Daily Archives: February 20, 2008

08MOSCOW467, IVANOVO: UNITED RUSSIA FRACTURE LEADS TO EARLY

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
08MOSCOW467 2008-02-20 13:39 2011-08-30 01:44 UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY Embassy Moscow

VZCZCXRO2548
PP RUEHLN RUEHPOD RUEHVK RUEHYG
DE RUEHMO #0467/01 0511339
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 201339Z FEB 08
FM AMEMBASSY MOSCOW
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 6724
INFO RUCNCIS/CIS COLLECTIVE
RUEHXD/MOSCOW POLITICAL COLLECTIVE

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 03 MOSCOW 000467 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SENSITIVE 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: N/A 
TAGS: PGOV KDEM ECON RS
SUBJECT: IVANOVO: UNITED RUSSIA FRACTURE LEADS TO EARLY 
ELECTIONS 
 
SUMMARY 
------- 
 
1. (SBU) A simmering dispute in Ivanovo between a 
Kremlin-appointed Governor and a State Duma Deputy, over 
control of the local United Russia party and the economic 
benefits that go with it, reached a boiling point in December 
2007 when more than half of the members of the regional Duma 
resigned in protest.  The mass resignation led the Governor 
to dissolve the Duma and call for early elections on March 2, 
the same day as Russia's presidential elections, with the 
likely outcome more ruling party in-fighting.  Opposition 
parties Yabloko and the Union of Right Forces (SPS) are not 
taking part in the elections but the Communist Party, also in 
a weak position, was energized by the upcoming visit of 
Communist Party leader and presidential candidate Gennadiy 
Zyuganov.  Ivanovo's new status as a ruling party stronghold 
was evidenced, during Emboff's February 12-13 visit, by the 
absolute lack of excitement surrounding the presidential 
race, with a large majority of local residents prepared to 
vote for Putin's pick, Medvedev.  As the textile industry 
fades, Ivanovo seeks to be a major part of Golden Ring 
tourism.  End Summary. 
 
GOVERNOR AND STATE DUMA DEPUTY FIGHT FOR CONTROL 
--------------------------------------------- --- 
 
2. (SBU) A situation that Yabloko Party Deputy Chairman 
Alexsandr Rumyantsev described as "ripening for a year," 
reached a boiling point in December 2007 when 28 members of 
the Ivanovo Regional Duma resigned.  Most of the deputies who 
resigned were members of United Russia and loyal to Governor 
Mikhail Men.  Governor Men, a former deputy to Moscow Mayor 
Luzhkov, was appointed by the Kremlin to became Ivanovo's 
governor in December 2005, and replaced Tikhonov, a member of 
the Communist Party.  Governor Men had previously been a 
member of the liberal opposition party Yabloko.  His entrance 
onto the scene in Ivanovo caused tension with Ivanovo's State 
Duma Deputy Mikhail Babich as the two fought for control over 
the local United Russia party and over their economic 
interests in the region.  The dispute played out in the 
Regional Duma where the members of United Russia split into 
two camps -- one loyal to the Governor and the other loyal to 
its Speaker, Andrey Nazarov, who is closely associated with 
Babich. 
 
3.  (SBU) The 28 deputies who resigned were mostly members of 
United Russia, however the group also included members of 
SPS, the Liberal Democratic Party and Just Russia.  All were 
known to be dissatisfied with Nazarov, who local journalist 
Irina Mamayeva told us was a retired colonel who ran the Duma 
in a "very authoritarian way."  Of the 48-member Duma, 33 
were United Russia party members.  The mass resignation gave 
Governor Men the opportunity to dissolve the Duma and call 
for early elections on March 2.  The dissolution was 
challenged in court by a supporter of the Duma's speaker.  On 
February 13, the Supreme Court upheld the dissolution of the 
Ivanovo Duma. 
 
4. (SBU) While ascribing different motives to the Duma 
protagonists, local interlocutors from a range of political 
parties told Emboff, during a February 12-13 visit to 
Ivanovo, the Duma had ceased to function prior to its 
dissolution.  Yabloko's Rumyantsev explained that the Duma 
crisis was all about in-fighting among members of United 
Russia.  He predicted that the new election will not solve 
anything because United Russia's party list contains members 
from both sides of the dispute -- including Nazarov.  The 
Ivanovo Political Council, the decision-making body of the 
local United Russia party split into two factions with each 
faction sending their list of candidates for the upcoming 
election to the party's Federal Council.  The Federal 
Council, rather than siding with either faction, merely 
merged the two lists.  Communist Party leader and regional 
Duma Deputy Anatoliy Gordiyenko noted ironically that "the 
idea to dissolve the Duma was born in the United Russia Party 
and now the same people are running and it is expensive." 
Rumyantsev also accused United Russia of putting candidates 
on their party list who have agreed to step aside and sell 
their Duma seats to others. 
 
