News / Europe

Putin's Chief of Staff Becomes Mayor of Moscow

Our correspondent reports on what this appointment says about power of Russia's PM and what it means for Moscow

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, (L) new Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin (R) and Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill (C) toast after an inauguration ceremony in Moscow, 21 Oct 2010
Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, (L) new Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin (R) and Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill (C) toast after an inauguration ceremony in Moscow, 21 Oct 2010
James Brooke

Vladimir Putin's chief of staff is now Moscow's new mayor.

Sergei Sobyanin, a native of a Siberian village, is little known to Muscovites, having lived here for only five years. But he spent those five years as chief of staff to Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin - and that was enough for him to be appointed Mayor of Moscow.

It was a smoothly choreographed ascension. Moscow's city council dutifully - and overwhelmingly - approved Sobyanin, the Kremlin's choice. Then, came an inauguration ceremony led by President Dmitry Mevedyev, the new mayor's nominal sponsor. Then, "live" on national television, an award ceremony with the mayor's patron, Prime Minister Putin.

After Russia's prime minister and president, the Mayor of Moscow is widely seen as the third most powerful official in the nation. He rules the capital of the world's biggest energy exporter. Greater Moscow now contains 10 percent of Russia's population and one quarter of its $1.2-trillion economy.

Dmitri Trenin, director of the Carnegie Moscow Center, said that with a close Putin confidante now starting a five year term as Moscow's mayor, it is clear where power really lies in Russia today.

"Vladimir Putin has been and will continue to be Russia's paramount politician," he said. "He is the one calling the shots."

Or, as Vedemosti newspaper, wrote: "Soybanin is a 100 percent Putin man, and it is to Putin that he owes his federal career."

Moscow's new mayor grew up in a village deep in the snows and birch forests of northwest Siberia. He has said he learned to cross country ski before he learned to walk. As a teenager, he picked up a lifelong hobby - hunting game in the Siberian taiga, or forest.

After rising through the ranks of the regional Communist Party youth, he rose through post-Soviet political posts, winning election in 2001 as governor of his native Tyumen region, Russia's key oil producing area. Tyumen city has one of Russia's highest per capita incomes, and is the twin city of America's oil capital - Houston, Texas.

In Moscow, Sobyanin worked behind the scenes, helping Dmitry Medvedev, his predecessor as Putin's chief of staff, to win presidential elections in 2008.

Hours before his inauguration, he gave his only public campaign speech - before the 34 members of Moscow's City Council.

Attacking Moscow's twin evils of corruption and bureaucracy, he said: "I am convinced that corruption and bureaucracy may devalue nearly all or even all the competitive advantages of Moscow. Obviously, this city needs a more open and efficient administrative system."

Before the City Council vote, Andrei Klychov, a Communist Party council member, said of the Kremlin's nomination of Sobyanin: "In reality, Muscovites don't have a choice. Everything has been decided behind closed doors."

A few minutes later, Klychov and another Communist council member voted against the appointment. With all United Russia party members voting in favor, the Mayor of this city of 10 million people was easily elected - 32 to 2.

You May Like

Israelis Quietly Expand Enclave in Palestinian District of Jerusalem

Estimated 500 settlers, armed or protected by paramilitary police, live in Silwan among 50,000 Palestinians More

Video US, Iran Face Similar Challenges in Syrian Fight Against IS

Both Washington, Tehran back fighters battling Islamic State militants in Iraq -- but in Syria they support opposing sides in country’s civil war More

China Boosts Efforts to Help Afghan, Regional Stability

Observers say China’s increased regional involvement are due to concerns that Afghan instability and the presence of anti-China militants in Pakistani border areas could fuel Xinjiang troubles More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Lawi
X
William Ide
October 20, 2014 10:23 AM
China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.
Video

Video Latinas Converting to Islam for Identity, Structure

Latinos are one of the fastest growing groups in the Muslim religion. According to the Pew Research Center, about 6 percent of American Muslims are Latino. And a little more than half of new converts are female. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti travelled to Miami, Florida -- where two out of every three residents is Hispanic -- to learn more.
Video

Video Nigeria Agrees to Cease-Fire With Boko Haram

Islamist militant group Boko Haram and the Nigerian government have agreed to a cease-fire. The Nigerian government issued an order Friday, telling all military chiefs "to comply with the cease-fire agreement in all theaters of operations. Why now and the significance of the agreement are questions on some people’s minds. VOA's Mariama Diallo reports.
Video

Video Kobani Fighting Sends 400,000 Refugees to Turkey

The offensive by Islamic State militants against the northern Syrian city of Kobani has caused hundreds of thousands of residents to flee to Turkey. They receive help from Turkish authorities and individuals, but say much more is needed. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from the town of Suruc a few kilometers from the border.
Video

Video Exclusive: American Joins Kurds' Anti-IS Fight

The United States and other Western nations have expressed alarm about their citizens joining Islamic State forces in Syria and Iraq. In a rare counterpoint to the phenomenon, an American has taken up arms with the militants' Syrian Kurdish opponents. Elizabeth Arrott has more in this exclusive profile by VOA Kurdish reporter Zana Omer in Ras al Ayn, Syria.
Video

Video South Korea Confronts Violence Within Military Ranks

Every able-bodied South Korean male between 18 and 35 must serve for 21 to 36 months in the country’s armed forces, depending upon the specific branch. For many, service is a rite of passage to manhood. But there are growing concerns that bullying and violence come along with the tradition. Reporter Jason Strother has more from Seoul.
Video

Video Comanche People Maintain Pride in Their Heritage

The Comanche (Indian nation) once were called the “Lords of the Plains,” with an empire that included half the land area of current day Texas, large parts of Oklahoma, New Mexico, Kansas and Colorado.The fierceness and battle prowess of these warriors on horseback delayed the settlement of most of West Texas for four decades. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Lawton, Oklahoma, that while their warrior days are over, the 15,000 members of the Comanche Nation remain a proud people.
Video

Video Turkey Campus Attacks Raise Islamic Radicalization Fears

Concerns are growing in Turkey of Islamic radicalization at some universities, after clashes between supporters of the jihadist group Islamic State (IS) or ISIS, and those opposed to the extremists. Pro-jihadist literature is on sale openly on the streets of Istanbul. Critics accuse the government of turning a blind eye to radicalism at home, while Kurds accuse the president of supporting IS - a charge strongly denied. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Syrian Defector Leaks Shocking Photos of Torture Victims

Shocking photographs purporting to show Syrian torture victims are on display at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington. The museum says the graphic images are among thousands of photographs recently smuggled out of Syria by a military policeman-turned-defector. As VOA reporter Julie Taboh reports, the museum says the photos provide further evidence of atrocities committed by the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad against its own people.
Video

Video Drought-Stricken California Considers Upgrading Water System

A three-year drought in California is causing a water shortage that is being felt on farms and cities throughout the state. As VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports, water experts, consumers and farmers say California needs to make changes to cope with an uncertain future.
Video

Video TechShop Puts High-tech Dreams Within Reach

Square, a business app and card reader, makes it possible to do credit card transactions through cell phones. But what made Square possible? VOA’s Adrianna Zhang and Enming Liu have the answer.

All About America

AppleAndroid