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Russia Report: March 17, 2004

17 March 2004, Volume 4, Number 10
By Laura Belin

Five Russian presidential candidates lost on 14 March, but one lost more than the rest.

State Duma Deputy Sergei Glazev entered the presidential campaign at a high point in his political career, having led the Motherland bloc to a surprising fourth-place finish in the 7 December State Duma elections. Although Motherland did not win enough seats to be a powerbroker in the lower house of the parliament, Glazev gained a high-profile position as head of the Motherland Duma faction. The 42-year-old veteran of Russian politics could have laid the groundwork for a presidential bid in 2008.

Instead, Glazev challenged President Vladimir Putin this year and lost everything.

He had to run as an independent, because many in Motherland opposed his candidacy. The naysayers included fellow Deputy Dmitrii Rogozin, the bloc's No. 2 candidate in the Duma campaign. During the presidential race Rogozin not only endorsed Putin, but also changed the name of the Russian Regions party to Motherland. Rogozin quickly registered his renamed party with the Justice Ministry, preventing Glazev from using the Motherland "brand name" in the future. Adding insult to injury, Motherland's Duma deputies voted on 4 March to replace Glazev with Rogozin as head of the bloc's Duma faction.

For his trouble, Glazev earned a distant third-place finish on 14 March, with 4.1 percent of the vote. It was less than one-third of what Communist candidate and fellow State Duma Deputy Nikolai Kharitonov received, and not even half of Motherland's share of the vote in the Duma elections.

To put it mildly, Glazev no longer looks like a formidable candidate in 2008. Without a leadership role in any Duma faction or on any committee, he has little influence over legislation, is not a "newsmaker," and is not likely to receive much attention from journalists. He also lacks a party base with national name recognition.

What caused this disastrous outcome? Glazev ran on a message that had worked well for him in December, but populist proposals were not enough to overcome a newly hostile political and media environment.

Glazev's campaign strategy borrowed heavily from Motherland's, invoking themes that could appeal both to nationalist and to left-leaning voters. Some of his television commercials even used footage that appeared in Motherland's advertisements.

At the same time, Glazev acknowledged the unique dynamics of this presidential race, in which Putin was the overwhelming favorite. Motherland's spots had used many slogans, promising to fight the oligarchs, increase order in the country, and defend Russia's honor and the rights of ordinary people. In contrast, Glazev's commercials repeated one slogan, attempting to cultivate an image as a viable alternative: "Sergei Glazev: There is a choice."

Motherland had proposed a "contract with voters" that its deputies would implement in the new Duma. Glazev pledged to honor his promises in clips filmed in the style of news bulletins from the future.

The following free-airtime video, which TV-Tsentr broadcast on 5 March, was typical of Glazev's television strategy.

Voice-over: Glazev is one of very few who really know how to give Russia back its lost power, where to get the means to do this and how to use them wisely. Especially now, Russia needs a president who has these qualities, a president who is in a position to fulfill his promises and answer for his actions, a president who can put his name behind his every word.

Glazev: I'm running for president in order to force the authorities, finally, to work in the interests of the country, so that the well-being of each person will be protected. So that every Russian family can have dignity and feel secure and prosperous in our country.

Voice-over: Sergei Glazev -- there is a choice. Sergei Glazev, candidate No. 1 for the Russian presidency. [Glazev's name appeared first on the presidential ballot because the candidates were listed in alphabetical order.]

Glazev: I pledge that in the five years beginning with my election as president of Russia, we will give every depositor who lost his or her savings as a result of the thieving pseudo-reforms [of 1992] their money back, with the purchasing power [those savings] had in mid-1991.

Voice-over: Sergei Glazev -- there is a choice!

Newsreader: The president of Russia signed a decree on income from natural resources. Additional fees from the exploitation of natural resources will add hundreds of billions of rubles to the state budget. By a decision of the government, the salaries of doctors and nurses will be increased by 100 percent this month. The wages of education workers will likewise be doubled. And this is only the beginning.

Voice-over: Sergei Glazev -- there is a choice!

Newsreader: By decree of Russian President Sergei Glazev, the chief executive of [electricity monopoly] Unified Energy Systems [Anatolii Chubais] has been dismissed. The [company's] new leadership has been directed immediately to review the rules on payments for electricity and heat, first of all for ordinary citizens. The president commented on his decision as follows: "In a country that has half of the planet's energy resources, rates for electricity and heat should decline, not rise."

Voice-over: Sergei Glazev -- there is a choice!

