The go-getting governor of Saratov Oblast, Dmitry Ayatskov, is leaving the “Russia Is Our Home” (NDR) movement to set up a party of his own which, he says, will defend the interests of Russia’s regions. (Komsomolskaya pravda, April 29) Ayatskov made the announcement following last weekend’s NDR congress at which the movement approved the decision of its leader, former premier Viktor Chernomyrdin, to run for president in 2000. Ayatskov, formerly a member of the NDR Council, had been personally critical of Chernomyrdin for some time. His defection may, however, indicate a wider deterioration of relations between the NDR leadership and regional elites that could herald the NDR’s demise. Ayatskov explained his decision by indicting the NDR leadership: “A movement that has no roots in the provinces and that doesn’t give a damn about our pressing socioeconomic problems, but prefers to play political games, is doomed,” he said. (Kommersant-daily, April 29) Ayatskov will need considerable skill to find enough common ground to unite the disparate interests of Russia’s governors the regions they represent. So far, all such efforts have failed.
MOSCOW DISMANTLES CIS COOPERATION MINISTRY.