On February 18 in Lipetsk Oblast, an event took place that has no precedent in any other region of the Russian Federation. Exactly two months before the region’s gubernatorial election, the leaders of the region’s two most powerful interest groups–incumbent Governor Oleg Korolev and his rival Vladimir Lisin, chairman of the board of directors of the Novolipetsk Metallurgical Combine (NLMK)–issued a joint statement. “For the sake of the oblast’s future,” they said, they wanted to “call a halt to confrontation” (Polit.ru, February 18). The statement was buttressed with concrete guarantees. The governor promised to halt the information war against NLMK, and Lisin undertook not to stand in the upcoming gubernatorial election.
After signing the agreement, Korolev admitted that it had been drafted at the instigation of the federal center. Sources in the oblast administration said Moscow had grown alarmed that squabbling between the regional elite might lead to instability in the oblast and frighten away investors (Russian agencies, February 19).
Lisin seems to have emerged a net loser. In agreeing to sign the statement, he tacitly acknowledged that he had failed to get the Kremlin’s green light to run as a candidate against Korolev. In contrast to such regions as the Chukchi, Taimyr and Evenk Autonomous Okrugs, where the Kremlin encouraged local oligarchs to run for governor, Moscow seems fully satisfied with Lipetsk’s incumbent governor. This was amply demonstrated in recent days, when Georgy Poltavchenko, President Putin’s authorized representative in the Central Federal District, traveled to Lipetsk Oblast to participate in various “roundtables” in which Korolev played the leading role (Kommersant, February 20).
GEORGIA’S SECURITY COUNCIL SECRETARY COMMITS SUICIDE.