Cablegate: End of the Rossel Era in Sverdlovsk Oblast: New Governor

DE RUEHYG #0075/01 3210758
P 170758Z NOV 09



E.O. 12958: N/A

Sensitive But Unclassified. Not for Internet Distribution.

1. (SBU) Rampant speculation swirling around the delayed
announcement of the appointment of the Sverdlovsk oblast
governor ended late November 10 Urals time with the news that
President Medvedev had appointed Aleksandr Misharin to a
four-year term as governor. Misharin is scheduled to arrive in
Yekaterinburg on November 17 and will meet with the oblast duma
at 09:00; at 12:00, the joint session will meet to confirm his
appointment as governor. Although KPRF deputies have said they
will vote against his appointment as a matter of principle
(because they oppose the abolition of gubernatorial elections),
United Russia has a sufficiently large majority so that swift
confirmation is expected. Although Rossel's term expires on
November 21, it was extended over the weekend to allow Misharin
to take the oath of office on November 23, a weekday. Urals
Federal District PolPred Vinnichenko said on TV that he approves
of the president's decision: "The decision was made with due
account of all individual qualities and personal and business
characteristics of the candidate."

2. (SBU) According to the Oblast Charter, the new governor
should propose a new Prime Minister. If the oblast duma does
not approve the suggested candidate, the governor has the power
to dissolve parliament. In turn, the new Prime Minister will
name a new Cabinet of Ministers and all incumbent ministers and
the head of the governor's office will submit their
resignations. Local observers believe that the current Minister
of Industry and Science, Anatoliy Gredin, who previously worked
with Misharin at Sverdlovsk Railway, might become the Prime
Minister. Several ministers who have either reached their
pension age or will reach it in the near future will probably
also be changed.

3. (SBU) The local political elite called the change in oblast
leadership the end of an era (Rossel has been in power for 19
years) and compare it to Yeltsin's resignation in 2000. Much is
made of the November 10 date of the announcement - in 1993 on
November 10 Yeltsin dismissed Rossel from the governor's post.
Although his desire for independence from Moscow (the Urals
Republic) was reduced by Putin's administration, Rossel remained
a supporter of democratic practices. He was also one of the
first governors to set up a human rights ombudsman's office, and
has allowed more media freedom than in some neighboring regions.
Rossel was a tireless promoter of Sverdlovsk oblast and
skillfully navigated between the interests of the local elite
and the Kremlin. He persuaded the Kremlin to hold the Shanghai
Cooperation Organization and BRIC summits in Yekaterinburg and
traveled widely to attract investors to the region. Supporters
point out that Rossel did not appoint family members to
government-controlled positions and that he does not appear to
have gained economic privileges during his administration.
Rossel has said that he wants the senate seat on the Federation
Council vacated by Yuri Osintsev, an appointment that requires
the new governor's approval. Political observers believe that
if his appointment is approved, Rossel could end up as First
Deputy Chairman of the Upper House.

4. (SBU) Bio Note: Aleksandr Sergeyevich Misharin was born on
January 21, 1959 in Artyomovskiy, Sverdlovsk oblast. His father
worked for Sverdlovsk Railway and his mother in the local
medical clinic. He has a younger brother, Vladimir. His
classmates from secondary school remember him as an excellent
student who also played guitar and sang. They say he enjoyed
listening to records and liked the British group Smokie and the
Beatles. He also played soccer and basketball. He graduated
from the Urals Electromechanical Institute of Railway Engineers
in 1981 and completed a degree in economics in 1997. Misharin
worked as the Chief Electrical Engineer for the Yekaterinburg
Metro from 1989-1991, returning to the Sverdlovsk Railway as
Deputy Chief Energy Engineer in 1991. Later in 1991 he was
promoted to Chief Energy Engineer, and in 1996 was appointed the
Chief Engineer of Sverdlovsk Railway. In 1998 he became the
Deputy Minister of Railway Transport of Russia and in 2000 was
promoted to First Deputy Minister of Russian Railways. In 2002,
Misharin was appointed Director of Sverdlovsk Railway and
returned to Yekaterinburg where he initiated construction of the
first modern railway management unit in the Urals-Siberian
region, equipped with the high technology and equipment allowing
electronic control of the vast Sverdlovsk Railway network. In
2004 he became Russian deputy transport minister and in January
2009, director of the presidential administration's industry and
infrastructure department. He is a United Russia member and
sits on the party's General Council. He has received numerous
government and public awards. He has been married twice and has
two children. Unofficially, his former colleagues say that
Misharin is a reasonable person, not prone to conflict or
authoritarian actions, and open to suggestions. He is known for
spending long hours in the office.

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5. (SBU) Comment: Rossel's departure seems to mark the
beginning of a change of regional heads who took office in the
Yeltsin era. Consulate contacts admit that the era of aging
governors has come to an end, but no one is sure that Misharin
is the right choice for the oblast. They question whether he is
strong enough to maintain the balance of interest between
federal power and local elites, and wonder whether he will
follow the Kremlin line more strictly than Rossel, which might
adversely impact the regional economy. Heads of oblast
financial-industrial groups know Misharin from negotiating rail
contracts with him, but they are not talking; he is otherwise
viewed as a "black box." We will see whether Sverdlovsk becomes
more integrated into the vertical of power or retains some

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