08MOSCOW1818, YABLOKO TURNS OVER A NEW LEAF

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
08MOSCOW1818 2008-06-25 14:45 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Moscow

VZCZCXYZ0000
PP RUEHWEB

DE RUEHMO #1818/01 1771445
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 251445Z JUN 08
FM AMEMBASSY MOSCOW
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 8761
INFO RUCNCIS/CIS COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEHXD/MOSCOW POLITICAL COLLECTIVE PRIORITY

C O N F I D E N T I A L MOSCOW 001818 
 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 06/25/2018 
TAGS: PGOV KDEM PHUM SOCI RS
SUBJECT: YABLOKO TURNS OVER A NEW LEAF 
 
REF: A. MOSCOW 909 
     B. 07 MOSCOW 4772 
 
Classified By: Acting Political Counselor Bob Patterson.  Reason:  1.4 
(d). 
 
1.  (SBU) Summary: The fallout from founding father Grigoriy 
Yavlinskiy's decision at the 15th Yabloko Party Congress to 
resign as its head in favor of Sergey Mitrokhin is still 
being examined.  Yavlinskiy hoped that his resignation (while 
staying engaged as a member of a new 12-person Political 
Committee) and the party's restructuring would improve its 
chances to stay relevant during the four-year electoral 
hiatus.  While the party's mainstream seems satisfied with 
Yavlinskiy's decision and the accompanying structural reforms 
to the party, representatives of its more radical elements 
and political pundits are more skeptical.  End Summary. 
 
And Then There Were None 
------------------------ 
 
2.  (SBU) The 15th congress of the Russian United Democratic 
Party "Yabloko" took place in a Moscow suburb June 21-22. 
The congress brought together 125 voting delegates from 
throughout Russia.  Outsiders were surprised that Yavlinskiy, 
the party's leader for the past 15 years and one of its three 
founders (along with current Russian Federation Ombudsman 
Vladimir Lukin and Yuriy Boldyrev, who has now gone over to 
the pro-Kremlin Just Russia party) announced his resignation 
as leader of the party and supported the candidacy of his 
deputy, Moscow City Duma member Sergey Mitrokhin.  Mitrokhin 
later told reporters that Yavlinskiy had originally suggested 
that he take over the reins of the party after the December 
2007 Duma elections.  The congress was not without its drama, 
although it paled in comparison to the Russia-Netherlands 
European football quarterfinal with which it was competing 
for attention.  It quashed dissent within the party by 
minimizing the influence of Maksim Reznik, head of the 
party's active St. Petersburg branch, although it stopped 
short of expelling him and others who have co-operated with 
more-radical opposition groups. 
 
3.  (SBU) On the evening of June 21, the election of the 
party's leader began with six announced candidates: 
Yavlinskiy; Mitrokhin; Reznik; St. Petersburg representative 
Sergey Ivanenko; Head of the Federal Anti-trust Service Igor 
Artemyev and Kareliya Yabloko head Vasiliy Popov.  According 
to press reports, Artemyev and Ivanenko dropped out in favor 
of Mitrokhin, followed in short order by Yavlinskiy, who in 
announcing his decision, told the members that he had 
"dreamed" that the party would be able to exist without him. 
Mitrokhin received the support of 75 delegates, while Maksim 
Reznik, who had been nominated by Yabloko's 
independent-minded St. Petersburg branch, received 24 votes 
and Popov, 20.  Six ballots were declared invalid. 
 
4.  (SBU) In opening the party congress, Yavlinskiy said that 
it must introduce new people into leadership positions.  In 
addition to electing a new party chairman, the congress 
abolished the deputy chairman positions; it will now have 
secretaries who will cover different aspects of the party's 
life.  To make the party leadership "more horizontal" (an 
attempt to distinguish it from the "vertical of power" used 
to describe the current tandemocracy of Medvedev and Putin) 
the delegates approved the creation of a 12-member Political 
Committee.  This new body will not have a chairman.  Its 
members include Mitrokhin, Yavlinskiy, Popov, Artemyev, 
former deputy chairs Sergey Ivanenko and Aleksey Arbatov, 
party Central Committee member Yelena Dubrovina, Yabloko 
Party staff head Boris Bisnik, Yabloko Green faction head 
Aleksey Yablokov, St. Petersburg Yabloko representative 
Mikhail Amosov, human rights activist Sergey Kovalev and 
party member Viktor Sheynis.  According to press reports, the 
powers of the Political Committee are rather wide and 
include, among others, termination of the responsibilities of 
the party chairman and convoking extraordinary party 
congresses.  The Political Committee will also formulate the 
position of the party on key political issues and distribute 
financial resources.  It is expected to meet at least once 
every three months. 
 
