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Protests Against New Regional Governor, Barred Candidate On Hunger Strike

Natalya Komarova, the new governor of the Khanty-Mansi Autonomous District
Natalya Komarova, the new governor of the Khanty-Mansi Autonomous District
Protests Against New Khanty-Mansiisk Governor
On Monday, the parliament of the Khanty-Mansiisk Autonomous Region unanimously endorsed President Dmitry Medvedev's appointment of Natalya Komarova as the region's new governor. On February 14, local residents protested against Komarova's appointment by staging a motorized rally around the town of Khanti-Mansiisk. Many locals wanted the governor of 20 years, Aleksandr Filipennko, to retain the post.

In an interview with RFE/RL Sergei Kozlov, editor of the regional newspaper Novosti Yugry, says that although there will probably not be any more large scale protests, "a bitter aftertaste remains." The Carnegie Center’s Nikolai Petrov says that Filipennko's removal is the latest in the Kremlin's initiative to replace the remaining "political heavyweight" governors elected in the 1990's with figures loyal to the Kremlin. "This tendency could continue everywhere, i.e., the systematic replacement of governor-politicians with governor-bureaucrats more loyal to the Kremlin."
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Barred Candidate On Hunger Strike
In the town of Lytkarino in the Moscow Region, Tatiana Varlamova is on a hunger strike to protest the municipal election committee's decision not to let her stand as a candidate in upcoming mayoral elections.

Varlamova is a member of the party of power United Russia, which has put forward a different candidate, Yevgeny Seregin, Minister of Construction for the Moscow Region. Varlamova claims that by doing this, the party has contravened its own constitution.

Several other would-be candidates have been barred from standing. Grigory Kriukov, director of the sociological institute "Intellekt-Plius," tells RFE/RL that the Moscow Region's election commission and branch of United Russia are behind the decisions. "These two institutions are a mechanism for seizing control of municipal organs."
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Bureaucrats Are The Enemy Of Innovation
In this opinion piece, chief strategist for the company FBK Igor Nikolayev says that the most important asset for private sector Russian companies are so-called "administrative resources," i.e., influential contacts in state institutions.

According to Nikolayev, many companies "invest" in these resources instead of in research and new technologies. "The bureaucratic class is still motivated to receive their administrative-status rents from business...when a company is faced with a new competitor, it makes an agreement with a bureaucrat (in exchange for remuneration of course) so that problems arise for the competitor, which is then forced to quit the market," he says, adding that attempts to modernize the Russian economy will lead to nothing unless there is a fundamental reform of state administration.
[read in Russian]