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07KYIV2239, UKRAINE: ELECTIONS IN ODESA HEAVILY FAVOR REGIONS

September 7, 2007

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
07KYIV2239 2007-09-07 12:17 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Kyiv

VZCZCXRO1099
PP RUEHDBU
DE RUEHKV #2239/01 2501217
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 071217Z SEP 07
FM AMEMBASSY KYIV
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 3636
INFO RUCNCIS/CIS COLLECTIVE
RUEHZG/NATO EU COLLECTIVE

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 KYIV 002239 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 09/07/2017 
TAGS: PGOV UP
SUBJECT: UKRAINE: ELECTIONS IN ODESA HEAVILY FAVOR REGIONS 
 
 
Classified By: Ambassador, reason 1.4 (b,d) 
 
1. (C) Summary. During the Ambassador's August 31 meetings in 
Odesa with leaders from Party of Regions (POR), Bloc of 
Yuliya Tymoshenko (BYuT), and Our Ukraine-People's 
Self-Defense (OU-PSD), all agreed that POR remained the 
overwhelming favorite in the predominately blue region -- in 
2006, Regions won almost 48 percent of the Odesa vote 
compared to BYuT's 9.75 percent and OU's 6.5 percent.  All 
party leaders also shared the expectation that the election 
will be principally free of impropriety.  While POR and BYuT 
representatives were positive about their campaign efforts, 
OU shared frustration and disappointment in their bloc's 
decision to manage the campaign from Kyiv.  At the same time, 
the popularity of Odesa Mayor Eduard Hurvits, an OU member, 
could boost OU-PSD's ratings.  He claims that he intends to 
remain on the sidelines, but activists note his public 
standing and administrative resources as potential levers of 
persuasion.  End Summary and Comment 
 
REGIONS CONFIDENT 
----------------- 
 
2. (U) POR oblast Director Leonid Klimov predicted a quiet 
election in Odesa, with similar results to the last one.  He 
noted that the party has grown in Odesa over the past 18 
months to 55,000 members, which is double the number in 2006. 
 In addition, they have approximately 1000 people working for 
the party full time. 
 
3. (SBU) Klimov explained that Regions is weakest in Odesa 
city, where Mayor Hurvits's popularity has a strong influence 
on political results.  He considers the situation in Odesa to 
be a paradox because Regions won the last election 
definitively (gaining control in 24 of 26 regions), but both 
the Governor and Mayor are from the orange camp.  However, he 
believes that the orange team's infighting -- with OU and 
BYuT trying to beat each other -- is helping Regions.  Still, 
Klimov was concerned that his opponents may be tempted to use 
administrative resources to cheat and expressed the need to 
keep the election clean and fair.  He requested Ambassador's 
support in stressing this point to both the Governor and 
Mayor. Klimov concluded that Regions' rating is good and they 
just need good turnout and transparency in the vote to emerge 
victorious. 
 
4. (C) Klimov shared that Regions' approach in Odesa is to 
stay on message by stressing their success in fulfilling 
their past campaign promises.  He spoke about land reform 
that now requires municipal and village councils to approve 
land distribution, rather than individual town executives 
with potentially selfish motives.  He vowed that Regions will 
run a campaign that is by the book, in full accordance with 
the law, and noted that his party is not engaging in any 
black PR.  Klimov then cited 200,000 booklets that were 
printed with OU's platform, but without any campaign slogans, 
and distributed in schools and hospitals, allegedly by the 
Governor's office.  He shrugged in response to Ambassador's 
question as to who is financing the plethora of billboards in 
the city displaying Yushchenko's photo, but again, without 
reference to OU-PSD. (Note: According to the head of OU's 
executive committee, these were paid for by the Presidential 
Secretariat - see below). 
 
SIPDIS 
 
BYUT SELF-ABSORBED 
------------------ 
 
5. (U) BYuT Oblast Director Vyacheslav Kruk spent a 
significant part of the meeting talking about his experience 
as a campaign manager and praising Tymoshenko's leadership. 
Kruk asserted that her charisma will make a big difference, 
noting that she has a strong following.   He cited a recent 
TV poll that placed Tymoshenko ahead of Yanukovych according 
to respondents, opinions on who will be the next Prime 
Minister (47% to 43% respectively). 
 
