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Cablegate: "Victory" for "a Just Russia"

VZCZCXRO7930
PP RUEHDBU RUEHLN RUEHVK RUEHYG
DE RUEHMO #0960/01 0660742
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 070742Z MAR 07
FM AMEMBASSY MOSCOW
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 8029
INFO RUCNCIS/CIS COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEHXD/MOSCOW POLITICAL COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEHLN/AMCONSUL ST PETERSBURG PRIORITY 3836
RUEHVK/AMCONSUL VLADIVOSTOK PRIORITY 1965
RUEHYG/AMCONSUL YEKATERINBURG PRIORITY 2264

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 MOSCOW 000960

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: KDEM PGOV PINR SOCI RS
SUBJECT: "VICTORY" FOR "A JUST RUSSIA"

REF: A. 06 MOSCOW 12709
B. 06 MOSCOW 12717

MOSCOW 00000960 001.2 OF 002


-------
Summary
-------

1. (SBU) Five youth groups have announced their intention
to establish a coalition called "Victory" which would support
the newly framed left of center pro-Kremlin party, "For a
Just Russia" (SR). "Victory" is positioning itself as a
competitor to the youth wing of United Russia (YR), the
dominant pro-Kremlin party. "Victory's" leaders hope to have
50,000 members at the time of the group's founding congress
in April. However, another SR-affiliated youth group, "For
the Motherland" is challenging "Victory" for influence with
SR. End summary.

-----------------
Victory Formation
-----------------

2. (U) The leaders of Energy of Life (EL), Young Life (YL),
the youth branch of the People's Party (YPP), the youth
branch of the Social-Democratic Party of Russia (YSDPR) and
the human rights civil society organization "Citizen Society"
(CS) on February 21 formed "Victory: All Russia Youth
Movement for Freedom and Social Justice" youth coalition and
pledged their support to the new Kremlin-sponsored party "For
a Just Russia" (SR). A representative from the "Young
Motherland" youth group attended the press conference and
announced his group's intention to participate in coalition
activities.

3. (U) All five groups have strong ties to the parties with
which they are affiliated and/or enjoy close ties to other
important institutions and individuals. The leader of YPP,
Dmitriy Gudkov, is the son of Duma Deputy Gennadiy Gudkov.
The leader of CS, Anatoliy Nazarov, is a member of Russia's
Youth Community Chamber and a member of the Council of
Academics of Moscow State University. The leader of the St.
Petersburg-based YL, Olga Litvinyenko, is the daughter of the
Rector of St. Petersburg's Mining Institute. Other
personalities whose names have been mentioned in tandem with
the "Victory" coalition include the Vice President of
Russia's Thai Boxing Association Aleksandr Kunshin, four-time
Russia's "Strongest Man" Elbrus Nigmatullin and reigning Miss
Universe and EL co-chairperson Oksana Fedorova.

4. (SBU) EL Chairman Yuriy Lopusov told us that the
"Victory" founding congress would take place in April.
Lopusov expected the coalition would have over fifty thousand
members and would be governed by co-chairpersons representing
the constituent groups. He said that the large number of
members could have allowed "Victory" to register itself as an
independent party. However, the leaders of the five groups
decided that their goals and objectives, and those of
Russia's youth, would be better served by forming an
independent coalition that could take concrete action on
social issues while supporting SR. In a view echoed by the
other leaders, YPP's Gudkov insisted that "Victory" would act
independently of SR.

5. (SBU) A major obstacle "Victory" faces is a lack of
funds. "Victory" leaders told us they had to personally
finance a number of their activities. They also received
support from the parties they were affiliated with as well as
from other organizations and individuals. They had received
no money from the GOR, they said.

--------------------
United Russia Rivals
--------------------

6. (SBU) "Victory" seeks to position itself as an
alternative to YR's "Young Guards." Gudkov promised that the
coalition would fight against the "populism" that YR-linked
youth organizations had fostered. YL's Litvinyenko said that
one of "Victory's" missions was to teach young people what
justice, freedom, and patriotism mean in practice. In a
press release, "Victory" described its main goal as involving
the maximum number of youth in constructive political
activities that address the chief challenges facing Russian
society.

---------------------------
For the Motherland's Agenda
---------------------------

MOSCOW 00000960 002.2 OF 002

7. (SBU) Representatives of the best-known SR-affiliated
youth movement, "For the Motherland (FM)," did not attend the
press conference. In a mid-February meeting, FM leader
Sergey Shargunov told us he had no desire to merge his
organization with the other youth groups supporting SR.
Shargunov contemptuously described "Victory's" focus on
social-welfare programs as a program to "help invalids."
Political movements should focus on action. Social projects
alone were not sufficient. Shargunov hoped that "FM" would
become the locus for SR's more political youth supporters.
Shargunov reported that Mironov supports FM's proposed course
of action.

-----------
Duma Dreams
-----------

8. (SBU) Shargunov and leaders of "Victory" make no secret
of their political aspirations. Shargunov was quite critical
of developments in Russia since Putin had become President,
especially regarding freedom and social justice. When asked
if they had political aspirations, the leaders of "Victory,
all nodded their heads in the affirmative. Lopusov said
that, unlike YR, SR's Duma list would not feature a "youth"
quota. However, Mironov had promised to include youth
representatives, drawn from all of the participating youth
groups, among SR's Duma candidates.

-------
Comment
-------

9. (SBU) Combining five separate movements may create the
same complications for "Victory" as those encountered by SR
at the time of its announced merger. At present, "Victory"
leaders appear to carry little weight within SR. One
inauspicious sign: at the February 26 SR Congress Plenary,
"Victory" attendees were little more than cheerleaders to the
pronouncements of SR heavyweights like Mironov. In contrast
"For the Motherland" (FM) has been more successful in
organizing political demonstrations. The stage appears set
for a competition between FM and "Victory" for the mantle of
lead youth group within SR.
BURNS

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