Daily Archives: February 29, 2008

08MOSCOW585, REGIONAL ELECTIONS OFFER FEWER CHOICES

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
08MOSCOW585 2008-02-29 15:48 2011-08-30 01:44 UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY Embassy Moscow

VZCZCXRO1521
PP RUEHLN RUEHPOD RUEHVK RUEHYG
DE RUEHMO #0585/01 0601548
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 291548Z FEB 08
FM AMEMBASSY MOSCOW
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 6902
INFO RUCNCIS/CIS COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEHXD/MOSCOW POLITICAL COLLECTIVE PRIORITY

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 MOSCOW 000585 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SENSITIVE 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: N/A 
TAGS: PGOV PHUM SOCI PINR RS
SUBJECT: REGIONAL ELECTIONS OFFER FEWER CHOICES 
 
REF: A. MOSCOW 479 
     B. MOSCOW 467 
 
Summary 
------- 
 
1. (SBU) Voters in 11 Russian regions will find fewer options 
on the ballot for their regional parliaments when they go to 
the polls March 2 in elections to be held concurrently with 
the selection of a new president.  Following a trend that 
began with changes to the electoral legislation that required 
the State Duma to be elected on the basis of party lists 
only, some Russian regions also have introduced party lists 
into their regional parliaments.  As the State Duma elections 
showed, dispensing with single mandate seats likely will 
result in limited opportunities for opposition and 
independent candidates to win representation in regional 
parliaments.  In many regions, the liberal opposition parties 
Union of Right Forces and Yabloko are not taking part.  Their 
dismal showing in the December elections left them with 
little money to run in local elections.  Under Russian law, 
this lack of participation could jeopardize their long-term 
viability as political parties.  End summary. 
 
REGIONS FOLLOW NATIONAL TREND 
----------------------------- 
 
2. (SBU) Eleven Russian regions will hold elections for their 
regional parliaments on March 2, the same day as presidential 
elections.  The ll are: the republics of Bashkortostan, 
Ingushetiya, Kalmykiya, and Yakutiya; Altay Kray, and the 
Amur, Ivanovo, Rostov, Sverdlovsk, Ulyanovsk, and Yaroslavl 
oblasts.  Elections for mayor, city council, and local 
governing bodies in numerous cities and villages throughout 
the country will also take place on March 2.  Most regions 
still maintain regional parliaments that are split between 
single mandate seats and proportional sets.  Following a 
course set at the national level to elect members of the 
State Duma solely based on party lists, some regions have 
opted for a similar electoral system for their regional 
parliaments.  Three regions which are holding regional 
elections - Ingushetiya, Kalmykiya, and Amur Oblast - have 
done away with single mandate seats and will chose their 
deputies from party lists.  The other eight regions will use 
a mixed electoral system.  Half of their members will be 
elected from single mandate districts and the other half from 
party lists. 
 
3. (SBU) A report issued by Aleksandr Kynev of the Fund for 
Information Policy said the move toward a proportional 
electoral system in the regions is another step toward the 
completion of regional reforms which began in 2003.  "The 
proportional system little by little has been pushing out the 
single mandate districts."  In past elections, St. 
Petersburg, the Moscow region, and Dagestan shifted to a 
purely proportional system.  Others -- Chechnya and 
Primorskiy Kray -- have announced their intention to do so in 
the future. Kemerovo is the only region that will continue to 
elect its regional parliament from single mandate districts 
only. Its next elections will be held in October 2008. 
 
4. (SBU) Along with moving to a proportional electoral 
system, the number of parties actively participating in 
elections has dwindled.  The four parties represented in the 
State Duma -- United Russia, Just Russia, the Communist Party 
(KPRF) and the Liberal Democratic Party (LDPR) -- dominate 
regional elections. Other parties, including the Agrarian 
party and Civic Force, which were part of the coalition that 
nominated Dmitriy Medvedev for president, have had trouble 
registering their party lists in some regions. The Agrarians 
attempted to have their party lists registered in five 
regions, but failed in Ingushetiya and Altay Kray. Civic 
Force was only successful in registering its lists in 
Sverdlovsk and Yaroslavl.  Only the four parliamentary 
parties have been registered in Bashkortostan, Ingushetiya, 
Altay Kray, Rostov and Ulyanovsk.  Yaroslavl has registered 
the largest number of parties (nine), including the Green 
Party, People's Union and Patriots of Russia.  Despite its 
place as one of the four parliamentary parties, Just Russia 
has faced its own troubles in the regions.  A regional court 
ordered that Just Russia's party list and eight 
single-mandate candidates be removed from the ballot in 
Yaroslavl (ref A) and more recently, the party has been 
removed from the ballot in Yakutiya.  Just Russia officials 
maintain that their ballot woes are the result of ruling 
party pressure in areas where United Russia is relatively 
weak. 
 
5.  (SBU) According to Kynev's report, 15 percent of party 
lists that were submitted for registration in the March 2 
regional elections were refused.  In regional elections which 
 
MOSCOW 00000585  002 OF 002 
 
 
took place in March 2007, every third party was refused 
registration.  In December 2007, 42 of 64 lists were not 
registered.  While the rate of denial has declined, Kynev 
posited that the stringent legislation had, 
election-by-election, eliminated "incorrect parties." 
 
