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Thursday, 15 June, 2000, 14:43 GMT 15:43 UK
Putin seeks power over regions
President Putin has divided Russia into seven new districts
One of Vladimir Putin's first and most ambitious moves, after his inauguration as Russia's president, has been to start re-shaping relations between Moscow and the country's far-flung regions.

After a decade in which central control over the 89 parts of the Russian Federation has gradually weakened, Mr Putin is determined to re-stamp the Kremlin's authority over the length and breadth of the country.

He has divided the country into seven super-districts, and appointed to each an envoy with the task of ensuring "there is a single way of implementing the laws of the Russian Federation".

New state prosecutors are also being appointed to each of the districts, and Mr Putin has said that the leaders of the 89 smaller regions will lose their seats in the upper house of the Russian parliament.

Tax shake-up

In future changes, the Kremlin is expected to gain the power to sack regional governors - while the seven envoys have already been elevated to the president's powerful Security Council.



This is intended to strengthen the unity of the state

Vladimir Putin
Moves by the centre to increase its share of tax revenues at the expense of the regions, and to reorganise the industrial giants that dominate local economies, are also widely expected.

Whether these ambitious plans succeed will depend in large part on the regional envoys, most of whom come from the military or law-enforcement agencies.

BBC Monitoring provides the following guide to who they are:

The envoys are General Viktor Cherkesov, General Georgiy Poltavchenko, General Viktor Kazantsev, General (retired) Konstantin Pulikovsky, General Petr Latyshev, Leonid Drachevsky and Sergey Kiriyenko.

Cherkesov - North-west district


Viktor Cherkesov
An ex-KGB officer returns home with a mission
Viktor Cherkesov, born in Leningrad in 1950, worked as a KGB officer in his native city (later renamed St Petersburg) from 1975 onwards.

He was employed by the Fifth Directorate, charged with combating political dissent, and became "notorious for persecuting dissidents", according to Russia's NTV television.

He became first deputy director of the Federal Security Service (FSB), the KGB's successor, in August 1998, during Putin's tenure as director.

Cherkesov had earlier studied with Putin at Leningrad State University and he remains a "close friend", according to NTV.

Poltavchenko - Central district


Georgiy Poltavchenko
Another Petersburg man descends on Moscow
Georgy Poltavchenko, born in Baku, Azerbaijan, in 1953, also worked for the KGB after serving as a leading member of the Communist Youth organisation, the Komsomol, in Leningrad in the 1970s.

He led the KGB's Vyborg department until 1990, and was appointed chief of the Federal Tax Police Service Administration for St Petersburg in 1993.

He owed the position to Putin, who then worked in the city administration, Izvestiya writes.

In 1999 he became presidential representative in the region around St Petersburg. For his new job he will be based in Moscow.

Izvestiya describes him as "a secretive, extremely cautious man and personal friend and protege of Vladimir Putin".

Kazantsev - North Caucasus district


Viktor Kazanstev
A familiar face in the North Caucasus
General Viktor Kazantsev, born in the Vitebsk region of Belarus in 1946, is the envoy to a district that includes Chechnya.

Since 1966 he has served all over the former USSR, including the Caucasus, Central Asia and Siberia, and commanded a regiment in Afghanistan from 1979 to 1987.



It is in the spirit of imperial traditions to send a military viceroy to the Caucasus

Ingush president Ruslan Aushev

Moving to the North Caucasus Military District in 1993, he rose to become its commander in 1997, and in 1999 took command of the forces carrying out operations in Dagestan and Chechnya.

Kazantsev narrowly escaped death in Chechnya in January when his helicopter crashed in the mountainous Vedeno district.

Pulikovsky - Far East district


Konstantin Pulikovsky
Pulikovsky before he entered politics
Konstantin Pulikovsky, born in Ussuriysk in 1948, rose through the ranks of the army to become deputy commander of the Russian forces fighting in Chechnya in 1996.

He is remembered, in particular, for issuing an ultimatum to the people of Groznyy to evacuate the city in 48 hours.



We are all going into battle together to fight for a better life

Konstantin Pulikovsky on his new appointment

After retiring, he entered politics, leading the pro-government Unity party in the Krasnodar region.

Kommersant newspaper commented that Pulikovsky's appointment to the Far East, which has been racked for years by a power struggle in its main city Vladivostok, was such a surprise that no local leaders "could not say anything sensible" about it.

Latyshev - Urals district


Petr Latyshev
Latyshev: now based in Yekaterinburg
Petr Latyshev, born in 1948, rose through the police force, serving in Perm and Krasnodar, to become deputy interior minister in 1994.

He was involved in security operations in Dagestan in the summer of 1999, and won praise as a negotiator for defusing an ethnic confrontation in another North Caucasus region, Karachai-Cherkessia.

He has also been heavily involved in anti-crime operations in St Petersburg.

Drachevsky - Siberia


Leonid Drachevsky
An unknown quantity for Siberia
Leonid Drachevsky, born in 1942, trained as a chemist and served on the USSR State Committee for Physical Culture and Sport before becoming a diplomat, first in Spain and then as ambassador to Poland from 1996-98.



The most mysterious appointment on the list

Izvestiya

In 1998 he entered government as a deputy foreign minister, and in May 1999 became minister for CIS affairs.

Drachevsky is a little-known figure in Siberia, Kommersant writes.

Kiriyenko - Volga district


Sergey Kiriyenko
An ex-premier for one of Russia's richest regions
Sergey Kiriyenko, born Sukhumi, Georgia, in 1962 began his career as a Komsomol official in the city of Gorky (now Nizhniy Novgorod) and went on to hold senior positions in banking and business in the Yeltsin years.

Entering government as a deputy fuel and energy minister in 1997, he became prime minister in April 1998, only to be sacked in August as a result of Russia's economic crash.

Becoming an MP in 1999, he leads the pro-government Union of Right Forces.

Regional leaders such as Tatar President Mintimer Shaimiyev have warmly welcomed Kiriyenko's appointment, saying he is the ideal candidate for the job.

BBC Monitoring, based in Caversham in southern England, selects and translates information from radio, television, press, news agencies and the Internet from 150 countries in more than 70 languages.

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18 May 00 | Europe
Putin reins in regions
 | Media reports
Enter the President's Men
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