In the first round of gubernatorial elections in Primorsky Krai on the Sea of Japan, Kremlin candidate Gennady Apanasenko, the deputy presidential envoy to the Far East federal district, came in third. More surprisingly, he failed to persuade a judge to put him in the runoff. Sergei Darkin, a businessman who some say is tied to ex-governor and quondam Kremlin nemesis Yevgeny Nazdratenko, led the field. Darkin last week paid a visit to Moscow and apparently will have Kremlin backing in a run-off on June 17 against Viktor Cherepkov, former mayor of Vladivostok. Cherepkov is an equal-opportunity enemy of Nazdratenko and the Kremlin alike.

In Nizhegorod Oblast twenty-three candidates have signed up to run for governor. One of the leaders is Andrei Klimentev, a nightclub owner who was elected mayor of regional capital Nizhny Novgorod in 1998 but denied a chance to serve due to multiple felony convictions. He was released from jail last year. A lesser attraction is Eduard Limonov, head of the National Bolshevik Party, recently convicted of possession of illegal weapons. There are rumors that Oleg Deripaska, the oligarch who controls most of Russia’s aluminum industry, will enter the crowded race. If he does, he would be a formidable contender. His partner in the aluminum business, Sibneft Oil owner Roman Abramovich, is governor of Chukotka.