6.  (SBU) Liberal opposition parties Union of Right Forces 
(SPS) and Yabloko, following their slim showing in the State 
Duma elections, are so down and out that they are barely 
participating in regional elections.  Yabloko will not appear 
on any regional ballots despite attempts to do so in 
Ingushetiya and Altay Kray.  SPS has registered a party list 
in Ivanovo.  Lack of money and or ability to collect 
signatures were cited as the reasons by both parties.  In 
contrast, the four parliamentary parties are not required to 
submit a deposit or collect signatures in regional elections. 
 While the cost of running in regional elections has turned 
out to be prohibitive for opposition parties, the threshold 
for entering regional parliaments in some regions is several 
percentage points lower than that required to enter the State 
Duma, and thereby potentially attainable for 
non-parliamentary parties.  In Ivanovo, the threshold is four 
percent and in Yaroslavl it is five percent.  In the other 
regions holding regional elections, the threshold is the same 
as for the State Duma, seven percent.  "The 'old-timers' 
(Yabloko and SPS) are being pushed from the regions," Kynev 
said. 
 
7.  (SBU) The lack of participation by SPS and Yabloko puts 
their viability as political parties at stake.  Under Russian 
law, political parties must participate in elections or risk 
losing their party registration.  In order to maintain the 
status of a political party after January 1, 2009, parties 
must have their party list or at least one single mandate 
candidate participate in elections in at least 17 regions of 
the country in elections from 2004 to 2008.  (Currently SPS 
and Yabloko have representatives in regional Dumas in 11 and 
6 regions respectively, but we are still researching whether 
cumulatively these opposition parties will meet this 
threshold in 2009.) 
 
LIMITING POLITICAL COMPETITION 
------------------------------ 
 
8.  (SBU) In 2003, there were 44 political parties and at 
that time, they were able to form electoral blocs or 
alliances with like-minded partners.  Now, as a result of 
changes to the Law on Elections, political blocs are 
prohibited and deputies, once elected, cannot change parties. 
 The consequences of changes to electoral law have been not 
only a move toward proportional elections at the national 
level and throughout the country, but a system that is 
dominated by only four political parties.  "Regional 
political life has been gradually forced to imitate the 
four-party system of the federal center," said Kynev. 
 
9.  (SBU) To the extent political competition exists today, 
it is mostly seen (or unseen) within political parties as 
internecine battles take place over local control of the 
party.  "The real struggle has taken on an internal 
character.  In many regions, the so-called unity of United 
Russia is not as stable as it might seem," said Kynev, who 
cited as an example a conflict between Kalmykiya's President 
and the Mayor of its capital city, Elista.  Both are members 
of United Russia. There has also been in-fighting in Ivanovo 
between the governor and a State Duma Deputy from the region 
which led to a mass resignation of regional Duma deputies and 
a call for early elections (ref B). 
 
COMMENT 
------- 
 
10.  (SBU) With the electoral amendments, the Kremlin said it 
sought an outcome that produced fewer parties, but ones with 
broad national representation.  The result, indeed, is fewer 
parties, at the cost of opposition representation. 
BURNS

Wikileaks

08MOSCOW575, RUSSIA MAKING PROGRESS ON BERLIN TB DECLARATION

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
08MOSCOW575 2008-02-29 14:17 2011-08-30 01:44 UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY Embassy Moscow

VZCZCXRO1337
RR RUEHHM RUEHLN RUEHMA RUEHPB RUEHPOD
DE RUEHMO #0575/01 0601417
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 291417Z FEB 08
FM AMEMBASSY MOSCOW
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 6889
INFO RUEAUSA/DEPT OF HHS WASHINGTON DC
RUEHYG/AMCONSUL YEKATERINBURG 3062
RUEHVK/AMCONSUL VLADIVOSTOK 2720
RUEHZN/EST COLLECTIVE
RUEHPH/CDC ATLANTA GA

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 MOSCOW 000575 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SENSITIVE 
SIPDIS 
 
DEPARTMENT FOR OES/IHB (LAURITZEN) AND EUR/PGI (TESSLER) 
USAID FOR GH, E&E 
HHS FOR OGHA 
 
E.O. 12958: N/A 
TAGS: TBIO SCUL SOCI WHO RS
SUBJECT: RUSSIA MAKING PROGRESS ON BERLIN TB DECLARATION 
 
REF: A. 08 State 6989 
 
 B. 07 Moscow 4543 
 C. 06 Moscow 12876 
 D. 07 Moscow 2847 
 E. 08 Moscow 536 
 
MOSCOW 00000575  001.2 OF 002 
 
 
THIS CABLE IS SENSITIVE BUT UNCLASSIFIED.  NOT FOR INTERNET 
DISTRIBUTION. 
 
1. (SBU) SUMMARY:  Russia has made effective progress in 
implementing the Berlin Declaration on Tuberculosis (TB).  The 
Russian Government's adoption of the Berlin Declaration confirmed 
Russia's political commitment to TB control.  The GOR continues to 
focus its attention on TB control and treatment, and the development 
of regional pilot programs supported by the USG, World Health 
Organization, international NGOs, and the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, 
TB and Malaria.  TB rates in Russia have stabilized within the 
general population, albeit at a high level, and are dramatically 
declining within prisons, though they are still almost five times 
higher than the civilian rates (Ref B).  While cases of drug 
resistant TB and TB/HIV co-infections are growing, the GOR, 
international donor community, NGOs, and the U.S. and Russian 
pharmaceutical sector are devoting substantial resources to 
combating these new and deadly infections.  Russia is also emerging 
as an international health donor and repaying its Global Fund grants 
(Ref C).  END SUMMARY. 
 
