2 April 2004, Volume
NOTE TO READERS:
COMPLETE REACTION AND WRAP-UP OF RUSSIA'S PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION. Get comprehensive analysis and all the breaking news about the Russian elections at RFE/RL's dedicated webpage "Russia Votes 2003-04": http://www.rferl.org/specials/russianelection
PUTIN CONSOLIDATES HIS ADMINISTRATION
By Victor Yasmann
During a discussion with journalists at the president's Black Sea residence in Sochi on 27 March, President Vladimir Putin announced that the sweeping reorganization of the presidential administration, following shortly after the reshuffling of the government earlier this month (see "RFE/RL Russian Political Weekly," 12 March 2004), should complete the first stage of the country's administrative reform.
Like the government reorganization, Putin's rearrangement of the presidential administration was essentially technical-bureaucratic in nature, rather than political. Under the plan, which was drafted by administration chief of staff Dmitrii Medvedev, the new structure will have three levels. At the top will be Medvedev and his two deputies (under the old system, there were eight deputy administration heads). The two remaining deputies are Vladislav Surkov, who formerly oversaw elections and work with political parties and public organizations, and Igor Sechin, who until recently was responsible for the president's schedule and for work with documents. Surkov is reputed to be close to the so-called Family of the era of former President Boris Yeltsin, while Sechin is associated with the "St. Petersburg chekisty," leading analysts to believe the two will maintain a balance between the interests of these groups.
The remaining six deputy-administration-head slots have been abolished, and many of the former deputies have been given the status of presidential aides. Under the new scheme, former deputy administration head Aleksandr Abramov, who was responsible for federal issues, will become a presidential aide and will also serve as secretary of the State Council. Former deputy administration heads Dzhakhan Pollyeva (who oversaw the Kremlin experts' group and speech writing), Igor Shuvalov (economics), and Viktor Ivanov (personnel matters) will become presidential aides. Sergei Prikhodko will continue as presidential foreign-policy aide. Rounding out the administration's second tier, State Legal Department head Larisa Brycheva has also been given the status of a presidential aide.
The third level of the administration will comprise the heads of 12 functional departments and other administration units.
Outside of this three-tiered system, but also part of the presidential administration, there will be the offices of the presidential envoys to the seven federal districts, the Security Council and its apparatus, the presidential chancellery, and the secretariat. Aleksei Gromov will remain head of the presidential press service, and Igor Shchegolev remains chief of protocol.
Speaking to journalists on 27 March, Medvedev said that the precise division of labor among the deputy administration heads, the presidential aides, and the department heads is yet to be worked out. He indicated that most of the administration's 2,000 personnel will keep their jobs, although there could be some cuts in departments that will be abolished. It is believed, for instance, that the administration's economy departments will be incorporated into the structure of the experts' groups, while the Domestic Policy Department will be folded into the Territorial Department. Likewise, the Information Department will become part of the presidential press service.
The administration reform parallels the recent government restructuring proposed by Prime Minister Mikhail Fradkov. That three-tiered system consists of 14 "super-ministries" responsible for policy formulation and decision making, followed by a layer of federal services responsible for policy implementation, and a tier of federal agencies responsible for monitoring and oversight.
The parallel structures should help consolidate the administration and the government and enable Putin to be more actively involved in the workings of the cabinet than he was when Mikhail Kasyanov was prime minister. The abolition of the presidential administration's Economy Department is indicative of this consolidation. Under Kasyanov, the administration's Economy Department was headed by Anton Danilov-Danilyan, who frequently debated economics with Kasyanov and the government, "Kommersant-Daily" reported on 26 March. Analysts believe that Putin has such confidence in Fradkov's economic judgment that he does not feel the need to monitor the government's economic-policy ministries any longer.
Speaking about the administration reform during the press briefing in Sochi on 27 March, Putin noted that the administration had not been restructured since it was created in 1991. "That was a time of revolution, and the administration was founded as the headquarters of revolution," Putin said. "Now we need an efficient tool of government that will correspond to its tasks and will not intervene in the spheres of jurisdiction of other power bodies, including the government."
Putin also spoke about his decision to dismiss Kasyanov's government on 24 February, just over two weeks before the 14 March presidential election. At the time, Putin said that he wanted to present his new government to the electorate before the vote. On 27 March, however, Putin said that Kasyanov's government had lost the momentum of reform and that it is necessary "from time to time to shake up such a structure because people...begin to value their posts" more than working effectively.
