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Russia Report: September 19, 2002

19 September 2002, Volume 2, Number 30
Voters in Krasnoyarsk Krai will again go to the polls on 22 September to choose the new governor. Despite the large number of candidates and pre-election scandals, the first round of voting ended as had been widely predicted with two Aleksandrs qualifying the second round: Aleksandr Uss, the speaker of the Krasnoyarsk Krai legislature, and Taimyr Autonomous Okrug Governor Aleksandr Khloponin. This time pollsters are predicting an easy victory for Khloponin despite his second place finish in the first round. A poll conducted by VTsIOM from 10-15 September of 1,000 people in the krai showed higher support for Khloponin than Uss, Russian news agencies reported on 17 September. Khloponin had the support of 44.9 percent of poll respondents compared with 34.3 percent for Uss.

Two important factors in determining the outcome of the second round will be how the local communist voters vote and which candidate has the Kremlin's backing. Vyacheslav Novikov, a Federation Council member representing Krasnoyarsk, told Interfax on 17 September that he heard that the krai branch of the Communist Party has called on its supporters to vote against all candidates in the next round. Sergei Glaziev, the candidate backed by the Communist Party, did surprising well in the first round, finishing third. However, he complained bitterly about violations of the election law during the race. He charged that the local election commission "just closed its eyes to everything" including the use of administrative resources by Khloponin, Uss, and Krasnoyarsk Mayor Petr Pimashkov. At the same time, the local election authorities harassed his campaign. "It even reached the point where I was warned for using quotations from my own books in my campaign leaflets," Glaziev said. He concluded that the irregularities were sufficient "to cast doubt on the legitimacy of the vote."

Some central and local media have reported that Khloponin has the Kremlin's backing, but it may be the case that he has the support of only one Kremlin faction, that of the St. Petersburg clan. "Kommersant-Vlast" (no. 36) recently argued that Finance Minister Aleksei Kudrin and Economic Development and Trade Minister German Gref have shown their support for Khloponin. Likewise, a recent article in "The Russian Journal" provided a number of illustrations of how the Finance Ministry has adopted policies favoring Khloponin's former company, Norilsk Nickel. Officially, the central office of the pro-Kremlin Unified Russia party has taken no public stance on the race, but in a recent interview with "Vedomosti," Aleksandr Bespalov, chairman of the party's General Council, said that "from his personal point of view," Khloponin should win because he is best prepared to solve the region's problems. And in an recent interview with RFE/RL, Andrei Gnatyuk, the head of Ima Holding, whose company PRopaganda has been running Khloponin's campaign, used much the same language to describe why Khloponin is the best choice for the krai. Gnatyuk also suggested that some members of the presidential administration may have been made understandably uncomfortable by the implicit suggestion in Uss's campaign that the krai's legislative speaker is a kind of junior version of President Vladimir Putin. For example, one ad noted that both Uss and Putin studied judo and that both are lawyers. (Julie A. Corwin)

Soon after the results of the first round of the Krasnoyarsk election were known, RFE/RL's "Russian Political Weekly" spoke with Politika Foundation head Vyacheslav Nikonov about the race. JAC

RFE/RL: As usual, the local press in Krasnoyarsk declared this campaign as one of the dirtiest ever. Do you think that it was one of the dirtiest? Nationally, is the use of so-called dirty "technology" or tactics increasing?

NIKONOV: There is no clear trend yet. But, if you look at this campaign in Krasnoyarsk, all this dirty campaigning was made by a team from Sverdlovsk. They were really good at dirty campaigning but I think they buried Uss with it. It was too dirty. Next to Uss, Khloponin didn't look that bad. The dirty campaigning back-fired against Uss. Khloponin did well because his campaign was not as aggressive. His team was professionally better.

So the campaigns that relied on dirty technologies actually did worse. Uss was the front-runner. He used a lot of dirty [tricks] and got nowhere. He had the same rating as three months ago. [Krasnoyarsk Mayor Petr] Pimashkov used dirty technology, and nothing happened [with his support]. Glaziev used nothing and he got 22 percent, showing up just one month before the election. Khloponin was not dirty at all. Khloponin was the real winner, he went from 3 percent to 25 percent. So the role of dirty technologies is not clear. Those people who used it lost.