2. (U) Per Ref A request, this cable summarizes Russia's progress in 
implementing the Berlin Declaration on TB.  As discussed in Ref B, 
the World Health Organization (WHO) ranks Russia twelfth on the list 
of the world's 22 high burden TB countries.  According to statistics 
published by the Ministry of Health and Social Development (MOHSD), 
Russia registered 117,646 new cases of TB in 2006 (a rate of 82.4 
cases per 100,000 people), a decline of 1.3 percent compared to 
2005.  TB mortality has declined in recent years from 21.9 deaths 
recorded per 100,000 population in 2002 to 19.5 deaths per 100,000 
in 2006.  The TB situation in Russian prisons has dramatically 
improved over the last seven years.  A threefold decline of both the 
prevalence of TB cases in prisons and TB mortality has been 
registered since 1999.  This progress was achieved thanks to the 
joint efforts of the penitentiary and civilian health care systems 
and international organizations working closely together to resolve 
questions of TB drug supply, laboratory and testing capacity, and 
training of health care personnel. 
 
3. (U) Multi-drug resistant TB (MDR-TB) cases have gradually 
increased over the past seven years (Ref B), and the issue remains 
high on the agenda of both the GOR and international organizations. 
Through the combined efforts of the GOR and international donors, 
laboratory testing and diagnostics capacity for drug resistant TB in 
regional and central labs has significantly improved over the last 
two years.  U.S. and Russian pharmaceutical companies have also 
played a constructive role.  U.S. drug company Eli Lilly's MDR-TB 
partnership has worked with SIA International, one of Russia's 
leading pharmaceutical manufacturers, to transfer know-how and 
technology to Russia so that second line TB drugs can be produced 
domestically (Ref D). 
 
4. (U) TB/HIV co-infection is a growing problem.  TB is the leading 
cause of death among people with HIV/AIDS, accounting for 59 percent 
of all deaths among this group in 2006 (Ref E).  The MOHSD has 
established a center for treating HIV/TB co-infections, which is 
tasked with monitoring the epidemiological situation and developing 
guidelines for treatment of patients with TB/HIV co-infections. 
 
5. (SBU) In contrast to most other high burden TB countries, Russia 
spends massively on TB control and treatment.  The GOR slightly 
modified its five year budget estimate for the TB program in 
February 2008, increasing the budget by $8 million, to over one 
billion dollars for the period 2007 to 2011.  The Russian federal 
and regional governments together spent $280 million on TB control 
and treatment in 2006 and 2007, and will spend similar amounts in 
2008.  Most regions currently have a stockpile of first line TB 
drugs available in both the civilian and penitentiary systems, and 
federal level funding for provision of second-line drugs is growing 
significantly.  Second line drugs are not available in most regions 
in Russia, even though officially 18 regions are approved by the WHO 
Green Light Committee to provide second line drugs. Only three 
regions have received these drugs through the international 
procurement system set up by the WHO Stop TB partnership.  The WHO 
and international donors continue to work with the MOHSD to resolve 
the issue of availability of second line TB drugs
. 
 
6. (U) Through 2006, the WHO revised TB control strategy of Directly 
 
MOSCOW 00000575  002.2 OF 002 
 
 
Observed Therapy Short Course (DOTS) had been officially adopted in 
nearly all Russian regions with the support of USG, WHO, World Bank 
and Global Fund grants.  New TB treatment standards and new TB 
reporting requirements have already been implemented in 68 Russian 
regions which cover 83 percent of Russia's population. 
 
BURNS

Wikileaks

08MOSCOW570, RUSSIA UNSURE IF RESOLUTION ON DRC IS PROPER

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
08MOSCOW570 2008-02-29 12:22 2011-08-30 01:44 UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY Embassy Moscow

VZCZCXRO1210
PP RUEHTRO
DE RUEHMO #0570 0601222
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 291222Z FEB 08
FM AMEMBASSY MOSCOW
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 6882
INFO RUEHGG/UN SECURITY COUNCIL COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEHKM/AMEMBASSY KAMPALA PRIORITY 0033
RUEHLGB/AMEMBASSY KIGALI PRIORITY 0019
RUEHKI/AMEMBASSY KINSHASA PRIORITY 0064
RUEHNR/AMEMBASSY NAIROBI PRIORITY 0193

UNCLAS MOSCOW 000570 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SENSITIVE 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: N/A 
TAGS: CG PREL RW UNSC ASEC ETTC RS
SUBJECT: RUSSIA UNSURE IF RESOLUTION ON DRC IS PROPER 
MECHANISM 
 
REF: SECSTATE 16195 
 
1.  (SBU)  We delivered reftel demarche to MFA International 
Organizations Senior Counselor Valentin Berezovskiy on 
February 29, who said that he would report the information 
and notify the Russian UN Mission about the decision. 
Berezovskiy told us that Russia maintained its long-standing 
position that all foreign troops in the DRC should be 
repatriated and was not opposed to the draft UNSC resolution, 
but expressed doubt that a resolution would have any more 
impact than existing Presidential Statements.  He was also 
concerned about the UNSC's will to support follow-up action 
if parties in the DRC did not respond to the resolution. 
BURNS

Wikileaks

08MOSCOW567, RUSSIA’S SAMARA OBLAST – WHAT ELECTION?

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
08MOSCOW567 2008-02-29 12:04 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Moscow

VZCZCXYZ0005
PP RUEHWEB

DE RUEHMO #0567/01 0601204
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 291204Z FEB 08
FM AMEMBASSY MOSCOW
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 6879
INFO RUCNCIS/CIS COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEHXD/MOSCOW POLITICAL COLLECTIVE PRIORITY

C O N F I D E N T I A L MOSCOW 000567 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 02/28/2018 
TAGS: PGOV PHUM PINR RS SOCI
SUBJECT: RUSSIA'S SAMARA OBLAST - WHAT ELECTION? 
 
REF: A. MOSCOW 00479 
 
     B. MOSCOW 00411 
     C. MOSCOW 00497 
     D. MOSCOW 00483 
 
Classified By: Political M/C Alice G. Wells.  Reason:  1.4 (d). 
 
