Today deputies of the Krasnoyarsk Legislative Assembly fixed the date for gubernatorial elections as September 8, 2002.
A decision to hold gubernatorial elections was made in three weeks after former Governor Alexander Lebed’s tragic death. Local and federal politicians paid tribute to the general and started at once to create schemes for the coming election campaign, which promises to be rather vivid. The struggle for the Krasnoyarsk gubernatorial post is going to be really very hard, as lots of different interests, political as well as economic, are concentrated in the region.
As soon as information about death of Alexander Lebed was published, the discussion of the probable election date started. First, July, August and even October were supposed to be probable months for the organization of the elections. Finally, gubernatorial elections were scheduled for September 8. Why were the above-mentioned dates suggested? Many observers say that each date is explained by certain interests of definite political parties and candidates to the post of governor. Some of them need time to collect sufficient financing for pre-election propaganda, at the time when some candidates are very popular not only in the region but even in Moscow. For some political powers, it is convenient to hold elections in summer, during the vacation period. Therefore, the choice of September 8 is sort of a compromise between different political groups.
Krasnoyarsk journalists from the Afontovo TV and broadcasting company say that the main struggle for the gubernatorial post will be focused on representatives of different financial groups operating in the region. They are the Interros insurance company, which controls the Norilsk industrial district and Taymyr; Russian Aluminum, which owns the Krasnoyarsk automobile plant and is also famous for its continuos tariff war with Rusal; and YUKOS oil company, which made Evenkia subordinate with the help of one of its leaders, Governor Zolotarev. There is also the MDM Group competing with Mezhprombank for management over the Krasnoyarsk coal company. The famous companies have great opportunities. This means that the struggle for control in the Krasnoyarsk region is going to be really very serious. Observers also suppose that the local political elite may join the election struggle as well. In fact, they are well known in the region, which gives them a strong advantage over outside candidates.
The major candidates to the gubernatorial post are already known. However, some of them have not yet officially announced their intention to participate in the elections. Nevertheless, let us have a look at the possible candidates to the gubernatorial post in the Krasnoyarsk region.
First comes Russia’s EMERCOM Minister Sergey Shoigu. The explanation for the choice of the candidate is simple. Shoigu graduated from the Krasnoyarsk Polytechnic Institute and started his career as a civil engineer in Krasnoyarsk. Therefore, it seems quite reasonable that Shoigu may enter the election struggle. It is to be pointed out here that the EMERCOM Minister is very popular among the population. If he chooses to participate in the election, he is very likely to win. As for Sergey Shoigu himself, he does not seem to be so eager to participate in the election in the Krasnoyarsk region. He said that he has enough business in the Ministry. In addition, Sergey Shoigu has already been mentioned several times for gubernatorial posts, for example, in Primorye or Yakutia. Most observers say that, if Shoigu chooses to participate in the gubernatorial election in the Krasnoyarsk region, he will give up for lost his career of a federal politician. The same way as it was with former Krasnoyarsk governor Alexander Lebed.
On the other hand, the Kremlin may ask Sergey Shoigu to join the election. United Russia, the party headed by Sergey Shoigu, is not experiencing the best of times now. There are no guarantees that the party will be a success during the next Duma elections. Under these conditions, it is much better to have control over the Krasnoyarsk region (a real bird in the hand) than victory of the United Russia party during the Duma elections. However, any candidate to the gubernatorial post in the Krasnoyarsk region will have to take the Kremlin’s opinion into account.
Alexander Uss, incumbent head of the regional Legislative Assembly, is the person who already declared his gubernatorial ambitions. Alexander Uss is well-known in the region, which means that he is one of the most probable candidates to the post. In his time, he was the main opponent to former governor Lebed. It was believed that he would take power from Alexander Lebed after the next elections, which were originally supposed to take place in 2003. The friendship of the Legislative Assembly speaker with former director of the Krasnoyarsk automobile plant, Anatoly Bykov, who is currently imprisoned in Lefortovo, may become the only obstacle to Alexander Uss in the election struggle. Although the speaker says he is not in touch with the disgraced director any more, Moscow probably remembers the friendship perfectly well.
Incumbent Taymyr governor Alexander Khloponin is among probable candidates to the gubernatorial post as well. And he has got a good chance for a success. Khloponin is experienced in managerial work and is well-known in the Krasnoyarsk region. If Alexander Khloponin takes the governor post, it will be possible to settle the conflict connected with budgetary payments of the Norilsk Nickel mining and metallurgical enterprise and distribution of finance between Taymyr and the Krasnoyarsk region. This very conflict has been an obstacle in relations between the two regions within last two months. The election of Alexander Khloponin to the gubernatorial post will probably make for implementation of one more project aimed at joining the Taymyr, Evenkia, and the Krasnoyarsk regions into one Federation subject. At the same time, the leadership of Evenkia is not so enthusiastic about this idea, and attitude of Krasnoyarsk’s political elite to candidature of Alexander Khloponin can hardly be predicted.
Acting governor of the Krasnoyarsk region Nikolay Ashlapov is also considered to be a probable candidate to the gubernatorial post. He is said to be enjoying the support of Rusal director Oleg Deripaska. Nikolay Ashlapov was appointed first vice-governor two months ago. Before the appointment, he took the post of Russian Aluminum regional representative (earlier he was mayor of the city of Achinsk and chairman of the board of directors at the Achinsk alumina plant). Mr.Ashlapov himself is not completely sure of his success during the election. In any case, he has already informed that he would not participate in the election. At that, one stipulation was mentioned that, “if the president asked me to participate in the election, I would.” To tell the truth, President Putin is hardly likely to ask Nikolay Ashlapov to participate. Still, the acting governor is holding the opportunity as a maneuver.
There is one more candidate to the post of Krasnoyarsk governor, Krasnoyarsk Mayor Pyotr Pimashkov, who is not a federal level politician. The results of voting in Krasnoyarsk may greatly influence the total result of the gubernatorial election. This factor is very likely to be used by the candidate in the struggle. It is not clear so far what kind of support he has got besides the administrative resource.
Finally, there is one more candidate to the post is Duma vice-chairman Pyotr Romanov, who is well known in the region. He already took part in gubernatorial elections in 1998 together with then-governor Valery Zubov and Alexander Lebed. In addition, the deputy represents a district from the Krasnoyarsk region in the State Duma. What is difficult in Romanov’s case is the lack of support from leading political and financial groups. However, still, the communists already managed to win in some regions where victory was very unlikely. Therefore, time will tell.
The list of candidates to the gubernatorial post is very likely to increase. Even very popular people may be added to it. In any case, the election struggle in the Krasnoyarsk region promises to be very hot. Any political manoeuvres are possible. There is hardly a politician or an expert able to forecast the results of the coming gubernatorial election in the Krasnoyarsk region.
Vasily Bubnov PRAVDA.Ru
Translated by Maria Gousseva
Read the original in Russian: http://pravda.ru/main/2002/05/13/40998.html