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Cablegate: Solidarity Leader Milov Discusses Upcoming

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RR RUEHAG RUEHAST RUEHDA RUEHDBU RUEHDF RUEHFL RUEHIK RUEHKW RUEHLA
RUEHLN RUEHLZ RUEHNP RUEHPOD RUEHROV RUEHSK RUEHSL RUEHSR RUEHVK
RUEHYG
DE RUEHMO #2241/01 2401400
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 281400Z AUG 09
FM AMEMBASSY MOSCOW
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 4678
INFO RUCNCIS/CIS COLLECTIVE
RUEHXE/EASTERN EUROPEAN POSTS COLLECTIVE
RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 MOSCOW 002241

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PHUM RS
SUBJECT: SOLIDARITY LEADER MILOV DISCUSSES UPCOMING
ELECTIONS, FUTURE

1. (U) Summary: Leading member of Solidarity and candidate
for Moscow City Duma Vladimir Milov outlined for us his
election platform and personal vision for the movement. Milov
predicted overwhelming victory for ruling United Russia in
city elections. He expects to lose election for his district
but hopes to capture 20 percent of the vote and retain
influence and personal political capital. He foresaw that the
financial crisis would lead to tension within United Russia
and popular disillusionment with government at the national
level, allowing Solidarity to compete successfully in
elections in Moscow and St. Petersburg at some point in the
future. End Summary.

-------------------
City Duma Elections
-------------------

2. (U) Milov told us August 13th that he expects 25 to 30
percent turnout for Moscow city elections, a majority of
which will be older voters focused on quality-of-life issues.
There is little appeal for a broader campaign platform of
comprehensive democratic change. Milov is running electoral
district 13 to the South of Moscow, his home of 26 years. A
well-known and well-regarded economist, he is arguing for
aggressive measures to combat the financial crisis, a major
issue for opposition parties seeking to disparage United
Russia. Recognizing that by virtue of political intrigue or
merely age Mayor Yuriy
Luzhkov may leave politics before the next mayoral election,
and that the city Duma would then appoint a
successor, he has gained political traction by pointing out
that the Duma would select a replacement, not citizens
through direct voting. A United Russia-controlled Duma would
confirm a close Medvedev or Putin associate nominated from St
Petersburg instead of a Muscovite, Milov argued. Milov hopes
to earn 20 percent of the vote, and would call that a success.

---------------------------------
Focus on Moscow and St Petersburg
---------------------------------

3. (U) Based on his visits to 35 Russian regions in the last
18 months, Milov remains deeply pessimistic about the
opportunity for Solidarity to attract support. Media latched
on to the political unrest in Vladivostok in late 2008 as an
opportunity for opposition parties to make electoral inroads.
Instead, Milov argued, the situation is just the opposite.
Local workers were striking out against the federal
government, but were not attacking President Putin in spite
of some placards calling for his resignation. Reminiscent of
petitions to the Tsar, the protestors requested that Putin
intervene on their behalf with the corrupt bureaucracy.
Solidarity has never successfully backed a regional protest
because locals are
wary of any political involvement. This fact, and weak
finances, have almost completely confined the movement's
electoral viability to Moscow and St. Petersburg. Milov sees
no chance that a legitimate challenge to United Russia can
come from the provinces.

--------------------
Future of Solidarity
--------------------

4. (SBU) Acknowledging that no Solidarity candidate is likely
to win election in Moscow, Milov maintained outward optimism
about the future of the party in the long term. He sees
himself as one of a cadre of strong leaders of a movement
with no real activist base. Though the movement has
approximately 900 members, he estimates that only 50 to 60
are actively working to promote it in Moscow. While
leadership may envision a future as elected members of
government, Solidarity as a potential political party has
little popular support. The movement appears to be in stasis,
waiting for a time undetermined when the economic crisis
lowers approval ratings for United Russia and individual
Solidarity leaders are able to gain office. Milov predicts
that Solidarity could one day appeal to 20 to 30 percent of
federal voters and join a coalition government.

5. (SBU) Comment: Milov identifies himself as an individual
- with vision and supporters - who is "affiliated" with
Solidarity. He suggested that association with Solidarity is
not always personally useful. There is no internal
discussion, he observed, of the movement coalescing into a
registered political party, due in part to its depleted
financial resources and a genuine lack of appeal to the
general public. Milov aims to maintain his public standing

MOSCOW 00002241 002 OF 002


in Moscow and St. Petersburg and capture
enough of the vote in his district to remain a serious player
within Solidarity. The movement as a whole, however, plans
to tread water and wait for United Russia to fall in public
opinion polls. Without funding or public interest, it is
unclear how Milov expects Solidarity to build a grass roots
base over the coming years. End Comment.
Beyrle

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
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