Sep 21, 2021
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Khabarovsk miracle: How Degtyarev fit into a hostile environment correctly

Photo: Acting Governor of the Khabarovsk Territory Mikhail Degtyarev (center)

Photo: Acting Governor of the Khabarovsk Territory Mikhail Degtyarev (center) (Photo: Denis Dmitriev / TASS)

Acting head of the region confidently won the governor elections in the Khabarovsk Territory Mikhail Degtyarev… Where did the protest mood go? It turns out that last year’s multi-thousand rallies against his appointment (some were attended by every sixth inhabitant of Khabarovsk) were air concussions?

Khabarovsk miracle. This is how you can characterize the elections, as a result of which the governor’s chair went to Mikhail Degtyarev. Right in the first round. With a large (almost double) margin, gaining 56.8% of the vote. Such a resounding successful result came as a surprise to many. They expected a “war of compromising materials”, violent scandals and a second round.

Recall that in the Khabarovsk Territory Degtyarev is a stranger, “boy Zhirinovsky“, A protege of Moscow. I found myself in the region by accident and under rather unpleasant circumstances. He worked for himself in the State Duma as chairman of the State Duma committee on physical culture, sports, tourism and youth affairs, he did not climb over his head. And suddenly on July 20, 2020, the president Putin appointed him Acting Governor. The vacancy appeared due to the fact that the former head of the region Sergey Furgal was arrested on charges of organizing murders and attempted murder and removed from office due to the loss of confidence in the head of state.

The local residents did not like it, the principle worked: “they are beating our people!”, And Khabarovsk turned into the most protest city in the Russian Federation: rallies in support of Furgal, and, accordingly, against the “Muscovite” Degtyarev, it seemed, would never end. Even this summer, people went to rallies and pickets, demanding the return of the ex-governor from the Moscow jail.

VRIO Degtyarev was a little over a year old. And the inhabitants of the region evaluate his work in different ways. The opposition blames him for all his sins and recalls how at one of the meetings he allegedly ordered to buy four scooters for escort, because he was going to walk along the Amur on a boat. But supporters with numbers in their hands point out that the “temporary worker” Degtyarev did more for the region in a year than the governor in 2.5 years. For example, it attracted three billion to Komsomolsk-on-Amur to strengthen the coast and build a medical center, and it is also planned to build a university campus and new residential buildings in the city. In addition, he became the most recognizable politician, for this he traveled all over the region, actively communicated with the population, in general, won over the electorate.

– Degtyarev’s election campaign was quite quiet, it was a campaign of “small deeds”, there was no noise, massive city holidays, it just seemed that the acting governor was doing his job well. Yes, they predicted a terrible defeat for him, but he corrected the situation with his deeds, – he believes political scientist Alexander Asafov

– You have to understand that the protests were not “for Furgal”, but for “their own” against the “Muscovites”. And they protested not against Degtyarev personally, but against the appointment of not a local, not a Khabarovsk resident, – explains Director of the Institute for Political Studies Sergey Markov

The political scientist pointed out that there are several obvious claims of residents of the Far East, and in particular the Khabarovsk Territory, to the federal center. First, it is the depopulation of the Far East. People keep leaving. The measures taken in Moscow are insufficient to curb this process. It is no coincidence that President Putin drew attention to him at the Far Eastern Economic Forum: if there is an outflow of the population, then things are bad with social and economic policy.

Secondly, the status of the capital of the Far Eastern Military District was taken from Khabarovsk and transferred to Vladivostok. Khabarovsk was not compensated for this loss in any way, which is a shame. And the decision itself raises the question: why are the residents of Vladivostok so happy? The answer is on the surface: for active protests! They skated in 2018 at the elections of the pro-Moscow acting governor of Primorye, and in order to calm the passions, they were given the status of the capital, so to speak, bribed. What conclusion did Khabarovsk residents make? Right! We need to protest more against the “Muscovites”, let them bribe us too.

Third, people are unhappy with the totally unsatisfactory air travel subsidy policy. In all countries with great distances, air travel is subsidized. Now there are benefits for young people and pensioners, and middle-aged people, the most able-bodied, cannot afford to visit relatives in central Russia, where many of them come from – tickets are too expensive.

The fourth problem is the lack of a coherent strategy for the development of the region. Here, opposite Khabarovsk from the side of China, a large city is growing. By leaps and bounds! Twenty years ago, it was much smaller than Khabarovsk, and now it has grown and is developing intensively. And the marginal center lags far behind. People see this and understand that the solution to the problem depends on the authorities in Moscow.

Fifthly, the Khabarovsk residents, and all the Far Easterners, are sure that all the largest, profitable projects are being intercepted by Moscow corporations, and they demand that they get something too.

And sixth – about Furgal himself. The inhabitants of the region know perfectly well that he is a bandit. But it is not him who is blamed for this, but the federal government, which has created a model in which it is impossible to do business without using gangster methods. And they are right about that. The majority of the population of Russia will agree with this.

This whole complex of problems is completely unrelated to Degtyarev personally. It belongs to the competence of the federal center, and currently the work on it is not particularly successful. That is why the representative of the federal center was initially received with hostility.

– I know Degtyarev well. He’s a super plastic man. He knows how to fit into the framework that circumstances require of him. And when he showed by his work that he would not press the Khabarovsk citizens on behalf of the “Muscovites”, but, on the contrary, on behalf of the Khabarovsk citizens would influence the federal center, people voted for him, Sergei Markov is convinced.

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