlovskiy spun to us that the one 
issue preventing Putin from walking away from the Kremlin was 
management of foreign affairs, suggesting -- less credibly -- 
that this, rather than siloviki politics, had been the 
"tipping" point.  Having reasserted Russian influence on the 
international stage, Pavlovskiy said that Putin could not 
leave the "conceptualization" of Russia's next steps to a 
novice president, particularly in a system where the Foreign 
Ministry implements, but does not drive, decisionmaking. 
 
5.  (C)  The presumption of many Russian analysts is that we 
will see a period of extended "regency," with Putin strongly 
influencing the course of Medvedev's policy, even if the new 
president's tone has less of the harsh rhetorical edge 
characteristic of Putin's Munich address.  A longstanding 
Medvedev booster, Andranik Migranyan (who was tapped by the 
Kremlin to head up Russia's New York-based Institute for 
Democracy), affirmed that Medvedev will not seek any dramatic 
foreign policy initiatives and in the first few
months of his 
presidency will take his cues from Putin and Putin's 
advisers.  An equally strong presumption is that an already 
opaque decisionmaking process will remain cloaked in mystery. 
 The challenge, Center for Political Technologies Deputy 
Makarenko stressed, will be to divine when Putin stops 
playing Cardinal Richelieu to Medvedev's King Louis XV. 
 
6.  (C)  There is intense speculation over how this period of 
regency will translate into the conduct of foreign policy. 
At some point, Trenin stressed, the crutches have to be put 
aside and the president has to walk into a summit alone, not 
as a member of a foreign policy team.  The level of 
uncertainty both over Medvedev's foreign policy confidence 
and Putin's willingness to cede the international limelight 
has even raised questions over who will represent Russia at 
the June EU Troika summit in Russia and at the July G8 Summit 
in Hokkeido, with Makarenko positing that -- however awkward 
-- Putin may accompany Medvedev on some of his first forays. 
To our knowledge, the Germans are the first off the mark in 
seeking to capitalize on the post-election, pre-inaugural 
window (March 3-May 7) to have Merkel meet both the President 
and President-elect without any of the protocol complications 
that arise when Putin moves to the White House.  (The visit 
proposal, still close hold, was made during Head of 
Chancellory de Mazierre's January 30-31 consultations.) 
 
No Institutional Recourse for Medvedev 
-------------------------------------- 
 
7.  (C)  There is broad agreement in the expert community 
with Pavlovskiy's conclusion that we are unlikely to see a 
strong Foreign Minister or Security Council Secretary 
appointed as a "balance" to a president weak on foreign 
policy.  "Foreign policy is the Tsar's gold," Trenin told us, 
and like the nuclear "suitcase" is husbanded carefully in the 
Presidential Administration.  Where Trenin and other 
political moderates take issue with Pavlovskiy is that they 
hope the regency represents an "exit strategy" for Putin -- 
assuming Medvedev comes up to speed, Putin can disengage, 
perhaps stepping down as Prime Minister after a year or two; 
if Medvedev falters, this scenario would have Putin toppling 
him and starting the succession project over again. 
 
8.  (C)  However, who sits where in the Medvedev 
administration will provide further insight on the scope of 
the regency.  For instance, Ekho Moskvy Chief Editor Aleksey 
Venediktov posits that Lavrov's retention as Foreign Minister 
or replacement by Sergey Ivanov would indicate Putin's stamp, 
whereas Presidential economic adviser Igor Shuvalov's 
elevation would reflect Medvedev's preference.  We are told 
that Lavrov's schedule has been kept open after mid-March. 
The continued vacancy in the Security Council since Igor 
Ivanov's July 2007 resignation keeps alive idle speculation 
that Putin still may take up this sinecure; however, we find 
the chatter unpersuasive given Putin's repeated public 
pledges to accept the position of premier in a Medvedev 
government.  While the role of the Security Council is 
amorphous the next Secretary's appointment will provide 
additional tea leaves to read on the Medvedev-Putin division 
of foreign policy responsibilities. 
 
