Daily Archives: July 3, 2009

09MOSCOW1743, MOSCOW CITY DUMA AMENDMENTS FAVOR A UNITED RUSSIA

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
09MOSCOW1743 2009-07-03 15:33 2011-08-30 01:44 UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY Embassy Moscow

VZCZCXRO5741
RR RUEHDBU RUEHLN RUEHPOD RUEHSK RUEHVK RUEHYG
DE RUEHMO #1743/01 1841533
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 031533Z JUL 09
FM AMEMBASSY MOSCOW
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 4132
INFO RUCNCIS/CIS COLLECTIVE
RUEHXD/MOSCOW POLITICAL COLLECTIVE
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 MOSCOW 001743 
 
SENSITIVE 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: N/A 
TAGS: PGOV PREL PHUM PINR KDEM RS
SUBJECT: MOSCOW CITY DUMA AMENDMENTS FAVOR A UNITED RUSSIA 
LANDSLIDE 
 
REF: MOSCOW 951 
 
1. (SBU)  Summary:  The Moscow City Duma amended Moscow's 
Election Code on June 17, strategically changing the rules 
for its own elections.  These measures set up a voting 
structure that favors United Russia's continual dominance in 
the October 11, 2009 Moscow City Duma elections.  Key 
legislative changes include announcing early elections, 
increasing the number of single-mandate seats from 15 to 17, 
introducing the controversial "Imperiali" method of 
distributing seats, and lowering the threshold from ten to 
seven percent.  In the absence of radical change, we expect 
another round of sham elections, with opposition groups 
occupying some seats since, by law, United Russia is not 
allowed to fill them all.  End Summary. 
 
Moscow City Duma Reverses Course on Election Date 
--------------------------------------------- ---- 
 
2. (SBU)  On March 31, the Moscow City Duma had announced 
that in light of the economic crisis, elections would be held 
in March 2010.  On June 17, subsequent to Moscow Mayor Yuri 
Luzhkov proposing new amendments to the Moscow Election Code, 
the Moscow City Duma unexpectedly changed the elections from 
March 2010 back to October 2009.  Again, the Duma used the 
loophole contained in Article 37.2 of Russia's Federal law 
"On Basic Guarantees of Electoral Rights," which allows for 
flexibility in setting the date of the elections (reftel). 
Early elections also mean that the current Moscow City Duma 
deputies' terms will be shortened from the normal four year 
period. 
 
3. (SBU)  Early elections disadvantage opposition groups 
since they now have less time to collect money and to 
campaign.  Ilya Yasin, a member of the opposition Federal 
Political Council and a "Solidarity" movement leader told us 
June 19 that the Moscow City Duma elections are crucial for 
opposition parties, but he expressed concern that Solidarity 
has little time to raise the necessary money.  On June 10, 
Boris Nadezhdin, a former State Duma Deputy and the Right 
Cause Party's Moscow Regional Representative, told us that 
"Luzhkov knows the United Russia party will be weaker in 
March 2010," and he thought that United Russia knows they 
should seize the opportunity now to stay in power through 
earlier elections.  On June 19 Galina Mikhaleva, Executive 
Secretary of the Political Committee of the Yabloko 
opposition party, argued that any opposition party winner 
"really depends only on who the Kremlin picks." 
 
Structural Changes Provide United Russia an Advantage 
--------------------------------------------- -------- 
 
4. (SBU)  The Moscow City Duma has 35 deputies.  In the 
current Duma, there are 15 single-mandate seats, representing 
each of Moscow's voting districts.  Currently these are all 
filled by United Russia deputies. The 20 proportional seats 
include 13 deputies from the United Russia party, four 
deputies from KPRF, and three deputies from Yabloko.  In 
accordance with changes to Moscow's Election Code, the number 
of single-mandate seats will increase from 15 to 17, thus 
allowing United Russia to pick up easily two more seats and 
further reduce the opposition parties' chances of winning 
seats in the legislature.  Aleksandr Kynev, an expert at the 
International Institute of Humanitarian Political Research 
told us June 19 that the Moscow authorities "fear that the 
electoral results will go out of control, so they increased 
the number of single-mandate seats." 
 