1. (SBU) Summary: For most in Samara oblast, the coming 
Presidential election is a "non-event," with nearly all 
interlocutors seeing the campaign as already decided. 
Excepting the ubiquitous posters and banners calling for 
people to head to the polls this Saturday, there was little 
evidence in the city of Samara that a presidential race is 
underway.  In neighboring Tolyatti, the home of the Avtovaz 
factory, there were likewise few signs of political 
competition for president -- a marked difference from the 
billboards and flyers posted for the mayor election (septel). 
Expectations for Sunday reflect Samara's track record of 
comparatively low election turnout vice the national average, 
with polling predicting between 50-65% turnout, of which 
approximately 70% will go for Medvedev and the remaining 30% 
to be split by the Communists and Vladimir Zhirinovskiy's 
Liberal Democratic Party.  End Summary. 
 
The Parties 
----------- 
 
2. (SBU) United Russia's headquarters for its Samara city 
branch occupies an entire two-story building, with offices 
for the party leadership, youth organization, and city Duma 
members to meet their constituents.  Aleksandr Fetisov, a 
former marine officer and now head of the regional executive 
committee, was confidently optimistic about the turnout and 
share of votes for Medvedev.  He painted a picture of a 
well-oiled political machine, led "informally" by regional 
Governor Vladimir Artyakov (the official head of Medvedev's 
campaign in Samara is Duma Deputy Viktor Kazakov, who also 
led the party's campaign for the Duma in December).  Fetisov 
noted that the party's Moscow leadership had provided 
support, sending prominent political scientist and Duma 
Deputy Sergey Markov to lead a round of campaign seminars, 
and organizing meetings of party organizations in the Volga 
Okrug, where local teams were able to compare strategies. 
 
3. (SBU) The Communist Party of the Russian Federation (KPRF) 
headquarters was squalid by comparison, manned by senior 
citizens, adorned with pictures of Lenin and Stalin (notably, 
not candidate Zyuganov), and packed with copies of KPRF 
newspapers.  Party First Secretary and State Duma Deputy 
Valentin Romanov came across as a capable politician facing 
what he admitted to be tall odds in promoting his candidate 
in an election that he deemed "unfair."  He lamented the 
three or more hours of television coverage that was lavished 
on Medvedev and despaired of the KPRF's inability to gain 
access to local newspapers or television stations.  He noted 
that conditions for the KPRF had been "easier" than during 
the Duma elections last fall, but the party had faced 
increased pressure in the last weeks, including falsified 
advertisements for a KPRF political rally on Saturday (which 
would be a violation of election laws). Not only did the KPRF 
headquarters lack the bustle and enthusiasm of the United 
Russia office, a rally on the city's central square pm 
February 28 boasted only a hundred of so pensioners who gave 
pitifully weak "hurrahs" to the speeches of the party 
leadership.  The rally's only representative of the city's 
youth ended his oration with a warning that the election of 
Medvedev would mean that Russia would be ruled for the first 
time by a "Jew" -- which earned him the half-hearted cheers 
of the assembled. 
 
4. (SBU) The situation of Samara's Democratic Party of Russia 
(DPR) reflected their candidate's pathetic showing in 
regional polls. Their office was even more modest than that 
of the KPRF, with no evidence of campaign materials or even 
staff.  The head of the party, Evgeniy Lartsev, and his 
deputy Lev Mikhaylovich spent much of their time stressing 
the historical roots of the party, which they traced back to 
the heyday of the late Gorbachev era when the Democratic 
Party faced down the old Soviet leadership.  Lartsev had no 
complaints about the way that the campaign was being run and 
was comfortable with a program based on the national-level 
television commercials and debates.  With the pride of a 
grandfather about his brightest grandson, Mikhaylovich 
praised DPR candidate Bogdanov as a young, fresh face who he 
believed would be attractive to the younger generation. 
Lartsev and Mikhaylovich portrayed the 2008 election as 
merely the first step in the creation of a new liberal party, 
with hopes that the "right" forces could be consolidated 
under Bogdanov and voiced some hope that the expected 5-10% 
"protest vote" would swing for their candidate. 
 
The Campaign 
------------ 
 
5. (SBU) Olga Solomatina, the head of Samara's Electoral 
Commission, portrayed the election process as following legal 
norms and proceeding without problems.  She noted that there 
had been only two violations of election laws, which
 she 
described as "technical mistakes" that were quickly resolved. 
 She noted that all of the parties taking part in the 
elections had seats on the election commissions and said that 
relations between the competitors were "professional" and 
conflict-free. 
 
6. (C) The election commission has undertaken a massive 
advertising campaign to "get out the vote," with billboards 
and flyers posted around the city, proclaiming "our country, 
our president."  When asked, Solomatina noted that funding 
for the advertising campaign came from Moscow and not from 
local funds.  Sergey Kurt-Adzhiev, the former editor of 
Novaya Gazeta (which was closed by the authorities last 
fall), painted a different picture and claimed that the 
election commission had compelled local administrations to 
pay for advertisements from budget funds. Moreover, he noted 
that the members of the election commission stood to benefit 
from a "tidy" campaign, since funding had already been 
allocated for a second round and would not have to be 
returned or passed to the local administration. 
 
7. (C) Kurt-Adzhiev and local sociologist Vladimir 
Zvonkovskiy both expected the use of administrative resources 
by local officials in support of United Russia.  Zvonkovskiy 
argued that such measures -- pressing parents of 
schoolchildren to vote, managing employees and encouraging 
them to go to the polls, etc, -- provided a 5% difference 
during the Duma elections and predicted a similar result on 
Sunday.  Perhaps as evidence of the collusion between the 
administration and United Russia, Medvedev's team was 
preparing to hand out scarves to first-time voters that had 
been provided by the Election Commission. 
 
