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Cablegate: Fifth Russian Duma to Begin Work December 24

VZCZCXRO5748
PP RUEHLN RUEHPOD RUEHVK RUEHYG
DE RUEHMO #5868/01 3531501
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 191501Z DEC 07
FM AMEMBASSY MOSCOW
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 5922
INFO RUCNCIS/CIS COLLECTIVE
RUEHXD/MOSCOW POLITICAL COLLECTIVE

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 MOSCOW 005868

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV KDEM RS
SUBJECT: FIFTH RUSSIAN DUMA TO BEGIN WORK DECEMBER 24

REF: MOSCOW 5682

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SUMMARY
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1. (U) The fifth Russian Duma will begin its work December
24. Taking seats in the new Duma on behalf of the four
winning parties -- United Russia, Communist Party (KPRF),
Just Russia, and the Liberal Democratic Party (LDPR) -- will
be veteran politicians, youth movement leaders, businessmen
and former Olympic athletes. More than a hundred United
Russia candidates, including governors and mayors, who are
entitled to seats have opted out, choosing instead to remain
in their current positions. Their seats will be filled by
candidates whose names appeared lower on the regional lists.
Among the Duma's first tasks will be electing its leaders and
determining the composition of committees. End summary.

------------------------
TO SERVE OR NOT TO SERVE
------------------------

2. (U) When the Duma begins its work on December 24, its 450
party-list seats will be filled by candidates who won their
seats because of their position on regional lists or who have
benefited from a candidate higher on the list opting not to
serve in the Duma. Candidates who were eligible for a seat
in the Duma were notified by the Central Election Commission
(CEC) via telegram that they had won a seat and had five days
to inform the CEC of their intention to serve. One hundred
thirteen candidates who were entitled to a seat in the Duma
waived this right. One hundred and one were representatives
of United Russia. Seven winning candidates on Just Russia's
list, two on LDPR's and three on KPRF's also have opted not
to serve.

--------------------
LOCOMOTIVES STAY PUT
--------------------

3. (U) Many of those who decided not to take up their Duma
"mandates" are governors, mayors and government ministers;
the so-called "locomotives" who headed regional party lists
in order to garner support for United Russia. Most of these
candidates had no intention of serving and the expectation
was always that they would be replaced by others whose names
appeared lower on the party's list. One exception is the
now-former governor of Yaroslavl, Aleksandr Lisitsyn, who was
"convinced" into resigning after his region posted a weak
showing for United Russia. He will serve in the new Duma.

4. (U) The most notable Duma candidate who will not serve is
Putin. Although a member of the CEC confirmed in the press
that he did not officially notify the CEC of his intention
not to occupy his place in the Duma, his seat will be filled
by 32-year old Sergey Kapkov of Magadan. Kapkov is head of
the National Soccer Academy that is owned by Chukotka
Governor Roman Abramovich. The regions of Magadan and
Chukotka were combined into one electoral district due to
their small populations. Others who have opted not to serve
are Just Russia Chairman Sergey Mironov, who will remain
speaker of the Federation Council. Fellow Just Russia member
and actor Valeriy Zolotukhin also will not serve in the Duma.


--------------------------------------------- -----
OLYMPIANS, POLITICIANS, YOUTH AND BUSINESS LEADERS
--------------------------------------------- -----

5. (U) United Russia's list of Duma deputies is notable for
its large number of former Olympic athletes. Gymnasts Alina
Kabayeva and Svetlana Khorkina, hockey goalie Vladislav
Tretyak, speed skater Svetlana Zhurova, bi-athlete Svetlana
Ishmuratova, and figure skaters Irina Rodnina and Anton
Sikharulidze will take seats. They will be joined in the
United Russia faction by former press secretary of the Nashi
youth movement Robert Shlegel, Young Russia leader Maksim
Mishchenko, political expert Sergey Markov and publisher
Konstantin Rykov. Business will be represented by former
AvtoVaz General Director Igor Yesipovskiy and News Outdoor
Russia Manager Sergey Zheleznyak. Although it is difficult
to say with certainty the business interests that will be
represented in the Duma, the number of business people who
serve is likely to be lower than in the previous Duma
following Putin's admonition earlier this year that the Duma
is not a place for oligarchs. Billionaire Suleiman Karimov
took this to heart and withdrew his name from the United
Russia list. He has since been given a place in the
Federation Council.


MOSCOW 00005868 002 OF 002


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THE FAMOUS AND THE INFAMOUS
---------------------------

6. (U) LDPR leader Vladimir Zhirinovskiy at a post-election
press conference contrasted LDPR's Duma deputies with those
of other parties, announcing that his party's 40-member
faction will not include "sportsmen, singers or models."
Instead, his party will be represented by "businessmen,
lawyers and economists" and twice as many women as in the
fourth Duma. LDPR's faction will include one of the more
infamous Duma candidates. Andrey Lugovoy, under indictment
by the British for his involvement in the Litvinenko case,
was number two on LDPR's federal list. He is entitled not
only to a seat in the new Duma but to the immunity that comes
with it.

--------------------------------------------- -----------
KPRF PROTESTS ELECTION RESULTS BUT PREPARES TO BE SEATED
--------------------------------------------- -----------

7. (U) Leaders of KPRF have continued to protest the results
of the elections. On December 20, party leader Gennadiy
Zyuganov plans to meet with Rene van der Linden, president of
the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, to
explain his party's review of violations of election law and
their plans to have the results overturned. According to
news reports, the legal service of KPRF is prepared to
initiate more than 20 criminal proceedings against members of
the CEC and regional officials in four regions (Mordovia,
Dagestan, Samara, Stravropol Kray). Despite an earlier
threat not to take their 57 seats in the Duma, party members,
led by Zyuganov, will join the fifth Duma.

----------------------------
DUMA TO GET DOWN TO BUSINESS
----------------------------

8. (U) The December 24 Duma session will be opened by its
oldest member, Zhores Alferov, a member of KPRF. The first
order of business will be to elect a speaker and
vice-speakers. It is all but certain that Fourth Duma
Speaker Boris Gryzlov will remain in the position. It is
expected that the number of vice-speakers will be increased
from 9 to 10. Oleg Kovalev, leader of the working group that
is organizing the Duma, announced December 19 that the number
of committees will increase from 29 to 32 with the addition
of committees on energy, science and technology, youth,
construction and land policy, and industry. The Committee on
Ecology will be incorporated into the Committee on Natural
Resources. Earlier news reports said members of the United
Russia faction are expected to chair all but six committees,
which they will leave to the other parties. (United Russia
claimed all the committee chair positions in the fourth
Duma.) Decisions on committee chairs will be made during the
first plenary session on December 24. The second plenary
will be January 10.

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COMMENT
-------

9. (SBU) While the composition of the fifth Duma, its
members, committees and leaders, has provided fodder for the
media and political analysts, the fifth Duma is most likely
to continue to play the role of pliant tool for the Kremlin,
given United Russia's constitutional majority.
BURNS

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