Yegor Stroev’s re-election as Orel Oblast governor on October 28 was followed by wide speculation over who would replace him as the speaker of the Federation Council, the upper house of Russia’s parliament. According to Russian law, all of the country’s governors must hand over their seats in the Federation Council to their hand-picked representatives before January 1, 2002. This means that Stroev must also vacate the post of speaker. Thus far, however, it is not clear either who will succeed Stroev or the date by which he will have to vacate his post.
Immediately after Stroev won his third term as Orel governor, high-level sources in the Kremlin administration were quoted as saying that that he would not remain Federation Council speaker (Russian agencies, October 29). The Kremlin’s representative in the Federation Council, Vyacheslav Khizhnyakov, said that there would be no changes in the law for the benefit of a particular person, adding that the law on the Federation Council had recently been adopted and that “there is no sense in changing it now” (Radio Ekho Moskvy, October 29). At the same time, other sources were quoted as saying that Stroev might possibly remain speaker for a while longer, but that the Federation Council would have to extend his term (Itar-Tass, October 29). A bit later a newspaper suggested that the Kremlin was not against Stroev keeping his post until the start of next year and that he would leave the Federation Council along with the last governors, even though this would violate the letter of the law (Vremya Novostei, October 30). Finally, on November 2, Valery Goreglyad, leader of the Federation Council’s pro-Kremlin group Federatsiya, which includes must of the Council’s members, made it all but official, declaring: “If he [Stroev] considers it necessary to lead the chamber until January 1, then let him do so” (Polit.ru, November 2).
As for who will succeed Stroev, one newspaper cited Goreglyad, Interior Minister Boris Gryzlov and Deputy Prime Minister Valentina Matvienko as the most likely candidates (Nezavisimaya Gazeta, October 31). The latter name is a distinct possibility, given that Matvienko has already been asked to represent Oryel Oblast in the Federation Council (Vek, November 2).
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