Publication: Monitor Volume: 2 Issue: 82

An election will be held on May 19 for the governor of the city of St. Petersburg. The post is being upgraded from "mayor" to "governor" to emphasize the fact that St. Petersburg is, like Moscow, a component part of the Russian Federation. Twenty-two hopefuls have so far submitted the 65,000 signatures required for registration as candidates. They include the governor of Leningrad oblast, Aleksandr Belyakov, but most observers say the only rival who can defeat incumbent mayor Anatoly Sobchak is Yuri Boldyrev, a popular politician who made his name in the late 1980s in the democratic movement.

Both Sobchak and Belyakov have called for St. Petersburg and the surrounding Leningrad oblast to be united in a single administrative unit. This is probably not realistic: uniting the city and the oblast might make economic sense, but it would require a change to the Russian constitution and adoption of two new federal laws, neither of which exists even in draft form. Belyakov has nonetheless announced that, if he wins the election May 19, he will combine the posts of city and oblast governors. Similarly, Sobchak has announced his intention of running for oblast governor if he is reelected next month. Along with Moscow mayor Yuri Luzhkov, Sobchak is seen by some as a potential future candidate for president of Russia. (Novoe vremya, No. 16; Moskovskie novosti, No. 14)

Transdniester Talks Jeopardized by Demands for Russian Troop Presence.