Russia’s regional elections are proceeding at full tilt. In Perm oblast, where voters will go to the polls on December 8 to elect an oblast governor and the mayor of the provincial capital, campaigning is at its height. The incumbent governor, Gennadi Igumnov, is respected locally and has wide backing from all the democratic organizations in the region, ranging from "Russia is Our Home" to Memorial and the NTS. He is expected to win reelection easily, if only because the opposition is split between two Communist candidates and a third from Vladimir Zhirinovsky’s ultranationalist party.
Igumnov’s fiercest opposition, in fact, may be Perm’s feisty local media, which are waging a relentless campaign to remind voters of the region’s economic woes. They hammer home the fact that Perm ranks 57th among Russia’s 89 regions in attracting new investment, that unemployment is higher than the national average and that, according to local doctors, only 3 percent of the oblast’s newborn babies are free of disease. The media also stress the problem of wage arrears. According to the Monitor’s correspondent in Perm, this is such a sore subject locally that it could undermine Igumnov’s chances of reelection. All this attention may not be helping Igumnov’s campaign, but it does testify to the strength of press freedom in the oblast.
…While Mayor of Perm Shoots Himself in the Foot.