Neither explanation, however, seems convincing, since very few key officeholders lost their posts as a result of the government shake-up, with the notable exception of Kasyanov himself. Many analysts continue to believe that the shake-up was rushed through before the election in order to eliminate Kasyanov as a real or imagined political rival to Putin. Some forces within the Kremlin likely viewed Kasyanov as a figure capable of consolidating the anti-Putin political forces and gaining support both at home and abroad among those who are irritated by Putin's style of governance.
IGOR SECHIN: GATEKEEPER OR INDEPENDENT POLITICAL ACTOR
Even as analysts continue to sift through the various appointments and reappointments and the renaming of many federal agencies of the last few weeks, at least a few clear winners have emerged: the new government chief of staff Dmitrii Kozak and the two remaining deputy presidential heads, Vladislav Surkov and Igor Sechin.
Sechin's continued prominence comes as little surprise. For the past 13 years, Sechin has worked by Putin's side. Sechin is the only official whom Putin has taken with him to every new job, "Moskovskii komsomolets" noted on 2 February 2000. Little outwardly has changed in the function of his posts, although his title has changed over the years. Sechin keeps Putin's schedule, overseeing the flow of people and documents to him.
Perceptions of Sechin have altered over the years. In St. Petersburg, he was viewed more or less as a selfless executor of Putin's will. However, since coming to Moscow, press reports have proliferated about his supposed pursuit of various agendas.
Sechin, 43, was born in Leningrad. He studied Portuguese and French at Leningrad State University (LGU). He is also fluent in Spanish, according to "Kadrovaya politika," No. 2 (2001). After graduating from LGU in 1984, he went to work as a military "translator" in Angola and later at the Tekhnoimport company in Mozambique. His work in a conflict zone has caused some analysts to conclude that he must have been -- and might still be -- connected with the Russian intelligence services. His official biography includes no such information. "Kommersant-Vlast," No. 9, reported this year that according to an unidentified source in Russian Military Intelligence (GRU), Sechin once worked as a translator for a Soviet military adviser who worked for the GRU.
Certainly, Sechin possesses certain personal characteristics valued by the intelligence services. "Profil," No. 27 (2001), reported that, according to his former colleagues in St. Petersburg, Sechin does not reveal information about his personal life or demonstrate emotion. His former supervisor from the Leningrad City Soviet, Margarita Gromyko, noted that he didn't volunteer the information that he had been a military translator, saying she learned the facts of his biography only from his employment form. Another colleague from the St. Petersburg mayor's office recalled that Sechin was unusually communicative, but still closed at the same time. "No one knew about his personal life or his family situation," he recalled.
After his experience in Mozambique, Sechin served a stint in the Soviet Army. Then he became a foreign-languages instructor at LGU, and he served as a specialist in international economic relations for the Leningrad City Soviet's Executive Political Committee from 1988 until 1991. Sechin's City Soviet supervisor at the time, Gromyko, described him as mild and kind and not one of those people who climbs to the top over the bodies of his competitors.
During a trip to Brazil for the mayor's office -- one of St. Petersburg's sister cities is Rio de Janeiro -- Sechin first became acquainted with Putin, who was then a not-very-prominent, quiet assistant to St. Petersburg Mayor Anatolii Sobchak, according to "Profil." Later, when Putin became deputy mayor, he made Sechin the head of his secretariat.
A former colleague recalls that Sechin quickly became the center of that office. He has a prodigious memory, and he works "like a loyal dog, never biting anyone on his own initiative, but only for the team." The key to his success, according to the same colleague, was that he "never exceeded his responsibilities" and "never expressed any emotion." From 1991 until the end of Sobchak's administration in 1996, Sechin rose as Putin rose, from assistant to the director to head of the apparatus of the deputy mayor, to head of the apparatus of the first deputy mayor.
In 1997, when Putin came to Moscow to head the Kremlin's Control Department, he took Sechin with him. "Rossiiskie vesti" suggested on 9 October 2002 that Sechin has changed since coming to Moscow, becoming more of an active "instrument" for taking actions that Putin, for whatever reasons, wishes to distance himself from. For example, it was reportedly Sechin who took concrete measures to bring down former Railways Minister Viktor Aksenenko and to rein in former Media Minister Mikhail Lesin. According to the weekly, several analysts have suggested that Sechin has grown over time into a political actor, following the path of Vladimir Kryuchkov, who was the director of the personal secretariat of Yurii Andropov when he was chairman of the KGB.
