General Lebed provokes a conflict in his region

At the press conference on February 12, the governor of the Krasnoyarsk region, General Alexander Lebed, addressed the citizens of the region, he told about his intention to reduce the budget of 2002. At that, the town of Norilsk will feel the reduction more acutely. The governor told a lot about his respect for the hard labor of the town’s population, but he also said that “when problems arise, all towns of the region must share the difficulties.”

In Lebed’s words, the region’s problems and the necessity of the budgetary reduction arose because of the reduction of the tax proceeds from the largest taxpayer: the Norilsk mining company. Does this really seem to be logical? Especially regarding the fact that there are 100,000 enterprises in the Krasnoyarsk region. The governor expects the population to understand the necessity of “tightening the belt."

Reactions of Krasnoyarsk and federal politicians followed the statement of Alexander Lebed.

Speaker of the Krasnoyarsk Legislative Assembly Alexander Uss considers the governor’s statement to be an attempt to duck-out; he says that Alexander Lebed shifts administrative faults on the population. The press service of the Legislative Assembly informs, “Once there was a chance to take measures to prevent the majority of the problems that arise today. However, instead, the regional officials said that everything was OK. The deputies of the Krasnoyarsk region were accused of pre-election intrigues and interference with the normal work of the regional administration. What is today’s result? We have no budget for the current year! We have no administration as such!”

The mayor of the town of Norilsk, Oleg Budargin , supports the governor’s statement that “everyone is to live according to personal economic results.”

Norilsk transfers 13 billion rubles of taxes per year and expects to receive at least half of the sum. However, this year, the regional administration plans to reduce the norm greatly. Norilsk mayor called the intention “a political trick that may put the region’s economic stability into question. Oleg Budargin says that it is the population of Norilsk that provides 70% of the budget of the Krasnoyarsk region. It looks as if the governor wants to settle the economic problems at the town’s expense. Moreover, as the Norilsk mayor thinks, the decision of Alexander Lebed on the budget reduction “aggravates the social situation in the region.” Oleg Budargin considers the situation in the region to be a crisis, and it is not the only crisis on the region’s territory. In his words, in July 2001, he told the governor that it was necessary to develop an economic program for the region to improve the situation, but nothing was done.

Senator from the Taymyr autonomous district Leonid Roketsky considers Lebed’s latest statement to be a provocation. “He tries to shift the blame for the complex social and economic situation in the Krasnoyarsk region (and he has been governing the region for four years already) and the low living standard in the region onto the “bad guys” from Norilsk, who wish to pay less taxes, which, in its turn, will cause damages to the whole of the regional population. Alexander Lebed will not admit the fact that these very “bad guys” keep the region’s economic and social sphere afloat. However, in fact, the Krasnoyarsk region may resolve its economic problems independently, without governmental subventions. The key problem of the Krasnoyarsk region is lack of a real owner and competent managers.”

Leonid Roketsky thinks that it is not accidental that Alexander Lebed’s address to the population was made soon after the statement of the Taymyr Duma on the urgent problems hampering further integration of the region’s territory. There is still no response of the Krasnoyarsk authorities to the proposition of the Taymyr autonomous district on the regulation of inter-budgetary relations. The region is delaying the ratification of the inter-budgetary agreement, and it is the governor who is mostly responsible for the delay: he kept the document for 1.5 months. Alexander Lebed has nothing to do now but to bring the purely juridical problem to the public sphere.

General Lebed will soon have to stand for election, and he is ready to sacrifice the well-being of the people to provoke a social conflict with the participation of the Kremlin to remain at the governor’s post.

Head of the Taymyr administration Alexander Khloponin thinks that the crisis in the Krasnoyarsk region has originated from “the poor work of the management of the governor and his team." “The great actions the governor plans to realize in the sphere of budgetary formation to overcome the collapse of the world economy have not been discussed with Taymyr," says Khloponin. Alexander Khloponin thinks that this demonstrates the value of Lebed’s ambitions. He also says that the statement made by General Lebed on February 12 is a demonstration of the intrigue that is typical of him.

Translated by Maria Gousseva

Read the original in Russian:

PRAVDA.Ru General Lebed ignores the Constitution

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