08MOSCOW3054, UNITED RUSSIA WINS BIG IN REGIONAL ELECTIONS,

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
08MOSCOW3054 2008-10-15 13:12 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Moscow

VZCZCXYZ0000
RR RUEHWEB

DE RUEHMO #3054/01 2891312
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
R 151312Z OCT 08
FM AMEMBASSY MOSCOW
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 0383
INFO RUCNCIS/CIS COLLECTIVE
RUEHXD/MOSCOW POLITICAL COLLECTIVE

C O N F I D E N T I A L MOSCOW 003054 
 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 10/14/2018 
TAGS: PGOV KDEM RS
SUBJECT: UNITED RUSSIA WINS BIG IN REGIONAL ELECTIONS, 
INTERNET VOTING TESTED 
 
REF: A. VLADIVOSTOK 116 
     B. MOSCOW 3031 
     C. MOSCOW 2910 
 
Classified By: Acting Political Minister-Counselor David Kostelancik fo 
r reasons 1.4 (b) and (d). 
 
1.  (C) Summary: October 12 regional elections produced 
predictably large victories for United Russia in Chechnya, 
Kemerovo Oblast, Zabaikalskiy Krai and Irkutsk Region (see 
Ref A for Sakhalin election details).  Kemerovo and Chechnya 
each delivered United Russia tallies over 80 percent; Just 
Russia won four seats in Chechnya and one token seat in 
Kemerovo.  Leaders of the Communist Party (KPRF), LDPR, and 
Just Russia all bemoaned irregularities in Chechnya and 
Kemerovo, while KPRF also criticized electoral procedures in 
Irkutsk.  Voters in Irkutsk and Zabaykalskiy Krai each gave 
United Russia approximately 50 percent, with the other State 
Duma parties (Just Russia, LDPR, and KPRF) also winning 
seats.  United Russia also won mayoral races in Vologda and 
Stavropol. An internet voting experiment in Tula Region 
marked the first attempt at on-line voting in Russia, 
although logistical and security concerns remained 
unanswered.  Pundits are now awaiting possible personnel 
changes, especially among government and party officials 
associated with United Russia.  End Summary. 
 
Chechnya: United Russia Dominant Amid Near-Full Turnout 
--------------------------------------------- ---------- 
 
2.  (SBU) Chechnya's 95 percent turnout nearly fulfilled 
President Ramzan Kadyrov's pre-election promise that "turnout 
will be at least 100 percent or even more."  United Russia 
dominated the election with 88 percent of the vote, and Just 
Russia garnered 9 percent, clearing the Republic's legal 
threshold of 7 percent to seat representatives.  The 
remaining five parties on the ballot failed to win seats in 
the new unicameral parliament, with the Communists and LDPR 
capturing only half a percent between them.  LDPR leader 
Vladimir Zhirinovskiy protested in an October 13 statement 
that lopsided wins for United Russia in Chechnya and Kemerovo 
constituted "an accident of Russian democracy."  Central 
Election Commission Chair Vladimir Churov announced October 
13 that there were "no serious violations" recorded in any 
region holding elections. 
 
Kemerovo: United Russia Sweeps, Shenanigans Alleged 
--------------------------------------------- ------ 
 
3.  (SBU) Far outstripping even their own optimistic 
predictions, United Russia bulldozed the other three 
parliamentary parties by winning 85 percent of the vote in 
Kemerovo Oblast.  No other party met the 7 percent threshold, 
with KPRF taking only 3 percent and emerging empty-handed in 
the region for the first time in its history.  Constitutional 
requirements stipulate that at least two parties must hold 
seats, however, so Just Russia will receive one token seat 
despite winning just 5.5 percent of the vote.  Turnout 
totaled 68 percent of eligible voters. 
 
4.  (SBU) Both the Communists and Just Russia dismissed the 
official results in Kemerovo.  Just Russia State Duma Deputy 
Gennadiy Gudkov remarked October 13 that the result in 
Kemerovo made it "absolutely clear that we have embarked on 
building a one-party system."  KPRF Central Committee member 
Ivan Melnikov told press October 13 that regional authorities 
had prevented observers from entering polling stations, and 
that illegal "arbitrary administrative pressure" during the 
campaign hamstrung KPRF efforts.  KPRF leader Gennadiy 
Zyuganov announced October 13 his party's intention to 
contest the Kemerovo results, thus adding to the ongoing 
legal feud involving KPRF, United Russia, and Kemerovo 
Governor Aman Tuleyev (Ref C). 
 
