By the end of the year, voters in 52 Russian regions will have elected their governors, most for the first time. So far, the elections have brought neither the Communist landslide that Moscow feared nor the consolidation of Kremlin-friendly incumbents Moscow was hoping for. Voters appear to have lost interest in politics. In these times of financial hardship, they are choosing candidates they think can pull their regions out of economic depression, regardless of political affiliation. The picture that is emerging therefore shows no clear political pattern. In last weekend’s election in central Russia’s Kirov oblast, Communist-backed Vladimir Sergeenkov won 39.7 percent of the vote and Gennady Shtin, chairman of the region’s council of enterprise directors, got 30.5 percent; they will face-off in a runoff later in the month. Sergeenkov is a member of the Russian parliament, where he belongs to the nationalist "People’s Power" faction. Despite support from Moscow, the incumbent governor trailed with 17.5 percent. In voting last weekend in Vologda oblast, north of Moscow, incumbent Vyacheslav Pozgalev swept the board with over 80.8 percent of the vote. He was supported by "Russia Is Our Home", Yabloko and Russia’s Democratic Choice. The Communist candidate got only 3.2 percent. The Communist candidate was also left far behind in Kaliningrad oblast, Russia’s westernmost outpost. There, incumbent governor Yuri Matochkin (31 percent) will fight a runoff on October 20 against Leonid Gorbenko, head of the city’s fishing port (22 percent). Gorbenko is seen as a skilled and pragmatic manager. (NTV, Itar-Tass, October 7)
Pentagon Investigates Some Russian Military Technologies.