Abramovich Back in Chukotka Politics

Itar-TassKopin on Thursday being sworn in as Chukotka governor, with Abramovich attending the ceremony in the foreground.
Less than a month after resigning as governor, billionaire Roman Abramovich is diving back into Chukotka politics, with his eye on the speaker's chair in the remote Arctic autonomous district's parliament.

Abramovich will run in a by-election for the Chukotka Duma on Oct. 12, his spokesman John Mann said Thursday.

A statement posted on the district administration's web site said Abramovich told local deputies during a meeting that he was accepting their request to run for a seat in the vote.

Abramovich, the owner of London's Chelsea football club, attended the inauguration ceremony Thursday for Roman Kopin, his successor as the district's leader, in the capital Anadyr.

The Chukotka Duma has 12 seats. Mann said three of them would be contested in the by-election. According to the parliament's web site, the next election for the whole legislature will be in 2011.

In a letter to Abramovich within a week of him stepping down, the deputies offered him the post of speaker, saying the incumbent, Vasily Nazarenko, would soon be leaving the post because of poor health, Interfax reported.

"Our decision stands. We put our fate in your hands once already and were not mistaken. You and your team have shown your talent for solving our problems," the document said, the agency reported.

The deputies made it clear that they understood that Abramovich, who spends most of his time in London, would not be able to be in the region on a constant basis. "The post of speaker does not require this," they wrote.

During his eight-year tenure as governor, Chukotka's GDP grew more than fourfold and total capital investment climbed by 500 percent.