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Governor Little Known in St Petersburg's Foreign Business Community

  • Brian Whitmore



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.
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