5. (SBU)  Liliana Shibanova, the Executive Director of GOLOS, 
an NGO that monitors elections, told us on June 30 that the 
method of distributing seats in the Moscow City Duma also 
favors United Russia.  The June 17 changes introduced a 
controversial "Imperiali" method of distributing seats in the 
Moscow City Duma, which applies to the party list vote, and 
allows the winning party to gain one or two additional seats 
at the expense of the smallest parties who do not make it 
over the threshold.  According to The Moscow Times, "a 
Belgian clerical and rightist political activist invented the 
Imperiali formula in 1921 as a way to push leftist and 
secular politicians out of municipal elected bodies," but 
even Belgium itself is drafting legislation to scrap this 
method. 
 
Cosmetic Measures to Comply with Federal Legislation 
--------------------------------------------- ------- 
 
6. (SBU)  The final legislative amendment, lowering the 
threshold from ten to seven percent, was required to make 
 
MOSCOW 00001743  002 OF 002 
 
 
city and federal election laws correspond.  This change could 
potentially help opposition candidates who might not reach 
the ten percent barrier, but could manage to obtain seven 
percent.  In the last elections in 2005, only the Communist 
Party of the Russian Federation (KPRF) and Yabloko passed 
even the smaller seven percent threshold.  However, Vladimir &#x000
A;Zhirinovskiy's nationalist Liberal Democratic Party of Russia 
(LDPR) garnered eight percent, so this new measure may allow 
LDPR and others to participate in the next Moscow City Duma. 
 
Luzhkov Tops United Russia's Party List 
--------------------------------------- 
 
7. (SBU)  Yuri Luzhkov, Moscow's mayor for the last 18 years, 
has announced his intention to top the United Russia party 
list for the Moscow City Duma elections, using his name 
recognition to draw United Russia voters and to ensure that 
candidates obtain seats in the Duma.  Rumors have revived 
about Luzhkov's resignation and there is new speculation that 
Deputy Prime Minister Sergey Ivanov could succeed Luzhkov 
after the elections.  According to Shibanova, "these are just 
rumors and there is no concrete information to indicate 
otherwise."  The Kremlin has been cautious about taking on 
Russia's most powerful mayors, in fear of undermining 
effective management during the economic crisis.  The 
relations between Luzhkov and the Kremlin are essential to 
the elections since they have the power to determine which 
candidates are allowed to run and which to eliminate from the 
party lists. 
 
Comment 
------- 
 
8. (SBU)  All indications point to a United Russia sweep in 
the elections.  Shibanova maintained that United Russia would 
lose the crucial majority only in the unlikely event that 
three opposition parties were to gain significant access to 
the Moscow City Duma.  Based on discussions with opposition 
leaders, we think that United Russia will take most, if not 
all, of the single-mandate seats and most of the proportional 
ones, plus use its new Imperiali powers to add gravy.  KPRF 
will likely come in second, maintaining about four 
single-mandate seats.  As an unregistered party, Solidarity 
is unable to run for proportional seats, but while the group 
is strategizing to divide the single-mandate districts among 
the opposition candidates it has little or no chance of 
winning seats this way. 
 
9. (SBU)  Yabloko's current three proportional seats appear 
to be up for grabs.  Yabloko is unlikely to run for 
single-mandate spots due to financial constraints, but will 
battle Right Cause, Just Russia, and LDPR for the remaining 
proportional seats.  During the last elections, Yabloko 
united with the Union of Right Forces (SPS) and made it into 
the Moscow City Duma as a United Democrats faction, but this 
year we do not expect such a collaboration.  Right Cause is a 
new party backed by the Kremlin made up of the remnants of 
SPS, so it represents competition for Yabloko. 
BEYRLE

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09MOSCOW1742, YAVLINSKIY’S POLICY RECOMMENDATIONS FOR THE

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
09MOSCOW1742 2009-07-03 10:02 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Moscow

VZCZCXRO3391
RR RUEHDBU
DE RUEHMO #1742/01 1841002
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
R 031002Z JUL 09 ZDS CITE HSD 0008
FM AMEMBASSY MOSCOW
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 4130
INFO RUCNCIS/CIS COLLECTIVE
RUEHXD/MOSCOW POLITICAL COLLECTIVE
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 MOSCOW 001742 
 
C O R R E C T E D C O P Y  ((PARA NUMBERS)) 
 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 07/02/2019 
TAGS: PGOV PREL PHUM PINR KDEM RS
SUBJECT: YAVLINSKIY'S POLICY RECOMMENDATIONS FOR THE 
OBAMA-MEDVEDEV SUMMIT 
 
REF: 08 MOSCOW 3288 
 
Classified By: Ambassador John R. Beyrle; Reason:  1.4 (d). 
 
