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Cablegate: Medvedev: Elite Supporters Want Action On

VZCZCXRO0086
OO RUEHDBU RUEHFL RUEHKW RUEHLA RUEHNP RUEHROV RUEHSL RUEHSR
DE RUEHMO #0199/01 0280821
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
O 280821Z JAN 10
FM AMEMBASSY MOSCOW
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 6070
INFO RUCNCIS/CIS COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEHXD/MOSCOW POLITICAL COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC PRIORITY
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC PRIORITY
RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHDC PRIORITY

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 MOSCOW 000199

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 01/28/2019
TAGS: PREL PGOV PMAR PHUM PINR ECON EFIN RS
SUBJECT: MEDVEDEV: ELITE SUPPORTERS WANT ACTION ON
MODERNIZATION

REF: MOSCOW 175

Classified By: Ambassador John R. Beyrle; reasons 1.4(b/d).

1. Summary: Behind the scenes of the January 22 State Council
session, Medvedev supporters and observers are looking for
signs that the President is willing to implement the
political ideals he publicly advocates. Some United Russia
insiders sympathetic to Medvedev reportedly pledged the
President their fidelity and promised to use their various
positions and authority to push his modernization agenda.
Medvedev supporters have reportedly sought assurances from
the President that he is ready to take action on his public
statements. The latest State Council session, however, has
left some disappointed and concerned that the true political
reform they see as critical to building public and elite
support for change will not be championed from above. End
Summary.

CAMPAIGN TO STRENGTHEN MEDVEDEV'S IMAGE

2. (C) XXXXXXXXXXXX, United Russia member, and Kremlin consultant XXXXXXXXXXXX told us that President Medvedev is gradually placing people loyal to him at the lower levels of bureaucracy, but has yet to make an impact at the higher levels. President Medvedev has also not been able to rely on the top United Russia leadership -- Duma Speaker Boris Gryzlov and party leaders
Vyacheslav Volodin and Andrey Vorobyev - who have not been enthusiastic about Medvedev's modernization and political
reform proposals, especially those that involve greater
engagement and debate with opposition political forces.

3. (C) Key members of Medvedev's team -- Presidential
Administration First Deputy Chief Vladislav Surkov and
Foundation for Effective Government President Gleb Pavlovskiy
-- are well aware of these sentiments inside United Russia,
said XXXXXXXXXXXX. The President has no solid
constituencies among the elite or general public; therefore,
Surkov and Pavlovskiy have begun a campaign to spin Medvedev
as able to demonstrate authority, outline the key tasks for
the country (economic modernization) and make United Russia
more genuinely competitive by engaging the opposition. XXXXXXXXXXXX that this is the plan, but argued that personnel placements in 2010 and 2011 are more critical to any future Medvedev political success than policy decisions. He discounted modernization as nothing more than rhetoric, too amorphous to inspire support from the general public, and too destabilizing to the
status quo to garner significant elite backing.

4. (C) Medvedev's team has begun 2010 with a media blitz
emphasizing the President's modernization agenda and its
importance to Russia's future. Leading the charge has been
Pavlovskiy, who has not missed a chance to praise Medvedev.
Recently he characterized Medvedev as almost "unstoppable" in
the unofficial campaign to become the power candidate for
presidency in 2012. Others give Medvedev credit for
launching the January 22 State Council session, which gave a
brief public platform to vocal critics of United Russia and
the current political system. Though disappointed that
Medvedev joined Putin's defense of the status quo, some more
liberally-inclined Medvedev supporters see the event as the
start, not the end, of a more public debate on political
reform (reftel).

5. (C) We understand Medvedev supporters privately are
encouraging him to be more aggressive in the pursuit the
central theme of his presidency -- modernization of Russia's
economy. They maintain that economic modernization is not
possible without significant political reform. Although few
observers expect any public splits in the tandem during 2010,
Kremlin and White House insiders tell us that modernization
(defined generally as improving Russia's ability to compete
in the world and to provide citizens an improving standard of
living) is emerging as the argument both for those who seek
political change now, and also for those who believe
political reform will only impede economic change.

"NO LONGER POSSIBLE TO BE AN APOLITICAL EXPERT"

6. (C) Member of the liberal November 4 club of United Russia
XXXXXXXXXXXX described to us the contents of a letter
that he and other prominent elites wrote to Medvedev declaring their strong support for his modernization agenda.
They stated their readiness to organize the work of the
Public Chamber to support his policies, his presidency, and
his re-election. They reportedly encouraged Medvedev to take
concrete steps to implement political and economic reform.
They called for allocation of additional resources for
regional health, education and infrastructure, and declared
their readiness to reorient the work of the Chamber.

7. (C) XXXXXXXXXXXX confided that he and the others involved -
Pavlovskiy, Valeriy Fadeyev and Iosif Diskin - went further
in their letter, urging Medvedev to move forward on
modernization before the 2012 elections. They reportedly
declared that Medvedev's re-election would ensure
continuation of the process, but that were PM Putin to become
president again, the country would stagnate. XXXXXXXXXXXX was
frank that sending such a letter to Medvedev was risky, but
he and the others felt they had no choice. "We can no longer
be apolitical experts in the Chamber," he said. "Everything
has become politicized, so it is time to declare which side
one is for."

8. (C) Fadeyev, chair of the November 4 club of United
Russia, friend of Surkov and a strong supporter of Medvedev,
fought a fierce campaign for the leadership of the Public
Chamber. White House insider (and former Public Chamber
member) XXXXXXXXXXXX told us January 21 that when
allies of Prime Minister Putin found out about Fadeyev's
efforts to use the Chamber to support the President's
modernization pronouncements, they gave their support to
another candidate, Yevgeniy Velikhov (who won the election).
Fadeyev was re-elected chair of the economic committee, from
where he can still steer discussions and debate in favor of
modernization, though not to the detriment of interests of
those loyal to the White House. Fadeyev participated in
public meetings January 26 to evaluate Russian economic
policy in which he reiterated the need for modernization.

COMMENT

9. (C) The fact that some experts with influence on regional
development (XXXXXXXXXXXX), business (XXXXXXXXXXXX), and politics (XXXXXXXXXXXX and XXXXXXXXXXXX) are encouraging Medvedev to implement his modernization and political reform agenda may explain the apparent sensitivity of the White House.
Permitting liberal United Russia leaders to use institutions
such as the Public Chamber, relatively unknown to the general
public but significant for elites, to serve as a forum for
discussion of reform threatens the more hard-line supporters
of the "status quo." The experts' readiness to encourage
Medvedev to make good on his rhetoric is a promising sign.
Their reputation and their willingness to declare their
support for Medvedev's agenda may encourage other elites to
back Medvedev's reforms, building a stronger political
support base to press for a second term.
Beyrle

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