6. (U) Kruk noted that BYuT has been gaining ground quickly 
since he was put in charge, but he surmised that OU-PSD may 
do as well as BYuT (possibly 15%-17%) based on Odesa Mayor 
Hurvits's popularity.  Kruk predicted Regions will get over 
30% of the vote and said that Progressive Socialist leader 
Nataliya Vitrenko should not be discounted because she has a 
good team that knows how to work polling stations 
effectively.  Kruk believed that cheating was possible in the 
village areas, but not in Odesa city.  Still, he thought that 
the impact would be minimal.  Kruk explained that no one 
wants to get caught and there will be many eyes on this 
election. 
 
7. (C) Answering Ambassador's question regarding Russian 
influence in the election, Kruk noted that their experts were 
popular 5 years ago, but now Ukraine's parties have their own 
 
KYIV 00002239  002 OF 002 
 
 
experts who are cheaper and more efficient. 
 
OUR UKRAINE-PEOPLE'S SELF DEFENSE DEPRESSED 
------------------------------------------- 
 
8. (C) OU-PSD executive committee director Dmytro Tansyura 
launched into a sobering description of his party's campaign 
problems by boldly announcing that democracy has ended in 
Ukraine.  He spent most of the meeting confessing that party 
operatives in Odesa, and elsewhere, have been effectiv
ely 
removed from the campaign by OU's central authorities. 
Tansyura explained that the Presidential administration is 
running the show and that he and his colleagues have no 
influence on the process whatsoever.  Tansyura recalled that 
the party had campaign experts on staff in 2006, but that is 
not the case today. Odesa's Governor and Mayor had promised 
Presidential Secretariat Chief of Staff Baloha a 15 percent 
result for OU, but no one is allowed to actively engage with 
the public to try to achieve the goal. 
 
9. (C) Tansyura posited that none of the parties will be able 
to influence the election by much: perhaps 1 to 1.5 percent 
fraud at the most.  He noted that 2004 demonstrated that 
politicians can no longer cheat and get away with it.  He 
therefore predicted that OU will lose by a significant 
margin.  Tansyura cited the following poll results for Odesa 
oblast -- Regions 28 percent, BYuT 26 percent, OU 8 percent, 
Communist Party 4 percent, and Progressive Socialists 7 
percent, the latter a rating he believed Vitrenko secured by 
promulgating scandalous propaganda. 
 
10. (C) Tansyura predicted that the poor results and 
restrictions placed on party members and staff will be the 
death of OU.  He believed that members are disenfranchised 
and explained that those who stood out on the Maidan feel 
cheated; he fears that people have lost faith in democracy. 
Still, Tansyura noted that OU's principles are correct and 
the bloc remains Ukraine's best hope for the future.  He 
confided that the leadership is the problem and therefore the 
country needs to wait for the elite to grow up.  Tansyura's 
view is that young people are stepping forward, but it 
remains difficult to live without rules and with leaders who 
are looking to line their pockets. 
 
MAYOR - AN ELECTORAL WILDCARD? 
------------------------------ 
 
11. (U) Ambassador also met with Odesa Mayor Hurvits, who 
spoke briefly about the election campaign and his role.  He 
explained that 96 parties are currently operating in Odesa 
and he intends to ward off any potential conflict between 
them.  While the city's residents are not politically active 
or involved to a significant degree with the election, he was 
concerned that tensions may arise between the large number of 
competitors.  Hurvits also declared that 350 polling stations 
commissions will operate in the city and that all venues are 
now prepared for the election. 
 
12. (U) While he was involved in these matters of security 
and logistics, the Mayor retreated from the notion that he 
will have influence on the election although he was elected 
as an OU member.  He stated that he is very careful about 
elections; in 2006, he did not talk to the press in order to 
demonstrate his neutrality.  Hurvits said he did not use 
influence or resources in 2006 and even though he has 
political preferences, his official position prevents his 
involvement.  He cited the politically diverse composition of 
the city council as evidence that he has not exerted any 
power over previous election outcomes. 
 
13 (U) The Mayor also provided significant detail about a 
recent controversy in Odesa focused on a Catherine the Great 
monument in the city center that he is supporting.  He told 
the Ambassador about Odesa's history, but worried that public 
questioning of the city's decision to raise a monument to a 
Russian historical figure and his involvement would have a 
negative impact on OU's ratings.  With the political 
consequences in mind, he decided to wait to unveil the 
monument until after the election, even though the town 
council and a majority of Odesa's citizens support his 
decision to display Catherine in a prominent position in the 
city.  Ambassador stressed that Ukraine can serve as a model 
for the region by continuing to demonstrate adherence to 
democratic principals and practices, namely free and fair 
elections; a message he also shared in the other meetings. 
 
14. (U) Visit Embassy Kyiv's classified website: 
www.state.sgov.gov/p/eur/kiev. 
Taylor

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