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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Mayor Vows to Resign Amid Far East Feuding

One of the bitterest and longest-running political feuds in Russia appeared to have ended, at least for now, when the embattled mayor of Vladivostok said Tuesday he planned to step down.


Viktor Cherepkov told local radio in the Far East port that he was throwing in the towel because his prolonged battle with Primorsky region Governor Yevgeny Nazdratenko had undermined his authority as mayor.


"I do not want to be a doormat on which everybody who pleases can wipe their feet, even those who should be defending me and fighting together with me," he was quoted as saying by Itar-Tass. Nonetheless, Cherepkov refused to say when he would quit his post or call new elections, prompting speculation that his resignation announcement could be a tactical ploy.


Nazdratenko welcomed Cherepkov's decision to quit. "If he has seriously decided to do this, then it is a positive step ... for the city," he told NTV television. "It was probably motivated by his complete incompetence as an administrator."


The four-year battle stemmed from a clash of personalities between Cherepkov, a dapper former naval officer, and the blunt Nazdratenko.


Twice since 1994, Nazdratenko tried to oust Cherepkov, but on each occasion the courts reinstated him. Last month, while Cherepkov was in the hospital, the regional legislature fired him and appointed a Nazdratenko ally. After several weeks of confusion in which Vladivostok was ruled by two mayors, the dogged Cherepkov won through.


Moscow was dragged into the feud, with First Deputy Prime Minister Anatoly Chubais backing Cherepkov. President Boris Yeltsin, too, eventually weighed in on the side of the mayor, stripping Nazdratenko of many powers.


Meanwhile, the city of 630,000, which is home to Russia's once-mighty Pacific Fleet, has been in chaos. There have been regular power outages, and this spring garbage lay rotting on the streets for weeks after municipal workers went on strike. Cherepkov said an economic blockade by Nazdratenko caused the problems while the governor said the mayor's incompetence was to blame.


Explaining his decision to resign Tuesday, Cherepkov said the feud with Nazdratenko had made it impossible for him to govern the city effectively. He cited an incident last week when officials barred him from visiting the scene of an explosion at an ammunition dump in the city, even though he heads Vladivostok's commission for emergencies.


Cherepkov ruled out running again for mayor, saying instead that he would work on his memoirs which, he promised, would thoroughly discredit Nazdratenko.


According to Nikolai Petrov, an expert on regional politics at the Carnegie Moscow Center, it could be that Cherepkov has beat a tactical retreat and will live on to fight another day.


Despite his denials, Cherepkov may have decided to resign to give himself a better chance of victory in the next mayoral elections, slated to take place in the next six months, Petrov said. "He will acquire the image of the aggrieved party, of someone knocked back by the regional authorities."