Ivan Goryachev, writing on grani.ru, a website funded by former oligarch Boris Berezovskii, on 12 February 2002 alleged that Sechin lobbied the idea of creating a national sports channel to replace TVS. In other reports, Goryachev suggested that Sechin, together with fellow deputy presidential administration head Viktor Ivanov, locked horns with fellow deputy presidential administration head Vladislav Surkov over control of the pro-Kremlin Unified Russia party. In addition, Sechin and banker Sergei Pugachev reportedly supported a 2001 Duma inquiry against then-presidential administration head Aleksandr Voloshin.
At the same time as grani.ru and other websites detailed a pattern of behind-the-scenes machinations by Sechin, other reports periodically appeared suggesting that Sechin's star had faded and his power was waning. "Moskovskii komsomolets" on 20 June 2000 claimed that problems with Sechin's performance during the first months of Putin's presidency enabled his rivals to overshadow him and remove him from the "big leagues." Sechin tried to take on a "political role" too quickly after Putin became president, and there were reportedly constant problems with Putin's schedule. During one trip to Germany, Putin reportedly had to take part in 24 events in one day. Similarly, "Kto est kto" on 3 September 2001 argued that since Dmitrii Medvedev became head of the presidential apparatus and Dmitrii Kozak was moved to head the government apparatus, Sechin's influence within the presidential administration has weakened.
If these reports are correct, then Sechin's influence waxes and wanes fairly frequently. At the same time, by all outward appearances, his standing with Putin has remained unchanged over the years. Sechin's former supervisor Gromyko laughs at the notion that Sechin would pursue his own political agenda, according to "Profil." The weekly also interviewed an unidentified former KGB general who has known Sechin for many years who perhaps provides an alternative explanation for the Sechin's alleged behind-the-scenes activities. "In my life there exist four people whom I trust in any situation unconditionally," the general said. "One of these is Sechin. I can say definitely that it is possible that what these newspapers describe takes place in real life. But only Sechin has never done anything without an order from above. Does this mean that everything that takes place occurs at the initiative of the president? Understand that as you will." (Julie A. Corwin)
RUSSIA'S EVOLVING LIBERALISM
By Robert Coalson
Since the failure of either of Russia's liberal parties -- Yabloko and the Union of Rightist Forces (SPS) -- to enter the Duma in the 7 December elections and the failure of the liberal wing's least-sullied figure, former SPS co-leader Irina Khakamada to pick up even 4 percent of the vote in the 14 March presidential election, analysts have been avidly discussing the demise and even death of Russian liberalism. Advocates of the resurgent "national-patriotic" ideologies -- who are getting ever more space in the national press -- have lauded the country's supposed rejection of liberal ideals, which they say have led to great divides within society and to the collapse of Russia as a respected world power.
Jailed former Yukos head Mikhail Khodorkovskii, still Russia's richest person and for many the embodiment of the injustices of the liberal policies of the 1990s, published in "Vedomosti" on 29 March a long, soul-searching commentary titled "The Crisis Of Liberalism In Russia." In his article, Khodorkovskii rejects the notion that liberalism is somehow inherently unsuitable for Russia or that there is something fundamentally wrong with liberal precepts. Instead, he admits ruefully, "those whom fate and history entrusted to be the preservers of liberal values in our country could not cope with that task." To his credit, Khodorkovskii includes himself among this number, among those who betrayed liberal values for their own selfish interests and who smugly decided that in Russia it is not necessary to take into consideration the interests or views of the masses.
Khodorkovskii's article blames the liberals for failing when they had power in the 1990s under former President Boris Yeltsin to care for the "90 percent" of the population that was not prepared to do without state paternalism. He lambastes big business for fostering and propping up a weak state system in order to pursue its own interests. He labels the governments that presided over the 1998 financial crisis and its consequences "irresponsible and incompetent" and regrets that those liberals who might have been able to prevent the crisis did not insist more strongly that something can and should be done.
He castigates the liberal elite for betraying its values and "doing everything possible to establish financial and administrative control over the media" in order to control public opinion. Likewise, he criticizes the elite's manipulation of the election process. "How can I -- one of the biggest sponsors of the 1996 presidential campaign -- forget what truly monstrous efforts were required in order to force the Russia people 'to vote with their hearts'?" Khodorkovskii asks.
