The Monitor’s correspondent in Saratov Oblast reports that the new Landowners’ Party, to be set up by Oblast Governor Dmitri Ayatskov, will hold its founding congress in Saratov at the end of May. Ayatskov predicts a huge potential membership for the party, claiming that the term “landowner” embraces 80 percent of the Russian population. “It includes collective farm peasants, private farmers, people who own country cottages and pensioners with allotments,” Ayatskov told journalists last week. Our correspondent says Ayatskov said he expects the “Greater Volga” economic association, of which Saratov Oblast is a leading member, to form the basis of the new party. “Greater Volga” brings together the Republics of Mordovia, Tatarstan, Chuvashia and Mari-El, and Astrakhan, Nizhni Novgorod, Penza, Samara, Saratov, Ulyanovsk and Volgograd Oblasts. It is rich in oil and gas and–unlike the majority of Russia’s other economic associations–is dominated by provincial governors who are not afraid to describe themselves as reformers. (Moskovskie novosti, December 22, 1996)
The Monitor’s correspondent casts doubt on Ayatskov’s confident assertion that his new party will be able to reply on the support of the Greater Volga association. He says Ayatskov’s position in the association is not as strong as he would wish; the acknowledged leader of the association is the governor of Samara Oblast, Konstantin Titov, and there is little love lost between him and Ayatskov. This perhaps explains why Ayatskov told journalists with unaccustomed modesty that he does not see himself as heading the new party–at least, as long as he remains governor of Saratov.
PROSECUTOR GENERAL CHALLENGES SARATOV’S LAND LAW.