Comment 
------- 
 
8. (SBU) The election picture in Samara differs little from 
that in other regions (reftels).  The usual boost in turnout 
for a presidential election has largely been negated by the 
population's lack of enthusiasm for yet another referendum on 
the country's administration. People remain focused on more 
immediate concerns, such as poor roads and dilapidated 
infrastructure, rather than on political issues. Even 
Samara's political players appeared wearied by the campaign 
and ready to move on to other issues. 
BURNS

Wikileaks

08MOSCOW564, MEDVEDEV – AND PUTIN – DOMINATE MEDIA LEADING TO

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
08MOSCOW564 2008-02-29 10:36 2011-08-30 01:44 UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY Embassy Moscow

VZCZCXRO1022
PP RUEHLN RUEHPOD RUEHVK RUEHYG
DE RUEHMO #0564/01 0601036
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 291036Z FEB 08
FM AMEMBASSY MOSCOW
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 6874
INFO RUCNCIS/CIS COLLECTIVE
RUEHXD/MOSCOW POLITICAL COLLECTIVE

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 MOSCOW 000564 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SENSITIVE 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: N/A 
TAGS: PGOV KDEM PHUM KPAO RS
SUBJECT: MEDVEDEV - AND PUTIN - DOMINATE MEDIA LEADING TO 
PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION 
 
1.(SBU) Summary:  The Russian media's bias towards 
Kremlin-supported presidential candidate Dmitriy Medvedev 
came as no surprise in the campaign season, and the sheer 
lack of suspense may have caused media outlets to do only the 
minimal required coverage of the campaign.  In January and 
February, government-owned or controlled national television 
stations highlighted Medvedev's activities, with very little 
attention to the other three registered candidates. 
Newspapers and internet discussions offered a more diverse 
range of commentary and coverage, but given the small 
audience, had a limited impact on the overall election 
climate.  The government has also employed resources to 
promote the election turnout, papering public transportation 
with posters, and pressuring billboard companies to swap 
profitable advertisements for public service announcements 
reminding citizens to "vote for Russia's future."  End 
Summary. 
 
Television 
------------- 
 
2.(U) Although Medvedev dominated the airtime allotted to 
presidential candidates - in most cases receiving more play 
that his three rivals combined -- Putin remained central in 
prime time news coverage. A Center for Journalism in Extreme 
Situations (CJES) summary of broadcast media showed that in 
January, Medvedev received up to fifty percent of news time 
on four of the five main channels.  In February, when the 
official presidential campaign began, Putin regained center 
stage, commanding an average 55 percent of news time on 
state-owned Channel One, Rossiya, and TV Centre and 
Gazprom-owned NTV while Medvedev received from 25 to 40 
percent on the same channels.  The other candidates received 
minimal attention from state-owned outlets, garnering 3-6 
percent each. 
 
3.(SBU) Only privately-owned REN TV gave any significant 
airtime to other candidates, but its small market share meant 
that most Russian TV viewers watched the Kremlin-controlled 
campaign coverage.  In February, REN-TV dedicated 30 percent 
of prime time news to Putin, 20 percent each to Medvedev, 
Communist party candidate Gennadiy Zyuganov, and 
Liberal-Democratic party candidate Vladimir Zhirinovksiy, and 
6 percent to Democratic Party candidate Andrey Bogdanov.  In 
January, according to CJES, NTV allocated the bulk of its 
campaign coverage to Kasyanov's efforts to get on the ballot. 
 In contrast, Channel One, Rossiya and NTV primarily 
criticized Kasyanov.  Zyuganov and outside groups have 
publicly complained to the Central Election Committee and 
Moscow City Courts that the state-controlled media was not 
following Russian law requiring equal coverage for all 
candidates, but the complaints have been dismissed. 
 
4.(U) The state-controlled media crafted a stately image of 
Medvedev, whether visiting a three-child family to 
congratulate their efforts to increase the Russian population 
or showing Russian support for Serbia in Belgrade.  At the 
same time, Channel One featured Zyuganov visiting a honey 
expo and described him as a "keen bee-keeper."  Another 
Channel One news program highlighted Liberal- Democratic 
party candidate Vladimir Zhirinovksiy's visit to a Moscow 
construction site, learning to plaster a wall, while 
onlookers muffled giggles.  Bogdanov was largely absent from 
the main airwaves, garnering less that 2 percent of news 
time, and visible on television mainly during the early 
morning debates in which Medvedev declined to participate. 
 
Print 
----- 
 
5.(SBU) Due to much smaller circulation and waning 
readership, compared to broadcast media, the print press had 
less direct pressure from the Kremlin than during the 
parliamentary elections, and more space to offer independent 
and often critical analysis of the campaign.  Underscoring 
the conventional wisdom that the election was a formality to 
Medvedev's presidency, commentary from publications as 
diverse as the liberal Kommersant to the official government 
daily Rossiiskaya Gazeta highlighted the lack of real 
competition among the candidates, including unequal access to 
the airwaves (in a few cases drawing unfavorable comparisons 
to the U.S. primaries).  Very little personal criticism of 
Medvedev the candidate appeared, however, and by 
mid-February, most publications reduced their "campaign" 
coverage to a minimum and shifted their focus towards 
speculation on post-election power divisions. 
 
