KREMLIN QUANDARY OVER PRIMORSKY KRAI.
Publication: Monitor Volume: 3 Issue: 127
Chubais’s reiteration of Yeltsin’s claim to sack disobedient governors comes at a time when the Kremlin appears to have painted itself into a corner in its campaign to oust Governor Yevgeny Nazdratenko of Primorsky krai. Recently, the Kremlin has begun to float rumors that the reason why Nazdratenko has to go is that he has secessionist aspirations. This is hard to believe, given the region’s strong dependence on federal subsidies, but the Kremlin’s patience must be growing thin since Nazdratenko has so far outwitted all its efforts to get rid of him. Last week, the regional legislature ruled that there were no legal grounds for them to schedule pre-term elections to replace the governor, since Nazdratenko is refusing to stand down from his post voluntarily. This is virtually the only way in which fresh elections would become necessary. (RTR, Itar-Tass, June 24)
Even if Nazdratenko wanted to stand down, moreover, he dare not do so because he would lose his Federation Council seat and, with it, immunity from prosecution. He could then find himself behind bars, like the former governor of Tula oblast, who is currently awaiting trial on corruption charges. Nazdratenko’s best bet is to sit tight until his term in office expires in December 1997, whereupon he should be able to run for another term in office. (Moskovsky novosti, No 25)
Meanwhile, Moscow is left holding the baby. The majority to the population in Primorsky krai is said to blame the Kremlin for the hardships the region is suffering. A presidential decree took the power of the purse away from Nazdratenko and transferred it to Yeltsin’s representative in the region, Viktor Kondratov, who is now engaged in an exhausting series of negotiations to try to get hunger-striking doctors and nurses back to work. Kondratov has come up with a novel proposal to resolve the financial crisis. Officers in the regional security service, which he heads, are to "volunteer" a day’s pay to local hospitals to pay for food for sick children, and senior executives in commercial and state enterprises are being urged to follow the secret policemen’s example. It will take more than that to solve the crisis, however. Meanwhile, the situation in the region is growing acute. A one-day general strike has been called for July 1 which includes threats to block the Trans-Siberian railway. (Radio Mayak, June 23; Itar-Tass, June 27)
Russia and China Sign Trade Agreements; Reaffirm Partnership.