Clearly, Khodorkovskii argues, Russian liberalism has dug itself into a deep hole, and it will take considerable effort to return the country to a path of liberal development. He offers several suggestions for beginning that process, including developing "a new strategy" for interacting with the government after asking oneself, "What have you done for Russia?" He calls on Russian liberals to eschew popularity in the West for the esteem of their countrymen. He urges them to recognize the legitimacy of President Vladimir Putin and of the presidency as "the institution that guarantees the integrity and stability of the country." According to Khodorkovskii, the development of civil society is impossible without the government playing a leading role.
Business, he argues, must renounce the shortsighted benefits of a weak state and an undeveloped civil society. It must seek to legitimize the 1990s-era privatizations in the eyes of the public by endorsing tax reforms that "will force business to share with the people" and other steps "that will not be very pleasant for major owners."
Much of what Khodorkovskii advocates can be boiled down to "overcoming the complexes and phobias" that have characterized the entire history of Russian liberalism, including the last decade. Civil society, he notes, is formed over generations "and not in an instant by the wave of a magic wand."
In an article on politcom.ru on 29 March, Center for Political Technologies Deputy Director Aleksei Makarkin, analyzing the data from a recent survey of Russian attitudes by the Ekspertiza foundation, argues that, despite the mistakes of the liberals and contrary to the crowing of the "national-patriotic" ideologues, the public at large is slowly, but inexorably becoming more liberal.
Makarkin, for instance, notes that, although xenophobia remains high in Russia, negative attitudes toward the Soviet-era official "enemy" -- Jews -- are declining, despite the concerted efforts of nationalists to enflame anti-Semitism with references the hated oligarchs or Unified Energy Systems head Anatolii Chubais. He argues that much of the increase in xenophobia is a reaction to real social problems like poverty, crime, and terrorism rather than an irrational phobia or the result of a state policy.
Likewise, Makarkin noted that 37 percent of respondents agreed with the statement that "relations between Russia and the West can be genuinely amicable," despite recent events such as the complete discrediting of Russia's pro-Western reformers, the NATO bombing of Yugoslavia, the U.S.-led military action against former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein, the U.S. abrogation of the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty, and the current eastward expansion of NATO.
He also drew attention to the fact that an ever-decreasing percentage of Russians agrees with statements such "it is immoral to be rich in a poor country." In the Ekspertiza poll, 39 percent of respondents agreed with this proposition, while 47 percent disagreed. He also notes that, compared to Soviet times, support for the death penalty is much weaker now, with only 29 percent of respondents agreeing that "enemies of the people should be executed." Twenty percent agreed that bribe-taking officials should be executed. Forty-eight percent of respondents agreed that it is worse to condemn an innocent person than to let a guilty person go free, while just 28 percent felt the opposite.
In short, Makarkin argues that, despite the fact that in the Soviet era "the pluralistic political tradition was almost entirely lost in Russia" and despite the peculiarities of the Soviet-era dissident movement -- such as the role played by Jewish refusniks who were fighting largely for their individual rights rather than for a liberal restructuring of the country or the prominence in the movement of right-wing nationalists -- liberal ideals are making steady inroads in the public consciousness.
Makarkin concludes that these shifts in attitude are making it steadily more difficult for the government to act in heavy-handed, authoritarian ways. He notes for example that that Federal Security Service (FSB) has been forced to launch a publicity campaign to garner support for the idea that juries should not hear cases involving state secrets. In the past, he implies, the FSB could simply have manipulated the courts or the political system to achieve its ends. Such tendencies could be more fundamental and lasting than the current "crisis" in the upper echelons of liberalism
FAR NORTHERN INCUMBENT UNSEATED...
Arkhangelsk Oblast Governor Anatolii Yefremov lost his bid for a third term by a large margin in the second round of the oblast's gubernatorial election on 28 March, Russian media reported. According to preliminary results with 86 percent of the votes counted, Yefremov's challenger, local dairy director Nikolai Kiselev, received 74.36 percent, compared with just 17.88 percent for Yefremov, RIA-Novosti reported on 29 March. Yefremov's chief rival in the race, State Duma Deputy and local oligarch Vladimir Krupchak, withdrew from the first round after a meeting in the Kremlin just one week before the voting (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 5 March 2004). According to "Kommersant-Daily" on 26 March, local analysts believe that although the Kremlin asked Krupchak to withdraw, it did not necessarily support Yefremov. Presidential administration officials were simply not willing to work with Krupchak. According to ITAR-TASS, Kiselev is a member of the Unified Russia party, although the party did not nominate him for governor. JAC
...AS GENERAL JOINS GOVERNORS' RANKS IN CENTRAL DISTRICT.
