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06KIEV1055, UKRAINE: ZAPORIZHZHYA PRE-ELECTION SNAPSHOT —

March 17, 2006

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
06KIEV1055 2006-03-17 14:28 2011-08-30 01:44 UNCLASSIFIED Embassy Kyiv
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

 

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 03 KIEV 001055 

SIPDIS 

E.O. 12958: N/A 
TAGS: PGOV PREL PHUM
SUBJECT: UKRAINE: ZAPORIZHZHYA PRE-ELECTION SNAPSHOT -- 
FREE CAMPAIGN IN FULL ROAR 

(U) Sensitive but unclassified, please handle accordingly. 
Not for internet distribution. 

1. (SBU) Summary:  In 2004, the abuse of administrative 
resources by a coordinated "Blue" power "vertikal" and an 
extra 100,000 dead souls voting in the city of Melitopol 
delivered 70 percent of Zaporizhzhya oblast to Viktor 
Yanukovych.  In 2006, the absence of administrative pressure 
from an "Orange" governor allows for a vigorous Rada campaign 
for parties across the political spectrum.  Efforts by the 
mayor, unaffiliated with any major party, to squelch 
competitors' mayoral campaigns have been checked by vigorous 
watchdog action by the local Committee of Voters of Ukraine 
(CVU), demonstrating the continued vital role of civil 
society organizations.  Ex-PM Yanukovych's Regions Party is 
the best-organized party and is headed to at least a 
40-percent plurality win, but its oblast leaders remain 
paranoid about the Orange Revolution and suspicious of the 
United States.  Yuliya Tymoshenko's Bloc (BYuT) has emerged 
to lay claim to a strong second position; in contrast, 
President Yushchenko's Our Ukraine is in shambles, in danger 
of pulling less support than it received in 2002.  End 
summary. 

Once Red, then Blue, Zaporizhzhya now in play 
--------------------------------------------- 

2. (SBU) The southeastern industrialized oblast of 
Zaporizhzhya suffers from Ukraine's worst environmental 
degradation outside the Chornobyl zone and a track record of 
shifting electoral loyalties.  The Communists scored a 
33-percent plurality in the 2002 Rada elections, with SPDU(o) 
in second (11%) and Our Ukraine third (8%).  Backed by heavy 
administrative pressure in a solid power "vertikal" from 
district chiefs and mayors to the governor's office to ensure 
Zaporizhzhya would be solidly "blue" in the 2004 presidential 
elections, Yanukovych scored a 70-percent return.  This 
included perhaps the single largest incident of so-called 
voting "dead souls" in the country, according to Zaporizhzhya 
CVU head Roman Pyatyhorets; the oblast town of Melitopol, 
population 168,000, ended up with 270,000 names on its voter 
list, 94 percent of whom voted for Yanukovych. 

3. (SBU) In stark contrast, Zaporizhzhya in 2006 is awash in 
a rainbow of campaign colors from across the political 
spectrum.  The first traffic circle on the road leading from 
the train station to the center of town sports a double 
billboard, with an orange Our Ukraine "Tak!" billboard on the 
left and a red, white, and blue "Ne Tak!" board on the right. 
 Along the squares of the main street, still called Prospekt 
Lenina (Lenin Avenue), up to a dozen information tents of 
political polar opposites stand cheek to jowl: the pink and 
blue Vitrenko People's Opposition next to the white, black 
and red BYuT; the Red Za Soyuz (For Union with Russia) next 
to the yellow and blue of Kostenko's Ukrainian People's 
party; the pink of the Socialists next to the green of Rada 
Speaker Lytvyn's bloc.  The once powerful Communists were 
nowhere to be seen. 

4. (SBU) In similar terms, Zaporizhzhya's four primary 
industrial enterprises support a range of different parties 
in 2006; Motor Sich's Vyacheslav Bohuslayev is number 5 on 
Regions' list; Auto ZAZ' Tariel Vasadze is number 41 on 
BYuT's list; ZaporizhTransformator's Grigorishin (Russian 
citizen) has ties to Our Ukraine, and Zaporizhstal 
contributes to all parties and bankrolls the supposedly 
unaffiliated incumbent mayor Kartashov. 

CVU plays an important role checking local admin abuses 
--------------------------------------------- ---------- 

5. (SBU) The Zaporizhzhyan CVU has played a key role in 
keeping the local playing field level.  While local CVU head 
Pyatyhorets characterized the Rada race as completely free 
and fair in Zaporizhzhya, he described disturbing tactics and 
violations in local races.  Pyatyhorets has deployed hidden 
videocams and has made surreptitious phone recordings of 
violations.  This included Zaporizhzhyan incumbent mayor 
Kartashov, purportedly unaffiliated with any national party, 
ordering local advertising companies early in the campaign 
not to give billboard space to his competitors or to national 
parties other than Lytvyn's bloc; one recording captured 
Kartashov suggesting the companies tell parties that they 
would only take commercial clients, or alternatively that all 
boards had been booked up. 

