Publication: Monitor Volume: 8 Issue: 25

Aleksandr Lebed, governor of Krasnoyarsk Krai, one of the largest regions in the Russian Far East, has carried out a swinging personnel shakeup. On January 28, Lebed, the former army general who came third in Russia’s 1996 presidential race, fired his twelve deputies and announced that from now on he will appoint officials to vacant posts solely on the basis of competition. At the same time, he reduced the number of his deputies from twelve to nine (Russian agencies, January 28).

Lebed’s press secretary said the decision to change the way of picking local executives was the result of the changes in the situation of the regional economy. Krasnoyarsk Krai is currently struggling with a budget deficit of 7 billion rubles (approximately US$230 million), though its economic indicators are on the whole better now than they were in 2000, when the budget was in surplus (Polit.ru, January 29). Outside commentators believe, however, that political considerations are also playing a role, specifically, the outcome of the recent elections to Krasnoyarsk Krai legislative assembly elections, which took place on December 23 of last year and whose results were not in Lebed’s favor. The “For Lebed!” bloc did not even win a simple majority of seats in the regional assembly (Kommersant, January 29). Some commentators speculate that, in purging his team, Lebed is beginning to prepare for the gubernatorial election, which is set for next year. His opponents believe the results of last December’s legislative assembly elections warned Lebed that his rating in the region has fallen to a dangerously low level. This may well explain why the former general, who has made no secret of his intention to run for re-election, decided to resort to such extraordinary measures (Vremya Novostei, January 30).