Russia: Putin Appoints Regional Figures As Trusted Envoys
By Julie Corwin and Jean-Christophe Peuch
Kamil Iskhakov, Putin's new envoy in the Far Eastern Federal District, is a 56-year-old ethnic Tatar.
He has ruled his native Kazan in various capacities for the past 14 years.
According to his official biography, Iskhakov was educated at Kazan State University and was active in the Komsomol (Communist youth organization) and the Communist Party. He was a Communist Party first secretary for Kazan's Soviet district for seven years.
Iskhakov has never worked anywhere but Kazan.
Talking to reporters in Kazan on 15 November, Iskhakov said the idea of leaving his native city left him with mixed feelings.
"On the one hand, I'm happy that I'll have an opportunity to show my skills in a new job, to help the country and the president in a remote location," Iskhakov said. "On the other hand, I am, of course, sad because all my life has been linked with Kazan. Those are serious changes in my life. So, I have mixed feelings."
One of Iskhakov's biggest challenges as mayor of Kazan was overseeing the city's 1000th anniversary that took place in August. It was preceded by the construction of a metro system. Both the millennium and the metro opening were attended by President Putin.
His activities in Kazan won Iskhakov the nickname of "Luzhkov of Kazan" -- a reference to the popular mayor of Moscow, Yurii Luzhkov. They also likely heralded the promotion that was granted him on 14 November.
Last year, Iskhakov played a key role in the return of a sacred 18th-century copy of the Kazan Mother of God (Our Lady of Kazan) icon from the Vatican to the Russian Orthodox Church.
Talking to Russian reporters in Rome at the time, Iskhakov said his efforts were not only a major event for his city, but also for Russia as a whole.
"[This icon] is a major property of Russia. I believe it will bring more peace, more joy, and more serenity to our homes. And we, as Russia, will acquire more grandeur," Iskhakov said.
Despite -- of perhaps, because of -- these achievements, Iskhakov has not enjoyed a good relationship with Tatar President Mintimer Shaimiev.
RFE/RL's Tatar-Bashkir Service has reported that Iskhakov's name has circulated as a possible successor for Shaimiev who is currently serving his fourth term.
Iskhakov on 15 November said he would do his utmost to justify Putin's confidence.
"I realize how important the [Far East] region is for Russia. I intend to put at good use all my knowledge and skills, so that people there have a better life and that all Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin's plans regarding this region come to life," Iskhakov said.
Putin is probably hoping that Iskhakov will become the Luzhkov of the Far East.
Putin's Alma Mater
Aleksandr Konovalov (file photo) Aleksandr Konovalov, the new presidential envoy to the Volga Federal District, was born in 1968 in St. Petersburg. He attended Putin's alma mater, the law faculty of St. Petersburg State University, from which he graduated in 1982.
From law school, Konovalov spent the next 13 years working as a prosecutor in St. Petersburg, starting as assistant to the prosecutor in the city's Vyborg district and ending as first deputy prosecutor for St. Petersburg.
In February 2005, Konovalov was appointed chief prosecutor to the Republic of Bashkortostan. The appointment came at a sensitive time, following on the heels of the December 2004 police raids that left dozens of civilians injured in Blagoveshchensk.
During Konovalov's tenure as Bashkortostan's chief prosecutor, no fewer than 10 police officers were charged with unjustified brutality.
Among other achievements reached by Konovalov, the website of Bashkortostan's Moscow representation (http://www.bashpred.ru) lists the fight against alleged radical Islamist groupings and illegal immigration.
The website also says Konovalov's appointment as presidential envoy to the Volga Federal District shows that Putin continues to rely on his law-enforcement agencies.
Copyright (c) 2005. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036. www.rferl.org
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