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Cablegate: Far East Elections: Results As Predicted

VZCZCXRO4897
RR RUEHAG RUEHAST RUEHCHI RUEHDA RUEHDF RUEHFK RUEHFL RUEHHM RUEHIK
RUEHKSO RUEHKW RUEHLA RUEHLN RUEHLZ RUEHNAG RUEHPB RUEHPOD RUEHROV
RUEHSR RUEHYG
DE RUEHVK #0116 2880657
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 140657Z OCT 08
FM AMCONSUL VLADIVOSTOK
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 1024
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE
RUEHZU/ASIAN PACIFIC ECONOMIC COOPERATION COLLECTIVE
RUEHVK/AMCONSUL VLADIVOSTOK 1121

UNCLAS VLADIVOSTOK 000116

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV RS
SUBJECT: FAR EAST ELECTIONS: RESULTS AS PREDICTED

REF: A. A) VLADIVOSTOK 105
B. B) VLADIVOSTOK 101

Summary
-------

1. Elections completed in five Far East jurisdictions on
October 12 yielded no surprises, with Yedinaya Rossiya and
incumbents prevailing (reftel A). Roman Abramovich and his team
handily won three seats in the Chukotka Duma, Yedinaya Rossiya
won 12 of 14 Sakhalin seats, and incumbent mayors Pechyoniy and
Sokolov held their positions in Magadan and Khabarovsk. Less
than seven percent of voters turned up at the polls to elect the
Governor's man Leonid Preminger to the Primorye Kray Duma.

Abramovich Returns to Chukotka
------------------------------

2. Former governor Roman Abramovich and his team trounced the
opposition to win three seats in the Chukotka Duma. Support for
Abramovich has been so strong that local politicians all but
begged him to return to the area as chair the Okrug Duma (reftel
B). Abramovich won 97 percent of the popular vote, with his
deputies Andrey Gorodilov and Aramais Dallakyan gaining over 90
and 80 percent respectively.

Little Enthusiasm for Primorye Governor's Man
---------------------------------------------

3. Leonid Preminger won his bid for Kray Duma seat in an
election all but ignored by Vladivostok voters. Only 5,701
voters -- 7.62% of those eligible -- went to the polls, half of
whom were ship crew members reportedly ordered to vote, with
instructions on who to vote for, by their commanders. The
Communist Party, whose local leader Vladimir Grishukov
officially received 21 percent of the vote, has announced plans
to file a grievance with the election committee contesting the
results. Consulate contact Nikolay Markovtsev, whom many
observers say has the most popular support, received 14 percent
of the official tally.

Incumbent Mayors Re-elected
---------------------------

4. Incumbent mayors Aleksandr Sokolov of Khabarovsk and
Vladimir Pechyoniy retained their posts. Sokolov remains
genuinely popular with residents, and is generally given credit
for improvements in the city that lead to its being named
Russia's Most Comfortable City twice.

5. Magadan elections followed the Khabarovsk scenario -- a
genuinely popular mayor won against weak and largely unknown
opposition. Pechyoniy's main opponent Igor Novikov, a
businessman with an alleged history of criminal activities,
reportedly sent two associates to physically intimidate reporter
and consulate contact Mikhail Gorbunov into publishing
favorable articles about his candidacy.

Yedinaya Rossiya Big In Sakhalin
--------------------------------

6. As expected, Yedinaya Rossia made a strong showing in Kray
Duma elections, garnering 55 percent of the vote and 12 of 14
single-mandate Duma districts. The party now controls 21 of the
28 Duma seats. The Communists improved on the previous
election's results, and will have four seats in the Duma.
Spravedlivaya Rossia will hold two seats and the LDPR will have
one.

Comment
-------

7. Though Yedinaya Rossiya won as expected, the Sakhalin
elections may be a good indicator of the public's real mood.
Many observers expected YR to receive much more than the 55
percent it got. The Communists, on the other, fared better than
expected, receiving 23 percent this year compared to 14 percent
in the previous election. If that result is interpreted as a
protest vote against YR, it is interesting to note that the main
opposition ends up coming from the Communists.

ARMBRUSTER

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