The gubernatorial election in Primorsky Krai, in Russia’s Far East, is set for May 27. The poll was occasioned by Yevgeny Nazdratenko’s decision to step down as regional governor. After years of doggedly resisting attempts by both the federal authorities and Russia’s energy bosses to force him out of office, Nazdratenko finally gave up the struggle and resigned before the official expiry of his term. He then accepted the post of head of the State Fisheries Committee–an appointment designed, in the view of some observers, to exclude the possibility that he might try to run for a third term as governor.
Over thirty candidates have so far declared their intention of running and, because registration does not officially close until April 21, more could yet appear. Ten of the candidates are unemployed people or pensioners. Two are women–a cleaning woman and a retired judge. The rest are heads of companies or state bodies (Radio Ekho Moskvy, March 27). Election officials, however, doubt that all the hopefuls will manage to gather the 15,159 signatures (equivalent to 1 percent of the region’s voters) required for registration, and predict that the final list of candidates will probably number between eighteen and twenty. As of April 15, only three candidates had gathered the requisite signatures to participate in the elections: Vladimir Grishukov, a State Duma deputy and leader of the krai’s communists; former Arbitration Court judge Tat’yana Loktinova; and State Duma deputy and former Vladivostok Mayor Viktor Cherepkov (Polit.ru, April 15).
With so many candidates hoping to figure on the ballot sheet, it seems unlikely that any candidate will win the 35-percent-plus-one vote required by local election law to win outright in the first round. Moreover, public opinion polls indicate that as many as one-third of the electorate plan to vote against all the candidates (Polit.ru, March 20). The election is accordingly likely to have to go to a second-round run-off.
According to opinion polls, the electorate has little interest in the long-standing conflict between the Kremlin and the regional elite which, until recently, supported Nazdratenko. The polls also indicate that neither of the candidates from Nazdratenko’s team is likely to score many votes. The candidates in question are Valentin Dubinin, formerly Nazdratenko’s deputy and now the region’s acting governor, and Konstantin Tolstoshein, who formerly ran the krai’s electricity sector. Nor do voters seem enthusiastic about the candidates who claim to have the support of the Kremlin–Admiral Igor Kasatonov, former deputy chief commander of the Russian Navy, and Gennady Apanasenko, first deputy presidential emissary to the Far Eastern federal district. Instead, the main focus of popular attention seems to be the battle between Cherepkov, who was the recognized leader of the regional opposition to Nazdratenko, and Aleksandr Kirilichev, general director of the Primorsky Ocean Steamship Company, who represents the interests of the Primorsky corps of directors (Polit.ru, April 11).
…NATIONAL MEDIA TAKES INTEREST IN PRIMORYE CONTEST.