6.(SBU) Transparency International Russia reported that 
although Medvedev received half the national print press 
mentions for presidential candidates from December 1, 2007 to 
 
MOSCOW 00000564  002 OF 002 
 
 
February 15, 2008 (296 versus 248 for Zhirinovskiy 237 for 
Zyuganov, 169 for Kasyanov and 140 for Bogdanov),  President 
Putin still won more press attention, with 862 mentions in 
the same period.  Print publications gave each candidate a 
fair amount of editorial space, at the same time displaying 
editorial slants in line with their ownership.  Rossiiskaya 
Gazeta told us they were instructed not to publish any 
interviews or op-eds from U.S government officials until 
after March 2.  Kommersant, while one of the few publications &#x000A
;to criticize the Kremlin and Medvedev, was also suspected of 
toning down its language because of owner Alisher Usmanov's 
ties to Gazprom.  Quipped a Kommersant foreign correspondent, 
"There is no doubt that (Editor-in-Chief Andrey) Vasilyev has 
been talking to the Kremlin on a regular basis throughout the 
presidential campaign." 
 
Radio and Mass Media 
-------------------- 
 
7.(SBU) Like the print press, radio stations' limited and 
fragmented audience allowed them to air opposition voices, 
within limits.  The hourly news segments of both 
government-owned national radio networks - Radio Mayak and 
Radio Rossii - extensively mentioned Medvedev in both his 
official capacity as First Deputy Prime Minister and as a 
presidential candidate.  Editorially independent Ekho Moskvy 
continued to offer a wide range of campaign coverage, on the 
process and the candidates.  However, as Editor-in-Chief 
Aleksey Venediktov noted in an interview, "We are a showcase 
for the West" so the Kremlin can prove media freedom exists 
in Russia. 
 
8. (SBU) While attention to the campaign dwindled to 
perfunctory coverage of candidates and renewed focus on 
President Putin, a drive around Moscow left no doubt that a 
presidential election was still to come.  Striking posters 
stating "Presidential Elections March 2" superimposed on the 
Russian flag were found on signs, billboards, metro cars and 
stations and even adorned public transportation tickets. 
Large billboards featured well-known politicians, including a 
casually-dressed Moscow Mayor Luzhkov, with the caption "I'll 
vote."  An executive with Russia's largest outdoor 
advertising firm freely admitted that the government 
pressured his partners in Moscow and other cities to bump 
advertising in favor of public service announcements 
imploring citizens to vote.  "We smile and say, 'Of course!' 
and only hope we can negotiate a little about the amount of 
space they will take." 
 
 "We seem to forget that March 2 is still ahead of us." 
--------------------------------------------- ----------- 
 
9.(SBU) Comment: Although the media environment was not 
fundamentally more restrictive than the run-up to the 
parliamentary elections in December 2007, coverage and 
interest decreased - even the outrage and attention to 
government influence in the media dwindled noticeably.  The 
presumed inevitability of Medvedev's victory may have led all 
but the state-run outlets to turn their attention to less 
predictable topics and the state-media channels simply 
fulfilled their responsibility by covering the Kremlin's 
candidate. Alternative voices were available, particularly in 
the print press, but their impact was minimal. As one Ekho 
Moskvy editor noted, media coverage of Medvedev as the next 
president became so routine, we seem to forget that March 2 
is still ahead of us." 
BURNS

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08MOSCOW561, CIS INFORMAL SUMMIT: MEDVEDEV AND KOSOVO

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
08MOSCOW561 2008-02-29 07:37 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Moscow

VZCZCXYZ0003
OO RUEHWEB

DE RUEHMO #0561/01 0600737
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
O 290737Z FEB 08
FM AMEMBASSY MOSCOW
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 6869
INFO RUCNCIS/CIS COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEHXD/MOSCOW POLITICAL COLLECTIVE PRIORITY

C O N F I D E N T I A L MOSCOW 000561 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 02/28/2018 
TAGS: PREL PGOV PINR RS
SUBJECT: CIS INFORMAL SUMMIT: MEDVEDEV AND KOSOVO 
 
Classified By: Political M/C Alice G. Wells.  Reasons 1.4 (B/D). 
 
1.  (C) Summary.  The uncertainty of Kosovo and the lure of 
meeting heir apparent Dmitriy Medvedev brought all 12 CIS 
leaders to Moscow for the February 21-22 CIS Informal Summit. 
 While the MFA pitched a new seriousness in its approach to 
the CIS, Putin used the summit to introduce Medvedev and 
level harsh criticism against the West's decision to 
recognize Kosovo's independence.  Medvedev assured the CIS 
leaders that his foreign policy will follow the path laid by 
Putin.  Among the many bilaterals -- Putin with Voronin, 
Saakashvili, Aliyev, Bakiyev and Rakhmon, -- the most notable 
was Putin-Saakashvili meeting, which continued a trend to 
improved Russia-Georgia relations with the promise of direct 
flights between the two capitals resuming by early April. 
End summary. 
 
Twelve Smiling Men 
------------------ 
 
2.  (C) Russian officials were pleased with the full house at 
the February 21-22 CIS Informal Summit, which First DFM 
Denisov used to caution against hurriedly burying the CIS. 
In a February 21 interview, Denisov maintained that the 
strength of the organization lay in its flexible and less 
structured form, which provided a forum to discuss and solve 
problems encountered by the former Soviet republics.  For 
this reason, he added, all twelve states have continued to 
participate in the organization, even those which have 
frequently indicated they would depart, such as Georgia and 
Ukraine.  MFA Third CIS Department Director Maksim Peshkov 
told us February 26 that the GOR was pleased with the results 
of the summit.  The presence of all twelve leaders had 
occurred only rarely in recent years. (Press reports 
highlighted Yushchenko's two Moscow visits in as many weeks; 
Kocharian's attendance despite an unsettled domestic 
situation in the wake of presidential elections; and 
Bakiyev's effort to attend despite an immediate follow-on 
travel to Seoul for Lee Myung Bak's inauguration.)  MFA 
Second CIS Director Viktor Sorokin echoed Peshkov, telling us 
February 27 that the CIS had finally come into its own as an 
"as-needed" organization with no political agenda, but a 
focus on problems shared by participating countries.  The 
membership was voluntary with no political pressure to stay 
in or out, he added.  The two-day photo op produced little 
substance but many smiling faces, creating the illusion that 
the CIS, after years of public disharmony, was back. 
 
