Former Federal Border Service chief Andrei Nikolaev won a convincing 62.5 percent of the votes in a by-election in southern Moscow’s Orekhovo-Borisovsky constituency on April 12. (RTR, April 13) The seat became vacant when Irina Khakamada was appointed to the Russian government at the end of last year. The forty-eight-year-old Nikolaev said he would resign his army post to take up the Duma seat. He had been director of the Federal Border Service from December 1994 until December last year, when he fell out with President Yeltsin. Many people see Nikolaev, who has forged a strong alliance with Moscow Mayor Yuri Luzhkov, as a possible candidate in the presidential elections in 2000. Nikolaev has talked about setting up a new faction in the Duma using the Moscow deputies as a nucleus. This might eventually turn into a political party capable of supporting a bid for power by Luzhkov and/or Nikolaev. (RTR, April 13)
Nikolaev is charismatic but no liberal on economic issues. He told a radio interviewer last month that as a Duma deputy he would focus on defense and security issues, including military reform, and that he also intended to sponsor legislation to protect Russian industry from foreign competition. He said Russia’s natural resources should be kept under state control and that he was opposed to the free sale and purchase of farmland. (Ekho Moskvy, March 27) (see following story)
Yeltsin Slams Former Border Guards Chief.