The end of the Wild Wild East
Deputy governor of Primorye was arrested red-handed. Besides the criminal aspect there are two political intrigues in the case. The first one is that the case can mean the beginning of the end of Primorye governor Darykin. Secondly it seems that the federal centre is about to occupy with unrestricted Primorye seriously. After all Primorye is to host the APEC summit of 2012.
In Vladivostok a vice-governor Alexander Shishkin was detained on Wednesday while taking a bribe of 1.2 million rubles. In the opinion of the prosecution, jointly with officials of the regional municipal water supply service Primorsky Vodokanal he introduced overestimated demands in the technical documents in order to extort money from builders. Shishkin was appointed at the post of a Vice-Governor responsible for matters of housing and communal services in June 7, 2007. Before that he has been heading the Regional State Unitary Enterprise Primorsky Vodokanal.
According to certain information earlier Alexander Shishkin was occupied with automatic fire systems, then headed a water supply enterprise “Plumbing Service of the South of Primorye” that went bankrupt during his directorship. He is considered to be one of Darykin’s protйgйs, hardly a former driver of the governor. They said that after his resignation Primorsky Vodokanal has left in debt. As for bankruptcy of Plumbing Service of the South of Primorye, the criminal proceedings were instituted on the charge of intentional bankruptcy. Thus, irrelative of Shishkin’s management talents, the Primorsky Kray experiences a permanent political crisis, and it won’t be over after Shishkin’s dismissal of even arrest.
A half-crisis of half-administration
Relations between elites of Primorye are quite a specific topic. First of all, the region is still considered to be utterly criminal. Not without good reasons the former mayor of Vladivostok who is now under arrest had several criminal nicknames, one of the most remarkable was Winnie-the-Pooh. Regional business is still being formed on clan basis; manpower policy of the administration is extremely unstable.
“Loud cases in the region have been happening during a year, lately six deputy governors resigned. Taking into account such staff turnover many experts claimed that the case of Nikolaev would not be the last” – reminds Alexander Kynev, director of regional programs at the Foundation for Information Policy Development.
Since November in Primorye there have been no special official responsible for housing and communal services. After retirement of Sergei Peredria this field has passed under the control of a vice governor Yuri Likhoida, responsible for power engineering. Then governor’s press-service announced that “the process of forming of the team is over”. But Shishkin appeared in the administrative corps only in June, 2007. However regional experts unanimously claimed, that Darykin had advanced Shishkin with a definite purpose, as a substitute for Nikolaev.
It seems that this plan has failed. Moreover Darykin himself now receive a serious alarm. Proceedings against Shishkin can be unambiguously regarded as continuation of a campaign against Darykin. If he doesn’t manage to agree upon everything, he can lose his post already in the next year. Even if this is not a case, such rearrangements in the administration of the region will undoubtedly affect following career and the future of the governor. “Darykin understands that”, assumes Kynev. “He even tries to make an agreement. Thus in May he sent a letter where he asked for replacement of a member of the Presidium of the Political Council of the regional department of the United Russia Vladimir Kurilov, but he remained on his post”.
Darykin has been already reassigned to his post that supposes that he enjoys confidence of the federal authorities. It was in 2005, though. “If consider reassignment as a sort of writ of protection, its term can expire. The case with the Governor of the Amur Area demonstrated that. That’s why one must not exclude problems for Darykin”, argues an analytic of the Institute for Regional Policy Alexei Titkov.
APEC o' both your houses!
The federal centre is utterly anxious for Primorye and it is searching for different combinations and variants of submission of the region. “If proceedings against Shishkin were instituted as a result of inner conflicts in Primorye, the governor of the region, Sergei Darykin would stand up for his deputy and protйgй”, - reckons Alexei Titkov. “Especially since Shishkin is his trusted person. In 2012 APEC summit will take place in Vladivistok and huge sums will be spent on this arrangement. About 100 billion rubles are to be appropriated from the federal budget, that is less but comparable with financing of the Olympics in Sochi, national projects, nanotechnologies. The federal centre is extremely anxious how these money would be expended, it would like to avoid inexpedient and inefficient expenses”, Kynev adds. That’s why all the structures responsible for funds distribution are now reconstructed and set under federal control.
Vladivostok compelled attention during the press-conference of the RF president Vladimir Putin. Questions are always submitted to the presidential administration in advance, but the editor of the regional newspaper argued that her question had not been approved. She asked about corruption and money embezzlement. According to her, all 100 billion are already divided between “a host of consultants, aides, former senators, smuggler deputies, ex-deputy governors who have plundered our budget”.
After that she suggested to introduce in the region a direct presidential rule, as it was suggested for half-military regions like Chechnya, for example. The issue of organizing the summit (and, certainly, money application) is essential for federal authorities; for example 50 million rubles were supposed only on development of the conception of the Far East. So the distrust of the federal center is quite comprehensible. Thus, the candidacy of Darykin’s protйgй for the post of the mayor of Vladivostok is unacceptable.
Direct presidential rule certainly won’t be introduced in the region but the federal center would like to control it by all means, even by coercive ones. So Darykin will have to come to terms (for example, to accept federal representatives in the government of the region) and Moscow will need to think of alternative control method.
“Federal authorities would not like to meet 2012 with such criminal reputation that Vladivostok has at the moment”, claims Kynev. “The present image of the capital of the region can cause serious damage to our reputation. Thus one can’t manage only with some arrests and inspections. Even efforts of Kamil Itskhakov, who has organized perfectly the anniversary of the city of Kazan and now is a plenipotentiary of the president won’t be sufficient. A total reform of the ruling system of the region is needed. Thus what hasn’t managed with Moscow of Luzhkov can be tested on Primorye of Darykin.