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07KYIV2402, UKRAINE: KIROVOHRAD: IT’S A TWO PARTY RACE,

September 18, 2007

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07KYIV2402 2007-09-18 13:25 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Kyiv

VZCZCXRO0699
PP RUEHDBU
DE RUEHKV #2402/01 2611325
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 181325Z SEP 07
FM AMEMBASSY KYIV
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 3772
INFO RUCNCIS/CIS COLLECTIVE
RUEHZG/NATO EU COLLECTIVE
RUEHLMC/MILLENNIUM CHALLENGE CORP WASHDC

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 KYIV 002402 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 10/10/2016 
TAGS: PGOV PINR PREL UP
SUBJECT: UKRAINE: KIROVOHRAD: IT'S A TWO PARTY RACE, 
ELECTIONS WILL BE CLEAN, A SIDE TRIP BACK IN TIME 
 
KYIV 00002402  001.2 OF 003 
 
 
Classified By: Deputy Chief of Mission James Pettit for reasons 1.4 (b, 
d). 
 
1. (SBU)  Summary:  In conversations with Kirovohrad's 
Communist mayor, Our Ukraine Governor, and various campaign 
workers regarding preparations for the September 30 
elections, opinion across the spectrum was that Regions and 
BYuT will be the top two vote getters with about 25-30 
percent each, with Our Ukraine-People's Self Defense (OU-PSD) 
coming in a strong third with 15 percent, and that by and 
large, the elections would be clean.  The other widespread 
consensus was that NATO and the Russian language question 
have little resonance in the region, where bread and butter 
economic issues dominate the local debate.  Even the local 
Regions representatives acknowledged these issues were an 
electoral ploy aimed at retaining votes in the East that 
might otherwise go to the Communists.  All agreed that the 
Socialist Party of Ukraine (SPU) was in serious electoral 
trouble, voter turnout would be high in spite of voter 
disillusion, and a large number of local voters were still 
undecided. 
 
2. (C)  Comment.  If local political players are to be 
believed, Kirovohrad will have free and fair elections, but 
this will be a very competitive election in a hotly contested 
central swing oblast.  Muddled local politics and a past 
history of voter fraud still make Kirovohrad a prime target 
for election abuses.  Because of the implosion of the SPU and 
local dissatisfaction with a BYuT Rada member, Regions and 
OU-PSD stand to improve on their 2006 election totals, but 20 
percent of voters remain undecided and are up for grabs.  All 
major parties in the oblast have opted to focus their 
campaigns on convincing voters that they will best provide 
solutions to local problems, ignoring their parties' 
national-level issues, such as Russian language, NATO, and 
parliamentary immunity.  With virtually no discernible 
difference in platforms, whoever can convince voters they 
will tackle unemployment, build up infrastructure, improve 
housing, and increase salaries/pensions stands to win the 
large number of undecideds.  This may put OU-PSD at a 
disadvantage because unlike Regions' "Stability and 
Well-being" or BYuT's "Ukrainian Breakthrough", the OU-PSD 
campaign is constrained by a lack of message or overarching 
theme that can be used as a framework to discuss local 
issues.  End Summary and Comment. 
 
Kirovohrad: Checkered Election History 
-------------------------------------- 
 
3. (SBU) Kirovohrad is a largely agricultural, poor oblast in 
central Ukraine and a former stronghold for BYuT and SPU. 
Parliamentary results in 2006 were BYuT - 30 percent, Regions 
- 20 percent, SPU - 10 percent, OU - 9 percent, Communists - 
6 percent, Lytvyn bloc - 5 percent.  Kirovohrad is the home 
of the notorious TEC 100 electoral region in which widespread 
fraud took place in the 2004 presidential election. 
Throughout the oblast, support for Yushchenko grew from 48 
percent to 63 percent between the second and third rounds of 
the election.  The Communist Mayor, Volodymr Puzakov, won a 
hotly contested mayoral by-election in November 2006.  The 
repeat election took place after the winner of the March 2006 
mayoral race, popular local BYuT leader Valeriy Kalchenko, 
was elected both as mayor and to the Rada, and chose to take 
his Rada seat -- a decision that angered many local BYuT 
supporters and threw the mayoral race into chaos.  Puzakov 
prevailed after backroom dealing with the Party of Regions 
(PR) and local businessmen gave him a slim victory over young 
up-and-coming Our Ukraine candidate Oleksandr Danuta.  Before 
2004, local politics was dominated by the now defunct Labor 
Ukraine party which was associated closely with former 
President Kuchma's son-in-law Viktor Pinchuk. 
 