Newsreader: The president of Russia signed a decree on income from natural resources. Additional fees from the exploitation of natural resources will add hundreds of billions of rubles to the state budget. In accordance with this, supporting Russian pensioners has been recognized as the first task of social policy. By order of the government, pension payments will be increased by a factor of 2.5 this very month. Child allowances, payments for enlisted soldiers, and [monthly] stipends for students will also be increased to 1,000 rubles [$33], and this is only the beginning.

Voice-over: Sergei Glazev -- there is a choice!

Glazev: Enough lying, enough pseudo-reforms, enough stealing, enough thieving. It's time to impose order. It's time to develop. It's time to live.

Voice-over: Sergei Glazev -- there is a choice! Candidate No. 1 for the Russian presidency.

In another commercial, which strongly resembled a Motherland advertisement, Glazev outlined his economic proposals as if delivering a lecture to university students. After Putin replaced Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov with Mikhail Fradkov, Glazev repeatedly asserted during his television and radio appearances that Fradkov's appointment proved "nothing will change" if Putin won a second term.

Reaching out to voters in the nationalist camp, Glazev invoked religious and cultural issues during the campaign. He announced on 9 March a series of proposals aimed at "raising the level of morality in the country," including a law on a "social partnership" between traditional religious institutions and state bodies, Radio Rossii reported. One of his commercials began and ended with the sound of church bells ringing.

Motherland's strong showing in December indicated that there is a receptive audience for Glazev's proposals and rhetoric, but during the presidential race Glazev had trouble getting his message to the voters. Free airtime on television and radio has a far smaller audience than news programs.

During the parliamentary campaign Motherland received plenty of attention in newscasts, so much so that rumors spread of the Kremlin's covert support for Glazev's electoral alliance. Glazev's presidential campaign rarely received favorable or even neutral attention during news programs. Only developments that reflected poorly on the candidate -- such as his ouster as Duma faction leader or allegations that campaign workers were paying citizens to sign petitions supporting his candidacy -- were widely reported.

As Russian and foreign election monitors have pointed out, all of Putin's challengers were at a disadvantage when it came to media coverage. Newscasts favored the incumbent in quantitative and qualitative terms.

However, Glazev was particularly shortchanged. Major television networks frequently mentioned in a sentence or two the daily activities of the other candidates, but seldom covered Glazev's campaign. For example, on 12 March the primetime newscasts on ORT and RTR included lengthy reports related to Putin and brief updates on presidential candidates Kharitonov, Irina Khakamada, Sergei Mironov, and Oleg Malyshkin, but nothing about Glazev. ORT found time that day to quote Rogozin urging citizens to vote on 14 March, but no time to inform voters about what Glazev was doing or saying.

During the Duma campaign, Communist Party leaders had complained of a media blackout imposed on their party while television networks lavished attention on Motherland, which was competing for the same electorate. Kharitonov received much more coverage than Glazev on television during the last 10 days of the presidential race. State-controlled networks noticeably lengthened their reports on Kharitonov, fueling rumors that Kremlin officials had promised more favorable media coverage if the Communists agreed not to withdraw Kharitonov's candidacy.

To make matters worse, throughout the campaign damning stories about Glazev appeared in numerous Moscow-based media, including the leading television networks and several large-circulation newspapers. Among other things, he was alleged to have ties to oligarchs and been involved in negotiating the now wholly discredited 1996 Khasavyurt accords that ended the first war in Chechnya. During free-airtime debates and interviews, Glazev repeatedly denounced the "black public relations" and vowed to file libel lawsuits against the dailies "Komsomolskaya pravda," "Trud," "Moskovskii komsomolets," and the weekly "Argumenty i fakty."

When media exposure is hard to come by, candidates try to reach voters directly. But Glazev's attempts to organize rallies and other direct contacts with voters were thwarted on many occasions. Such mischief occurred not only in Russian regions with a longstanding reputation for authoritarian rule, but also in parts of the country with more "democratic" reputations. In February, an alleged bomb threat disrupted Glazev's scheduled press conference in Yekaterinburg, and a similar event in Nizhnii Novgorod was held outdoors after the electricity was switched off in the building where it was scheduled. On the last day of the presidential campaign, a sports center in St. Petersburg abruptly cancelled a planned rally for Glazev, Ekho Moskvy reported on 12 March.

Glazev's closest political allies could see the writing on the wall. A month before election day, his campaign staff advised him to drop out, Glazev's campaign manager Yana Dubeikovskaya told Ekho Moskvy on 8 March.

