All parties except the United Russia party are presented in the gubernatorial election in the Irkutsk region. Acting Governor Igor Kobzev is running for the post as a self-nominated candidate. United Russia is playing safe and avoiding any statements to support him.
Recall that Sergei Levchenko, the former governor of the Irkutsk region, was compelled to resign at the end of last year. Igor Kobzev, Deputy Head of Russia’s Ministry for Emergency Situations (EMERCOM), was appointed acting governor. The consequences of the massive flood in the region, during which its leadership had performed extremely poorly, were named as the official reason for the replacement. However, there is an unofficial version also. Namely, Levchenko's membership in the Communist Party of the Russian Federation (CPRF.) He is First Secretary of the Irkutsk regional committee of the CPRF. The fact that he managed to win the gubernatorial election meant a systemic failure which the Kremlin had to react to sooner or later.
Previously, the scheme underwent trial-testing in other regions. It presupposes that a governor is summoned to the Kremlin, where he is thanked for his work. Then his successor is invited, who is introduced to people. The acting governor has a few months before the new election to urgently solve some acute issue that his predecessor failed to fix. After that, he wins in the first round of the elections.
However, it is very questionable whether this scheme successfully works in Irkutsk. A year has passed since those momentous floods. Housing has not been fully restored so far. Certainly, the residents of the township of Tulun, which suffered the most, have the biggest number of questions. On July 15, Sergei Menyaylo, Presidential Plenipotentiary Envoy to the Siberian Federal District, visited the region to the west of Lake Baikal and held a meeting on this issue. He mentioned the very slow pace of resolution of the issue. The deadlines for 101 of the 266 sites were postponed or rescheduled and included in the restoration program. The deadlines on 37 damaged houses were postponed already for the third time by the Fund of Structural Repairs of the residential buildings of the Irkutsk region. Notably, it concerns the old two-story and three-story residential dwellings, not the modern multistory apartment blocks.
Meanwhile, the election committee accepted documents from 17 candidates for the governor's post. The participation in elections of Sergey Levchenko might become the most surprising thing. At the end of June, he voiced his intention to run for the post of governor of the Irkutsk region. Given the fact that his resignation has caused these elections he cannot take part in early elections as a former official in accordance with the law. Levchenko even wrote a letter to Vladimir Putin asking for special permission to run. It remains unknown what the guarantor of the Constitution replied to him but Levchenko changed his mind and abstained from running.
Therefore, the CPRF will be represented in the elections by 44-year-old Mikhail Shchapov, the State Duma deputy from Irkutsk. Other political parties have also nominated their candidates. Larisa Yegorova, the head of the regional branch of A Just Russia and the deputy chair of the legislative assembly of the Irkutsk region, has been nominated by A Just Russia party. Andrei Dukhovnikov, the coordinator of the Congress of Russian Communities, is the nominee from the LDPR. There are also candidates nominated by the Civic Platform, Rodina and the Communist Party of Social Justice (KPSS). By the way, Gennady Shchadov is the candidate from the latter one. The consonance of his last name with Shchapov brings up a suspicion that he is just a banal spoiler candidate whose aim is to take away votes from the CPRF.
According to the established tradition of recent years, Igor Kobzev, the acting governor of the region, runs as an independent candidate. Interestingly, the United Russia party has not even stated directly that it supports him. There was only a rather evasive statement made by the local political council in mid-June. It said that the party would “cooperate” with Kobzev for the benefit of the region.
“Self-nomination or United Russia” is the main question at present,” a political technologist told wek.ru. “Everything depends on the region and on the party's local popularity rating. Political experts often look up to the central regions of Russia, where the popularity rating of United Russia is low, and convince candidates to nominate themselves. However, a must get consent from above. Otherwise the voters’ signatures in his or her favor will be declared invalid.”
The nomination of Yevgeny Yumashev, the head of Bodaibo municipal territory, is of particular interest. He has been the mayor of the town for 10 years. In 2017, he was re-elected as a candidate from United Russia. This year, there were some rumors that Yumashev might be nominated for the post of the regional governor by the CPRF. As a result, the CPRF decided in favor of Shchapov. However, Yumashev still ran as a self-nominated candidate. He has already managed to collect the signatures necessary for registration. However, he has not yet filed them with an election committee.
He profiles himself as one of three real candidates who are going to fight for the governor's post seriously and not just for appearances. Igor Kobzev and Mikhail Shchapov are the other two ones. Yumashev considers the representatives of A just Russia and the LDPR to be sham candidates, quite apart from the rest of the unknown candidates, among whom there are pensioners and the unemployed.