A Russian cleaner, Marina Udgodskaya, has recently won elections against her village’s pro-Kremlin incumbent, Nikolai Loktev. The news made the national headlines in Russia. After surprisingly winning the provincial vote last month and ousting the incumbent pro-Kremlin, the cleaner from a small Russian town threw her mops away to reluctantly become its Mayor.
“I didn’t put myself forward,” Marina Udgodskaya, 35, told the Podyom news in one of her early interviews before going silent because of the overwhelming national media attention.
Udgodskaya explained that the incumbent persuaded her to run as his dummy opponent to meet the vote’s two-candidate minimum requirement. The outgoing Mayor persuaded his office cleaner to compete against him, believing that none would vote for her but his plan backfired. Indeed, no one in the village wanted to stand for the mayoral post.
‘I have absolutely no clue’ Putin’s Head of rural settlement in Russia’s Kostroma Region loses election to the dummy candidate he selected — Meduza
More power to Marina Udgodskaya, the cleaner who the mayor asked to be a “technical candidate” to assure his victory at re-election – she won by a landslide!!! https://t.co/QUqOh52dbl
— Alex Beverley (@MsAlexBev) October 5, 2020
Nikolai Loktev was standing unopposed, yet the requirement to stand again for mayorship demanded an opponent. The reluctant cleaner agreed to register as an aspirant. When it was time for rally gatherings, neither candidate campaigned in any way. Nevertheless, the former cleaner came into power in an 87-to-48 landslide.
“I did nothing at all, but the people came and voted for me,” she said.
On Thursday, Marina Udgodskaya was sworn in as head of Povalikhino, the largest of the 29 villages in Kostroma, Russia, 300 kilometers northeast of Moscow. The total population in that region is about 400.
Her victory over the previous Kremlin leader Nikolai Loktev is perceived as less a national resolution by the villagers against Moscow than an individual reprimand for the defeated 58-year-old police officer’s governance. The villagers were not satisfied with Nikolai Loktev’s rule and were looking for change.
“I respect Nikolai Loktev Sergeyevich very much,” Marina Udgodskaya told reporters after the swearing-in ceremony on Thursday.
Will Marina Udgodskaya Relinquish Her Power?
Udgodskaya proposed withdrawing from the post, but this was an expensive choice. The small group of pensioners who nominated her noted that Udgodskaya had to pay a heavy price. Still, the inexperienced cleaner has no choice but to learn on the job, what to do, and remain in office until her term is over.
“I think she’ll cope. The entire village will help her,” village shopkeeper Irina told the BBC.
Since the entire village backs Marina, she will have to decide not to let them down. Marina’s ignorance of politics won’t be an issue after tasting the sweet and satisfying seat of power, talk less of fame, money, and luxury like cherries on top.
Other localities, especially the third most populous city of Russia in Novosibirsk and the Siberian city of Tomsk, have seen opposition leaders gain their seats on 13 Sept, facing national anomalies and accusations of fraud. These candidates earned the active endorsement of the “smart vote” strategy. Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny set this strategy to encourage citizens to vote in favor of nominees who are most likely to be a pro-Kremlin rivals. Alexei Navalny is Putin’s most prominent political rival.
Which side was Nikolai Loktev, and who will Marina support or stand by? In any case, everyone in her village voted for her for a reason. They will have to keep their fingers crossed and hope for a noble leader in her, for it is not news that power corrupts leaders, but most certainly not all.
Loktev might have regretted the day he thought of persuading his cleaner to compete with him. Never in his wildest aspirations would he have imagined his office cleaner winning a vote that was meant to be his without an ounce of doubt. That explains why he didn’t bother to campaign. Nevertheless, such a bizarre spectacle will take time to be erased from the Russian’s minds, much less the incumbent, Nikolai Loktev Sergeyevich.
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