While under no illusions about his chances of winning the presidency, Glazev stayed in the race, saying he had a "political duty" to give Russians a choice. He told voters in Yaroslavl that victory would mean forcing a runoff election against Putin, Ekho Moskvy reported on 7 March. According to Glazev, Putin's real approval rating was below 50 percent, and opinion polls showing support in the 70 percent to 75 percent range were a Kremlin trick to sway voters and signal to regional authorities the "right" outcome to deliver.

During the final week of the campaign, Glazev used his closing statements in television and radio debates to decry the "administrative resources" being used against him and to warn of possible electoral fraud. He listed his campaign's telephone numbers, urging voters to call if they were willing to serve as election monitors. Using his final airtime to sound the alarm on fraud kept Glazev "off message" and might have communicated to potential supporters that turning out to vote for him was pointless.

For five out of the six presidential candidates, the campaign changed little in their lives. Putin is still president. Kharitonov still has a State Duma seat and a secure niche as the Communist Party's top "agrarian." Khakamada kept her name in the news as she plans a new party-building exercise. Malyshkin did his bit to help Liberal Democratic Party of Russia leader Vladimir Zhirinovskii stay in the public eye. Mironov remains on good terms with the Kremlin, having served as an "insurance policy" in case Putin's other opponents dropped out.

Only Glazev has suffered a major setback. A year ago, he looked like a possible presidential candidate for the Communist Party. Three months ago he looked like the leader of a party that might one day supplant the Communists. Now he is neither a "fresh face" for the Communists nor a rising star in his own right. Glazev picked the wrong year and the wrong way to run for president.

While Russia's 14 March presidential election proceeded very much according to expectations, the 10 gubernatorial races that took place the same day offered a few surprises. One incumbent was actually unseated, and three more are facing tough second-round fights.

Six incumbents were re-elected. However, only two of them -- Voronezh Oblast Governor Vladimir Kulakov and Udmurtia President Aleksandr Volkov -- competed against an authentic opposition candidate. Perhaps as a reflection of the lack of alternatives, the "against all" option was the second-most-popular choice in three regions: Kaluga Oblast, Krasnodar Krai, and Murmansk Oblast.

Two-term Ryazan Oblast Governor Vyacheslav Lyubimov failed in his bid for a third term. Lyubimov, a nominal Communist with ties to the Tyumen Oil Company (TNK), fell out recently with the local branch of the Communist Party. According to "Kommersant-Daily" on 16 March, Lyubimov captured only 21.12 percent of the vote. State Duma Deputy Igor Morozov (Unified Russia), who was supported by the pro-Kremlin Unified Russia party, won the race with 28.96 percent, while State Duma Deputy Georgii Shpak (Motherland) came in second with 23.73 percent. Morozov was elected to the State Duma in December from a single-mandate district in Ryazan. He is a veteran intelligence officer who worked in Iraq. Shpak is a former commander of the Airborne Forces. During the run-up to the second round, both will be trying to woo the local Communist electorate.

In another surprising result, two-term Arkhangelsk Governor Anatolii Yefremov came in second in the first round. Little-known dairy manager Nikolai Kiselev established a more than 12-percentage-point lead over Yefremov in the first round. Just weeks before the election, Yefremov's main challenger, Vladimir Krupchak, the speaker of the oblast legislature, withdrew from the race following a meeting in the Kremlin (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 3 March 2004). But Kiselev managed to consolidate the votes of people who are fed up with Yefremov's promises to provide increased revenues to the region from its gold, oil, and diamond deposits, RFE/RL's Moscow bureau reported on 16 March. Kiselev also benefited from the support of LUKoil and influential industrialists from Severodinsk, who marketed him as a real alternative to the Yeltsin-era Yefremov, according to the bureau.

In Altai Krai, few analysts expected humorist Mikhail Yevdokimov to perform as well as he did in his challenge to incumbent Governor Aleksandr Surikov. According to RFE/RL, Surikov has strong support from local politicians and the left bloc For Our Altai. However, Yevdokimov managed to use populist tactics to win over the dissatisfied part of the electorate. Analyst Sergei Mikheev of the Center for Political Technologies told "The Moscow Times" on 16 March that it is possible the local coal company Novyi Ugol has thrown its weight behind Yevdokimov, who works as the company's marketing director, in addition to hosting a national television show.