Medvedev's Room for Maneuver 
---------------------------- 
 
9.  (C)  Still, foreign policy experts do not hesitate to 
describe Medvedev as pro-West, with a strong European 
orientation, whose less confrontational style could quickly 
set a different tone to Russia's relations abroad. 
Medvedev's Western tilt, Migranyan argued, can manifest 
itself in strange ways, largely because it collides with the 
standing Russian resentment of the West's "tutoring" in the 
1990's.  Nonetheless, Migranyan predicted that Medvedev would 
eventually work his way to a less chauvinistic foreign 
policy.  Trenin, more critical in his estimation of 
Medvedev's ability to "grow into Putin's shoes," nonetheless 
welcomed the few hints embedded in Medvedev's campaign 
speeches: no hysteria-mongering over Western enemies, 
acknowledgment that Russian actions (in particular, 
unpredictability) created doubts in the West, and an emphasis 
on transparent and reciprocal rules of the road in economic 
activity, including transparency in the gas trade.  Because 
"Plan Putin" boils down to catchwords on Russian strength and 
increased authority abroad, Renaissance Capital Investment VP 
Yelena Sharipova argued to us that Medvedev's writ remains 
large and largely uncircumscribed by Putin doctrine. 
10.  (C)  In this context, some have interpreted the recent 
comments of PM Kudrin and RAO UES Chairman Chubais (ref c), 
critical of Russian foreign policy, as evidence that liberals 
are already emboldened by the Medvedev campaign's softer 
approach.  (While Kudrin is closely identified with the 
economic reformers supporting Medvedev, the status of Chubais 
is less clear.  His political party and business confidante, 
SPS Deputy Leonid Gozman told us that Chubais had negotiated 
and signed an agreement with the Kremlin prior to the Duma 
elections on a follow-on posting within the administration -- 
which Babayeva told us would be as head of the state 
corporation, Rosnanotechnology.  However, Gozman posited that 
if Medvedev were to embrace Chubais overtly, it would place 
him in open opposition to Putin.) 
 
The U.S. Conundrum 
------------------- 
 
11.  (C)  The U.S. relationship may be Medvedev's most 
difficult, given the emphasis in the Kremlin on securing 
American recognition of Russian strategic importance. 
Medvedev traveled to the U.S. in February 2004, which is 
rarely mentioned here and the impression is that he 
underperformed.  Babayeva underscored to us that Medvedev 
never made a return visit and it was former President 
Yeltsin's Chief of Staff Voloshin who putatively was 
entrusted with "selling the Medvedev presidency" to 
Washington in March 2006.  Given Medvedev's European 
orientation (and particular comfort with the German 
relationship, after the multi-year dialogue with the 
Chancellory that he conducted as Putin's chief of staff and 
then sustained after his move to the White House), we will 
need to work creatively to establish a rapport with the new 
president and set up structured channels of communication to 
his staff -- at the same time that we navigate Putin's 
continued influence (septel). 
BURNS

Wikileaks

08MOSCOW285, BARSHCHEVSKIY BULLISH ON MEDVEDEV

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
08MOSCOW285 2008-02-05 08:41 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Moscow

VZCZCXYZ0007
PP RUEHWEB

DE RUEHMO #0285/01 0360841
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TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 6399
INFO RUCNCIS/CIS COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEHXD/MOSCOW POLITICAL COLLECTIVE PRIORITY

C O N F I D E N T I A L MOSCOW 000285 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 02/05/2018 
TAGS: PGOV PHUM PINR SOCI RS
SUBJECT: BARSHCHEVSKIY BULLISH ON MEDVEDEV 
 
Classified By: Political M/C Alice G. Wells.  Reason:  1.4 (d) 
 
------- 
Summary 
------- 
 
1.  (C) Mikhail Barshchevskiy, leader of the political party 
Civic Force that co-sponsored ruling party candidate Dmitriy 
Medvedev, described Russia's next president as shrewd, highly 
intelligent, and independent, and predicted he would master 
the presidency - allowing Putin to bow out.  While Civic 
Force garnered only a percentage in the national Duma 
elections, Barshchevskiy touted the outcome that matched that 
of more established liberal parties, particularly given the 
party's absence of financing or access to the media. 
Confident that liberalism is not dead in Russia, 
Barshchevskiy maintained that Civic Force will be 
well-positioned to capture the disappointed voters that an 
inevitable economic downturn will produce.  A self-made man 
and an establishment figure, Barshchevskiy believes strongly 
that Russian politics will grow to accommodate the 
aspirations of an expanding middle class.  End Summary 
 
---------------------------- 
Medvedev, Russia's Next Hero 
---------------------------- 
 
2.  (C) In a recent meeting, Civil Forces leader Mikhail 
Barshchevskiy declined to clarify how his party was selected 
to co-nominate the First Deputy Prime Minister as president, 
but said he supported Dmitriy Medvedev because "each era in 
Russian history requires a hero."  If Yeltsin was the 
appropriate hero to bring Russia out from under the Soviet 
system, it required Putin to manage the dramatic economic and 
social changes produced by such a change.  Barshchevskiy 
acknowledged that he was an establishment figure, since like 
most Russians he respected Putin for having restored order, 
placed the country on solid footing, and kept the various 
Kremlin factions in line.  Barshchevskiy pointed to Putin's 
political trajectory, arriving in Moscow in 1999 with very 
little support and mastering the presidency within two years, 
as Medvedev's template.  In much the same way, he argued, 
Medvedev will enter the stage as the right person, at the 
right time, who can position Russia on a more liberal and 
institution-based track. 
 
