The September 23 race for the governorship of Rostov Oblast in southern Russia was won last week by Vladimir Chub, who won 79 percent of the vote. His only opponent, Petr Voloshin, a local oblast government official, won 7.5 percent (Russian agencies, September 24-26).
There was never any doubt that Chub would be reelected. The only real event in the campaign was the Rostov Oblast election commission’s refusal to register the candidacy of Leonid Ivanchenko, a member of the Communist Party of the Russian Federation (KPRF). Ivanchenko was accused of falsifying signatures collected in support of his candidacy. In this way, the regional administration warded off any repetition of the “Nizhegorod scenario.” This is a reference to the gubernatorial election earlier this year in Nizhny Novgorod Oblast where the KPRF candidate defeated an incumbent governor whose position had been considered invulnerable.
After Ivanchenko lost his appeal to the Russian Supreme Court against the regional election commission’s rejection of his candidacy, the national media lost interest in the Rostov election. The presence of the second candidate on the ballot seemed nothing more than a way of meeting the formal requirement that a minimum of two candidates contest every election. As for Voloshin, he openly stated on September 21 that the only reason he would not withdraw his candidacy was because he did not want to invalidate the elections (NNS.ru, September 24). The only thing that the organizers of Chub’s election campaign worried about was whether turnout would be sufficient to validate the election–something the Communists were hoping for following the disqualification of their candidate.
KPRF leader Gennady Zyuganov called on voters to vote against both candidates (Donskaya Iskra [Rostov], September 18). This appeared to provoke the only scandal of the election campaign. On the eve of voting, leaflets were distributed in Novoshakhtinsk, one of the region’s largest towns. On them was printed an appeal from Viktor Solntsev, head of the local administration, who called on voters either to boycott the contest or to vote against both candidates. The chairman of the oblast election commission declared the leaflets “clearly fabricated” and Solntsev in no way involved (Polit.ru, September 24). Whatever the truth of the matter, attempts to overturn the elections were ineffective: 12.6 percent of the electorate voted “against all” but, with turnout at 46 percent, the election was validated (Russian agencies, September 26).
After the results of the election had been announced, Ivanchenko officially declared that he did not recognize the vote’s legitimacy (Interfax, September 24). Little attention was paid to his statement, however, and Vladimir Chub looks set for another five years as head of Rostov Oblast.
GONGADZE MYSTERY REMAINS UNSOLVED.