Kosovo: Double-edged Sword 
-------------------------- 
 
3.  (U) Commentators attributed the full house to tension 
over the possible consequences (Russia's reactions) to 
Kosovo's independence, as well as the formal unveiling of 
First DPM Medvedev.  With none of the CIS members having 
recognized Kosovo, Putin was able to use the gathering to 
lash out against the West's decision on Kosovo, warning of a 
"whole chain of unpredictable consequences."  He termed 
Kosovo's independence a double-edged sword whose second edge 
will strike the faces of Kosovo's supporters. 
Plus, the Next Putin 
 
Plus, the Next Putin 
-------------------- 
 
4.  (U) While introducing his anointed successor, Putin 
declared that the CIS was Russia's clear and unchangeable 
priority, justified not only by the common past of its 
members, but by a future that will continue to bind them 
together.  He advised the other CIS leaders to devise country 
development strategies to 2020 as he had done for Russia.  A 
seemingly relaxed Medvedev parroted Putin's line, 
reiterating, "In our countries and among our peoples, there 
is no alternative to longer-term cooperation."  Putin had 
promised that under Medvedev there would be no 
"revolutionary" change in Russia's foreign policy, and gave 
Medvedev credit for having authored many of the CIS policies 
currently being implemented.  Medvedev proposed that a CIS 
emergency fund as well as a plan for a union-wide 
transportation network be on the agenda at this year's 
Bishkek summit. 
 
 
Bilaterals 
---------- 
 
5.  (C) With Central Asian and Caucasus countries evidently 
in mind, Putin emphasized Russia's resolve to tackle 
xenophobia.  The issue was touched on in bilaterals with 
Bakiyev, Aliyev and Rakhmon.  With seven Kyrgyz citizens 
murdered in Russia in the previous five weeks, GOR officials 
noted that Bakiyev was particularly interested in receiving 
GOR assurances on a crackdown against xenophobia.  According 
to Sorokin, the Putin-Voronin meeting affirmed the GOR's 
determination to keep channels of communication open 
regardless of the "destructive influence" of Kosovo.  The 
Putin-Saakashvili bilateral also revolved around the 
implications of Kosovo, with Saakashivili mainly concerned 
about possible GOR action on frozen conflicts in the 
Caucasus.  Putin stressed that all would depend on the GOG. 
The two presidents agreed to resume direct flights and postal 
service between Russia and Georgia, ease visa restrictions, 
and reconsider trade sanctions (more details septel).  Putin 
and Yushchenko, who had  met February 12-13 duri
ng the 
Intergovernmental Commission session (septel), did not have a 
separate bilateral during the Summit. 
 
Comment 
------- 
 
6.  (C) Despite the rhetoric, we expect no dramatic change in 
the GOR's approach to the CIS.  Vast economic disparities and 
different geopolitical orientations mean that the CIS 
structure provides little unifying force.  Instead, it will 
serve the GOR's need to periodically exert its influence in 
the former Soviet space while Russia's increasing economic 
power will likely make the union more attractive to its other 
members. 
BURNS

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08MOSCOW560, RUSSIA DOES NOT EXPECT SIGNIFICANT CHANGE IN

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
08MOSCOW560 2008-02-29 05:55 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Moscow

VZCZCXYZ2054
PP RUEHWEB

DE RUEHMO #0560 0600555
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 290555Z FEB 08
FM AMEMBASSY MOSCOW
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 6868
INFO RUCNMER/MERCOSUR COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEHXD/MOSCOW POLITICAL COLLECTIVE PRIORITY

C O N F I D E N T I A L MOSCOW 000560 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 02/28/2018 
TAGS: PREL CU RS
SUBJECT: RUSSIA DOES NOT EXPECT SIGNIFICANT CHANGE IN 
RELATIONS WITH CUBA 
 
 
Classified By: Political M/C Alice G. Wells for reasons 1.4 (b/d). 
 
1.  (C) In a February 28 meeting,  MFA Counselor for Cuba and 
the Caribbean Victor Koronelli told us that Russia does not 
expect a significant change in bilateral relations with Cuba 
after the change in government.  Koronelli said that the 
media had "overplayed the impact" of Casto's retirement and 
the succession of Raul Castro.  The GOR believed the events 
were only a "formalization" of arrangements that have been in 
place since Castro's illness and, for the time being, a 
continuation of Cuban policy.  Noting that Fidel is still the 
ideological and Community Party leader, and that Raul has 
said publicly that he would continue to consult with Castro, 
Koronelli told us the GOR believes Castro would remain the 
power behind the throne and the "banner of the ideal" in 
Cuba.  Korenelli added that the GOR believed that the 
transfer of power from Fidel to Raul Castro was "timely" and 
meant to head off possible infighting after Castro's death. 
 
2.  (C)  Russia "knows Raul well," and regards him as a 
legitimate successor, Koronelli noted, and expects any 
changes in bilateral political relations to be for the 
better.  He said there were regular, high-level consultations 
between the two countries, pointing to the Cuban First Deputy 
Foreign Minister's visit to Moscow in December.  He said that 
the March 5 meeting of the State Council in Cuba, where new 
portfolios would be distributed, could indicate areas of 
potential change, but that it was too early to predict the 
outcome. 
 