Disorganized Headquarters and Muddled Campaign Messages 
--------------------------------------------- ---------- 
 
4. (C)  DCM and POLOFF visited OU-PSD, BYuT, and Regions 
headquarters, September 10-11.  BYuT headquarters appeared 
the most organized internally and externally; the OU-PSD and 
Regions headquarters directors did not bother to show up for 
our meetings.  The local BYuT campaign manager expected to 
win the oblast with about 40 percent, compared to 20 percent 
for OU-PSD and Regions a close third.  (Note: This estimate 
is way out of line with even OU-PSD internal numbers and 
likely amounts to wishful thinking. End note.)  BYuT 
indicated it suspected large-scale fraud in the oblast, but 
could not substantiate the claim.  BYuT's representative 
suspected collusion between the mayor, Regions campaign, and 
administrators of schools, medical facilities, and other 
public institutions to block BYuT from campaigning in certain 
public entities while allowing Regions representatives 
 
KYIV 00002402  002.2 OF 003 
 
 
access.  (Note:  A Peace Corps volunteer indicated to Poloff 
during the visit that Regions representatives held a 
political meeting in the school in which he works.  The local

staff was required to attend so this claim appears to have 
some legitimacy.  End note)  The BYuT representative thought 
voters strongly supported NATO and were against giving 
Russian the status of an official language, but did not think 
such "election tricks" would play much of a role in the 
upcoming elections. 
 
5. (C)  After the OU-PSD local campaign chief skipped the 
meeting, we met with two campaign workers instead.  According 
to them, BYuT and Regions would finish first and second and 
were polling at 20 percent, OU - PSD third with 13 percent, 
and 23 percent still undecided.  They said Regions and OU-PSD 
would get a higher percentage than in 2006 and BYuT and the 
Socialists would drop, the former because of the mayoral 
issue and the latter due to a lack of money and 
disillusionment with Socialist leader and Rada Speaker 
Moroz's decision to join a Regions-led goverment.  Local 
infrastructure, employment, and communal payments dominated 
local politics while NATO and Russian language were 
non-issues in the election.  The OU-PSD workers appreciated 
election help from Kyiv, but lamented that its use was 
limited due to a top down structure that was not responsive 
to local issues.  The local campaign has tried to morph the 
major OU-PSD message of abolishing parliamentary immunity 
into a more broad, "we stand for fairness and no privileges 
message," (i.e., if you pay your bills, you will get service, 
if the mayor has hot water, you should have hot water!).  The 
workers expected free and fair elections, the only problems 
were technical in nature. 
 
6. (C)  Regions was also disorganized, canceling one meeting, 
then not having their contact there for the second.  However, 
we eventually met with Rada MP Stepan Tsapiuk as a 
representative of Regions.  Tsapiuk observed that 
preparations for the election were going smoothly; relations 
between parties were not great but cordial and proper because 
all understood the need for clean elections.  He believed 
that Regions and BYuT would each get around 30 percent of the 
vote and OU-PSD 15 percent, with unemployment and 
infrastructure the main local issues.  Interestingly enough, 
Tsapiuk openly admitted that the NATO and Russian language 
 
SIPDIS 
issues were a dead end in the oblast.  He said the maneuver 
was a political trick to keep votes in the East that might go 
to the Communists.  Additionally, Tsapiuk said Regions was 
not against NATO, it was simply not ready to join yet. 
 
OU Governor Feels Cut off from Kyiv 
----------------------------------- 
 
7. (C)  On his own initiative, Chernysh invited the press to 
the beginning of the meeting and answered questions about 
relations with the mayor and the elections as one might 
expect of a polished politician.  Afterwards in private, 
Chernysh indicated that he felt the election results would be 
roughly the same as in 2006, with BYuT and Regions coming in 
first and second, and OU - PSD third.  According to him, BYuT 
will fare worse in the city because of Kalchenko's decision 
to take a Rada Seat, but this would not influence voting in 
the rest of the oblast.  Chernysh lamented the centralization 
of the OU-PSD campaign in Kyiv, which he said isn't listening 
to what oblast voters really care about.  Chernysh said NATO 
and the Russian language questions were getting no traction 
whatsoever in the region.  Chernysh noted that local issues 
like unemployment, poor infrastructure, rising community 
tariffs, and low salaries are far and away the most important 
to the electorate.  Chernysh was encouraged by local 
cooperation among parties and expects clean elections, but 
somberly noted Kirovohrad had a dubious election history.  He 
expected fairly extensive post-election litigation, depending 
on the results.  Although the electorate is fatigued, he 
expected a good turnout of over 60 percent.  He could not 
really speculate as to the make-up of the national coalition, 
but spoke of fissures in both OU-PSD and Regions.  He noted 
business leaders in both parties preferred to work together 
in a Regions/OU-PSD coalition but that both parties have 
large elements that do not want a Regions/OU-PSD coalition 
under any circumstance.  Chernysh said very little 
distinguishes the parties; future electoral success for 
OU-PSD will be based on providing good governance at a local 
level to attract future voters. 
 