Zabaykalskiy Krai: Duma Parties And Agrarians Win Seats 
--------------------------------------------- ---------- 
 
5.  (SBU) All four State Duma parties passed the threshold to 
take seats in Zabaykalskiy Krai's regional parliament.  As 
expected (Ref B), United Russia won a majority of the votes 
with 55 percent; the Communists took second place with 13 
percent. LDPR took just under 11 percent and Just Russia 9 
percent.  The Agrarian Party, with 7 percent, was the only 
non-parliamentary party to win any seats in any of the five 
regional elections.  However, the Agrarians will merge into 
United Russia before the end of 2008.  Only 45 percent of 
voters cast ballots. 
 
Irkutsk: Duma Parties Win Seats, Communists Still Protest 
--------------------------------------------- ------------ 
 
6.  (SBU) More parties won higher percentages of the vote in 
Irkutsk Region than in any of the other four regions holding 
elections.  In fact, only here did United Russia fail to win 
a majority of votes, taking "just" 49 percent.  LDPR took 
second place with 15 percent; the Communists took 13 percent; 
and Just Russia won 8 percent.  The Agrarians and the Greens 
both fell short of the 7 percent barrier, winning 6 and 5 
percent, respectively.  Despite improving on its 11 percent 
result in the 2004 regional election, KPRF refused to 
recognize the Irkutsk results, citing numerous viol
ations by 
United Russia and by regional authorities.  For example, 
KPRF's Melnikov alleged on October 13 that United Russia 
conducted an illegal referendum at polling stations in 
support of the so-called "People's Budget."  Just 38 percent 
of eligible voters went to the polls. 
 
Mayoral Elections 
----------------- 
 
7.  (SBU) Vologda elected United Russia's Yevgeniy Shulepov 
as its new mayor.  Incumbent Stavropol mayor Nikolay Paltsev, 
also of United Russia, kept his job by winning 75 percent of 
the vote. 
 
CEC Tests Internet Voting And Electoral Hot-Line 
--------------------------------------------- --- 
 
8. (SBU) The Russian Central Election Commission (CEC) 
conducted an internet voting experiment on October 12 in 
conjunction with municipal elections in Novomoskovsk, Tula 
Region.  The on-line votes did not count in the actual 
election, but rather were counted along with traditional 
paper ballots to assess accuracy and voter receptiveness to 
internet voting.  Participation in the experiment was 
voluntary and represented about 10 percent of the entire 
vote, falling short of the 15 percent that CEC Chairman 
Churov predicted beforehand would represent a success. 
Internet voters received a CD-ROM that could be used only 
once to vote on-line.  Representatives from the U.S., 
Finnish, Estonian, and Kazakh embassies, as well as 
OSCE/ODIHR officials from Warsaw, observed the internet 
voting.  Although election officials told us that they 
encountered no technical problems, they could not answer 
questions regarding the overall integrity of an internet-only 
election or how to account for CDs that might be lost, 
stolen, or sold.  Alexander Mashkov, Deputy Chairman of the 
Tula Region Electoral Commission, added that the experiment 
was "expensive" and he did not know when internet voting 
might ever be used to capture actual votes.  Indeed, CEC 
officials in Moscow told us October 12 and 13 that costs and 
benefits of internet voting would need to be assessed. 
 
9.  (SBU) CEC International Relations Department Head Aleksey 
Kudachkin also described for us innovative means for 
promoting higher voter turnout and the application of uniform 
voting requirements.  For example, Kudachkin touted CEC 
cooperation with the Public Chamber in creating a special 
hot-line in Moscow that voters from all regions could call if 
they had complaints about voting that could not be resolved 
by local authorities.  He said that they hoped to expand 
their ability to address such complaints before March 2009 
regional elections in Kabardino-Balkaria Republic, 
Karachayevo-Cherkess Republic, the Republics of Tatarstan and 
Khakassia, the Arkhangelsk, Bryansk, Volgograd, and Vladimir 
Regions, and the Nenets Autonomous Okrug. 
 
Comment 
------- 
 
10. (C) The more authoritarian power structures in Chechnya 
and Kemerovo ensured high turnouts and big United Russia 
wins.  More intriguing are the wider distributions of votes 
and lower voter turnouts in Irkutsk and Zabaikalskiy Krai, 
where regional authorities could not deliver overwhelming 
United Russia victories.  Accordingly, two key indicators 
leading up to the March 2009 regional elections would signal 
the Kremlin's intention to further consolidate regional power 
while warning governors that it will not tolerate lackluster 
get-out-the-vote efforts: (1) the Kremlin sacks or admonishes 
governors or party leaders in Irkutsk and Zabaikalskiy Krai 
for their regions' sub-50 percent turnout.  United Russia 
insider Andrey Silantyev told us October 15 this is a 
distinct possibility; and (2) United Russia infuses fresh 
blood into the regional parties before its late November 
congress.  Silantyev told us that changes were likely, though 
they might not be made until just before, or even during, the 
congress.  All final personnel decisions, he said, would be 
made by United Party leader Vladimir Putin. 
BEYRLE

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