3.  (C)  Korenelli said that relations between Russia and 
Cuba could not be compared to the relationship between Cuba 
and the USSR, noting that trade was only $300 million last 
year, although it was set to increase in 2008.  Russia gave 
Cuba $355 million at the end of 2006 in energy credits, and 
Cuba was increasingly seen as a potential market by Russian 
businesses.  He said the GOR -- and Russian companies -- were 
expecting modest steps from Raul Castro to open the Cuban 
economy, especially in regard to tourism and agriculture, but 
did not foresee a major shift towards a market economy. 
BURNS

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08MOSCOW559, RUSSIAN OFFICIALS REPORT BETTER TREATMENT FOR

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
08MOSCOW559 2008-02-29 05:14 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Moscow

VZCZCXYZ0000
OO RUEHWEB

DE RUEHMO #0559/01 0600514
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
O 290514Z FEB 08
FM AMEMBASSY MOSCOW
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 6866
INFO RUCNCIS/CIS COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEHXD/MOSCOW POLITICAL COLLECTIVE PRIORITY

C O N F I D E N T I A L MOSCOW 000559 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 02/28/2018 
TAGS: PHUM PGOV PINR KJUS RS
SUBJECT: RUSSIAN OFFICIALS REPORT BETTER TREATMENT FOR 
ALEKSANYAN 
 
REF: MOSCOW 459 
 
Classified By: Ambassador William J. Burns.  Reasons: 1.4 (b), (d). 
 
1.  (SBU) Summary:  GOR officials, including Human Rights 
Ombudsman Lukin and three members of the Public Chamber 
visited former YUKOS Vice President Vasiliy Aleksanyan on 
February 21 in his room in a specialized Moscow hospital. 
They confirmed that Aleksanyan had initially been chained to 
his hospital bed, but they characterized his current 
conditions of confinement as "satisfactory."  A member of 
Russia's civil society called the intervention a "unanimous 
rejection" of the GOR's treatment of Aleksanyan and hoped 
that it meant that human rights organizations would "no 
longer be a puppet" of the Kremlin.  Ambassador raised 
Aleksanyan's treatment February 25 with MFA Deputy Foreign 
Minister Yakovenko, who described Aleksanyan's current 
treatment regime as satisfactory.  End summary. 
 
Chamber Members, Lukin Visit Aleksanyan 
--------------------------------------- 
 
2.  (SBU) The Public Chamber members who visited Aleksanyan 
on February 21 included Henry Reznik, Leonid Roshal, and 
Nikolay Svanidze.  Public Chamber member Anatoliy Kucherena 
helped initiate the visit, but was abroad at the time of the 
visit in connection with the new human rights councils he is 
setting up in Paris and New York.  Reznik, who in addition to 
being a member of the Public Chamber is President of the 
Moscow Bar Association, told reporters that contrary to 
statements by the Russian Federal Penitentiary Service 
(FSIN), Aleksanyan said he had never refused medical 
treatment for the HIV/AIDS and lymphoma from which he is 
suffering. 
 
3.  (SBU) Public Chamber members were also interested in 
reports from Aleksanyan's lawyers on the conditions of his 
confinement, specifically that he was chained to his bed 
during his first week at the hospital and only set free to go 
to the bathroom.  Svanidze confirmed that initially 
Aleksanyan had been chained to his bed, but noted that the 
handcuffs used to detain Aleksanyan have now been removed. 
Reznik added that Aleksanyan had been chained for ten days 
and termed such treatment "torture."  Reznik harshly 
criticized the decision to treat an innocent suspect who has 
life- threatening illnesses and is accused only of financial 
crimes in such a manner.  FSIN spokesman Aleksandr Sidorov 
said on February 21 that Aleksanyan was chained to his bed 
only when there was no policeman on duty and then only to 
prevent Aleksanyan from escaping or committing suicide. 
 
4.  (SBU) Following his visit, Human Right Ombudsman Lukin 
stated he was satisfied with the current conditions of 
Aleksanyan's confinement, but noted that he had agreed with 
the members of the Public Chamber with whom he had visited 
the hospital not to pass further public judgments on the 
conditions in which Aleksanyan is being held pending the 
preparation of a Public Chamber report.  Lukin praised 
Chamber members for their interest in the conditions in which 
Aleksanyan is being held. 
 
Ambassador Raises with Deputy 
Foreign Minister 
----------------------------- 
 
5.  (C) Deputy FM Yakovenko told the Ambassador February 25 
that he thought Aleksanyan was getting proper medical 
treatment in his current hospital and noted that there are 
"many cases like this, unfortunately," and that it seemed 
"not entirely fair" to focus so much attention on just the 
Aleksanyan case. 
 
Presidential Council 
Member Reacts 
-------------------- 
 
6.  (C) Presidential Council for Human Rights member William 
Smirnov told us February 26 that the intervention by members 
of the Public Chamber and Ombudsman Lukin represented a 
"unanimous rejection" of the treatment of Aleksanyan and that 
their opposition had changed the GOR's treatment of him. 
Smirnov hoped that the ability to get the authorities to 
backpedal on this issue had bolstered civil society and had 
perhaps stimulated it to be more active on other issues. 
Smirnov hoped that reaction to Aleksanyan's treatment 
signified that civil society would be less inclined to be a 
puppet of the next government. 
 
Comment 
------- 
 
7. (C) With visits by Lukin and the three Chamber members, 
the Aleksanyan case has disappeared from the media here. 
Reznik and Svanidze, along with other Chamber members like 
Kucherena, Alla Gerber, and Yevgeniy Yasin are more outspoken 
than many of their colleagues.  With their expressed 
satisfaction with Aleksanyan's current treatment, and their 
condemnation of the practice of periodically chaining him to 
his bed, the standoff between civil society and the GOR over 
the Aleksanyan case seems to have ended. 
BURNS

Wikileaks