Recently elected Motherland State Duma Deputy and former Airborne Troops commander General Georgii Shpak was elected governor of Ryazan Oblast on 28 March in the second round of the gubernatorial election there, Russian media reported on 29 March. With more than 99 percent of the ballots counted, Shpak had 53.65 percent of the vote, compared with 40.17 percent for Unified Russia Deputy Igor Morozov, RBK reported on 29 March. Just over 5 percent voted "against all." The turnout was 48.61 percent. "Moskovskii komsomolets" reported on 25 March that rumors were circulating in Ryazan before the ballot that Morozov did not have the support of the presidential administration -- as he had claimed. The rumors were fed in part by a televised remarks by presidential envoy to the Central Federal District Georgii Poltavchenko, who reportedly said, "And who is Morozov?" The daily also reported that recent polls showed a surge in popularity for Shpak that was almost in direct proportion to the attacks on him. Newspapers and leaflets were reportedly circulated accusing him of being a thief and drunkard. JAC
DUMA GIVES INITIAL NOD TO BILL INCREASING NUMBER OF PAYING STUDENTS AT PROFESSIONAL SCHOOLS...
The Duma approved on 26 March in their first reading amendments to the federal law on education that would remove limitations on the number of paid admissions to specialized educational institutions, such as law schools and state- and municipal-administration schools, RIA-Novosti reported. The vote was 333 in favor and 94 against. "For the last 10 years there has been a huge growth in the number of non-state-sector educational institutions preparing students in prestigious specialties," State Duma Education and Science Committee Chairman Valentin Ivanov (Unified Russia) told gazeta.ru. "Rectors of state institutions consider the [current] situation discriminatory and believe it is leading to the pushing of students out to the private sector." According to gazeta.ru, opponents of the bill fear it will lead to the destruction of the system of free education. The bill was originally sponsored by deputies from the last Duma -- Aleksandr Shishlov (Yabloko) and Sergei Yushenkov (independent). JAC
...AND REDUCES DUMA STAFF.
Deputies also approved on 26 March amendments to the law on the status of members of the Federation Council and the State Duma governing the certification of legislators' assistants, RosBalt reported. The bill passed narrowly, with just 226 in favor -- the exact number required for passage. Under the bill, which was sponsored by the Unified Russia faction, each legislator would be allowed five staff assistants and 40 so-called public assistants. According to gazeta.ru, the Liberal Democratic Party of Russia, the Communists, and Motherland opposed the bill. If enacted, the bill would deprive public assistants of the right to ride free of charge on public transportation and of immunity from arrest. Duma Regulations Committee Chairman Oleg Kovalev explained that sometimes "dubious personalities" become public assistants and use their status for various misdeeds and even "crime," gazeta.ru reported. JAC
COMINGS & GOINGS
Kirov Oblast's legislature on 25 March confirmed Aleksei Klishin as its representative in the Federation Council, "Kommersant-Daily" reported on 26 March. Klishin previously headed the Moscow Interterritorial College of Lawyers. Klishin replaces Mikhail Mikheev, who has served in the upper chamber since April 2001. An unidentified source in the oblast administration told the daily that Klishin has very good -- but private -- connections in Moscow. He specializes in the regulation of foreign investment, tax legislation, and property rights.
Also on 25 March, Tomsk Oblast's legislature confirmed Aleksandr Suvorov as the new Federation Council representative for the oblast's executive branch, the daily reported. Suvorov was most recently the chief federal inspector for Tomsk Oblast. He replaces Vladimir Zhidkikh, who was elected to the Duma in December.
Former Audit Chamber auditor Gennadii Batanov will head the Pension Fund, RosBalt reported on 26 March, citing the government information department. Former Perm Oblast Deputy Governor Anatolii Temkin will become a deputy natural resources minister. Former First Deputy Culture Minister Denis Molchanov will become director of the Government Information Department, replacing Aleksei Gorshkov. Ramil Khabriev will head the Federal Health Care and Social Development Supervisory Service. According to ITAR-TASS, Khabriev was previously director-general of the Biopreparat joint-stock company.
