Publication: Monitor Volume: 7 Issue: 74

The feud between the Kremlin and former Krai Governor Yevgeny Nazdratenko’s team continues, apparently out of inertia. Though the feud seems to be of little interest to voters in the region, it has attracted wide attention in the national media. Konstantin Pulikovsky, President’s Putin’s representative in the Far Eastern federal district, has made clear his opposition to the candidacy of acting Governor Valentin Dubinin (Polit.ru, April 2). This is hardly surprising, given that Pulikovsky’s deputy, Apanasenko, has already enlisted his boss’s support. In this instance, however, the position of the presidential representative apparently runs counter to the plans of the Kremlin, which is clearly backing Admiral Kasatonov (NNS.ru, February 26). The Kremlin apparently hopes for a re-run of the scenario in Kaliningrad and Ulyanovsk Oblasts, where well-known military men–Baltic Fleet commander Vladimir Yegorov and former Chechen war commander Vladimir Shamanov, respectively–won election with Kremlin backing. In Primorsky Krai, however, the presence on the ballot of two weak Kremlin-backed candidates instead of one strong one sharply reduces the likelihood of victory for the Kremlin. The odds would improve were Kasatonov or Apanasenko to stand down, but so far neither has shown any sign of contemplating such a move. Kasatonov’s staff strongly denied reports in the local media that the admiral had withdrawn his candidacy (Zolotoi Rog [Vladivostok], April 3).

Meanwhile, campaigning has begin in earnest, with supporters of various candidates indulging with gusto in the now notorious “black PR.” For example, the newspaper “Primorye,” which was recently resurrected and is known in the krai as the brainchild of Viktor Cherepkov, has already begun to attack other leading candidates. Leaflets have appeared on billboards around the city, apparently aimed at getting certain candidates thrown out of the race for launching their campaigns before the officially permitted date. Local newspapers have begun running scare stories about impending electricity outages, which Apanasenko has denounced as “political speculation” by his opponents (Regions.ru, March 27). On April 4, local people were prevented from watching national television channels by a power outage in the krai broadcasting center (Russian agencies, April 4). As of April 15, broadcasts had not yet been restored. The incident was reminiscent of the “energy war” that occurred in the region this past winter, which wrecked Nazdratenko’s popularity ratings. Now that spring has arrived, Dubinin’s opponents apparently think that the next best way to turn voters against the acting governor is to deprive them of their favorite TV programs.