RR RUEHDBU RUEHFL RUEHKW RUEHLA RUEHNP RUEHROV RUEHSL RUEHSR
DE RUEHCH #0833/01 2991041
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
R 261041Z OCT 09
FM AMEMBASSY CHISINAU
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 8518
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 CHISINAU 000833
Classified by: Ambassador Asif J. Chaudhry for reasons 1.4 (b) and (d)
1. (C) Summary: In an October 13 meeting with the Ambassador, a very tired-looking ex-President Vladimir Voronin remained stubborn in his opposition to the candidacy of Democratic Party presidential-hopeful Marian Lupu, who Voronin said had "betrayed" the Communist Party. Voronin said he was focused on preparing the Communists for repeat elections, which he believed would likely take place in April or May of next year. The ex- President also suggested that while Russian policy in Moldova was "uncoordinated," Moscow appeared to favor Lupu's candidacy, if only to balance against more rightist GoM leaders. End Summary.
Focused on Party Building and Polling
2. (C) In an October 13 meeting with the Ambassador, ex-President Vladimir Voronin explained that after eight years of focusing on affairs of state, he finally had the time to concentrate on the needs of his Communist Party of Moldova (PCRM). At the moment, he was holding party meetings throughout Moldova to discuss the political situation; he planned to complete these meetings by next week.
3. (C) Voronin explained that the main focus of his party meetings in the districts was to discuss the PCRM's stance in the presidential election. He said he had detected no real support for Lupu within the PCRM; in fact, voting for Lupu would split the party. Voronin noted that in a meeting in Nisporeni district the previous day, he had asked directly who favored Lupu, but no one raised their hand. He had done the same in Balti, also without detecting any support for Lupu, and had found no sympathy for Lupu in similar meetings with ethnic minorities and businessmen. The Ambassador suggested that these party members might have been reluctant to publicly contradict Voronin's wishes.
Lupu: No Votes for a Traitor
4. (C) Voronin explained that he had wanted to dismiss Lupu as Speaker of Parliament before the March 2008 PCRM Congress, when Lupu was engaged in a fierce personal rivalry with then PM Vasile Tarlev over who would succeed Voronin as President. Voronin said that the Communists did not then have the votes in Parliament to unseat Lupu (a 2/3 majority of 67 votes is needed to dismiss the Speaker), and in any case did not want to force Lupu into the arms of the opposition at that time.
5. (C) Instead, Voronin dismissed Tarlev as PM in March 2008. Though Voronin had offered to keep him on the PCRM team, Tarlev had chosen to go his own way. Voronin placed Lupu in the number two slot on the PCRM list for the April 2009 elections, a position which Voronin acknowledged might have given the impression that Lupu would be the party's presidential candidate. However, Voronin claimed Lupu understood that he (Voronin) would decide on the candidate and should not have been shocked when he proposed then-PM Greceanii. Voronin also complained that after Lupu and then- Democratic Party leader Diacov came to him to announce Lupu's intention to run with the Democratic Party in the July repeat elections, they had promised to negotiate with him immediately following the elections, regardless of outcome. Voronin lamented that Lupu "had not behaved as a gentleman," both during the campaign and afterwards.
6. (C) While Voronin acknowledged that Lupu's departure was an "unexpected blow" to the PCRM, and that Lupu was closer ideologically to the Communists than other members of the Alliance, support for Lupu was "completely out of the question." Voronin said he viewed Lupu's departure -- which he said was purely due to personal ambition -- as a betrayal. This betrayal
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was compounded by the fact that Lupu had broken a promise to negotiate with the PCRM after the election, and by the fact that Lupu had then joined the Alliance.
Heading for Repeat Elections
7. (C) Voronin told the Ambassador that, therefore, the country was headed for repeat elections, which he believed would take place in April or May of next year. He also dismissed the Ambassador's remark that many believed the PCRM would do worse in repeat elections, arguing instead that the PCRM would gain ground by focusing on the performance of the current government (rather than being sidetracked by the April 7 violence in its last election campaign).
What do the Russians Want?
8. (C) Moving on to the topic of the Russian stance toward Moldova, Voronin suggested that Russian policy at the moment was "unofficial" and "uncoordinated" -- the left hand did not know what the right hand was doing, as he termed it. However, when the Ambassador suggested that Russia now seemed to favor Lupu's candidacy, Voronin confirmed that this did appear to be the case. (Note: A point driven home vividly during the CIS Summit when Medvedev held a bilateral meeting with Lupu but refused to meet with Voronin.)
9. (C) While "no one from Russia at a high level" had urged him to support Lupu, Voronin said he believed the Russians "were afraid" of Speaker/acting President Ghimpu, considered Parliament Deputy Speaker Urechean to be "even worse" and "linked to the Mafia," and viewed PM Filat as "an extremist" with ties to Romania. Thus, Voronin argued, the Russians were supporting Lupu by default since the other options were so unpalatable.
10. (C) Voronin asked for the Ambassador's opinions on why the Russians were supporting Lupu. The Ambassador hypothesized several possible reasons. First, the Russians might have calculated that Lupu's leftist position suited them more than the rightist parties in the Alliance. Secondly, from the Russian point of view, Lupu might appear to be a more acceptable president than the other leaders in the Alliance. But, the Ambassador added that only the Russians or Mr. Lupu could elaborate on the reason for their support for his candidacy.
11. (C) While Voronin's ability to influence events has significantly diminished, provided that PCRM party discipline holds, he still can deny the Alliance the eight votes needed to elect Lupu as President, thus forcing repeat elections. However, this represents a gamble for Voronin, as many observers contend that the PCRM could receive fewer votes than they did in July. This is an opinion apparently shared by some members of the PCRM faction which has fueled reports of a possible split in the party. The only real chance for Lupu to be elected as President now lies either in an open party split, or in Voronin realizing that his own enlightened self interest at this point actually requires preventing this impending split by allowing his Party MPs to openly vote for Lupu.