On 25 March, government chief of staff Dmitrii Kozak issued a decree appointing Aleksandr Zharov as his assistant for press relations, ITAR-TASS reported. Zharov is a former Health Ministry spokesman and adviser to the chairman of RIA-Novosti. On 25 March, Prime Minster Fradkov appointed Stanislav Ilyasov director of the Federal Fisheries Agency. On 24 March, Fradkov appointed Oleg Vyugin to head the Federal Financial Markets Service. Vyugin is a former Central Bank deputy chairman, a former deputy finance minister, and a former chief economist at Troika-Dialog.
State Duma Deputy Vladimir Katrenko (Unified Russia) has been selected by his faction to replace Aleksandr Zhukov, who was recently appointed deputy prime minister, as deputy Duma speaker, RosBalt reported. Katrenko is a former deputy governor of Stavropol Krai, and he served as chairman of the Duma's Transportation, Energy, and Communications Committee in the last Duma.
Prime Minister Fradkov announced on 25 March that each federal minister will have only two deputy ministers, Russian media reported. According to "Vremya novostei" on 19 March, government apparatus head Dmitrii Kozak suggested trimming the number of deputy ministers, a proposal that Finance Minister Aleksei Kudrin and Economic Development and Trade Minister German Gref reportedly vigorously protested. According to the daily, Gref has 12 deputy ministers and three first deputy ministers, while Kudrin has nine deputy ministers and three first deputy ministers.
Prime Minister Fradkov announced new federal-government appointments on 23 March, ITAR-TASS and RBK reported. He selected former State Reserves Agency Deputy Director Anatolii Ledovskikh to head the new Federal Mining Agency. Former Federal Mining and Industrial Monitoring Authority Director Vladimir Kulechev will head the Federal Technological Inspectorate. Former Duma Deputy Vladimir Averchenko (People's Deputy) will head the Federal Construction and Housing Agency.
Former Labor Minister Aleksandr Pochinok has been passed over for the position of head of the new Federal Employment Service, which has instead been given to one of his former deputies, Maksim Topilin, gazeta.ru reported on 30 March. Topilin, 36, is a native Muscovite who graduated from the Plekhanov Economics Institute in 1988.
1 April: Spring military call-up begins
2 April: German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder will pay a brief working visit to Russia
3 April: French President Jacques Chirac will visit Russia
4-6 April: UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan to visit Russia
4 April: Second round of gubernatorial elections will be held in Koryak Autonomous Okrug and Altai Krai
6-7 April: Foreign ministers of five Caspian littoral states -- Russia, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, Azerbaijan, and Iran -- to meet in Moscow
7-8 April: NATO Secretary-General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer will visit Moscow
8 April: Cabinet of ministers will discuss tax reforms
Mid-April: Interior Ministry to withdraw 3,000 troops from Chechnya
16 April: An international conference on "Russia-EU Neighbors: Questions of Cooperation Across Borders" will be held in Pskov
17 April: People's Party will hold a party congress
23 April: First anniversary of the killing of State Duma Deputy Sergei Yushenkov
24 April: Second congress of the People's Patriotic Union-Motherland, which is headed by former presidential candidate Sergei Glazev, will be held
May: Federal Atomic Energy Agency head Aleksandr Rumyantsev to visit Iran, according to ITAR-TASS
1 May: Date by which Russia expects talks with EU and its future members to conclude
3-4 May: Labor Day holiday observed
7 May: President Putin to be inaugurated for his second term
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
19 May: Agrarian Party must settle its financial accounts with the Central Election Commission or face a ban on political activity
30 May: 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
1 June: New deadline for exchanging Soviet-era passports for new Russian passports
20 June: Former Beatle Sir Paul McCartney will perform a concert in St. Petersburg's Palace Square
28-29 June: President Putin expected to attend NATO summit in Istanbul
1 July: First anniversary of the creation of Federal Antinarcotics Agency
2 July: End of State Duma's spring session
3 July: Communist Party will hold congress to hear reports and elect new party officials
September: St. Petersburg's Hermitage Museum plans to open the Hermitage Center, which will exhibit works from the Hermitage's collection, in the city of Kazan
November: Gubernatorial election in Pskov Oblast
December: Gubernatorial elections in Bryansk, Kamchatka, and Ivanovo oblasts.