Moscow opposes direct election of head of Sevastopol, considering city's status
After the merger of Crimea and Sevastopol with Russia, conflicts between regional elites there were inevitable. Although at the beginning of March an attempt by supporters of the speaker of the legislative assembly of Sevastopol, Alexey Chaly, to pass a bill on the direct election of governor of the city failed, the conflict between Chaly and governor Sergey Menyailo continues. Moscow opposes direct election of the head of Sevastopol, considering Sevastopol's status.
As a military expert, the editor-in-chief of ‘National Defense’ magazine, Igor Korotchenko, explained, "Over the past two years, taking into account the risk of NATO’s direct military-political confrontation over Crimea, such a scenario was also not ruled out, and the option is not ruled out, at least, of some large-scale military provocations on the part of Ukraine. A lot has been done to create a viable self-sustaining group of Russian troops on the territory of Crimea. In this regard, I would like to emphasize the role and importance of Sevastopol as the main base of the Black Sea Fleet. Of course, this is the main purpose of this constituent part of the Russian Federation. Sevastopol is the main base of the Black Sea Fleet. This statute has been and remains critical in dealing with all the issues related to Sevastopol. We know that there have been various initiatives. In particular, it was suggested to discuss and implement a decision on the election of the governor of Sevastopol. I will repeat my previous position that the governor of Sevastopol is a nomenclature of the Russian president. It is precisely President Putin, given the strategic importance of Sevastopol, who alone will determine the figure who will head the executive power structure in Sevastopol."
Korotchenko also emphasized the fact that the main purpose of Sevastopol is military. "The current governor, a man who has a military background, who served for many years in the Armed Forces, and whom the president trusts, respectively, in our opinion, is a very good example of when a former military man and now a politician of the federal level heads Sevastopol."
Recall that Vice-Admiral Sergey Menyailo, in August 2008, took an active part in the naval landing campaign of the Russian armed forces during the armed conflict in South Ossetia. For the deployment of the Russian military contingent to the conflict area he led a detachment of combat ships of the Black Sea Fleet to Abkhazia, and was deputy commander of the Russian Black Sea Fleet until the end of 2011.
According to Korotchenko, Moscow is interested in the idea of a Sevastopol consensus being implemented: "It lies in the fact that Sevastopol, as a strategic Russian region in every sense, could be a platform, on the basis of which various political parties and political movements could be consolidated to act for the protection of Russian statehood, to ensure the stability of the process of joining Crimea and Sevastopol to Russia. Of course, in this regard, in this process, in our opinion, the maximum socio-political support should be provided here from the Russian mainland."
The expert expressed confidence that in the coming years Crimea "from the situation of an island, which in fact it is now due to the actions of Ukraine, will become a region which will be linked by a number of parameters with the mainland of Russia. This is the building of a bridge, the decision on which was taken by Russia, it is the complete electricity independence of Crimea, water security, and most importantly, the development of the economy, because the economy is the basis for success in any given region. In this case, Crimea and Sevastopol, with the support of the federal center, will receive the necessary investments. But we must understand that the region itself in the long term has to become self-sufficient in terms of the tourism cluster and from the point of view of the development of other sectors of the economy in relation to the terms of the geographical position of Crimea."