Meeting with Communist Mayor - A Walk Back in Time 
--------------------------------------------- ------ 
 
8. (C)  The meeting started cordially.  Puzakov opined that 
Regions would come in first, BYuT second, and OU-PSD third. 
Puzakov said that Kalchenko's decision to take a Rada seat 
 
KYIV 00002402  003.2 OF 003 
 
 
instead of remaining as mayor soured a large number of BYuT 
supporters and that BYuT supporters no longer believed that 
BYuT cared about the little people.  Puzakov pointed to a 
recent Tymoshenko rally where only 2,500 people attended as 
evidence of her decreasing popularity.  He said the majority 
of the crowd was bussed in from the villages, and he compared 
it, unfavorably, to a 2006 Tymoshenko visit where she had 
10,000 people come out and support her.  (Note: This version 
of events was also brought up independently by OU-PSD, who 
agreed that Tymoshenko has lost support in the city.  End 
note.)  The mayor indicated the Communists, SPU, and Lytvyn 
Bloc would get over the 3 percent threshold in the oblast, 
but noted that SPU support had waned.  The mayor acknowledged 
tough relations with governor Chernysh, but said relations 
were correct.  Both were trying to solve problems and the 
friction consisted of who should get credit.  The mayor said 
NATO and the Russian language issues were not driving the 
election and had little resonance, although he mentioned that 
by his calculations 90 percent of voters were anti-NATO and 
supported giving Russian language an official status. 
Infrastructure, repair of communal property, and lack of 
decent employment were the main issues for the electorate. 
He indicated that voter fatigue was real, but turnout would 
be over 60 percent. 
 
9.  (C) After 15 minutes of sounding reasonable and astute, 
like a moth to a flame, the mayor launched into a long tirade 
about how the United States destroyed the Soviet economy, an 
economy which was much more developed than that of the United 
States.  He lamented that many factories in Kirovohrad had 
closed, leaving the oblast poor with lots of unemployment. 
Notably, he singled out the famous typewriter factory that 
had provided the whole Soviet Union with typewriters, 
seemingly oblivious to the fact that typewriters are now 
virtually obsolete.  He wistfully recalled tractor brigades 
harvesting the bounty of the land, free abundant food, 
universal health care, and the general paradise that was the 
former Soviet Union.  Curiously, the mayor stated that vast 
majorities of Westerners are clamoring to live today like 
Ukrainians used to live in Soviet times.  The DCM expressed 
disagreement w
ith the mayor's factually challenged 
assertions, informing the mayor that he lived in the Soviet 
Union both as a student and diplomat and saw what life was 
like with his own eyes.  The mayor, taken aback but 
undaunted, countered that he had been to Italy.  (Note: Apart 
from BYuT, the unanimous consensus among local politicians 
and election workers is that the mayor is a cartoonish 
buffoon, however they noted that he was not interfering with 
elections in any way and largely agreed with his readout on 
the political scene in Kirovohrad.  End note.) 
 
Young Politicians See Upcoming Elections as Free and Fair 
--------------------------------------------- ------------ 
 
10. (C)  During lunch with a group of local council members, 
Oleksandr Danutsa (OU), Andriy Drobin (SPU), Roman 
Kolisnichenko (BYuT), and Andriy Kuryan (Regions), all stated 
that their parties would be monitoring elections closely but 
agreed the election would be free and fair.  The consensus 
was that the top two parties in the oblast would be Regions 
and BYuT followed by OU-PSD.  All scoffed at the idea of 
Ukraine breaking apart into east and west regardless of 
election results.  Most notably, the Regions council member 
stated he personally was against Russian having official 
language status and that NATO and the Russian language issue 
were base politics.  All agree that the NATO/Russian language 
issues had no resonance in the oblast. 
 
11. (U) Visit Embassy Kyiv's classified website: 
www.state.sgov.gov/p/eur/kiev. 
Taylor

Wikileaks

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