New mayor, old promises By Grigory Pasko, journalist Former member of the Legislative Assembly of Primorye [Primorsky Kray, one of the subjects (provinces) of the Russian Federation, whose capital is Vladivostok—Trans.] in the Federation Council of the RF, member of the party «United Russia» Igor Pushkarev on 23 May assumed the post of mayor of Vladivostok. After pronouncing the text of the solemn oath the newly-minted mayor gave a speech, in which he outlined his first-order tasks as cleaning up the city and resolving the problems of the housing-and-utilities sector of the economy. “Our priorities – this is what determines the quality of life. That is water, transport, waste processing, and ecology as a whole”, noted he. Just incidentally, I will note: with water, transport (including roads), waste, and ecology in Vladivostok there have always been problems. (Photo: Vladivostok’s new mayor Igor Pushkarev)
I lived in Vladivostok for 20 years. In these 20 years I saw and heard many newly-inaugurated mayors. And ALL of them, upon assuming the post, promised the inhabitants of the city a resolution of their housing-and-utilities problems and a cleaning up of the city. A separate line-item was the creation of a system of treatment facilities, so that raw sewage would not be drained out directly into the Golden Horn bay, and the construction of a bridge across this bay.Need I even bother to say that neither cleanliness, nor a sewage treatment plant, nor a bridge exists in Vladivostok to this day?Something tells me that there never will. At any rate, not under the Putino-Medvedevite power, which is the direct successor to that same Soviet power under which the far corners of the country were used only as military staging areas. People at these staging areas were regarded as a necessary appendage, as a misunderstanding, as a temporary phenomenon, albeit a necessary one – for the functioning of the staging areas. If the Soviet power could have managed to get by without people (having created, for example, robots), it would have been happy to get by without them.The Far East of Russia was always populated by either those banished there by the state for katorga [enforced penal servitude at hard labor], or those who had come TEMPORARILY, for the earnings. The psychology of the “TEMPS” [vremenshchiki] turned out to be not only enduring, but infectious. Even specialists arriving from the West (“Peter” and Moscow) soon caught this affliction and strove to leave this perpetually wild corner of the country as fast as they could.Today, the far corners are experiencing not the best of times. (On the other hand, when have they been any better there?). Those who can, leave for the western parts of the country. The state, instead of conducting a rational policy to attract a labor force, which is very, very much in short supply there, is frightening the people and the region with horror stories about “Chinese expansion”.Sometimes, the state needs Primorsky Kray, in order to build there a plant for the processing of radioactive wastes, an atomic power station (the plans have been in gestation for a long time already), or an oil refinery.In the best-case scenario, there arises an idea to conduct in Vladivostok a summit of the countries of the Asian-Pacific region (APEC). Then there begins a search not only for the funds, but also for a person who would be able to safeguard these funds from being completely vandalized.This time, such a person became someone named Pushkarev. Oh, and he did also name the APEC summit as his first-order task. In the words of Pushkarev, all work will be completed on time. By the way, it is being reported that the 33-year-old Igor Pushkarev has a higher education in the specialization “World economy”, that he – is a Candidate of Juridical Sciences [the rough equivalent of a Juris Doctor degree—Trans.], defended a dissertation on the topic “International law questions of the activity of the APEC forum”. The APEC theme in Pushkarev’s biography is no doubt not accidental – like a grand piano in the bushes.By the way, my theory about the “Temps” in Vladivostok is also confirmed by the fact that the mayors of Vladivostok often become the objects of criminal prosecution on the part of that same state that put them in this post to begin with. (Elections were always a smokescreen for the West). Before Pushkarev, two former mayors in a row had had the steel doors slam shut behind them – Vladimir Nikolayev and Yuri Kopylov were convicted for «non-targeted use of budget money».Nowadays, the clouds of criminal prosecution are gathering over the as yet still governor of Primorsky Kray, Sergey Darkin. They say that there has been a cell with his name on it waiting for him for a long time already.What else can I say, other than maybe that all of them – Kopylov, Nikolayev, and Darkin – were active members of the parties ruling at various times, including «United Russia», that may have started up in different ways, but always were pro-state.It can be assumed right from the start that today’s mayor Pushkarev, leader of the deputies’ amalgamation «United Russia-Primorye», former member of the Federation Council, first deputy coordinator of the Far Eastern Inter-Regional Coordination Council of the party «United Russia», one of the most successful young businessmen of Russia according to «Rossiyskaya gazeta» [the official organ of the government of the Russian Federation—Trans.], etc., etc., etc.… will sooner or later also end up behind bars, while his place will be taken by another placeman of the state, who by that time will have defended a dissertation on the topic “The oil pipeline and its significance for the development of the Far East and the improvement of good-neighborly relations with neighboring countries”.