In Koryak Autonomous Okrug, Governor Vladimir Loginov faces a tough challenge in the second round. Leading up to the ballot last week, his challenger -- local prosecutor Boris Chuev -- was launching criminal investigations against Loginov and his deputies. Chuev is supported by presidential envoy to the Far East Federal District Konstantin Pulikovskii. Loginov is seeking a second term. (Julie A. Corwin)

Regional Election Results At A Glance

Krasnodar Krai

1. Incumbent Governor Aleksandr Tkachev, 83.98 percent
2. Against All, 7.62 percent

Murmansk Oblast

1. Incumbent Governor Yurii Yevdokimov, 77.09 percent
2. Against All, 10.45 percent

Kaluga Oblast

1. Incumbent Governor Anatolii Artamonov, 66.86 percent
2. Against All, 12.83 percent

Chita Oblast

1. Incumbent Governor Ravil Geniatulin, 68.22 percent
2. Retired FSB Major General Oleg Yesaulov, 14.17 percent

Voronezh Oblast

1. Incumbent Governor Vladimir Kulakov, 51.97 percent
2.Local Communist Party Secretary Sergei Rudakov, 19.93 percent

Republic of Udmurtia

1. Incumbent President Aleksandr Volkov, 54.26 percent
2. Local cardiologist Yevgenii Odiyankov, 18.89 percent

Arkhangelsk Oblast*

1. Nikolai Kiselev, 42.43 percent
2. Incumbent Governor Anatolii Yefremov, 29.55 percent

Ryazan Oblast*

1. State Duma Deputy Igor Morozov (Unified Russia), 28.96 percent
2. State Duma Deputy Georgii Shpak (Motherland), 22.27 percent

Koryak Autonomous Okrug*

1. Incumbent Governor Vladimir Loginov, 37.50 percent
2. Local prosecutor Boris Chuev, 17.98 percent

Altai Krai*

1. Incumbent Governor Aleksandr Surikov, 47.51 percent
2. Television comedian Mikhail Yevdokimov, 39.20 percent

*Second round required.

Sources: Central Election Commission, Regnum

Compiled by Tomas Liptak

By Michael McFaul

Because the 14 March presidential election in Russia lacked any drama, both Russian and Western analysts used the run-up to the vote to ask the larger questions about Russia's long-term trajectory. Predictably, views polarized between the "optimists" and "pessimists," with extremists in both camps assigning ulterior motives to those on the other side of the barricades. Some optimists paint the opposite camp as Cold War warriors and ethnic Russia bashers, while voices from the pessimist camp like to focus on money being made by President Vladimir Putin's apologists.

This overly simplistic dichotomy has to be abandoned. Good things and bad things are happening inside Russia at the same time. Both sides need to recognize this obvious truth. The real question is what if any is the relationship between these two trends.

Since becoming president, Putin has done much to accelerate Russian economic reforms. Putin's government and the new pro-Putin Duma have passed into law a series of fundamental reforms, including a flat income tax of 13 percent, a reduced profit tax (from 35 percent to 24 percent), a new Land Code, and new legislation on currency liberalization. Under Putin, the government has also balanced the budget for several years in a row and sharply reduced international borrowing.

In parallel to these reforms, the economy has boomed. Sparked by the August 1998 de facto devaluation and fueled steadily since by high world oil prices, the economy has grown every year since 1999. Russia's stock market is soaring; foreign direct investment hit an all-time high in 2003; hard-currency reserves are bursting; inflation is modest; and real per capita incomes have grown by more than one-third since Putin came to power. This is a good news story that cannot be denied by the "pessimists."

In parallel to these positive indicators of economic reform and growth, Russia's political system has become less pluralistic since Putin was first elected president. Putin did not inherit from former President Boris Yeltsin a consolidated democracy. On the contrary, at the end of Yeltsin's rule, democratic institutions were weak and fragile. In his first term as president, Putin has done nothing to strengthen democratic institutions and much to weaken them still further.

In his first term in office, Putin continued a brutal and ineffective war in Chechnya, acquired de facto control of all major national television networks, turned both the Federation Council and State Duma into rubber stamps, and tamed regional barons who once served as a powerful balance to Yeltsin's presidential rule. He has arbitrarily used law-enforcement structures to jail or send into exile political foes. He has removed candidates from ballots and rigged regional elections; harassed and arrested human rights activists, outspoken journalists, and environmental leaders; and weakened Russia's independent political parties and civil society.

The 14 March presidential vote was the least competitive election in Russia's postcommunist history. If, as alleged by the NGO Golos, which monitored the ballot independently, more than 1 million voters disappeared from the registers between December and 14 March, it will also rank as one of the least fair.