RFE/RL: Do you think one possible explanation for the results in Krasnoyarsk is that the voters are getting more sophisticated and they saw through these tactics, and that was why Khloponin's strategy was so successful?

NIKONOV: Of course, the public is more sophisticated than most PR professionals think. Uss tried this local patriotism thing, for local Krasnoyarsk values. In [the city of ] Krasnoyarsk, this didn't work too well, because these local guys are well connected and hooked into the Internet. They realize that there are some other things in the world than 'local Krasnoyarsk values.' And outside [the city of ] Krasnoyarsk, it didn't work either. In Krasnoyarsk Krai, the attitude of the rest of the krai to the city is the same as the attitude in the rest of Russia toward Moscow. The capital is pumping away all of the money away from the country. These guys from Sverdlovsk came up with this "nasha" slogan for Krasnoyarsk patriotism. But it was regarded as local Krasnoyarsk city patriotism and was rejected by the village.

RFE/RL: That's not what they intended.

NIKONOV: Absolutely not. I was amazed that Uss lost the village to Khloponin. Khloponin is not a local. He's an oligarch. He won in the village over Khloponin, who was probably regarded as a northern country boy while Uss with his local patriotism was regarded as the big city boy.

RFE/RL: Do you think Uss failed to do better primarily because of a mistaken campaign strategy?

NIKONOV:I think he made many mistakes. He was too closely associated with the gangsters. The close association with [former Krasnoyarsk Aluminum head Anatolii] Bykov didn't help. But I don't think his campaign team had a real strategy at all. It was quite a funny campaign. They were quite smart with tactics, but there was no strategy. The tactics were good in the way they attacked Khloponin. This movie they made about Taimyr was absolutely great. [Khloponin] arrives saying I am the great governor, so they bring the cameras into his territory in the Far North and show all these poor people around, the beggars. And then they organized a foundation to help the area. That's smart technology. But that was tactics.

RFE/RL: Do you think the Kremlin always has one choice or is it sometimes the case that they just don't want a particular candidate to win?

NIKONOV: Well, it's always very individual. In some areas, the president will say, well I like the guy, he should be elected. In other areas, it is anyone but. In Krasnoyarsk, it was anyone but Glaziev. In certain areas, they don't care.

Holding gubernatorial elections on the same day as nationwide parliamentary or presidential elections would save money, increase turnout, and avoid the "endless chain of elections that is starting to get irritating," according to Central Election Commission (TsIK) Chairman Aleksandr Veshnyakov, "Vremya MN" reported on 11 September. Veshnyakov emphasized that the TsIK will not require regional authorities to set elections concurrently with parliamentary or presidential balloting and is merely reminding regional authorities that the option exists under Russia's law on basic guarantees of the electoral rights of citizens. "Vremya MN" speculated that the Kremlin is the true source of Veshnyakov's initiative. The presidential administration's ability to influence regional races would presumably grow if the Kremlin could push its favored gubernatorial candidates while using federal leverage on behalf of Unified Russia during the Duma campaign or of Putin during the presidential race. LB

The main fault line in next year's Duma elections will run not between left and right but between the center and regional authorities seeking "payback" for the first two years of Putin's presidency, according to Georgii Satarov, head of the INDEM think tank and a longtime adviser to former President Boris Yeltsin. In an interview published in the 9 September issue of "Kommersant-Vlast," Satarov noted that regional elites seeking to deny the Kremlin's "party of power" a majority in the Duma have powerful administrative resources at their disposal during election campaigns, ranging from control over regional media to outright vote rigging. Aleksandr Dynkin, deputy director of the Institute of the World Economy and International Relations (IMEMO), similarly predicted at a 10 September gathering of political consultants in Moscow that next year's parliamentary elections might be marked by a "governors' betrayal" of the Kremlin, "Nezavisimaya gazeta" reported on 11 September. LB

