Publication: Monitor Volume: 7 Issue: 136

Russia’s governors last week graphically demonstrated their attitude toward the State Duma’s attempt to limit their right to run for third terms in office. A week earlier, the lower house of parliament had amended current legislation and reduced to ten the number of governors with the right to run for a third term (see the Monitor, July 11). The speaker of the Federation Council, Yegor Stroev, who is also governor of Orel Oblast, was not among them. However, on July 10, Stroev–who has already served his maximum two terms in office–registered as a candidate in the election for Governor of Orel that is due to be held on October 28 (Russian agencies, July 10).

The Federation Council is set to discuss the amendment on July 20. Even if it is passed, however, the amendment will not be retroactive and sitting governors who have registered to run again for their posts will not be disqualified. As one observer noted, Stroev has made a fateful choice: His decision to run for governor is a signal that he does not plan to remain as speaker of the upper chamber (Vremya Novostei, July 11). As another pointed out, Stroev could have remained speaker for some time yet. His candidacy suited by the Kremlin and the new senators. But governors no longer have the right to sit in the Federation Council: he therefore faced a choice between the Senate and the Governor’s mansion. To remain speaker, Stroev would have had to have chosen not to run for re-election: He preferred Orel Oblast (Izvestia, July 11).

Stroev was not alone. The very next day, Rostov Oblast Governor Vladimir Chub announced his intention to run for a third term in the election set in his region for October 28 (, July 11). Clearly, the governors have no intention of bowing to those who seek to restrict their terms to two. This week’s debate in the Federation Council is almost certain to end with the senators vetoing the offending amendment. To judge from the results of the most recent vote in the State Duma, the lower house will find it hard to override the upper. That situation could change if a command came from President Putin. Putin is not, however, expected to issue such an order. He already faces a battle with the governors over the distribution of powers between the federal Center and the regions. He is unlikely to want to complicate his already tricky situation.