Identifier
Created
Classification
Origin
07MINSK609
2007-07-16 13:14:00
CONFIDENTIAL
Embassy Minsk
Cable title:  

KOZULIN'S PARTY SPLINTERING ONE YEAR AFTER

Tags:  PGOV PHUM BO 
pdf how-to read a cable
VZCZCXRO3683
PP RUEHDBU RUEHFL RUEHKW RUEHLA RUEHROV RUEHSR
DE RUEHSK #0609/01 1971314
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 161314Z JUL 07
FM AMEMBASSY MINSK
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 6268
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEHBS/USEU BRUSSELS PRIORITY
RUEHVEN/USMISSION USOSCE PRIORITY 1623
RHMFISS/HQ USEUCOM VAIHINGEN GE PRIORITY
RUFOADA/JAC MOLESWORTH RAF MOLESWORTH UK PRIORITY
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 MINSK 000609 

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 07/16/2017
TAGS: PGOV PHUM BO
SUBJECT: KOZULIN'S PARTY SPLINTERING ONE YEAR AFTER
IMPRISONMENT

REF: A. 06 MINSK 731


B. MINSK 209

C. 06 MINSK 1222

D. 05 MINSK 481

Classified By: Ambassador Karen Stewart for reason 1.4 (d).

Summary
-------

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 MINSK 000609

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 07/16/2017
TAGS: PGOV PHUM BO
SUBJECT: KOZULIN'S PARTY SPLINTERING ONE YEAR AFTER
IMPRISONMENT

REF: A. 06 MINSK 731


B. MINSK 209

C. 06 MINSK 1222

D. 05 MINSK 481

Classified By: Ambassador Karen Stewart for reason 1.4 (d).

Summary
--------------


1. (C) One year after the politically motivated imprisonment
of former opposition presidential candidate Aleksandr
Kozulin, Kozulin's party appears to be splintering over
rivalries among his party's deputies and disagreements
regarding Belarusian relations with Russia and the West.
These differences could adversely affect the democratic
coalition's overall unity in the run up to 2008 parliamentary
elections. End Summary.

BSDP Cracks Form After Kozulin's Imprisonment
--------------


2. (C) On the anniversary of the GOB's 2006
political-motivated trial of imprisoned opposition Belarusian
Social Democratic Party "Gramada" (BSDP) Chair and
presidential candidate Aleksandr Kozulin (ref A),BSDP
members are deeply divided over issues of leadership,
finance, and geo-political orientation. Fissures within BSDP
appeared within a month after Kozulin's conviction with the
election of Anatoliy Levkovich as Acting BSDP Chair in August

2006. Soon thereafter, former BSDP Deputy Chair Vladimir
Nistyuk told us that he would form a faction within BSDP as a
counterweight to Levkovich, whose commitment to campaigning
for Kozulin's freedom Nistyuk questioned. (Note: In February
2007, Nistyuk attributed his eventual resignation as Deputy
Chair to his uneasiness with Levkovich's close association
with opposition Belarusian Party of Communists Chair Sergey
Kalyakin, from whom Levkovich has reportedly received
significant financial support (ref B). End Note.)

Levkovich's Power Increases, Loyalty to Kozulin in Doubt
-------------- --------------


3. (C) On July 16, senior BSDP member and close Kozulin
oonfident Oleg Volchek echoed Nistyuk's suspicions about
Levkovich's loyalty to Kozulin. Volchek told us that the
divisions within BSDP deepened significantly after a March 4,
2007 BSDP Congress narrowly voted out Levkovich's
"pro-Kozulin" rival, Aleksey Korol, as BSDP Deputy Chair and
replaced Korol and Nistyuk with Levkovich loyalists Anatoliy
Sidorevich and Ivan Antashkevich. Noting that the BSDP Minsk
Regional Head recently called for removal of Levkovich and
his deputies, Volchek described the election of Sidorevich
and Antashkevich as part of Levkovich's broader efforts to
replace Kozulin-appointed, working-level BSDP leaders with
Levkovich supporters. Volchek added that he suspects that
the BKGB may be actively encouraging these machinations as
part of its efforts to weaken Belarus' pro-democratic
opposition.


4. (C) On July 12, Deputy Chair and former Kozulin attorney
Igor Rynkevich also told Acting Pol/Econ Chief about
Levkovich's efforts to minimize the influence of
"pro-Kozulin" BSDP members and complained that the March 4
BSDP election results were skewed in favor of Levkovich's
"less pro-Kozulin" camp because only members of BSDP chapters
officially registered by the GOB, about 40 to 45 percent of
all 1,600 BSDP members, were allowed to vote. Echoing what
Korol told us on July 4, Rynkevich insisted that the "true
majority" of BSDP members would have re-elected Korol, whom
Kozulin had endorsed. When asked why Kozulin had not openly
opposed Levkovich's re-election, Rynkevich answered, "Because
even Kozulin recognizes that Levkovich saved the party - for
now."

Westernizers vs. Russophiles?
--------------


5. (C) Ultimately, Rynkevich expressed stronger concern that
another divide within BSDP between pro-Russian and
pro-Western factions was growing. Identifying himself as
"generally pro-Western but not anti-Russian," Rynkevich said
that the pro-Russian BSDP elements tended to back Levkovich
because of his close ties to Kalyakin, whom BSDP
"Westernizers" oppose because of Kalyakin's alleged support
from Russian sources. Rynkevich described himself as a
"mediator" in the conflict and expressed hope that a new BSDP
faction led by former political prisoner and Kozulin

MINSK 00000609 002 OF 002


confident Sergey Skrebets (ref C),who was elected Head of
BSDP's Minsk City Chapter on July 11, would help mend fences
within his party for the good of Belarus' broader democratic
opposition. For his part, on July 4 Skrebets told us that he
supports close relations with Russia but will use his
position "to unite all of Belarus' social democrats against
the Lukashenko regime."

Comment
--------------


6. (C) Acrimonious and incessant factionalism has long been
a feature of Belarus' social democratic politics (ref D).
However, another BSDP schism could undercut efforts to unify
the democratic coalition writ large in the run up to Belarus'
2008 parliamentary elections. Thus, we would welcome efforts
by senior BSDP leaders to reconcile their differences and
continue working for Kozulin's release.
Stewart