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Russian Far East Governor Reappointed By Kremlin

Sergei Darkin
Sergei Darkin
MOSCOW -- Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has proposed the reappointment of Sergei Darkin as governor of the far eastern Primorsky Krai, RFE/RL's Russian Service reports.

Medvedev announced Darkin's candidacy on January 5 for consideration by the region's legislative assembly, which is due to rule on the reappointment on January 12.

Viktor Ilyukhin, a member of the Communist Party faction in the Russian Duma, told RFE/RL that Darkin's candidacy for the position of governor of such a vast and geopolitically strategic region of Russia is unacceptable.

He said previous statements by Medvedev on fighting corruption gave optimism to many Russians. But he added that Darkin's candidacy destroys hopes about reform within the government.

Viktor Cherepkov, the former mayor of Vladivostok, the capital of Primorsky Krai, told RFE/RL that he does not understand Medvedev's decision to nominate Darkin.

He said it discredits Russian officials and the president, and is not in the best interest of the people of the region. Cherepkov told RFE/RL earlier that Darkin, a former businessman, is known to have ties to criminal groups.

Vladimir Pribylovsky, an expert from the Moscow political research group Panorama, says that despite a lack of evidence, "Darkin has a reputation as a criminal authority."

Darkin has governed Primorsky Krai, since June 2001. In February 2005, he was the first governor to be reappointed by the president in accordance with the new regulation on eliminating gubernatorial elections in favor of regional leaders being appointed by the Kremlin.

In recent years, two deputy governors and another top official in the Primorsky Krai government have been prosecuted for alleged wrongdoing.

In May 2008, Darkin was questioned and his house and office were searched as part of an investigation into alleged abuses during the privatization of state property.