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Identifier
Created
Classification
Origin
09MOSCOW816
2009-04-01 11:56:00
CONFIDENTIAL
Embassy Moscow
Cable title:  

MOSCOW'S SOCIAL MOVEMENTS, DISJOINTED AND

Tags:   PGOV  PREL  PHUM  PINR  KDEM  SOCI  ECON  RS 
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VZCZCXRO6293
PP RUEHDBU
DE RUEHMO #0816/01 0911156
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 011156Z APR 09
FM AMEMBASSY MOSCOW
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 2644
INFO RUCNCIS/CIS COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEHXD/MOSCOW POLITICAL COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC
						C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 MOSCOW 000816 

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 03/31/2019
TAGS: PGOV PREL PHUM PINR KDEM SOCI ECON RS
SUBJECT: MOSCOW'S SOCIAL MOVEMENTS, DISJOINTED AND
INEFFECTIVE

REF: MOSCOW 00155

Classified By: Political Minister Counselor Alice Wells. Reason: 1.4
(d).

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 MOSCOW 000816

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 03/31/2019
TAGS: PGOV PREL PHUM PINR KDEM SOCI ECON RS
SUBJECT: MOSCOW'S SOCIAL MOVEMENTS, DISJOINTED AND
INEFFECTIVE

REF: MOSCOW 00155

Classified By: Political Minister Counselor Alice Wells. Reason: 1.4
(d).


1. (SBU) Summary: Despite a deepening economic crisis and
polling data that indicates a readiness to revert to social
protest, civil society activists downplay the potential for
social movements to coalesce politically in Moscow and note
the federal and city government's efforts to make it harder
for social protests to spin out of control. We specifically
examined protests surrounding the auto and construction
industries in Moscow. Although regular protests take place
in Moscow, we found that they are not large-scale and they do
not pose a threat to the Moscow City government. Given the
importance of Moscow as a bellwether, we expect continued
official focus on tamping down prospects of unrest. End
Summary.

Moscow Idles
--------------


2. (C) Although a March 6 Levada Center survey indicated
that 23% of Russians would consider joining mass protests
against falling living standards, a sampling of civil society
activists revealed skepticism that Moscow will face
widespread protests. Allison Gill, Moscow Director of Human
Rights Watch, told us that large-scale protests related to
housing or the auto industry are unlikely to take place in
Moscow. Such protests are more likely to occur in small
towns that depend on one factory or industry. Further, she
told us it is unlikely that auto or housing groups will gain
momentum in Moscow because there is a lack of leadership.
Ida Kuklina, Head of the Analytical and Information
Commission of the Union of Soldiers' Mothers Committee, said
that while the Moscow government is afraid of social unrest,
she saw few destabilizing forces in the city. While sporadic
protests have always taken place in Moscow, Kuklina argued
that there are no current or emerging leaders capable of
organizing a social movement in Moscow that could present a

challenge to the leadership. Social groups remain
fragmented, with Muscovites either apathetic or fearing
losing everything in what she called a "climate of spies."
She noted that NGOs shy away from political activities
because they fear retaliation from authorities.


3. (C) Senior leaders continue to emphasize how Russia's
anti-crisis program is targeted at social spending, while
layering on legislation to make it harder for social protests
to spiral out of control. Prime Minister Putin, President
Medvedev, and Moscow's Mayor Luzhkov regularly make
statements about the necessity of addressing social needs.
While there are four effective federal legislative acts that
prohibit mass street protests, in the end of March, Chair of
the Moscow City Duma Vladimir Platonov proposed new
legislation specifically related to demonstrations in Moscow.
Moreover, Allison Gill told us that the federal government
is setting up a command center in Moscow as part of the
federal anti-crisis plan in the event of instability during
the economic crisis.

Opposition Tries to Rally Society Around Construction
-------------- --------------


4. (C) The failure of Moscow citizens' groups to mobilize
around construction-related scams and inconveniences
indicates a low level of political development and public
timidity. Two opposition leaders in the Moscow City Duma,
Yabloko's Sergei Mitrokhin and the Communist Party's Sergei
Nikitin have advocated against construction projects that
adversely affect common Muscovites, but not so assertively as
to risk their seats in the Moscow City Duma. According to
Mitrokhin, Yabloko organizes near weekly small
housing-related protests in Moscow, typically attracting only
a handful of protesters and capturing little media attention.
However, Mitrokhin told us that he does not believe social
movements related to housing will gain momentum and spiral
into a political movement in Moscow in light of the economic
crisis. In fact, protests related to housing in Moscow were
much larger two years ago and have since declined. Yabloko
has encountered difficulty attracting significant numbers of
protesters since few people are interested in vocalizing
their concerns related to housing. Aleksey Makarkin, Deputy
Director of the Center for Political Technologies, told us
that neither Mitrokhin nor Nikitin have been able to generate
strong power bases in Moscow from these populist causes.
Vremya correspondent Julia Khomchenko, who covers the real
estate beat, attributed this in part to the strong pressure
exerted by local government to smooth the way for business.

MOSCOW 00000816 002 OF 002


She described how Moscow government bureaucrats sometimes
personally visit Muscovites' homes in an effort to pursuade
them to accede to invasive construction projects.

Auto Protests
--------------


5. (C) Although there is a "Social Movement of
Automobilists" in Moscow, auto protests have not featured
prominently in Moscow's opposition scene and have failed to
crystallize into a political movement. Only 50 drivers and
auto sector workers participated in the January 31 "Day of
Dissent" in Moscow, prompted by tariff increases of 50
percent on used imported vehicles. While the automobile
movement has rallied successfully in the past to protest
police related corruption targeted against drivers, it's
agenda remains narrowly focused and its populist appeal has
yet to be tapped by other political or social movements. In
short, it remains as ineffective as it has always been.

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


6. (SBU) The impact of the economic crisis thus far has been
insufficient to overcome Moscow's perennial apathy. Federal
and city authorities in Moscow will continue to use their
resources and enormous law enforcement presence to further
reduce the prospect of social unrest, understanding that what
happens in Moscow, St. Petersburg, and a few other large
cities will set the tone for the rest of the country, and not
vice versa.
BEYRLE