3.  (C) Based on his two-hour meeting with Medvedev on 
December 10, contacts within the Association of Lawyers, and 
experience as the GOR representative to the Constitutional 
Court, Barshchevskiy described Medvedev as shrewd, highly 
intelligent, and independent.  Barshchevskiy took exception 
to Medvedev's reputation as weak, arguing that in contrast to 
Putin's desire to be broadly admired and loved, Medvedev was 
forceful without being afraid to say "no."  Barshchevskiy saw 
Putin's brash and forceful Munich speech as part of his 
public persona; whereas Medvedev could be as forceful in 
private as Putin had been in public, he didn't need to show 
it.  Barshchevskiy also touted Medvedev's economic and 
government administration experience, noting that whereas 
Putin needed to gain control over the oligarchs, independent 
governors, and rambunctious security forces, Medvedev would 
need to manage and direct the large and growing Russian 
economy.  Barshchevskiy was relentlessly upbeat on Medvedev's 
prospects: while Putin's imprimatur may be required to deal 
with Kremlin in-fighting in the short term, in the near-term 
Medvedev would master the office and allow Putin to bow out. 
 
---------------------- 
Liberalism Is Not Dead 
---------------------- 
 
4.  (C) Although Civic Force received only 1.05 percent of 
the vote in the December Duma elections, Barshchevskiy hailed 
the results as a success.  Without much campaigning, press 
coverage, or financing, Civic Force garnered the same outcome 
as more established liberal parties, out-scoring the Union of 
Right Forces (0.97 percent) and polling only slightly less 
than Yabloko (1.59 percent).  Barshchevskiy touted the 
party's appeal to voters he described as reasonable, young 
and with Western values.  He spun the party's low showing 
positively, claiming that outside the Duma, the party would 
be freer to criticize the administration and would avoid 
blame for unpopular policies rubberstamped by the new 
parliament. 
 
5.  (C) Separately, Civic Force's press secretary Aleksandr 
Agamov told us that the party continues to make strides in 
the regions, with the party running candidates in several of 
the regional elections also slated for March 2.  Agamov 
highlighted the party's potentially strong showing in the 
Sverdlovsk, Yaroslavl, and Krasnodarsk Regions.  Agamov 
predicted the party would do best in Sverdlovsk, where polls 
currently put Civic Force at four to five percent of the vote 
(although, as in the national elections, parties must 
overcome a seven percent barrier).  Deputy Director of the 
Kremlin-connected Center for Political Technologies Boris 
Makarenko told us that Civil Force's three percent showing in 
Moscow during the Duma elections - in the absence of funding, 
campaign savvy or air-time - indicated a latent vote bank for 
a liberal party. 
 
6.  (C) Agamov argued that Civic Force was the most likely 
right-wing party to survive in Russia for several reasons. 
First, he pointed to the "hands-off Civic Force" policy from 
the Kremlin.  In the December elections this policy allowed 
the party to operate unimpeded, unlike Yabloko or SPS. 
Second, he said that poor relations between the leadership of 
SPS and the Kremlin would consign that party to the margins 
for the foreseeable future.  Third, he felt that Yabloko 
would continue to bear the burden of blame for the chaos of 
the 1990s.  When the time comes (during an economic crisis, 
say), he was confident that Civic Force would be waiting with 
its liberal-democratic principles. 
 
----------------- 
Comment: Bio Note 
----------------- 
 
7.  (C) Barshchevskiy is an interesting interlocutor: while 
not a natural politician, he continues to receive number one 
ranking in polls of famous lawyers, and enjoys straddling 
government service on the Constitutional Court with lucrative 
private business (where he was the first to establish a 
full-fledged Russian law firm, breeding partners from the 
graduates of elite law institutes in Moscow and St. 
Petersburg).  He is deeply establishment, but equally 
convinced that contemporary Russia must begin to accommodate 
the political demands of an emerging middle class, as well as 
the aspirations of wealthy technocrats.  He proudly labels 
himself "noveau riche," goes out of his way to meet in the 
swankiest of over-priced Moscow restaurants, and is a picture 
of sartorial splendor (when you can see him through the cloud 
of cigarette smoke that his relentless chain-smoking 
produces).  He is patriotic in other ways, with he and his 
wife recently adopting two toddlers from a Moscow orphanage, 
"since we have enough money and can make a difference."  The 
Barshchevskiys have an older daughter, who has finished 
university.  The Barshchevskiys travel frequently to the 
U.S., where he spent two years in Washington from 1989 to 
1990 working in large corporate law firm.  While he 
understands English, Barshchevskiy prefers to speak Russian. 
 
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