Publication: Monitor Volume: 4 Issue: 33

The president of Russia’s southern republic of Kalmykia, Kirsan Ilyumzhinov, has dissolved the republic’s government and subordinated the heads of republic ministries directly to himself. Ilyumzhinov said he was making the changes in an effort to cut republic expenditures. Some ministries will be abolished and the number of public servants in the republic will be cut by at least by 50 percent, he declared. (Itar-Tass, February 16)

Ilyumzhinov, a self-described multimillionaire, has been president of Kalmykia — one of Russia’s poorest republics — since 1993. He was reelected unopposed (in violation of Russian law) in 1995. Ilyumzhinov has a record of eccentric pronouncements and radical shake-ups in the government. In 1995, he amazed Kalmyk society by proposing that thieves should be punished by having their hands chopped off (though did not follow up on this threat). He is said to have spent millions of rubles from the republic budget on his hobbies of chess and soccer. (Izvestiya, February 5)

According to journalist Andrei Zhukov, Ilyumzhinov "has created solid economic and security forces to support his regime. Ilyumzhinov controls, through his relatives and close friends, all of the republic’s wool exports… One-third of the members of the republic’s parliament were appointed by him. The president fires and hires enterprise directors, and his representatives are present in every district, city, or settlement throughout the republic." (Andrei Zhukov, "Regional Governors, The Election’s Wild Card," Jamestown Foundation Prism, November 1995)

Transdniester Blocks Negotiations with Chisinau on Conflict Settlement.