When observed in isolation, each of these steps in Putin's plan can be interpreted as something besides general democratic backsliding. The government in Chechnya did not work effectively. Former oligarchs Boris Berezovskii and Vladimir Gusinskii have many skeletons in their closets. Some of the regional barons that Putin has reined in actually behaved as tyrants in their own fiefdoms. Former Yukos CEO Mikhail Khodorkovskii cannot really be compared to Soviet-era human rights dissident Andrei Sakharov. And what president in the world does not want to enjoy a parliamentary majority?

More generally, everyone believes that Russia needs a more effective state to develop both markets and democracy. But when analyzed together, the thread uniting these events is clear -- the elimination or weakening of independent sources of power. This is a bad news story that cannot be denied by the "optimists."

After recognizing the obvious -- good things and bad things are happening at the same time -- the real question that both sides of this debate should be addressing is what is the relationship between these two different dynamics?

For instance, some argue that Putin's antidemocratic policies are a necessary evil for achieving positive economic growth. These apologists cite successful autocratic reformers in South Korea and Chile in the recent past and in China today as positive analogies for Putin's Russia.

Without question, reforming economies need functioning states to succeed. Lawless states or regimes captured by oligarchs do not provide conditions for growth. Dictatorships, however, do not always provide these conditions either. On the contrary, for every autocrat that pushes through reform, attracts investment, and spurs growth, there is another who blocks reform, steals assets, and impedes economic development. For every China, South Korea, and Chile, there is a Myanmar, a Pakistan, and an Angola.

The experience in the postcommunist world is clear: The fastest democratizers are also the fastest economic reformers and the most successful economies. Poland did not need an iron hand to spur economic growth. The correlation between growing authoritarianism and economic growth in Russia might be spurious, not causally related.

It is difficult to connect the dots between Putin's antidemocratic actions and economic growth. How exactly did the destruction of Media-MOST help Russian GDP grow? Does the arrest of antiwar activists leading a demonstration in downtown Moscow actually add to Russia's hard-currency reserves? Is there any evidence to suggest a positive relationship between the war in Chechnya and Russian government surpluses? In fact, one might even speculate how much higher Russia's growth numbers would have been over the last four years if Russian democracy had been developing rather than eroding.

The burden of causation, however, also falls on the "pessimists." Many of them argue abstractly that the erosion of democracy in Russia will scare away investment, slow down economic growth, and lead to more antagonistic relations with the United States and Europe. They cite anecdotal evidence of rising corruption during Putin's first term and the Kremlin's hostility to Western strategic investors in the oil-and-gas sector as signs of bad times to come for the economy if oil prices drop, and to growing animosity between the European Union and Russia as an inevitable consequence of Russia's autocratic drift.

Yet, if Russia were a consolidated democracy, would corruption decrease? Would direct foreign investment grow, and would Russia enjoy better relations with the European Union? Very probably, yes. Strong executives in control of vast resources who are not held accountable by an independent press or opposition parties tend to be corrupt. They tend not to diversify the economy and not to push for "structural" or "administrative" reforms. They tend to consolidate dictatorships, which by definition cannot join clubs like the EU. The evidence for making this causal claim with respect to Russia today, though, is still weak.

In trying to understand Russia, we should be asking these questions about the relationship between political and economic change. At a minimum, we have to recognize that good things and bad things can happen simultaneously. The glass can be both half full and leaking.

Michael McFaul is an associate professor of political science and a Hoover fellow at Stanford University. He recently published, with Timothy Colton, "Popular Choice and Managed Democracy: The Russian Elections of 1999 and 2000."

IN: Prime Minister Fradkov has appointed former Deputy Energy Minister Sergei Novikov to head the new Federal Tariffs Service, Russian media reported on 15 March. Novikov worked as finance director for Yukos in 1994-96. He most recently served as first deputy to presidential envoy to the Volga Federal District Sergei Kirienko, ITAR-TASS reported. Also on 15 March, Fradkov appointed St. Petersburg Vaganova Academy of Russian Ballet Rector Leonid Nadirov as first deputy culture and mass communications minister. Former State Duma Deputy Aleksei Golovkov was appointed deputy to government chief of staff Dmitrii Kozak. Golovkov was a member of Russia's Choice and Our Home is Russia.

