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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
09MOSCOW2571 2009-10-13 14:24 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Moscow

DE RUEHMO #2571/01 2861424
R 131424Z OCT 09

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 MOSCOW 002571 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 10/12/2019 
Classified By: Deputy Political Minister Counselor David Kostelancik. 
Reason:  1.4 (b), (d). 
1. (SBU)  Summary:  With new, less democratic voting rules in 
place, Tula Oblast elections were held October 11. 
Discussions with opposition party groups revealed that United 
Russia has a firm grip on the region and United Russia-backed 
governor Viacheslav Dudka had already orchestrated a massive 
victory for his party.  Preliminary election results also 
indicate a United Russia lead, followed by Just Russia, and 
the Communist Party.  End Summary. 
2. (SBU)  We visited Tula City, a three hour train ride south 
of Moscow, September 28-29 to check in on the regional 
parliamentary election process.  On October 11 elections took 
place for Tula Oblast Duma's 48 seats in the legislature. 
While results are still coming in, our sources at the 
election monitoring NGO, GOLOS, and the National Democratic 
Institute (NDI) told us October 12 that United Russia was 
leading with 40 percent, Just Russia at 26 percent, and the 
Communist Party (KPRF) with 22 percent.  Tula Oblast is the 
tenth Russian region to transition to elections by party list 
only and its party list is based on the 24 municipal entities 
in the Oblast.  According to GOLOS, the controversial 
Imperiali method of distributing votes was expected to be 
used for the first time.  Moreover, the electoral deposit for 
registration of candidates was repealed, which means that an 
institution that used to make it possible to avoid collecting 
signatures for registration has been eliminated.  Candidates 
were not allowed to run as independents in these elections. 
Seven parties successfully registered:  United Russia, the 
Communist Party, Just Russia, the Liberal Democratic Party 
(LDPR), Right Cause, Patriots of Russia, and Yabloko. 
Putin Shores up United Russia Support in Tula 
3. (C)  Tula was historically a Communist stronghold, but 
United Russia now controls all 24 municipals in Tula and all 
mayors and the governor are also from United Russia. 
Additionally, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin visited Tula 
September 14 to shore up support for United Russia prior to 
the elections.  Alexander Savenkov, a journalist at Tulskiy 
Molodoy Kommunar, told us September 28 that Putin held some 
"business meetings" in Tula, but they were "in violation of 
the voting rules, since he is a United Russia party member 
and he visited a number of enterprises."  Charismatic Putin 
further appealed to Tula residents when he took a moment to 
give his wrist watch to a factory worker. 
4. (C)  All around Tula, United Russia signs featuring huge 
pictures of Putin were on display.  September 14 Itar-Tass 
reported that when asked, in a research and development 
facility in Tula, who deserves to be elected, Putin 
responded, "Russia stands in need of a political force 
oriented at responsible decision-making rather than at 
fly-by-night stratagems."  A September 16 Nezavisimaya Gazeta 
article notes that, "It goes without saying that Putin's 
visit boosted United Russia's position in Tula." 
5. (C)  Savenkov maintained that United Russia was using its 
strong administrative resources to help its campaign, and he 
argued that United Russia would "definitely win" with a 
likely majority of 65-70 percent.  He explained that United 
Russia could probably get half the vote automatically, but 
that the party strategically uses its administrative 
resources to add about 20 percent more to the United Russia 
vote.  According to Savenkov, government workers are often 
threatened that they will lose their jobs if they do not vote 
for United Russia.  This pressure is especially acute during 
the economic crisis when unemployment in Tula is an issue and 
pensions are small.  Savenkov explained that the government 
helps poor people by distributing free vegetables and 
providing discounts on fuel.  This assistance has been timed 
to coincide with the elections in October.  While government 
bureaucrats provide assistance, they simultaneously 
"encourage" people to vote for United Russia.  After the new 
Oblast Duma elections, the deputies will recommend the new 
governor and Savenkov is certain that the Oblast Duma will 
recommend current United Russia Governor Dudka to Medvedev 
for an additional term. 
Opposition Parties With a Winning Chance 
6. (C)  Our sources told us that opposition groups are 
marginalized in Tula and that the few that do exist are not 
"real opposition" since they are under the governor's 
MOSCOW 00002571  002 OF 003 
--KPRF:  Oleg Lebedev, a KPRF Deputy, told us September 29 
that KPRF has 3,000 members in Tula Oblast and they currently 
have four seats in the Tula Oblast Duma.  They had 73 
candidates running, while United Ru
