Publication: Monitor Volume: 3 Issue: 16

Valery Kokov, the newly-reelected president of Kabardino-Balkaria, was inaugurated yesterday in the republic’s capital, Nalchik. He ran unopposed on January 12 and won 97.3 percent of the vote. President Yeltsin’s chief-of-staff Anatoli Chubais and Moscow mayor Yuri Luzhkov were among those attending yesterday’s inauguration. (Interfax, January 22)

Formerly Communist party boss in the republic, Kokov fought his way back to power within months of the August 1991 coup by winning a convincing victory in the republic’s presidential elections. He is now in almost complete control of the republic, and the influence of various national movements is slight by comparison. Kokov’s success is especially impressive in light of the numerous attempts by Balkar activists to break away from Kabardino-Balkaria and proclaim their own republic within the Russian Federation. The last of three such attempts took place on November 12, 1996, at the Balkarian People’s Congress. But Kokov was able, with Moscow’s support, to keep the situation under control. Within days, Congress Chairman Sufian Bepaev admitted that the proclamation had been "a mistake." The republic authorities reportedly pressed Bepaev to run against Kokov in the presidential election, but Bepaev refused. (Nezavisimaya gazeta, January 23)

"Unfortunately, the situation in the republic today is such that we are in no condition to put up a candidate to run against Kokov. Although we do not approve of Kokov’s authoritarian style, we must admit that the majority of the population supports him. Even the Balkarian separatists showed no activity on the eve of the elections. Elections in our republic are little different from those held during the ‘years of stagnation’," Professor Musa Shanibov, a member of the Kabardin People’s Congress and one of the ideologists of the Kabardin national movement, told the Monitor.

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