Sergei Darkin, who was elected governor of Primorsky Krai in May, made a significant personnel announcement last week. He confirmed that he plans to nominate General-Colonel Valery Manilov, former first deputy chief of the General Staff, as Primorye’s representative in the Federation Council (upper chamber of the Russian parliament) (Russian agencies, July 30). On July 31, Manilov was formally presented to local bigwigs (Polit.ru, August 1). The Primorsky Krai Duma must now approve Manilov’s candidacy–probably at its next session on August 28-29 (RadioEkho Moskvy, July 30).
Manilov replaces Yevgeny Nazdratenko, who finally gave in to Kremlin pressure and stepped down as governor at the start of this year. Nazdratenko now chairs the State Fisheries Committee. Rumors that Manilov would replace him in the Federation Council began to circulate a couple of weeks ago. Manilov, who became known as an informal media spokesman for the Chechen military campaign after it got underway in the fall of 1999, is seen as a compromise acceptable to both the Kremlin and the new krai administration (Vremya Novostei, Radio Ekho Moskvy, July 30). Darkin says he chose Manilov because he has good contacts in Moscow, and Manilov says he has already started to develop a program to pull the region out of its crisis. He dreams, he said, of turning Primorye into “a prestigious, attractive region, to which people will be sent to live as a reward” (Izvestia, August 1).
As for Nazdratenko, he has put a good face on his demotion. Manilov, he opined, was “a brave person” who would “uphold the interests of Primorsky Krai in the Federation Council.” Of course, Nazdratenko was unlikely to say anything else. Having stepped down as governor in exchange for a lucrative post in the Fisheries Committee, he has become dependent on the Kremlin. And while the media describe Darkin as Nazdratenko’s heir, Darkin is not yet strong enough to stand up to pressure from the Kremlin and its representative in the Far Eastern federal district. Manilov’s appointment seems therefore to represent an attempt to put an end once and for all to Nazdratenko’s influence in the region. Nazdratenko’s old opponent, former Vladivostok Mayor Viktor Cherepkov, probably got it right when he said: “The Russian government has put Primorye under direct economic rule” (Zolotoi Rog [Vladivostok], July 31).
THE HYDROCARBON STAKE IN AZERBAIJAN’S SOUTHERN OFFSHORE SECTOR.