Publication: Monitor Volume: 7 Issue: 132

The victory of businessman Sergei Darkin in the June 17 run-off election for Primorsky Krai governor has not brought about the hoped-for stabilization of the situation there. In fact, a war is continuing in which the central action consists of a duel between Darkin and Viktor Cherepkov. Darkin is seen as the protege of the krai’s former governor, Yevgeny Nazdratenko, while Cherepkov, former mayor of the regional capital of Vladivostok, was for years the leader of the opposition to Nazdratenko.

Last week, the duel spilled over to the federal level when the State Duma took consideration of an appeal in support of Cherepkov. Cherepkov, who came in second in the first round of voting, was disqualified by a regional court during the last days of the electoral campaign on the grounds that he had violated campaign regulations. The appeal criticizes the decision of the krai judiciary to disqualify Cherepkov as a candidate in the gubernatorial election (Russian agencies, July 5-6). Cherepkov, who is himself a State Duma deputy, was not bothered by President Putin’s comment that the Primorsky election was finally over (ORT, June 18). He has continued to protest Darkin’s victory, alleging that Darkin was just as guilty of violating campaign regulations in the way that Cherepkov was accused of doing. Cherepkov is appealing his disqualification in the Supreme Court, which on June 28 received all the material related to the case from the Primorye court. So far, the Supreme Court has not said when it will hear the case (Russian agencies, July 2).

The Kremlin continues to support Darkin. Along with Putin’s cited comment was one made by his representative in the Far Eastern federal district, Konstantin Pulikovsky, who called Darkin’s election a “victory for democracy” (Russian agencies, July 3). Such comments ignore both the State Duma’s position and reports that the new governor has links to criminal circles (Moskovskie Novosti, July 3). They also ignore public opinion: In a poll taken last month by the All-Russian Center for the Study of Public Opinion (VTsIOM), only 11 percent of respondents said they thought the Primorye elections had been clean. Some 25 percent said that the Supreme Court should order a fresh election in which Cherepkov would be allowed to run (, July 4).