Some residents of Astrakhan Oblast are concerned that a local railway route could be taken over by Chechens, reported on 17 September citing "Astrakhan region." According to the publication, the Basinskii train station is located in a village that used to be occupied only by native Russians but now the make-up of the local population has altered dramatically, and some 250 refugees from Chechnya live there. In addition, a work brigade made up of Chechens works on the railway. Because the railway is considered an important object strategically, the presence of the Chechen workers has attracted the attention of local police, who maintain a list of all Chechens who work on the railway. The head of the local administration, Mikhail Puchin, predicted that in the next 10-15 years there will be fewer and fewer Russians and more Chechens in the area, since young people are leaving and it is difficult for Russians to live there. Meanwhile, Abubakar Mutsiev told "Astrakhan region" that he is offended by how he is treated. Mutsiev, a former physics teacher, moved to the oblast three years ago and works in a taxi depot. "We are treated not like normal people, but like Chechen-bandits," he said. JAC

Konstantin Tolkachev, the speaker of Bashkortostan's legislative assembly, and Bashkortostan Constitutional Court Chairman Ildus Adigamov, met with the deputy head of the Russian presidential administration, Dmitrii Kozak, in Moscow on 12 September to discuss amendments to the new draft power-sharing treaty between Bashkortostan and the Russian Federation, an RFE/RL Ufa correspondent reported, citing the Bashkir presidential press service (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 5 September 2002). During the three-hour meeting, the two sides reportedly "found mutually acceptable ways of resolving issues [concerning the treaty]." However, according to on 16 September, it was suggested that a number of "corrections" be made to the agreement, in particular regarding the delegation of powers among the various levels of local government and the exploitation of underground natural resources. According to the site, work on a new version of the agreement continues. JAC

The Irkutsk Oblast city of Ust-Kut will auction state-held stakes in local businesses in order to buy heating fuel for the coming winter, ITAR-TASS reported on 13 September. Authorities will auction up to 23 million rubles ($742,000) worth of property in order to pay energy debts from last year, as suppliers are unwilling to deliver fresh shipments as long as debts are outstanding. Severe coal and oil shortages last winter left local schools, residences, and the city hospital without heat for long periods. RC

Andrei Klimentiev, former mayor of Nizhnii Novgorod, whose registration as a candidate in 14 September mayoral elections was cancelled at the last minute, told reporters on 17 September that he is urging his supporters to vote against all candidates in the second round scheduled for 29 September, Interfax-Eurasia reported. According to Klimentiev, the proportion of voters voting against all candidates was actually higher than reported during the first round, because 10,500 ballots which had been marked "against all" were declared invalid. "Vremya novostei" reported on the same day that the "against all" option received just about half of a percent less than the Kremlin-favored candidate, State Duma Deputy (People's Deputy) Vadim Bulavinov. JAC

Novgorod Mayor Aleksandr Korsunov was killed on the evening of 8 September on the territory of an administration-run resort by an unidentified man who ran him down with Korsunov's own car, Russian and Western news agencies reported on 9 September. According to RIA-Novosti, a man has been arrested in the case. Oblast Prosecutor Anatolii Chugunov has declined to comment on that report. Chugunov also declined to speculate on whether the incident was a contract hit. Korsunov was the only mayor serving on a commission headed by deputy presidential administration head Dmitrii Kozak that is charged with drafting a new law on local self-government. That draft law, which is supposed to be presented to President Putin on 13 September, includes a number of controversial provisions, including an option to replace elected mayors with hired managers. Korsunov resolutely opposed the draft, which he said is "unacceptable to the majority of mayors" (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 16 August 2002), reported. RC