ssia had about 140. 
Lebedev told us that in June this year a new law abolished 
the single-mandate voting in Tula Oblast and this measure 
helps KPRF since their candidates were previously unable to 
easily collect the necessary amount of money to run for those 
seats.  Flyers featuring photos of Stalin and commemorating 
his upcoming 130th birthday on December 21st were visible all 
over Tula City and the party seemed to be running a fairly 
strong campaign. 
--Just Russia:  According to a September 10 article on the 
website warweb.ru, Just Russia has a fairly good chance of 
winning in Tula Oblast since the former head of the Party of 
Pensioners, Igor Zotov, tops the party list and the party 
therefore appeals to the many seniors in Tula.  We were 
unable to meet with any Just Russia representatives, but our 
sources unanimously agreed that Just Russia would come in 
second or third. 
--LDPR:  Vadim Vyacheslavovich, LDPR Chief of Staff told us 
September 29 that 68 LDPR candidates were on the party list, 
but that about 20 would drop out since they were not all 
needed for only 48 places.  He predicted that his party would 
get 4-5 seats.  He claimed that "the elections are normal and 
there are no problems."  As mentioned above, however, 
preliminary results did not include an LDPR win. 
Opposition Parties Unlikely to Win 
7. (C)  According to our sources, Yabloko, Right Cause, 
Patriots of Russia, and Solidarity all had low to no odds of 
winning for various reasons.  This was proven by the results 
- none of these parties won representation in Tula. 
--Yabloko: Sergei Filatov, a deputy in the Tula City Duma who 
recently left the Right Cause party, told us that there are 
1,000 Yabloko members in the Tula Oblast. Journalist Savenkov 
told us that Yabloko was unlikely to get enough votes to pass 
the threshold since it is a new party in the Tula Oblast, and 
he confirmed that Yabloko members face harassment and were 
arrested a few weeks ago while trying to pass out their 
campaign literature. 
--Right Cause:  When Filatov moved from Right Cause to 
Yabloko, according to a Yabloko press release, about 100 
members of Right Cause also defected to the Yabloko party and 
more are expected to follow after passing certain 
formalities.  Savenkov told us that Right Cause is very weak 
in Tula since it is a new party. 
--Patriots of Russia:  According to Savenkov, "Patriots of 
Russia are like clowns and nobody supports them." 
--Solidarity:  Solidarity is not registered as a party and is 
therefore not allowed to run.  The group has held some 
protests, mostly against Putin, and its members have been 
arrested numerous times. 
Influence from Outside the System 
8. (C)  Alexander Letnikov, leader of the Russian Peoples' 
Democratic Union (RNDS), which has 5,000 members in the Tula 
Oblast, claimed September 29 that there are two distinct 
types of opposition: one within the system, and one outside 
of it.  Those outside the system, such as RNDS, a government 
watchdog group with its own website, have no ability to 
participate in the elections since there are no 
single-mandate seats, independent candidates are not allowed 
to run, and unregistered parties are not allowed to 
participate.  Letnikov coordinates "Civil Forum," which 
includes members of Yabloko, Solidarity, United Civil Front, 
the Russian Communist Party, KPRF, LDPR, small businesses, 
and several other activist groups who meet regularly to 
discuss issues such as communal services, unemployment, and 
road problems.  Letnikov also coordinates observers, such as 
GOLOS, to monitor the elections.  Letnikov argued that Tula 
is under "authoritarian control" and that all candidates have 
agreed with the government structure so they are protected in 
the elections.  He reiterated that these would not be "not 
open, free, fair, or real elections" and that "everything is 
orchestrated and the entire Tula Oblast government structure 
is under control of United Russia." 
MOSCOW 00002571  003 OF 003 
Russia's Concept of Democracy 
9. (C) "People in Tula want democracy, but there is no real 
choice and no democracy...people are also tired of deep 
corruption," according to Yabloko's Filatov.  He told us that 
the media is not an effective instrument and journalists do 
not speak out much in Tula.  Filatov explained, "In Russia 
people view it as dangerous if there is too much freedom. 
Russia has laws, but laws and reality are not in synch. 
Power is controlled.  It takes many generations to learn 
democracy....It has been less than 20 years since the 
collapse of the Soviet Union.  The market is still sensitive 
and depends on oil and gas and democracy is very young.  It 
will take 100 years to develop true democracy in Russia." 
10. (C)  Tula Oblast elections demonstrated once again United 
Russia's strong grip on power in the regions.  While the 
Russian political system is under the generally popularly 
accepted control of United Russia, it is significant that the 
party and regional officials (with the backing of Moscow) go 
to such great lengths to pad their victories. 


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