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IdentifierCreatedClassificationOrigin
06BELGRADE575 2006-04-13 11:22:00 UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY Embassy Belgrade
Cable title:  

MONTENEGRIN INDEPENDENCE REFERENDUM: BLOC LEADERS

Tags:   PGOV PREL MW SR 
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RUEHROV RUEHSR RUEHVK RUEHYG
DE RUEHBW #0575/01 1031122
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 131122Z APR 06
FM AMEMBASSY BELGRADE
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 8353
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE
RUFOADA/JAC MOLESWORTH RAF MOLESWORTH UK
					  UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 BELGRADE 000575 

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PREL MW SR
SUBJECT: MONTENEGRIN INDEPENDENCE REFERENDUM: BLOC LEADERS
RAISE THE STAKES


SENSITIVE BUT UNCLASSIFIED - PLEASE HANDLE ACCORDINGLY

Ref: Belgrade 530



1. (SBU) Summary: PM Djukanovic stated he would resign and
call early parliamentary elections if independence gets
fewer votes than continued union. Union bloc leader
Bulatovic replied he would leave politics if the union is
dissolved. Nascent political party Group for Changes (GZP)
leader Medojevic predicted a result in the "gray zone" of
50 to 55 percent for independence - to the benefit of GZP's
political ambitions. The first of six weekly televised
debates was held April 10, with Djukanovic and SDP leader
Krivokapic versus Bulatovic and NS party leader Popovic.
The judiciary filed charges against those involved in the
"Zeta Film." End summary.

Djukanovic Raises the Stakes


--------------------------





2. (U) PM Djukanovic stated April 6, in an interview
carried by Reuters that he would resign and call early
parliamentary elections if independence gets fewer votes
than continued union. He added however that he expects
independence to get the needed 55 percent of the vote.
Parliament's mandate expires in October this year. Comment:
Few observers expect that more votes will be cast for
continued State Union than for independence; the question
is whether independence will get the legally required 55
percent of all valid votes cast. End comment.

Bulatovic Calls


--------------------------





3. (U) Not to be outdone, leader of the pro-Union bloc and
of the Socialist People's Party (SNP) Predrag Bulatovic
subsequently told the press that he would "leave politics"
if independence was not rejected. Joined by his bloc
partners, Bulatovic asserted at a press conference that the
Union would get 180,000 or even 200,000 votes, including
10,000 disaffected voters from Djukanovic's own Democratic
Party of Socialists (DPS) - 46 to 51 percent of expected
turnout. Comment: The parties that now make up the pro-
Union bloc have not polled 170,000 votes since the 1997
election when Djukanovic broke with Milosevic - and the SNP
split from the DPS. End comment.

Group for Changes Plans for Gray Zone


--------------------------





4. (SBU) Group for Changes (GZP) leader Nebojsa Medojevic
told Consulate April 10 that he expects independence to get
53 percent of the vote, with turnout high at 84 percent. He
says a significant number of voters who back independence
will vote no, out of hatred for Djukanovic, and if
Djukanovic resigned before the vote, independence could
easily get 60 percent support. Saying that "no party has
prepared for the gray zone except the GZP," he said that he
had advised the GoS not to talk to PM Djukanovic in case of
a gray zone result, but to wait for the Montenegrin
parliamentary elections. He would then campaign against
Djukanovic on the platform that the GoM's corruption and
dishonesty led to the loss. Medojevic snidely added that
"Putin has told Deripaska to end (financial) support to the
independence campaign," referring to the Russian oligarch
who in 2005 purchased the Podgorica Aluminum Factory (KAP),
the single largest component of Montenegro's GDP (12
percent of GDP in 2004). Comment: The GZP has almost
completed its transformation from NGO to party. While
Medojevic has good sources and may be correct in his
prediction, it may also be wishful thinking because a gray
zone would be the result that would most benefit his new
party and its central platform: for independence, against
Djukanovic. End comment.


The "Duel" Commences


--------------------------





5. (U) The first in a series of weekly televised debates
between independence and union sides was carried April 10
on Montenegro public television (TVCG1). The first two-hour
discussion was between PM Djukanovic and SDP leader Ranko
Krivokapic for independence, and Bulatovic and NS party
leader Predrag Popovic for union. The debate was held
without excessive tension, although Bulatovic and Popovic
focused more on the alleged corruption affecting the GoM
and on Djukaknovic than on the benefits of staying in Union
with Serbia. Their attacks led Djukanovic to riposte

BELGRADE 00000575 002 OF 002


whether they would tell their voters to support
independence if he were to resign as PM. A poll conducted
by an local NGO showed that 80 percent of Montenegro
watched the debate, and 67.5 percent came away with a
favorable impression of the pro-Independence bloc, compared
to only 17.5 percent with a favorable impression of the
pro-Union bloc (respondents could answer that they had a
favorable impression of both blocs). Djukanovic left the
strongest impression (51.5 percent); Bulatovic the weakest
(8.1 percent). The series will run through the May 21 vote,
with varying participants.

Charges over "Zeta Film"


--------------------------





6. (U) The prosecutor responsible for the "Zeta Film" case
(ref), involving the purported buying of votes by the DPS,
caught secretly on film, has recommended that charges be
brought against the participants. The two DPS activists
and the suspended policeman will be charged with violating
the freedom of voting and causing disorder. Maximum
sentence is three years imprisonment.

POLT