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Siberian “shock therapy”: new face of Russian authorities

By electing humorist-performer Mikhail Evdokimov the governor of Siberian region Altai on April 4, several myths about the authorities in Russia were destroyed.
First time Mr. Evdokimov is unlikely to accept bribes. He has much property – 5 lots of land in Moscow region, one lot of land in Altai, two cottages in Moscow region, three apartments in Moscow, four motor vehicles Mercedes Benz 380 SE, Mercedes Benz 500 SEL, Renault and VAZ-21093, some shares and securities….

The first destroyed myth is that only experienced manager from industrial sphere of economy or at least a well-known politician can be the governor. The second myth – the so-called “administrative resource” (the opinion of the current authorities) always predetermines the outcome of elections.  The third myth is that the support of the ruling party is the prerequisite for a successful politician.
The first myth resulted from the not realized hopes of 1991 – 1994 when the former “theorists” came to power and disappointed people greatly with their lack of professionalism. The bureaucrats knowing the basics of water-supply and sewage systems looked wise rulers in comparison with theorists. However, having knowledge of pipes is not the key criteria for people aspiring to be elected governors. Ordinary clerks should be responsible for such spheres as utilities, construction, education and health care, while the governor is required to inspire his team, hire the personnel, generate ideas and monitor implementation of his strategy. This is common world practice.

Before being elected the governor of California, Ronald Reagan hardly knew the details of the refuse collection and the cost of school lunches. However, he became the most brilliant governor in Californian history, and after that he was elected the US President twice. Another successful President – Bill Clinton – was elected the governor of Arkansas when he was only 32 years old, and he was recognized the brilliant state leader as well. In Russia governors are bureaucrats who are not eloquent, think only about their own personal interests, have outdated outlook and are afraid of competition.
Mikhail Evdokimov is a good example of Russian “self-made man”. He was born in a poor family of peasants and become successful due to his talent. He has his own show business project, and it prospers because of Mr. Evdokimov’s personality and the team hired by him. He definitely is a good manager, but this does not guarantee being good governor. The tasks of the governor are much more complicated.

 
Many experts are concerned with their lack of knowledge – who backs Mikhail Evdokimov. Obviously, Mr. Evdokimov could not sponsor his election campaign by himself. He loves his native region of Altai, but not to such an extent. Somebody invited him to run, funded, provided support in the circles of the top officials in Moscow. There were rumors about some “coal traders” interested in having Altai coal market, LUKOIL company, even governor of neighboring Kemerovo region Aman Tuleev who allegedly decided to overthrow the former Altai governor.

We will know the truth soon, after the first investors will enter the governor’s office.

”Administrative resource” is a complicated thing. Former Altai governor Alexander Surikov was a “strong” governor and had no opponents at the elections four years ago. Nobody wanted to compete with the well-established leader and his team. But hardly somebody else starting running against him, the well-established system of Altai authorities collapsed. Somehow, people of some poor regions continue supporting their governors, and residents of the regions with better economy overthrow their leaders.

Former Altai governor was supported by almost all political parties – United Russia, Communists, SPS. However, voters had a different opinion. Is there a real party system in contemporary Russia? The personality of the candidate seems to be more important than his party membership. Mikhail Evdokimov has been well-known among Altai residents. He constructed Chapel of Mother of God in his native village. The villagers enjoy the big football and volleyball tournaments organized by Mikhail Evdokimov on a regular basis. In 2003, about 40,000 people attended the tournaments. Every year Mikhail Evdokimov participates in the literary discussions dedicated to famous Russian writer Vasily Shukshin, in his native village Srostki. 

In any case, a team of new leaders will govern Altai region. Simultaneously with the governor elections, the elections of city mayors and district heads were conducted in Altai, and half of the newly elected local governments leaders are new ones. Let us see if “Siberian shock therapy” will produce good results for the region.

Maxim Artemiev

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