Aleksei Lebed, younger brother of presidential hopeful Aleksandr Lebed, has ordered TV and radio transmitters to be turned off in Khakassia, the south-central Siberian republic where he was elected head of state in December. Lebed Junior says he ordered the cessation of TV broadcasts because the republic cannot afford the high charges imposed by the Moscow networks. But local journalists say he is really taking revenge on Khakassia’s own TV and radio for critical reporting during his election campaign. The chairman of the republic’s TV company, Venyamin Striga, says Lebed Junior is punishing the company "for reporting on his links to financial and industrial groups in the aluminum business." Khakassia has a well-developed metal-mining industry. Local journalists are appealing to Moscow, complaining of persecution. (Itar-Tass, February 19)
Pending a review of its terms, Lebed has also announced that he is not going to sign the power-sharing agreement between Khakassia and the federal government that was negotiated by his predecessor. (Itar-Tass, February 17) Though a large number of power-sharing treaties were signed last year, the practice has met its share of criticism, particularly from federal officials who complain that the treaties give regions powers that should belong to the federal government. But some of Russia’s most powerful regional bosses have, like Lebed, balked at the idea of signing a treaty. Most notable is Primorsky krai’s Yevgeny Nazdratenko, who rules his Far Eastern region like a personal fiefdom. Nazdratenko’s objection seems to be that a treaty might actually restrict his room for maneuver by giving Moscow some minimal leverage where at present it has virtually none.
Congressman Puts Pressure on Russian Space Effort.