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Cablegate: The "for a Just Russia" Party Stages Primary

VZCZCXRO5117
RR RUEHDBU RUEHLN RUEHPOD RUEHVK RUEHYG
DE RUEHMO #4287 2430246
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 310246Z AUG 07
FM AMEMBASSY MOSCOW
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 3456
INFO RUEHXD/MOSCOW POLITICAL COLLECTIVE
RUCNCIS/CIS COLLECTIVE
RUEHVK/AMCONSUL VLADIVOSTOK 2383
RUEHYG/AMCONSUL YEKATERINBURG 2673
RUEHLN/AMCONSUL ST PETERSBURG 4454

UNCLAS MOSCOW 004287

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV KDEM SOCI RS
SUBJECT: The "For A Just Russia" Party Stages Primary


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SUMMARY
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1. (SBU) Summary. For a Just Russia (SR) held a series of public
primaries throughout Russia on August 26 in preparation for the
December Duma elections. Far from being a well-run, effective
sampling of voter preferences, the primaries seemed to have been
slapped together in an effort to keep pace with the rival United
Russia political party and to provide SR with additional publicity
on the eve of the official kick-off of the election campaign. End
summary.

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PREMATURE PRIMARIES
-------------------

2. (U) On August 26, the Kremlin-launched party For a Just Russia
(SR) continued its campaign for the December Duma elections by
staging national primaries in 53 subjects of the Russian Federation.
According to SR Chairman Sergey Mironov, about 383 thousand voters
had ultimately cast their votes either by internet or at one of the
683 polling stations open around the country. To date, only
twenty-six of the regions have posted results.

3. (SBU) Embassy efforts to determine the locations of the primaries
in Moscow were unsuccessful. Newspaper reports indicated that
journalists had similar difficulties. (The national daily
Kommersant reported that of the eighteen planned polling places in
Voronezh, only three seemed to be open on primary day.) Press
reports suggested little voter interest in the primaries, and only
half-hearted attempts by SR activists to induce passers-by to
participate.

4. (SBU) Inna Nelyuba, the SR Moscow organization's director of the
Moscow primaries told us -two days before the primary date-- that
she did not have all the necessary permits and could not say where
the contests would be held. Information about the location of
polling places was also not available on the internet.

5. (SBU) Nelyuba said that the SR primaries were open to all Russian
citizens who were eligible to vote. A description of each of the
candidates and his/her biography would be available at the relevant
polling place and write-ins were allowed.

6. (U) The Moscow SR branch had arranged for voters to cast their
ballots via internet. Although the list of candidates was available
on August 24, by August 27 a mere sixty-five internet votes had been
cast. Sergey Loktinonov, a party worker and the president of the
Russian parachutists organization in Moscow, was in first place
among internet voters, with thirty-three percent of the vote, while
incumbent Duma deputies were each garnering barely five percent.
(In the end, Duma Deputy Aleksandr Lebedev won the Moscow race with
39.5 percent of the vote. Duma Deputy Oksana Dmitrieva won the St.
Petersburg contest, with 50.5 percent of the 12 thousand, five
hundred votes cast.)

7. (SBU) SR Press Secretary Aleksandr Morozov told us that the
primaries were one in a series of assessments that SR was conducting
in the process of refining its final party lists. According to
Morozov, SR had already done four voter surveys and would commission
a fifth before the national party conference. The surveys and the
primary results would be used by the party leadership in crafting
SR's final lists, which would be confirmed at the party conference,
to be held either September 16 or 23.

8. (SBU) Per Morozov, the regional lists used in the primaries
featured only local candidates. Excluded were SR heavy hitters,
whose places on the list would be decided only at the September
party conference.

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COMMENT
-------

9. (SBU) The primaries appeared less an attempt to gauge the
electorate's preferences for lists that are, in any event, nearly
finalized, than an effort by SR to generate publicity before the
beginning of the official campaign in September. The haste with
which the August 27 contest was cobbled together (it was announced
by Chairman Sergey Mironov on only August 17) suggested that the
primaries were part of an effort to remain at parity with the United
Russia party, which has been engaged in primaries of its own.
BURNS

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