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Cablegate: 'Ambitious Workaholic' Kozhemyako Takes Over in Amurskaya

VZCZCXRO5346
RR RUEHAG RUEHAST RUEHDA RUEHDF RUEHFL RUEHIK RUEHKW RUEHLA RUEHLN
RUEHLZ RUEHPOD RUEHROV RUEHSR RUEHYG
DE RUEHVK #0123/01 3010815
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 270815Z OCT 08
FM AMCONSUL VLADIVOSTOK
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 1033
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE
RUEHVK/AMCONSUL VLADIVOSTOK 1130

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 VLADIVOSTOK 000123

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV RS
SUBJECT: 'AMBITIOUS WORKAHOLIC' KOZHEMYAKO TAKES OVER IN AMURSKAYA
OBLAST

REF: VLADIVOSTOK 042

VLADIVOSTO 00000123 001.2 OF 002


Summary
-------

1. The Amurskaya Oblast Duma approved Oleg Kozhemyako as new
governor of the region on October 20. He replaces unpopular
Governor Nikolay Kolesov, whom the Kremlin forced to resign
after allegations of corruption and mismanagement. Kozhemyako
is a popular figure known for his crisis-management skills when
Governor of Koryak Okrug.

'Ambitious Workaholic' Kozhemyako Replaces Scandal-Plagued
Kolesov
--------------------------------------------- --------------
-------

2. On October 16, President Dmitriy Medvedev presented the Amur
Oblast Duma with his nomination of Oleg Kozhemyako for Governor
of the region. Four days later, 21 of the thirty Duma members
present -- including all Yedinaya Rossiya representatives --
voted to approve Kozhemyako for the position. Amur residents
view Kozhemyako as a welcome replacement to the largely
unpopular former governor Nikolay Kolesov, who was forced to
resign by the Kremlin because of allegations of official
corruption and mismanagement. Upon assuming the governorship,
Kozhemyako quickly appointed Viktor Kapkanshchikov, who served
as head of the RFE Emergency Response Committee from 2005 to
2007, as First Vice Governor and Deputy Chairman of the Oblast
Government. Kozhemyako indicated that, unlike most governors,
he does not plan to make large-scale changes to the existing
administration.

3. The Kremlin had reportedly been dissatisfied with Kolesov's
performance for a while. A Kommersant journalist told Consulate
staff that a member of the Presidential Administration
characterized the decision to dismiss Kolesov as being "related
to numerous scandals involving the governor himself and members
of his team." Polpred Oleg Safonov succinctly summarized the
upcoming challenges for Kozhemyako thus: "Amurskaya oblast is a
depressed and heavily subsidized region. The oblast's economic
situation is among of the worst in the Federation. Residents
have lost confidence in the regional authorities."

4. Kozhemyako proved to be a strong and popular leader in
Koryak Okrug when he successfully dealt with a 2005 winter
heating oil shortage there. When President Putin suddenly
dismissed Koryak Governor Vladimir Loginov, then-Vice-Governor
Kozhemyako assumed the Acting Governor role and successfully
procured assistance from federal authorities to avoid a large
scale winter crisis. His management skills gained him notice
from residents of neighboring Kamchatka, who pressed for him to
serve as governor there. He was unable to garner support from
Moscow, which supported Aleksey Kuzmitskiy for the position
instead.

5. Originally from Primorskiy Kray, Kozhemyako rose to
prominence in the seafood industry. His growing business proved
to be a threat to Primorye Governor Sergey Darkin and
then-Vladivostok Mayor Vladimir Nikolayev, who owned the two
largest fishing fleets in Primorskiy Kray. Kozhemyako
eventually moved his business to Kamchatka due to increased
pressure from authorities, reportedly directed by Governor
Darkin who viewed him not only as a business rival, as a strong
potential political contender. Though he reportedly had some
ties to organized crime during his Primorye fishing company
days, most residents consider Kozhemyako relatively clean,
writing off criminal connections as a necessary and unavoidable
function of doing business in 1990's Russia. Former Koryak
Oblast Duma Chair Nina Solodyakova characterized Kozhemyako to
the press as "a representative of the new generation of leaders:
he's an ambitious and knowledgeable workaholic hungry for
recognition."

Biographic Summary: Oleg Nikolayevich Kozhemyako
--------------------------------------------- ----

Kozhemyako was born on March 17, 1962, in Chernigovka,
Primorskiy Kray. He graduated from Khabarovsk Construction
Engineering School in 1982 and received a degree in economics
from the Far Eastern State Academy of Economics and
Administration in 1992. He is married, and has one son and a
daughter.

1989 -- Established and ran food processing company.
1995 -- Became Vice Chairman of the Board of Directors of
Preobrazhenskaya Fishing Company.
1998 -- Elected Chairman of Preobrazhenskaya Fishing Company
Board of Directors.
2001 -- Elected Deputy of Primorskiy Kray Duma.
2002 -- Elected Primorskiy Kray Senator to the Federation
Council.
2004 -- Resigned as Senator, ran for Kamchatka Governor. Came

VLADIVOSTO 00000123 002.2 OF 002


in third.
2005 -- Appointed Koryakskiy Autonomous Okrug Vice-Governor,
responsible for housing and utilities infrastructure.
2005 -- Appointed Okrug Governor by President Putin.
2007 -- Lost governorship as a result of Okrug's merger with
Kamchatka Oblast, then hired as Presidential Administration aide.
October, 2008 -- Appointed Governor of Amurskaya Oblast
GERSTEN

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