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Cablegate: New "Opposition" Party Announces Khabarovsk Leader

VZCZCXRO1664
RR RUEHAG RUEHAST RUEHDA RUEHDF RUEHFL RUEHIK RUEHKW RUEHLA RUEHLN
RUEHLZ RUEHNP RUEHPOD RUEHROV RUEHSK RUEHSR RUEHYG
DE RUEHVK #0134 3440825
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 090825Z DEC 08
FM AMCONSUL VLADIVOSTOK
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 1055
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE
RUEHVK/AMCONSUL VLADIVOSTOK 1152

UNCLAS VLADIVOSTOK 000134

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV RS
SUBJECT: NEW "OPPOSITION" PARTY ANNOUNCES KHABAROVSK LEADER

1. On November 25 the government-approved "opposition" party
Pravoye Delo announced its appointment of Georgiy Podkolodniy to
a four-year term as its Khabarovsk regional leader.
Podkolodniy, who was the former head of the defunct Democratic
Party in Khabarovskiy kray, edged out his main rival for the
position Andrey Barzhanov, who is a former leader of the
dissolved Union of Right Forces in Khabarovsk. In Primorye,
Pravoye Delo party members will elect a regional leader --
likely to be former regional leader of Union of Right Forces
Nikolay Morozov -- by mid-December.

2. The new party incorporates members of three defunct and
largely forgotten opposition parties which, even in relatively
politically-active Primorye, had very low membership.
Podkolodniy's Union of Right Forces had only few thousand
members in the region. Barzhanov's Democratic Party of Russia
had just over 1,000 members. The third party, Grazhdanskaya
Sila had only 260 members in Primorye.

3. Most independent political observers in the RFE are
skeptical about the new party and its potential effectiveness as
an opposition. Khabarovsk political observer Tatyana Zakharova
told Kommersant that it will likely go largely unnoticed by the
public. Media sources stressed that the new party will consist
mainly of current or former Yedinaya Rossiya members and
regional chairs of Pravoye Delo will mostly be the ineffectual
leaders of the old regional opposition parties.

4. Vladimir Popov, former Khabarovsk leader of the disbanded
Svobodnie Demokraty Rossii party noted in the media that the new
party will present merely a facade of democratic pluralism, and
will not attract new members since Podkolodniy "does not
communicate well and is not a good speaker."

ARMBRUSTER

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