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
TEXT SIZE - +

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.


James Brooke

A foreign correspondent who has reported from five continents, Brooke, known universally as Jim, is the Voice of America bureau chief for Russia and former Soviet Union countries. From his base in Moscow, Jim roams Russia and Russia’s southern neighbors.

You May Like

Analysts Warn of Regional Proxy Conflict in Afghanistan

Analysts warn if Kabul’s neighbors do not start to cooperate, competing desires for influence could deteriorate into a bloody proxy war in the country More

Saudi Intelligence Chief Replaced

Bandar bin Sultan came under criticism for supporting al Qaida, prompting King Abdallah to wrest Syria operations away from him in February, handing them to Interior Minister Prince Mohammed bin Nayef More

Poetry Magazine editor Don Share talks what makes a good poem with VOA's David Byrd

What makes a good poem? And is poetry as viable an art form as it once was? To find out, VOA's David Byrd spoke to Don Share, the editor of Poetry Magazine. 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.
Google Buys Drone Companyi
|| 0:00:00
...
 
🔇
X
George Putic
April 15, 2014
In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Ray Bonneville Sings the Blues and More on New CD

Singer/songwriter Ray Bonneville has released a new CD called “Easy Gone” with music that reflects his musical and personal journey from French-speaking Canada to his current home in Austin,Texas. The eclectic artist’s fan base extends from Texas to various parts of North America and Europe. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin.
Video

Video Millions Labor in Pakistan's Informal Economy

The World Bank says that in Pakistan, roughly 70 percent work in the so-called informal sector, a part of the economy that is unregulated and untaxed. VOA's Sharon Behn reports from Islamabad on how the informal sector impact's the Pakistani economy.
Video

Video Passover Celebrates Liberation from Bondage

Jewish people around the world are celebrating Passover, a commemoration of their liberation from slavery in Egypt more than 3,300 years ago. According to scripture, God helped the Jews, led by Moses, escape bondage in Egypt and cross the Red Sea into the desert. Zlatica Hoke reports that the story of the Jewish Exodus resonates with other people trying to escape slave-like conditions.
Video

Video Police Pursue Hate Crime Charges Against Kansas Shooting Suspect

Prosecutors are sifting through the evidence in the wake of Sunday’s shootings in a suburb of Kansas City, Missouri that left three people dead. A suspect in the shootings taken into custody is a white supremacist. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, he was well-known to law enforcement agencies and human rights groups alike.
Video

Video In Eastern Ukraine, Pro-unity Activists Emerge from Shadows

Amid the pro-Russian uprisings in eastern Ukraine, there is a large body of activists who support Ukrainian unity and reject Russian intervention. Their activities have remained largely underground, but they are preparing to take on their pro-Moscow opponents, as Henry Ridgwell reports from the eastern city of Donetsk.
Video

Video Basket Maker’s Skills Have World Reach

A prestigious craft show in the U.S. capital offers one-of-a-kind creations by more than 120 artists working in a variety of media. As VOA’s Julie Taboh reports from Washington, one artist lucky enough to be selected says sharing her skills with women overseas is just as significant.
Video

Video UN Report Urges Speedier Action to Avoid Climate Disaster

A new United Nations report says the world must switch from fossil fuels to cleaner energy sources to control the effects of climate change. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released the report (Sunday) following a meeting of scientists and government representatives in Berlin. The comprehensive review follows two recent IPCC reports that detail the certainty of climate change, its impacts and in this most recent report what to do about it. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble has the details.
AppleAndroid