The 'Opposition' Governor
The gutting of Russia's opposition continues apace.
According to Russian media reports, President Dmitry Medvedev has nominated
Nikita Belykh, formerly the outspoken leader of the opposition Union of Rightist Forces (SPS), for governor of Kirov Oblast.
Belykh resigned as SPS head in September, claiming that he opposed efforts by some in the party to cooperate closely with the Kremlin. Belykh told RFE/RL's Russian Service
at the time that he planned to "continue political activities, but just not with a party." He was replaced as party leader by Leonid Gozman.
, the Gozman-led SPS merged with two smaller parties to form a Kremlin-friendly coalition called Right Cause, or Pravoye Delo.
But it appears that Belykh's departure from SPS may not have been the matter of principle he claimed at the time.
Citing unidentified sources, gazeta.ru
reported today that Belykh had actually been in talks with the Kremlin as far back in July, and that the gubernatorial post was offered to him in exchange for leaving SPS.
-- Brian Whitmore