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‘I have absolutely no clue’ Head of rural settlement in Russia’s Kostroma Region loses election to the dummy candidate he selected

Source: Meduza
Marina Udgodskaya / VKontakte

During the local elections earlier this month, Marina Udgodskaya was elected head of the Povalikhino Rural Settlement, a tiny locality found in Russia’s Kostroma Region. Previously, she worked as a cleaner for the very same government administration that she’s now expected to lead.

The 35-year-old was the only candidate to run against the settlement’s incumbent leader, Nikolai Loktev. And she ended up winning almost 62 percent of the vote — of the more than 130 people who visited local polling stations, 84 of them supported Udgodskaya.

According to the Russian weekly Argumenty i Fakty, Udgodskaya’s official nomination came from the regional branch of the Russian Party of Pensioners for Social Justice. In addition to working as a cleaner, she served as a non-permanent member of the village council.

But Udgodskaya told the news outlet Podyom that she actually entered the race at Loktev’s request — so he wouldn’t have to run unopposed.

“There was simply no one [else] and I was sort of a dummy [candidate]. I wanted to help. It was the two of us. I didn’t think [anyone] would vote for me, I didn’t expect such a turn. I didn’t do anything at all, but people came and voted,” she explained.

According to Udgodskaya, she has “absolutely no clue” when it comes to her newly acquired responsibilities: “It’s really difficult: I’ve never had anything to do with documents,” she said. Udgodskaya is thinking about giving up her mandate right after taking office — in which case, there will be a call for new elections in the locality.

The Povalikhino Rural Settlement is home to a total of 562 people and its total area is around 400 square kilometers (154 square miles). Udgodskaya has emphasized that she doesn’t know the number of people living in the settlement, or the number of rural communities included in it.

Story by Grigory Levchenko

Translation by Eilish Hart