Andrey Nelidov: New Governor of Russian Karelia

In July 2010 Sergey Katanandov was dismissed from the position of the Head of the Republic of Karelia, and on 21 July President Medvedev appointed Andrey Nelidov to take this job. Nelidov was born in 1957 in Leningrad (St. Petersburg), served two years in the Soviet Army, was employed as a worker in a number enterprises and eventually became a deputy director of ZAO Nord-Kemp, a small timber-logging enterprise, registered in Priozersk (Käkisalmi), Leningrad Oblast. Then, quite surprisingly, he was appointed Vice-Governor of Leningrad region in 1996... In 2000-2002 he was Managing Director of the Belomor-Onega Shipping Company (owned by St. Petersburg's ORIMI Group). In 04.2006-03.2010, again quite surprisingly, he was a member of the Federation Council - being a representative of Karelia in Moscow. In March-June 2010 Nelidov worked as an adviser to the Head of Federation Council S. M. Mironov.

This background suggests that Nelidov has very strong connections with St. Petersburg and the Leningrad region, and probably his policies will stimulate greater involvement of Petersburg's companies into the Karelian economy. His Petersburg's contacts (those who have guided his rather strange career path) may be also helpful for lobbying his Karelian projects in Moscow. The whole story looks as if some influential forces have finally decided to make Karelia a more useful region of Russia (for their own interests, of course)...

BUT in his first interview, Nelidov did not reveal any concrete economic plans, and only said he was going to order to draw up a strategic development programme for Karelia. It seems he either does not know that Karelia already has a strategy till 2020 or he does not like this document and wants a new one. Overall, his interview gives an impression that he has no economic agenda or wants to hide it. One fact is certain: Nelidov brings in a new team to the Karelian Government: he has already fired several key figures of the Katanandov administration. He claims that among members of his team he wants to see only people with Karelian backgrounds. Indeed, all his recent appointees previously worked in Karelia. Probably, these appointments mean to somehow compensate Nelidov's lack of competence in Karelian economic affairs and his lack of contacts in Karelian business and political elite. But these appointments also undermine my hypothesis that "Russian Karelia has fallen into the hands of St. Petersburg's tycoons." Anyway, today it is too early to judge these developments. Time will show whether the appointment of the new governor leads to a real change in Karelia's development trajectory.

Nelidov's interview 26.07.2010: http://petrozavodsk.rfn.ru/rnews.html?id=1479767

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