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Cablegate: Politician Using Traffic Incident As Political Stepping

VZCZCXRO6264
RR RUEHAG RUEHAST RUEHDA RUEHDF RUEHFL RUEHIK RUEHKW RUEHLA RUEHLN
RUEHLZ RUEHPOD RUEHROV RUEHSR RUEHYG
DE RUEHVK #0124 3020744
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 280744Z OCT 08
FM AMCONSUL VLADIVOSTOK
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 1035
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE
RUEHVK/AMCONSUL VLADIVOSTOK 1132

UNCLAS VLADIVOSTOK 000124

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV RS
SUBJECT: POLITICIAN USING TRAFFIC INCIDENT AS POLITICAL STEPPING
STONE

REF: A. A. MOSCOW 635
B. B. VLADIVOSTOK 016

Summary
-------

1. About a dozen demonstrators from Molodaya Gvardia -- the
youth wing of Yedinaya Rossiya (YR) -- picketed in front of
Congen Vladivostok October 27 to mark the tenth anniversary of
the traffic incident that left Vladivostok resident Aleksandr
Kashin paralyzed from the chest down (reftel A). Traffic Police
and militia officers greatly outnumbered the picketers, who were
joined by about fifteen members of the local press. The
demonstration was led by YR member Maksim Glushkov, who has used
this and other protests as a platform for greater political
exposure.

Not Enough Picketers to Hold All the Props
------------------------------------------

2. On October 27, about a dozen demonstrators from Yedinaya
Rossiya's youth wing Molodaya Gvardia picketed in front of
Congen Vladivostok to mark the tenth anniversary of the "Kashin-
Kent" traffic incident. Notably absent was Aleksandr Kashin
himself, the Vladivostok resident who was paralyzed from the
chest down in a traffic accident involving then Consul General
in Vladivostok Douglas Kent, but refused a USD 100,000
settlement (reftel B). Traffic police, militia officers, and
reporters greatly outnumbered the picketers. The demonstration
was led by Maksim Glushkov, an ambitious, though minor, local YR
member who has a history of using such demonstrations to garner
press coverage and to increase his political profile.

3. Participants held posters saying "Ten years. No result,"
"Douglas Kent! Happy Anniversary" and "Justice: not for
Russians?" In addition to the signs, demonstrators brought
Russian national flags and Molodaya Gvardia banners, though
there were not enough participants on hand to hold all the
props. The group remained in front of the Consulate for about
30 minutes. Though press reports prior to the demonstration
initially indicated that the group planned to submit a letter of
complaint to the Consulate, no such missive was delivered.

4. This was the first picket related to the Kashin incident
since March, despite the promise Glushkov made then to hold
demonstrations every month. The event did garner local press
coverage, and Glushkov was observed giving interviews to each of
the three video crews on the scene.

Traffic Accident as Political Stepping Stone
--------------------------------------------

5. (SBU) The event's organizer was Maksim Glushkov, a
twenty-eight year old lawyer and leader of the regional chapter
of Yedinaya Rossiya's youth wing Molodaya Gvardiya. Glushkov
spoke candidly to a Congen Economic FSN several months prior to
the demonstration about his political plans. He left the
impression of an ambitious politician with national career
goals, who, though not in support of many of YR's policies, will
use his association with the organization as a platform to
greater prominence.

6. He has facilitated a number of Molodaya Gvardiya
demonstrations, including the public destruction of Estonian
canned fish to protest Tallinn's decision last year to relocate
the city's Monument to WWII Soldiers. He has also arranged
various public service activities for Molodaya Gvardia members
to clean streets and parks and YR election campaign drives.

Comment
-------

7. (SBU) Glushkov's group of "protesters" consists of a coterie
of about ten Molodaya Gvardiya university students who generally
participate in all of his pet projects. More like employees
than volunteers, they are usually paid 300 to 500 rubles (USD 12
to 20) for their participation. In is unlikely Molodaya
Gvardiya's assertion that their Primorye branch has a large
membership base is true, since university students in the region
are generally politically apathetic. Glushkov is clearly using
the Kashin incident for his own political benefit. The general
population does not appear to support his cause, and in fact
most Vladivostok residents feel that Kashin made a mistake not
accepting the USD 100,000 settlement.

GERSTEN

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