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Cablegate: Russian Opposition Conferences Foiled

VZCZCXRO2980
RR RUEHDBU RUEHLN RUEHPOD RUEHVK RUEHYG
DE RUEHMO #4441/01 2531558
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 101558Z SEP 07
FM AMEMBASSY MOSCOW
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 3697
INFO RUCNCIS/CIS COLLECTIVE
RUEHXD/MOSCOW POLITICAL COLLECTIVE
RUEHLN/AMCONSUL ST PETERSBURG 4494
RUEHVK/AMCONSUL VLADIVOSTOK 2394
RUEHYG/AMCONSUL YEKATERINBURG 2685

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 MOSCOW 004441

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV KDEM RS
SUBJECT: RUSSIAN OPPOSITION CONFERENCES FOILED

REF: MOSCOW 004418

MOSCOW 00004441 001.2 OF 002


-------
SUMMARY
-------

1. (U) Other Russia's effort to hold regional conferences in
order to choose a unified candidate for the 2008 presidential
election was foiled when venues they had booked were canceled
or in some cases, participants were unable to enter the
premises. End Summary.

--------------------
Regional Conferences
--------------------

2. (U) In July, Other Russia announced it would hold regional
conferences throughout the country in order to select a
unified candidate to run for president in 2008. The movement
had held to date 24 regional conferences at which former
Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov, the United Civic Front's
Garry Kasparov and ex-central banker Viktor Gerashchenko had
received the most votes from delegates. This past weekend,
additional conferences were planned in Moscow, Nizhniy
Novgorod, Smolensk, Rostov-on-Don and Cheboksary. None of the
conferences took place. In Rostov oblast, for example, Other
Russia planned to hold its conference in the studio of a
local artist in the town of Azov. Police at the site did not
allow participants to get into the building. Instead, they
forced them into mini buses and sent them back to Rostov.

----------------------------------
Moscow Venue Backs Out of Contract
----------------------------------

3. (U) In Moscow, Other Russia planned to hold its conference
at the "Sputnik" cinema. On August 23, the leaders of Other
Russia signed a contract with the director of the cinema and
paid the fees in advance. On September 7, the General
Director of "Moskovskoye Kino," the organization that
oversees Sputnik, informed Other Russia that the contract was
no longer valid due to the fact that Other Russia "did not
submit full information about its organization, nor did it
coordinate the event with the local authorities."

4. (U) Other Russia viewed the letter as evidence they can
use to sue Sputnik for canceling the contract since there is
no legal requirement to get permission from the authorities
for this type of indoor event. The organization apparently
also realized that their first letter was a mistake and sent
Other Russia a second letter apologizing for not being able
to provide space for the group's meeting. They cited a
technical emergency in the building as the reason. Copies of
both letters were distributed at a press conference.

5. (U) Other Russia made another attempt to rent a hall, this
time at the Izmaylovo Hotel. Again, they were denied. This
time the refusal was made by telephone and similar reasons
were cited.

-----------------------------------
Hoping for Space for Party Congress
-----------------------------------

6. (U) Despite these set-backs, Other Russia leaders remain
hopeful that their September 30 party congress will go
forward. They have a contract with Izmaylovo that includes
the rental of 400 rooms for participants and meeting space.
The leaders hoped that the press conference and its ensuing
publicity would have a positive effect and that space for
their congress will remain available.

--------
Why Now?
--------

7. (U) Eduard Limonov, the National Bolshevik leader, who
participated in the press conference along with Kasparov,
Denis Bilunov of United Civil Front and Lev Ponomarev, of
"For Human Rights," said "in August, the authorities missed
the possible implications of the conferences." It was also
mentioned that the recent presidential decree announcing the
date of the Duma elections might have precipitated events.
"It suddenly dawned on the authorities that Other Russia
might be a hindrance" to the smooth proceedings of the
campaign, a participant noted.

-------

MOSCOW 00004441 002.2 OF 002


Comment
-------

8. (SBU) It appears indeed as if the official start of the
Duma election campaign has sparked a reaction from the
authorities, who had let the previous 24 such events go
uneventfully forward. In an earlier conversation with Embassy
(reftel), Kasparov had seemed less concerned about official
interference, and more focused on keeping his flailing
movement relevant as the campaign got underway.
Burns

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