Authorities in St. Petersburg on 5 September unveiled a memorial plaque dedicated to hairdressers who worked during the 900-day siege of Leningrad, RosBalt reported. The plaque was placed on the Nevskii Prospekt building where the only hairdressing establishment to remain open throughout the blockade was located. At the unveiling, St. Petersburg Legislative Assembly Deputy Petr Shelishch called on Petersburgers to patronize hairdressers more often, saying that "beauty is strength." The plaque quotes 19th-century writer Fyodor Dostoevsky: "During these years (1941-44), the work of hairdressers proved that 'beauty will save the world.'" RC

SAUSAGES AND HOUSING (in rubles, as of 9 September 2002)

_________________per kilogram___per kilogram___per square____for 100 kilowatts

Nizhnii Novgorod_____66.54______121.46_______3.28___________48.56

Source: State Statistics Committee of the Republic of Marii El via VolgaInform on 11 September

During the first week of its 2002 fall session, Duma deputies considered the issue of television advertising for beer. Deputies voted on 13 September to approve in its second reading a bill limiting the advertisement of beer. According to ITAR-TASS, the vote was 231 in favor with 24 opposed. Under the bill, beer advertisements should not suggest that beer consumption is an important ingredient in public, personal, or sporting success or that it otherwise contributes to one's physical or psychological well-being. Deputies also approved an amendment that would prohibit televised advertisements for beer between the hours of 5:00 p.m. and 10:00 p.m. The government's representative to the Duma, Andrei Loginov, said the government opposes the amendment because it would have the effect of increasing beer advertising during morning and afternoon hours when more children are watching television. Also approved in the second and third reading was the law on the prosecutor of the Russian Federation. JAC

Name of law_______________Date approved______________# of reading
On the prosecutor_____________13 September______________2nd

On advertising_______________13 September_______________2nd

Leonid Lebedev, chairman of the Moscow-based Sintez holding company, was elected by Chavashia's legislature to represent it in the Federation Council, RIA-Novosti reported on 11 September.

19 September: The joint committee for cooperation between Russia and ASEAN will hold its third session in Moscow

19 September: Date by which Russian cabinet will make a final decision on the nature and extent of its intervention in grain markets

20 September: U.S. President George W. Bush will meet with Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov and Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov in Washington

20 September: The International Affairs Committee of the Federation Council will meet to discuss the question of re-examining the so-called Baker-Shevardnadze agreement of 1990

20 September: The heads of the governments of Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, and Tajikistan will meet in Astana for a session of the Eurasian Economic Community

21 September: Boris Berezovskii-financed Liberal Russia party will hold an extraordinary congress in Moscow

22 September: Second round of gubernatorial elections in Krasnoyarsk Krai scheduled

25 September: Duma will consider the draft 2003 federal budget, according to Duma Budget Committee Deputy Chairman Vitalii Shuba

26-27 September: Association of Election Organizers from the Countries of Central and Eastern Europe will hold a special conference in Moscow, according to "Izvestiya" on 17 June

29 September: Second round of mayoral elections in Nizhnii Novgorod will take place

29 September: By-election in single-mandate district in Omsk Oblast for State Duma seat formerly occupied by Aleksandr Vereteno, who died in April

1 October: Ferry service will start between Kaliningrad and St. Petersburg, according to the deputy presidential envoy to the Northwest Federal District, Andrei Stepanov

1 October: A new higher duty on crude oil exports will come into effect

5 October: Criminal investigation by Prosecutor-General's Office of oligarch Boris Berezovskii to end officially

7 October: CIS summit to be held in Chisinau, Moldova, according to Interfax on 13 May

11 October: Sweden's Queen Silvia will visit St. Petersburg

12-14 October: Japanese Foreign Minister Yoriko Kawaguchi will visit Russia

20 October: By-election in single-mandate district in Khanty-Mansii Autonomous Okrug for State Duma seat once occupied by Aleksandr Lotorev, who now directs the Duma's apparatus

20 October: Presidential elections in Kalmykia

26-27 October: Putin to attend APEC summit in Los Cabos, Mexico

14 November: Meeting of united political council of Union of Rightist Forces and Yabloko is scheduled

1 January: Date by which Unified Energy System plans to redeem 80 percent of debts to Russian coal companies, according to company statement on 29 August.