5.  (SBU) Delegates also authorized staffing changes to the 
33-member party Bureau.  Seventy percent of the Bureau's 
members are to be new and 12 of them should be under the age 
of 35.  At the 15th Party Congress only 18 members received 
the required number of votes for election to the Bureau.  The 
third time proved lucky for Reznik, who had previously lost 
to Mitrokhin in his bid to become head of the party and was 
also not selected to join the party's Political Committee. 
Less fortunate was Moscow Yabloko youth leader Ilya Yashin. 
The St. Petersburg contingent of the party had recently taken 
a defiantly anti-Kremlin approach (ref A) and participated in 
the National Assembly organized by Garry Kasparov, Mikhail 
Kasyanov and the National Bolsheviks.  Moscow party 
representatives have favored a more accommodating path with 
the Kremlin and both Yavlinskiy and Mitrokhin had previously 
stated pub
licly that participation in the National Assembly 
is incompatible with Yabloko party membership. 
 
Many are Skeptical About the Party's Restructuring 
--------------------------------------------- ----- 
 
6.  (SBU) Yabloko members have found it difficult to 
determine how effective the new structure will be, especially 
how "horizontal" and progressive the new Political Committee 
will be.  Yabloko announced plans for a second session in the 
fall to review these structural changes.  Yashin did not 
think that refitting the party's Bureau with new, younger 
members would improve Yabloko's situation.  "The point is not 
how young the party's leaders are, but rather how 
independent," he lamented. 
 
7.  (SBU) Political experts and observers have been rather 
skeptical about Yabloko's possible re-animation.  Although 
most agreed that the change of leadership was welcome, many 
believed the party is in crisis, that a change in leadership 
is not enough, and that other steps should be taken to ensure 
the party's survival.  Alexander Kynev, an expert at the 
International Institute of Humanitarian and Political 
Studies, said that Yavlinskiy should have left as head of the 
party eight years ago.  Mikhail Vinogradov, General Director 
of the Center of Contemporary Politics did not believe 
Yavlinskiy's resignation would improve the process of 
unifying the democratic forces in Russia.  He thought that 
"the decay of the party is its more likely future," unless 
the Kremlin chooses Yabloko to become the major democratic 
party in Russia.  "The developments within the party are of 
secondary importance," he concluded.  Political scientist 
Konstantin Simonov said that Yavlinskiy had to leave, given 
the party's poor showing in the December 2007 parliamentary 
elections in which it only received 1.6 percent of the vote. 
Simonov told the Vedomosti newspaper that "Yabloko has no 
future, either with Yavlinskiy, or without him." 
 
8.  (SBU) Union of Right Forces (SPS) leader Nikita Belykh 
was more optimistic.  He thought that under Mitrokhin, 
interaction between Yabloko and SPS would improve.  Political 
scientist Dmitriy Oreshkin agreed with Belykh that with 
Mitrokhin as head of the party, changes can be expected, 
particularly along the lines of organizational and personnel 
work. 
 
Comment 
------- 
 
9.  (C) Conversations with party members and leadership over 
the past year have indicated weariness with Yavlinskiy, who 
had led the party since its inception.  Yabloko had struggled 
to find a strategy equal to the current Kremlin power 
structure.  Yavlinskiy's recent overtures to the Kremlin, 
including his comment at the Congress that the party is open 
to a dialogue with the Kremlin, as well as rumors that he 
would accept a government job if offered, show that the party 
favors accommodation and compromise with the government.  Its 
choice to work with the Kremlin may, in the end, be no more 
inspired that the inclination of some to fight it on the 
streets, and could be yet another phase in the party's 
continuing march to irrelevance. 
RUSSELL

Wikileaks

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