St. Petersburg, June 10 (RFE/RL) -- St Petersburg's city governor Vladimir Yakovlev, elected June 2, remains a factor unknown to the city's foreign business community.
Before breaking with his old boss, outgoing Mayor Anatoly Sobchak,
Yakovlev chaired the city's Public Works Department, which has not
been in close touch with foreign interests.
Luke Angell, administrative director of the St Petersburg
International Business Association, told RFE/RL in an interview at the weekend that he believes it is a good sign that both candidates in the second round of the city's gubernatorial race, Sobchak and Yakovlev, are reformers.
The city's foreign business leaders seem most concerned about who
will chair St Petersburg's Foreign Relations, Economics and Finance
and Privatization committees. In Sobchak's government, these
positions were held by men well known and generally respected by
foreign business people. Sobchak made foreign economic relations and
cultivating investment a major priority of his administration. In his
final press conference he raised the specter that in his absence
these projects will be lost.
Yakovlev has said little about foreign investment. In his
post-victory press conference, he said that he favored a foreign
presence in the city, if it is constructive.
In his campaign, Yakovlev spoke of a need to change course from
Sobchak's focus on banking and tourism. He said more attention should
be devoted to the city's industrial base and crumbling infrastructure.
St Peterburg's chief executive has borne the title of mayor until
now. The city's Assembly this year changed the title to governor to
reflect broadened responsibilities.