Publication: Monitor Volume: 5 Issue: 82

Russia’s new first deputy prime minister, Sergei Stepashin, will be in charge of relations with the regions and oversee the country’s elections. Presidential spokesman Dmitri Yakushkin stressed the latter responsibility in saying that Stepashin’s “principal task is to conduct clean and honest elections” (Russian agencies, April 28). Parliamentary elections are scheduled for December of this year.

The man Stepashin replaced, Vadim Gustov, previously governor of Leningrad Oblast, was also putatively in charge of regional affairs. Some critics, however, said that he did little more over the last seven months or so than lobby projects profitable to that oblast.

Stepashin will for now retain his interior ministry post–in it he is Russia’s top cop–but he indicated today that he will soon step down (Russian agencies, April 28). It should be noted, however, that Vladimir Putin, head of the Federal Security Service (FSB), said he would leave the FSB post after his appointment earlier this year as secretary of the Security Council, Yeltsin’s powerful advisory body, but has yet to do so. Some observers have already noted that with Putin and Stepashin now holding powerful decision-making posts, Yeltsin has shown he is relying on the security forces more than ever (NTV, April 28).