Publication: Monitor Volume: 2 Issue: 152

Presidential chief-of-staff Anatoly Chubais has said that his number one task is to ensure that Kremlin-friendly governors are elected in the fall, when the governors of fifty Russian regions will run for popular election for the first time. (Until now, most of them were personally appointed by the president.) The elections have national as well as regional importance since the upper house of the Russian parliament, the Federation Council, is composed of regional and republican executive and legislative heads. The Communists believe they stand a good chance in those elections, which they hope will tip the balance of power in the Council in their favor. This would enable them to influence the 1997 federal budget, amend the constitution, and even impeach the president. The Communists will back a single slate of candidates drawn up in cooperation with their nationalist allies from the recently formed Popular Patriotic Union (PPU). The pro-government "Russia is Our Home" (ROH) also plans its own slate. In 40 of the 50 regions, ROH is content to back the incumbent governor, but ROH analysts have identified five or six regions where, because of poor living standards, the incumbent is unpopular and unlikely to be reelected. (Nezavisimaya gazeta, Segodnya, July 24, 1996) The September elections for governors in the Saratov, Amur, Leningrad and Rostov oblasts will be closely watched as indicators of how the rest of elections are likely to go in the rest of Russia. Chubais has said that the experience gained there will be applied elsewhere.

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