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Cablegate: Putin Makes Televised Appeal to Voters

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DE RUEHMO #5583 3331509
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 291509Z NOV 07
FM AMEMBASSY MOSCOW
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 5540
INFO RUCNCIS/CIS COLLECTIVE
RUEHXD/MOSCOW POLITICAL COLLECTIVE

UNCLAS MOSCOW 005583

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV KDEM PINR RS
SUBJECT: PUTIN MAKES TELEVISED APPEAL TO VOTERS


1. (SBU) Summary: In a November 29 televised appeal, Putin
asked voters to support the party whose ticket he leads,
United Russia, in Sunday's Duma elections. The brief
address, notable for its lack of surprise, was a classic
appeal by an incumbent politician to stay the course.
Immediately following Putin's address, Vladimir Zhirinovskiy,
leader of the Liberal Democratic Party of Russia (LDPR), an
"opposition party" that supports the Kremlin, also appealed
to voters for support. His appearance, following Putin's,
may have been a sign that the Kremlin is trying to give LDPR
a boost to ensure they remain in the Duma. End summary.

Putin Asks Voters to Stay the Course
------------------------------------

2. (U) In a five-minute address aired at noon on November 29
on national television, Putin directly appealed to voters to
vote United Russia on December 2. Putin, who heads the United
Russia ticket, said a vote for United Russia would ensure
"stability and continuity." Deriding the politics of the
'90s, Putin said "we cannot allow the return to power of
those who once tried but failed to rule the country."

3. (U) The televised address, reportedly paid for by United
Russia, most certainly will be aired many more times as news
throughout the evening news cycle. Over the course of the
last week, political commentators had speculated that Putin
would use the address to make a surprise announcement, and
there was much speculation about what that might be. The
fact that Putin recorded the speech November 22 at the
Ostankino television complex, not the Kremlin, added to the
flurry of speculation.

Nudging LDPR Across the Finish Line
-----------------------------------

4. (U) Immediately following Putin's address, LDPR leader
Zhirinovskiy made his appeal to voters in a brief address in
which he expressed support for the President and his
policies. LDPR is currently represented in the Duma but
recent polls have shown the party's support to be slightly
below the 7 percent threshold needed to win seats in the next
Duma. Zhirinovskiy's appearance is being read by some that
the Kremlin wants to ensure that LDPR, an "opposition party"
that supports the president, makes it back to the Duma.

Comment
-------

5. (SBU) For someone with a knack for surprises, Putin's
surprise today was that there were no surprises. His speech
was nothing more than an appeal to voters for their support.
As expectations for United Russia in Sunday's elections
increase, Putin is putting his popularity on the line to
ensure the outcome the Kremlin wants, is the outcome the
Kremlin gets.


BURNS

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