YABLOKO AND SPS CANNOT AFFORD TO RUN 
----------------------------------- 
 
5. (SBU) Despite regional Duma and presidential elections 
that were due to take place in just over two weeks, there was 
little evidence of any campaigning taking place in Ivanovo. 
No billboard advertisements were evident, with the exception 
of those placed by the election commission informing voters 
of the date of the elections.  There were no signs for local 
 
MOSCOW 00000467  002 OF 003 
 
 
or presidential candidates.  Everyone we spoke to agreed that 
presidential candidate Medvedev would do well in the region. 
 
 
6. (SBU)  Opposition parties Yabloko and the Union of Right 
Forces (SPS) will not take part in the regional Duma 
elections.  Despite the likelihood of achieving the 
percentage of votes necessary to ente
r the Duma (four percent 
under local law), neither party had the one million rubles 
required as a deposit to participate.  According to 
Rumyantsev, the national party is unable to help even in a 
region where they could potentially succeed.   Rumyantsev 
said opposition parties in Ivanovo are up against wide-spread 
use of administrative resources and pressure on the media to 
report favorably about United Russia and its candidates. 
"There is no independent source of information for voters," 
he said.  "This lack of information is how you end up with 
results such as those in the December 2 State Duma 
elections." 
 
COMMUNIST PARTY AWAITS ZYUGANOV VISIT 
------------------------------------ 
 
7. (SBU) The Communist Party has seen its influence wane from 
the days when the governor of Ivanovo was a "real" communist, 
Gordiyenko told us.  The party's traditional voters, mostly 
older citizens living in rural areas, are increasingly 
supporting United Russia because of their dependence on state 
benefits.  Today, Communist Party support comes largely from 
city dwellers.  Gordiyenko told us there were "serious 
violations" in the Ivanovo region during the December 2 
elections.  He said most of these violations related to 
inappropriate use of administrative resources.  He said the 
same is happening in the upcoming presidential elections, 
especially at the national level.  Commenting on the amount 
of media coverage Medvedev is receiving, Gordiyenko said, "he 
(Medvedev) is everywhere.  You plug in your iron, he is 
there. You look in the mirror to shave, he is there."  He 
said that the more than 60 percent vote for United Russia in 
December would have been only 50 percent were it not for the 
use of administrative resources. 
 
8. (SBU) On February 16, Communist Party leader and 
presidential candidate Zyuganov was due to visit Ivanovo for 
the first time in seven years.  Gordiyenko told us Ivanovo 
was one of only five regions Zyuganov would visit during the 
campaign.  Noting that the party does better in neighboring 
regions, Gordiyenko said he was coming to visit a "weak part 
of the power chain."  Subsequent news coverage of Zyuganov's 
visit reported that he received a tepid reception from local 
factory workers, only a few dozen of whom stayed past their 
shift to listen to him. 
 
IVANOVO SEEKS TO JOIN 'GOLDEN RING' TOURISM BOOM 
--------------------------------------------- --- 
 
9. (SBU) Ivanovo is one of the poorest regions in Russia, 
with an average salary of 8 thousand rubles per month 
(320 USD).  While local authorities, including Deputy 
Governor Zhukovskaya, said salaries are growing, others, 
including Yabloko's Rumyantsev said this is only due to 
increased salaries for local officials.  The region, the 
historical center of Russia's domestic textile industry since 
Tsarist times and known as the "City of Brides," due to the 
 
SIPDIS 
large number of women who worked in the textile industry, is 
losing its struggle to compete with China and  countries in 
South Asia.  Deputy Governor Zhukovskaya told us Governor Men 
wants Ivanovo to become known as the "City of Investors." She 
told us the Governor had signed an agreement with five 
governors of other Golden Ring regions -- Yaroslavl, Moscow, 
Kostroma and Vladimir -- to advance tourism efforts and 
touted the city's new tourism facilities including a 10-room 
four-star hotel in the middle of the city. 
 
10. (SBU) Journalist Mamayeva said Governor Men is viewed 
positively although "it is too early to talk about results." 
She noted that in the two years he has been in the job, there 
has been more investment in the region with new building 
construction and shopping centers.  Nearly all interlocutors 
mentioned the upcoming opening of a national hyper-market as 
proof of Ivanovo's improved investment climate. 
 
11. (SBU) There has been some evidence of work taking place 
under the National Projects although the Communist Party's 
Gordiyenko called the projects a "trick for the population." 
Most cited new medical equipment and ambulances and some 
increase in the availability of health care.  There was also 
Internet access in schools. Work done in the agriculture 
sector under the National Projects was widely criticized. 
Others told us loans that are available under the program are 
 
MOSCOW 00000467  003 OF 003 
 
 
either for too short a term to be beneficial for those who 
need them, or in other cases have been misdirected for such 
purposes as the purchase of dachas. 
 
COMMENT 
------- 
 
12. (SBU) There is little doubt that United Russia will do 
well in the region at both the national level -- supporting 
Medvedev for president -- and at the regional level where 
United Russia's party list and single mandate candidates will 
win an even greater number of seats.  The larger question is 
whether or not the elections for the regional Duma will 
produce a result that resolves the power-struggle between the 
Governor and the State Duma Deputy.  With candidates from 
both sides of the dispute poised to win seats in the next 
regional Duma, the end result may be more of the same. 
 
 
BURNS

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