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An old face is reportedly returning to Moscow politics

Source: Meduza
Artem Korotaev / TASS / Vida Press

Sergey Kapkov, the former head of Moscow’s Culture Department, is helping Sergey Sobyanin put together his re-election platform, a source in the mayor’s office told Meduza. Sobyanin hasn’t officially announced his intention to run in September’s election, but multiple sources confirm that he will.

Meduza’s source says Kapkov met earlier this week with key members of Sobyanin’s cabinet to discuss possible themes for the mayor’s re-election campaign. There are also supposedly talks underway to bring Kapkov back into the mayor’s office, though it’s still unclear what department he would head.

Another source told Meduza that Kapkov is currently advising Sobyanin as a consultant and suggesting various urban development programs that the mayor could use in his re-election campaign, but there’s no talk yet about him returning to work in the Sobyanin's cabinet. For now, Kapkov is apparently sitting in on some city government meetings and making a few presentations.

Kapkov’s proposals are reportedly based largely on ideas generated by the “Strategy 2030” working group, which formed in June 2015 on orders from Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev. The team brought together leading Russian economists who were supposed to draft a long-term plan for Russia’s strategic development. The “Strategy 2030” plan was supposed to replace the “Strategy 2020” plan created for Vladimir Putin’s third presidency, but by and large it was never implemented.

Alexander Auzan, the dean of the economics department at Moscow State University, told Meduza that Kapkov only participated in the working group’s “preparatory phase” and never played a role in its core functions. The draft plan itself, Auzan says, is a “closed document” and Kapkov hasn’t even seen it.

Auzan also says Kapkov, as director of Moscow State University’s Center for the Study of the Economics of Culture and Urban Development, is “participating in project planning” by Alexey Kudrin’s Strategic Research Center. “We recently held a meeting with Kudrin, and discussed all kinds of provisions for both urban and cultural policies. Mr. Kapkov also attended. He writes very thoughtful and — in my view — extremely interesting papers for us in Russia, and it could be that Moscow is using something concerning Russia’s cultural policies,” Auzan said, adding that he doesn’t know anything about Kapkov working with the mayor’s office now.

Sergey Kapkov served as the head of Moscow’s Culture Department from 2011 to 2015, after working several months as the director of Gorky Park. Kapkov was responsible for many of the city’s most dramatic recent changes, from park beautifications and library renovations to the relaunch and modernization of several local museums and theaters. While in office, Kapkov appointed Kirill Serebrennikov to serve as artistic director of the Gogol Theater. (Serebrennikov is currently under house arrest and charged with embezzling 133 million rubles — about $2.1 million — from the government.)

Sources told the magazine RBC that Kapkov resigned from the Moscow government amid disagreements with Mayor Sobyanin. He was replaced by Alexander Kibovsky, who previously managed Moscow’s Cultural Heritage Department. Since stepping down, Kapkov hasn’t been a public figure. He refused to speak to Meduza about this story, and Moscow City Hall did not respond to Meduza’s questions.

Story by Taisiya Bekbulatova and Ivan Golunov, translation by Kevin Rothrock

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