6. (SBU) Pyatyhorets holds press conferences every few weeks 
for local Zaporizhzhyan media outlets, providing voter 
education information and detailing the types of violations 
uncovered.  He told us with pride February 28 that his team 
had "infiltrated" every major political force and covered 
developments in the oblast better than any media outlet 
thanks to "12 years of experience in the election wars." 
When the city prosecutor's office issued him a threatening 
summons to produce evidence to back up his charges or face 
prosecution, he put together a multimedia presentation that 
left them gasping and pale, "because they realized if they 
accepted our evidence, they would have to prosecute half the 
city council," Pyatyhorets related with glee.  There were no 
subsequent problems regarding advertising access, he noted 
dryly. 

Regions in the lead,
BYuT Second, Our Ukraine disorganized 
--------------------------------------------- ------------- 

7. (SBU) Pyatyhorets and pro-reform weekly Dzerkalo Tyzhnya's 
Zaporizhzhya correspondent Volodymyr Piskovy told us that 
Regions was running the best-organized campaign and would 
score a solid plurality of around 40 percent, though far off 
Yanukovych's 70-percent return in 2004.  Pyatyhorets said 
that his polling indicated BYuT surging with 24 percent, 
bolstered by a strong new organization built around the ZAZ 
leadership.  (Note:  Piskovy claimed to us that ZAZ owner 
Vasadze had paid BYuT $5 million to secure his "guaranteed" 
Rada seat.)  ZAZ deputy director and quietly confident BYuT 
Campaign Chief Krainy told us that their polls showed BYuT at 
16 percent and rising; their target was 25 percent. 

8. (SBU) Our Ukraine's effort, led by former governor 
Artemenko, a Grigorishin ally whom Yushchenko dismissed in 
September in favor of dismissed Transport Minister and Orange 
oligarch Chervonenko, was derided by everyone we talked to as 
hopelessly ineffectual.  Our Ukraine likely would receive 
less than its 2002 eight-percent return.  On the positive 
side, everyone agreed that Chervonenko had played a 
completely hands-off role, meeting with all visiting party 
leaders except Tymoshenko, and not exerting any influence on 
Our Ukraine's behalf.  (Note:  Chervonenko trumpeted this 
reality on the March 3 edition of "Svoboda Slova" (Freedom of 
Speech), effectively countering charges by Regions' national 
Campaign Chief Kushnaryov that Our Ukraine-appointees were 
exerting pressure in the oblasts on behalf of their party.) 
But Socialist oblast campaign chief Kuzmenko lamented that 
Our Ukraine had utterly failed to counter Regions' 
anti-government propaganda, letting scurrilous charges go 
unanswered.  Kuzmenko said that the Socialists would secure 
its 5-7-percent target by taking votes away from the 
Communists, but that he had hoped Our Ukraine would have put 
in a much better showing to boost overall "Maidan" 
performance. 

Regions still upset about Orange Revolution, U.S. role 
--------------------------------------------- --------- 

9. (SBU) Regions' oblast chief Borys Petrov warily received 
us after checking with Regions' national headquarters, 
showing lingering paranoia about the Orange Revolution and 
suspicions of the U.S. role.  Petrov started by referring to 
a supposed February 26 "admission" by President Bush that the 
U.S. had funded the Orange Revolution with "$60 or $400 
million, I forget which."  Returning unprompted to the Orange 
Revolution topic, Petrov thundered:  "What happened in Kiev 
in December 2004 was an overthrow of the constitutional 
order!  What mayhem!  I visited the Maidan myself; It was 
like an army!  At least 25 percent of those present were well 
equipped and clearly had received prior training.  I'm not 
necessarily saying they were trained and equipped from 
abroad.  But where did the money come from?" 

10. (SBU) After hearing our explanation of U.S. democracy 
support programming, focused on institution building not only 
for groups like the CVU but party training which had trained 
hundreds of Regions' functionaries, references to the 
Embassy's frequent meetings with Yanukovych and Akhmetov, our 
willingness to work with whichever government the Ukrainian 
people chose, and a discussion about Kiev municipal 
authorities who used up their annual budget supporting the 
Khreshchatyk tent city and then failed to clean Kiev's 
streets of snow in February-March 2005, Petrov and his 
associates relaxed, finally offering us "welcoming" cups of 
coffee at the end of the hour-long conversation, rather than 
at the beginning. 

11. (SBU) Petrov said Regions' was determined to "play by the 
rules" in the 2006 election cycle to avoid charges of 
election violations.  His associate complained, apparently 
with justification, about administrative resource abuses used 
by incumbent mayor Kartashov against Regions' mayoral 
candidate Kaltsev.  (Note:  In what is widely seen as a close 
two-horse race, everyone we talked to predicted a Kartashov 
victory.)  However, both the CVU's Pyatyhorets and journalist 
Piskovy took issue with the notion that Zaporizhzhya's 
Regions reps had truly changed, predicting a reversion to 
past form were they to manage to strike a deal and return to 
government (reftel). 

12. (U) Visit Embassy Kiev's classified website at: 
www.state.sgov.gov/p/eur/kiev. 
Gwaltney

 

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