Publication: Monitor Volume: 3 Issue: 117

President Yeltsin would be on shaky legal ground in sacking Nazdratenko. However, ever since last year, when governors were popularly elected in all of Russia’s regions, it has been an open secret that the presidential administration was unhappy with suggestions that Yeltsin had lost his power to dismiss governors just because he had relinquished his power to appoint them. Sacking Nazdratenko would therefore allow Yeltsin to show other regional leaders that the federal center remains a force to be reckoned with. Surprisingly, not all of Nazdratenko’s fellow-governors are on his side. Konstantin Titov, governor of Samara oblast, told NTV on June 10 that, in his view, Yeltsin probably has the legal authority to dismiss even elected governors. In the present state of Russian legislation, Titov said, there is no law setting out the president’s powers vis-a-vis regional leaders. Under such circumstances, he argued, Yeltsin could issue a presidential edict saying that he could dismiss an elected governor, and then go ahead and do it.

Titov said it is up to parliament to draft and adopt the appropriate legislation which would then supersede any presidential edict on the matter. In the meantime, in Titov’s view, the president remains the ultimate guarantor of citizens’ liberties and it is reasonable that he should act on behalf of the residents of Primorsky krai. As for the appointment of Viktor Kondratov, head of the krai’s Federal Security Service (FSB), as the president’s regional representative, Titov thought FSB generals were as appointable as anyone else — though he did add that he does not expect Kondratov to continue to hold both posts.

Titov’s pro-presidential stance puts him at odds with at least one other strong-minded regional governor, Eduard Rossel of Sverdlovsk oblast. Like defeated presidential contender Aleksandr Lebed, Rossel has come out strongly for Nazdratenko. It might be thought that all elected governors would have an overriding interest in confirming their political independence from Moscow. Titov, however, is already an influential regional baron. With a population of three million, Samara is one of Russia’s largest and most successful regions. It has substantial export revenues from Lada cars and petrochemicals and is one of a handful of net contributors to, rather than recipients of, the federal budget. As deputy leader of the pro-government "Russia is Our Home," Titov already has power at court. During the government reshuffle last March, he declined the offer of a deputy premiership — evidently feeling his present status is more powerful (and less vulnerable). Titov may also, as a senior figure in the upper house of the federal parliament, be confident that proper legislation can be passed in good time to formalize his and other governors’ powers, before any likely challenge to his own position.

Federal Government Ignores "Russian Davos."