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Cablegate: Reaction to Odihr/Osce-Pa Decision On Election

VZCZCXRO3341
PP RUEHAST RUEHFL RUEHLA RUEHLN RUEHMRE RUEHPOD RUEHROV RUEHSR RUEHVK
RUEHYG
DE RUEHMO #0348/01 0391507
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 081507Z FEB 08
FM AMEMBASSY MOSCOW
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 6497
INFO RUCNCIS/CIS COLLECTIVE
RUEHXD/MOSCOW POLITICAL COLLECTIVE
RUCNOSC/OSCE POST COLLECTIVE

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 MOSCOW 000348

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV KDEM PREL RS
SUBJECT: REACTION TO ODIHR/OSCE-PA DECISION ON ELECTION
OBSERVERS

REF: A. MOSCOW 322
B. MOSCOW 303
C. 07 MOSCOW 5682

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SUMMARY
-------

1. (SBU) As expected, the reaction to the decisions by ODIHR
and the Parliamentary Assembly of OSCE not to observe the
March 2 presidential elections has been loud and swift.
Political analysts and members of the Duma from both United
Russia and the Communist Party decried the decision not to
send observer missions, despite what they viewed as the CEC's
willingness to compromise on the arrival date of the
delegation, or spun ODIHR's decision as affirmation that
Russia did not need monitoring. While several opposition and
NGO leaders welcomed ODIHR's principled stand, the GOR's
charge of OSCE double standards resonated among some. While
the dispute will fade from public view quickly, the GOR will
intensify its efforts at OSCE "reform." End summary.

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ANALYSTS COMMENT ON ODIHR/OSCE-PA DECISIONS
-------------------------------------------

2. (SBU) The decisions February 7 by ODIHR and the
Parliamentary Assembly of the OSCE (OSCE-PA) not to send
observers to the March 2 presidential elections opened the
flood gates to predictable cries of outrage by many Russian
political analysts. The pro-Kremlin Gleb Pavlovskiy of the
Effective Politics Foundation said the decision aims to
"weaken the new president from the very beginning of his term
of office." Pavlovskiy accused the staff of OSCE and
"certain forces related to the State Department" of sending
signals that resulted in the decisions not to observe the
upcoming elections. Aleksey Makarkin of the Center for
Political Technologies said that if Russia had agreed to the
terms requested by ODIHR then it would be "an admission of
deficient democracy." He added that Russia had come out
"with minimal damage to its image," and concluded that "the
fact that it was ODIHR which refused to come and that Russia
was ready to meet it halfway, is a plus to Russian
leadership."

--------------------------------------------- ----------
DUMA LEADERS AND PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATES HAVE THEIR SAY
--------------------------------------------- ----------

3. (U) Comments by Konstantin Kosachev, Chairman of the Duma
International Affairs Committee and member of the United
Russia faction, were measured. He argued that the main
function of OSCE monitors is to observe parliamentary
elections or presidential elections if the campaign is
"complicated and the results are unpredictable." He noted
that in Russia, "elections were run in accordance with
electoral legislation." Ivan Melnikov, Duma Deputy Speaker
and Deputy Chairman of the Communist Party said the OSCE's
refusal to send monitors was "an effort to pressure Russia,
just as Russia is being pressured on international problems
such as Kosovo." "The elections, no matter how they proceed,
will not be detrimental to Russia's image," Melnikov said.
In the December Duma elections, the Communist Party fielded
observers throughout the country and condemned the conduct of
the elections, alleging thousands of violations. Following
the election, Melnikov and Communist Party Leader and now
presidential candidate Gennadiy Zyuganov discussed their
concerns with the head of OSCE-PA (Ref C).

4. (U) Vladimir Zhirinovskiy, leader of the Liberal
Democratic Party and presidential candidate, said the
decisions not to observe the elections will have no effect on
the results. "The elections will take place and the
president will be announced," he said. Speaking about
international observers in general, Zhirinovskiy said that as
many observers who want to come should, but that this
standard should apply to all countries, "not just Russia."
Andrey Bogdanov, the Democratic Party's candidate for
president, said it is ODIHR's and OSCE-PA's "right to send or
not send observers." He opted to place their decision not to
observe in the best possible light, arguing that their
decision meant "our ways are democratic and there is
democracy in our country."

-----------------------------------------
POLITICAL OPPOSITION, GOLOS, OTHERS REACT
-----------------------------------------

5. (U) Former Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov, who was denied

MOSCOW 00000348 002 OF 002


registration to run for president, welcomed ODIHR's refusal
to send observers as an expression of its principles. Liliya
Shibanova, the head of the election monitoring NGO GOLOS,
blamed the CEC for making the international community
question the legitimacy of the presidential elections.
Referring to ODIHR's refusal to observe the December Duma
elections, Shibanova said: "Refusing to attend Russian
elections for the second time is a very serious move for the
international community." Viktor Sheynis, one of the authors
of Russia's law on elections said the damage caused by
ODIHR's and OSCE-PA's refusal to participate is "moral" and
will be "implanted in world public opinion." Dmitriy Orlov
of the Agency for Political Economic Communications said that
having a united front of organizations question the
legitimacy of the presidential elections is "absolutely not
wanted." He called OSCE an "influential organization" and
said "its non-participation is bad news for the Russian
political system." That being said, he accused ODIHR of
taking a non-constructive position from the beginning and
said Russia should not be treated as a politically
underdeveloped country.

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COMMENT
-------

6. (SBU) With the election outcome a foregone conclusion, and
interest in its conduct among Russians slight, this
disagreement with ODIHR, and its failure to observe elections
here for the second time in a row will fade from public view
quickly. However, we can expect ODIHR's decision to
reinvigorate GOR calls for OSCE reform, particularly with
respect to election monitoring standards, with GOR statements
focused on the "overwhelming majority" of OSCE member-states
that allegedly had fewer monitors and a similarly truncated
period as offered by Russia.
BURNS

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