New Moscow Mayor for a Modern Era?
04 November, 2010

By Friday, October 22, the month-long game of replacing the once-powerful Mayor of Moscow Yury Luzhkov with tried-and-true Sergey Sobianin came to an end.

Mr. Sobianin was inaugurated at the city parliament hall in the presence of President Medvedev, who in his ‘modernization’ efforts nominated a successor to Luzhkov a week before the inauguration ceremony.


Leaving aside all the power battles, concealed or visible, and even cautious assumptions that the political competition was returning to Russia’s public life, the main point

of interest for all Muscovites ever since Luzhkov was destined to be sacked, has been the economic plan of actions of the new Mayor.

At the ceremony, Sergey Sobianin put forward in brief certain significant and reasonable ideas that he pledged to pursue during his rule over the 12+ million capital of Russia.
After having accepted the ‘great honor and responsibility’ of becoming the Mayor, the first thing Sergey Sobianin touched upon was corruption that literally is ‘scaring away any investors to the city’. He called for total revision of all administrative barriers, towards giving more powers to non- governmental organizations in terms of supervising municipal bureaucrats.
Sobianin expressed his worries over the city’s financial stability. Moscow’s budget needs ‘normal auditing instead of non-transparent reports that existed before and gave no clear understanding how the money was spent’,he said.
Then the newly appointed Mayor announced his priorities in solving the city’s most outspoken problems.

At secondary schools, he insisted, the children and the parents should get involved in administering the learning process. All payments for education ought to be legal and clearly set.
The healthcare facilities must be focused on providing the residents with quality services. ‘Only one fourth of the population have access to free medical treatment!’, he told the attending members of city parliament in outrage.

‘We need to construct inexpensive road junctions and pedestrian crossings’, finished Sobianin by stressing his transport concerns.
Next day, the new Mayor was already in the streets inspecting the construction works and questioning the ministers of city council.
I like his words and I approve of his approach. Sobianin is taking right steps and I would be more than happy to see him following the pattern.
But there is a huge problem in Sobianin’s legitimacy. I never voted for him.
Moreover, since the introduction of 2004 administrative reform, I never had a chance to vote for the Mayor of Moscow. Sobianin’s appointment was the sole right of the President. And President Medvedev therefore is the only person (and not even a Muscovite as he was born in Leningrad) that the new Mayor is reporting to.

Whatever good the strategic goals, inauguration words and practical actions of Mr. Sobianin may seem now, he will not feel any responsibility before the people of Moscow in case he fails.
The system which is only imitating politics, still stays the same. This is the reason why I refrain from claiming that the new era has started in Moscow in October 2010.