1. (C)  Summary:  On July 1, Ambassador Beyrle met with 
former Yabloko leader Grigoriy Yavlinskiy prior to the 
Obama-Medvedev summit to hear his views on U.S.-Russian 
relations, as well as his thoughts on how the U.S. should 
best approach bilateral relations.  His top five 
recommendations pertained to Ukraine, the Anti-Ballistic 
Missile (ABM) treaty, Afghanistan, Russian internal issues, 
and disarmament.  End Summary. 
 
Yavlinskiy's Russian Foreign Policy Recommendations 
--------------------------------------------- ------- 
 
2. (C)  Yavlinskiy recommended that President Obama focus on 
five top foreign policy goals during the July 6-8 summit, 
which he described as a key moment to make progress in 
U.S.-Russian relations.  Yavlinskiy recounted his June 11 
meeting with President Medvedev to discuss his 
recommendations, noting that Medvedev was not on board with 
them.  Nevertheless, he argued that "Obama opened the door 
for dialogue" and these issues were important in debates 
between the two presidents.  Yavlinskiy stressed that the 
main problem between the two countries is a lack of 
understanding, which is needed before the two can cooperate. 
 
 
3. (C)  Yavlinskiy expounded on the five most important 
issues -- Ukraine, ABM, Afghanistan, Russian internal issues, 
and disarmament -- as follows: 
 
-- The first practical step in improving relations is for the 
two presidents to make an agreement on Ukraine, guaranteeing 
its independence and territory.  The problems in Ukraine 
today are "more substantial" than what happened in Georgia 
and the presidents must agree on this issue prior to making 
progress in other areas. 
 
-- The two countries should review ABM.  There is a lot of 
incorrect information about this subject and both sides 
should work to create a technical group.  He suggested each 
side provide 50 technical experts who could then report back 
to their respective countries. 
 
-- The U.S. should articulate that it needs Russia's help on 
Afghanistan. Yavlinskiy stated that "some U.S. allies" are 
trafficking drugs. 
 
-- The U.S. should state explicitly that it will not 
interfere in Russia's internal affairs.  Obama would be very 
influential during the visit if he emphasizes that Russia 
will never overcome corruption without law, civil society, or 
an independent media. 
 
-- The issue of disarmament is tactical, but it is also a 
measure of trust.  The difference of military potential is 
also dramatic and unbalanced in that the U.S. has more 
weapons. 
 
Yavlinskiy's Strategy for U.S. Approach Towards Russia 
--------------------------------------------- --------- 
 
4. (C) Yavlinskiy formulated a strategy for a new U.S. 
approach to Russia, based on discussions with Putin and 
Medvedev.  He urged President Obama to consider using seven 
tactics as follows during this "special moment" to make 
change: 
 
-- The U.S. must stop treating Russia like it is an 
"undeveloped America."  Russia is a country that is 
qualitatively different from America. 
 
-- It would be instructive to review U.S.-Russian relations 
in the 1970s and 1980s when there was a convergence of ideas. 
 This period was during the Cold War, but then Gorbachev came 
to power, U.S.-Russia relations improved, and ultimately the 
Cold War ended. 
 
-- The U.S. needs to once again prioritize Russia.  There 
should be very wide cooperation between both countries. 
 
-- It would be useful for the U.S. to explain how it sees 
Russia's role in 50 years.  Russia is going through an 
identity crisis, so it would be beneficial to support 
Russia's leadership by articulating that America has no doubt 
that Russia will have a significant role in the future. 
 
 
MOSCOW 00001742  002 OF 002 
 
 
-- It is necessary to have common political standards, 
despite differences.  There should be more norms and 
standards between the two countries. 
 
-- The U.S. should put its house in order and set an example 
to the rest of the world.  It should articulate that it will 
not mettle in Russia's internal affairs. 
 
-- Obama should say that Russia is a great country, but add a 
probing question about how the Russians are experiencing 
certain social problems, such as mentioning the early age at 
which people are dying compared to citizens in other 
developed nations. 
 
Comment 
------- 
 
5. (C)  Yavlinskiy is an opposition leader with access, if 
not influence, within the Kremlin.  Although he stepped down 
in 2008 as Yabloko's chairman, he remains the party's most 
credible voice on foreign relations. 
 
BEYRLE

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