Get the latest updates as we post them — right on your browser

. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Just Russia's Victory Paralyzes Stavropol

Itar-TassAlexander Chernogorov
ROSTOV-ON-DON -- Stavropol Mayor Dmitry Kuzmin said Thursday that the regional government's work had ground to a halt following the March 11 parliamentary election, in which one pro-Kremlin party, A Just Russia, bested the other, United Russia.

"The paralysis of government in the Stavropol region -- both the executive and legislative branches -- has occurred because people are blaming one another for losing the election," Kuzmin told reporters in Stavropol, Interfax reported.

As a result of the interparty conflict in the region, the mayor said, the government was "up in the air."

"Everyone is sitting on their suitcases, so no work is getting done," said the mayor, who heads A Just Russia's Stavropol organization.

Stavropol was the only region out of 14 that held elections on March 11 where United Russia failed to place first. In the election's aftermath, Stavropol Governor Alexander Chernogorov was drummed out of United Russia for, as party leader Boris Gryzlov put it, failing to fulfill his duties.

A Just Russia's victory in the Stavropol region was variously interpreted as a sign of United Russia's potential weakness and of the second pro-Kremlin party's potential strength in advance of December's State Duma election.

Mikhail Yemelyanov sees the situation differently, however. Yemelyanov, a member of the United Russia faction in the State Duma, represents Electoral District 146 in the neighboring Rostov region.

He said this week that A Just Russia's performance in the Stavropol vote came as "no surprise."

"The election result in Stavropol was not the result of PR campaigns or politicians' public appearances, but of the battle between two groups: United Russia, led by Chernogorov, and A Just Russia, headed by Kuzmin," Yemelyanov said.

In this sense, the election was a skirmish between factions of the ruling elite, he said, "and the outcome was a function of the decisions of a group of mid-level managers who proved to be on the mayor's side."

Following his expulsion from United Russia, Chernogorov announced that he was abandoning party politics for good.
Dmitry Kuzmin
"They expelled me. What can you do? I'm working, I didn't join the party to get a job; I joined to help the party. Everyone knows how much I've done. In this post I work for the people and the region," the governor said last week.

Calls were heard for Chernogorov's head from various quarters, including former singer and performer Andrei Razin, who headed the Liberal Democratic Party's list in the March 11 election.

Razin said resignation was the only option for a functionary who led his party to defeat at the polls.

Chernogorov countered, saying he saw no reason to step down.

Reports appeared in the media that A Just Russia was also pushing for Chernogorov's ouster.

During a visit to Stavropol following the election, however, Federation Council Speaker Sergei Mironov, who heads A Just Russia at the national level, nixed the rumors.

But Mironov did take a few shots at the governor, who once left the Communist Party to join United Russia. "A man who runs from party to party is not a good candidate for our party," he said.

"What's more, we are consciously not accepting any sitting governors into our party, although many of them have expressed an interest," Mironov said. "When we begin to propose our own gubernatorial candidates to the president, and he agrees with our proposals, that will be another matter."

A similar division of power between the mayor and governor, and between A Just Russia and United Russia, is found in other regions, such as Samara.

But Yemelyanov said it would be a mistake to extrapolate the Stavropol conflict to the national level.

"This situation is entirely local," he said. "United Russia will probably manage to rectify its problems in the region within six months."