IN: Prime Minister Fradkov signed a decree on 12 March naming the heads of 12 federal services and agencies, RIA-Novosti and other Russian media reported. Five new directors who will answer to Industry and Science Minister Viktor Khristenko were named. Former Rosneft Vice President Sergei Oganesyan will oversee the new Federal Energy Agency. Andrei Malyshev, who headed a similarly named organization in the previous government, will direct the Federal Atomic Inspection Service. Former Atomic Energy Minister Aleksandr Rumyantsev will head the new Federal Atomic Energy Agency. Former Space Forces Commander Colonel General Anatolii Perminov will head the Federal Space Agency, replacing Yurii Koptev. Former Deputy Prime Minister Boris Aleshin will head the new Federal Industry Agency.

Subordinated to the German Gref's Economic Development and Trade Ministry are the newly appointed heads of three new federal organizations. Vladimir Sokolin, former head of the State Statistics Committee, will now head the new Federal State Statistics Service. Former State Reserves head Aleksandr Grigorev will head the Federal State Reserves Agency. Valerii Nazarov, former head of the control department of the presidential administration, will head the Federal State Property Agency. Nazarov had only been in his previous position since January (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 13 January 2004). According to "Kommersant-Daily" on 13 March, Nazarov is a longtime protege of Gref's, having replaced Gref as head of the City Property Committee in St. Petersburg in 1999. Also on 13 March, Finance Minister Aleksei Kudrin nominated First Deputy Finance Minister Viktor Zubkov to be chairman of the Financial Monitoring Committee.

IN: Prime Minister Fradkov appointed on 12 March former Culture Minister Mikhail Shvydkoi to head the new Federal Culture and Cinematography Agency, Interfax reported. That agency is subordinated to the new Culture and Mass Communications Ministry. The new Federal Education and Science Supervisory Service will be headed by former First Deputy Education Minister Viktor Bolotov. Former First Deputy Education Minister Grigorii Balykhin will head the new Federal Education Agency. RTR reported earlier that former Education Minister Vladimir Filippov will become deputy education and science minister in charge of education policy, but Filippov was not included in the 12 March decree.

OUT: Human rights ombudsman Vladimir Lukin has officially given up his membership in the Yabloko party, RIA-Novosti reported on 16 March. Lukin explained that he cannot be involved in politics while holding the position of ombudsman.

FINED: A Moscow court levied on 16 March a 1,000-ruble ($33) fine against Lev Ponomarev, the head of the For Human Rights NGO, for conducting an unsanctioned demonstration in downtown Moscow to observe the 60th anniversary of the deportation of ethnic Chechens on 23 February.

19 March: State Duma to consider law on creation of new federation subject, Perm Krai

25 March: Date by which prosecutors must either complete their criminal investigation of former Yukos head Mikhail Khodorkovskii or ask a Moscow court to extend his period of pretrial detention

26 March: Date by which official presidential-election results are to be released

30 March: Date by which prosecutors must either complete their criminal investigation of Menatep Chairman Platon Lebedev or ask a Moscow court to extend his period of pretrial detention

31 March: Date by which prosecutors must either complete their criminal investigation of St. Petersburg legislator and accused murder conspirator Yurii Shutov or ask a St. Petersburg court to extend his period of pretrial detention

End of March: NATO Secretary-General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer to visit Russia, according to Interfax

Beginning of April: UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan to visit Moscow, according to ITAR-TASS

1 April: Administrative reform of Russian federal government will be completed, according to former Deputy Prime Minister Boris Aleshin

4 April: Second round of federal presidential election to be held if no candidate receives 50 percent of the vote in the 14 March first round

4 April: Second round of gubernatorial elections will be held in Koryak Autonomous Okrug

6-7 April: Foreign ministers of five Caspian littoral states -- Russia, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, Azerbaijan, and Iran -- to meet in Moscow

16 April: An international conference on "Russia-EU Neighbors: Questions of Cooperation Across Borders" will be held in Pskov

23 April: First anniversary of the killing of State Duma Deputy Sergei Yushenkov

1 May: Date by which Russia expects talks with EU and its future members to conclude

3-4 May: Labor Day holiday observed

9 May: Date by which a decree elaborating functions of newly restructured ministries will be adopted and departmental statutes will be ratified, according to Deputy Prime Minister Aleksandr Zhukov on 16 March

10 May: Victory Day holiday observed

June: Communist Party will hold congress to hear reports and elect new party officials

1 June: New deadline for exchanging Soviet-era passports for new Russian passports

19 June: End of State Duma's spring session

28-29 June: President Putin expected to attend NATO summit in Istanbul

November: Gubernatorial election in Pskov Oblast

December: Gubernatorial election in Bryansk Oblast.