Khloponin Tapped to Head New Caucasus District, by Nabi Abdullayev
By Nabi Abdullayev, January 19, 2010 - The Moscow Times
Conflict-torn republics in the North Caucasus will be united in a new federal district overseen by newly appointed Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Khloponin, President Dmitry Medvedev said Tuesday.
The surprise announcement redraws the seven so-called "super regions" established by then-President Vladimir Putin in May 2000 to reassert federal authority over provinces that had largely enjoyed autonomy in the 1990s.
The shift also serves as an indication of how seriously the Kremlin is treating the threat of escalating violence in the North Caucasus, which includes Chechnya.
But the appointment of Krasnoyarsk Governor Khloponin, a weathered politician with a past in big business, suggests that the Kremlin wants to shift its focus away from the seemingly never-ending fight against insurgents to building a more stable political system there, political analysts said.
"First, I've changed the system of federal districts that exists in our country," Medvedev said in announcing the changes during a meeting with Khloponin in the Kremlin on Tuesday evening.
The president said the new North Caucasus Federal District would include the republics of Dagestan, Chechnya, Ingushetia, Karachayevo-Cherkessia, Kabardino-Balkaria and North Ossetia and the Stavropol region — all of which were part of the Southern Federal District previously. The capital of the new district will be located in the Stavropol region's resort of Pyatigorsk.
The Southern Federal District will encompass the regions of Krasnodar, Astrakhan, Rostov and Volgograd, along with the republics of Adygeya and Kalmykiya.
Medvedev also said he had signed a decree Tuesday appointing Khloponin as his envoy in the North Caucasus Federal District and, simultaneously, to the post of deputy prime minister. The government will now have seven deputy prime ministers and two first deputy prime ministers.
Medvedev also accepted Khloponin's resignation as Krasnoyarsk's governor and promoted his deputy Edkham Akbulatov to the post of acting governor.
Medvedev said Khloponin would have authority over economic issues related to the North Caucasus Federal District and oversee top personnel decisions and the activities of law enforcement agencies there.
Medvedev said North Caucasus authorities have learned how to fight insurgents and criminals but lacked experience in rooting out corruption, clamping down on economic crime and nurturing economic development. He said he hoped that Khloponin would use his experience as a successful governor to improve the social and economic situation in the North Caucasus.
The president also sent a bill to the State Duma on Tuesday allowing Khloponin to jointly serve as a Cabinet member and an official with the presidential administration.
Khloponin, a former chairman of the Norilsk Nickel metals giant who won gubernatorial elections in the Taimyr autonomous district in 2001 and in the Krasnoyarsk region the following year, said Tuesday that he would use "economic methods" to tackle the many problems that have accumulated in the North Caucasus.
Medvedev hinted that he would appoint a new North Caucasus tsar during his state-of-the-nation address in November. Political pundits named several potential candidates, but Khloponin was not among them. The Kremlin and Krasnoyarsk administration released statements ahead of Tuesday's meeting that said Khloponin had been invited to the Kremlin to participate in a presidential meeting dedicated to education and demography with other senior officials.
Medvedev previously had never indicated that he might create an eighth federal district.
Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov expressed hope Tuesday that the creation of the new federal district would boost local economic development.
"It is a relatively small, compact territory, and we want to hope that this reform will help to solve problems of economic growth quickly," he told Interfax.
Senior officials in United Russia, where Khloponin is a member of the party's Political Council, made similar noises Tuesday.
While violence has surged in recent months in the North Caucasus, particularly in Ingushetia and Dagestan, Khloponin most likely will concentrate on other grave problems that contribute to instability there, including bad governance, corruption and a poor investment climate, said Nikolai Silayev, a Caucasus analyst at the Moscow State Institute of Foreign Relations.
But Silayev criticized the Kremlin's "manual management" approach in the reform, calling its a quick fix instead of much-needed systemic changes.
"Moscow once again wants to solve a problem by creating a new structure and appointing a man with extraordinary powers to run it," he said.
He said the federal government has done little to change deeper rooted problems of nepotism in state appointments in the North Caucasus and pervasive corruption in the law enforcement and justice systems.
Igor Bunin, head of the Center for Political Technologies, praised Khloponin as incorruptible and said he was the best possible politician for Moscow-based businessmen with interests in the North Caucasus to deal with.
"Khloponin is not a general. He is a politician. He is rich, and he will not take bribes," Bunin said. "He will approach problems, including those related to security, as a politician, not as a military man."
Boris Nemtsov, a former deputy prime minister and opposition leader who knows Khloponin well, described him as "a smart and sensible person who can easily understand any new task.”
Nemtsov, however, voiced doubt over whether Khloponin would be able to do much in the troubled region. “He would need to be given very broad authority over the situation there, but I doubt that he will get that," he said.
Khloponin, 44, was born in Colombo, the commercial capital of what is now Sri Lanka, and graduated with a degree in finance from Moscow's Finance Academy. He is widely considered on of Russia's most effective regional bosses. Krasnoyarsk, which is among the richest regions because of aluminum production, beat Moscow and St. Petersburg in terms of investment in 2007.
Staff writer Alexander Bratersky contributed to this report.
Source: The Moscow Times
Biography of Russia's new North Caucasus Presidential Envoy
President Dmitry Medvedev on Tuesday named ex-governor of Siberian Krasnoyarsk Territory Alexander Khloponin as deputy prime minister and his personal envoy to the North Caucasus, giving him sweeping powers in the troubled region.
Following is a brief biography of Khloponin.
Khloponin was born on March 6, 1965, in the Sri Lankan capital of Colombo to the family of a translator working for the Soviet trade mission.
He studied in the Moscow Financial Institute in 1982-89.
From 1989 to 1992, he worked in Soviet Vnesheconombank as the head of Government Loans Department.
In 1992, Khloponin joined International Financial Company to become its president in 1996.
On June 28, 1996, the board of directors of Norilsk Nickel company appointed Khloponin as president and CEO.
In 2001, 36-year-old Khloponin became the youngest Russian governor, when he won gubernatorial polls in the Siberian Taimyr district, Russia's center for nickel production.
In 2002, he became the governor of Krasnoyarsk Territory after the death of the previous regional leader, Alexander Lebed, in a helicopter accident. The Krasnoyarsk Territory is more than three times the size of France. The young ambitious governor soon won the reputation of an effective manager by dramatically improving the economic situation in the region.
In 2002, Alexander Khloponin was named Person of the Year by Expert magazine, a Russian business weekly.
In 2004, he was among those who advocated the merger of Krasnoyarsk Territory with the Evenki and Taimyr Autonomous districts. On April 17, 2005, the majority of the population in Krasnoyarsk Territory itself as well as the autonomous areas voted in favor of the merger in a referendum.
In 2007, then President Vladimir Putin, who had made regional governors Kremlin-appointed officials, reconfirmed Khloponin in his post.
Khloponin is a member of the Presidential Council on the implementation of the national priority projects and demographic policy, the Presidential Council on developing local self-government, the Government Commission on the assessment of the performance of the federal and regional state agencies, the State Council working group on infrastructure development in aviation, and the Russian Commission for UNESCO.
He was awarded with the Order of Honor in 1998 and the Order of Service to the Motherland, fourth class, in 2008.
He holds a masters in economics.
Khloponin is married with a daughter born in 1987.
MOSCOW, January 19 (RIA Novosti)