Having won the September 14th elections, Georgiy Poltavchenko has officially become governor this week. Missions of the city during the next several years – in our weekly program’s “Pulse of the city” report
Yuriy Zinchuk, host, “Pulse of the city”: “Starting from this week, St. Petersburg can finally say it has a governor. Without any additional words or conditions.
Inauguration of Georgiy Poltavchenko took place at the Mariinskiy palace on Wednesday. The election is out of the way, now its necessary to understand how the city will live in the nearest future.
Poltavchenko will be the city’s boss for 5 years. This period covers the 2018 World Cup and new large-scale constructions, including 10 subway stations and bridges. And – at the same time – there’s a difficult situation in world economy – European sanctions against Russia, decrease of GDP growth to under 2% - as it was announced by the finance minister this week. Very difficult, yet very interesting stage in St. Petersburg’s history has begun
Our political observer Dmitriy Runkov reports on how the inauguration took place and what will the city management do after it
At 11 o’clock sharp he walked into the Big Hall of the Mariinskiy Palace. Sharp and stern – even in these solemn circumstances. Walked past the rows. Let out an shy smile and made occasional handshakes. With the same sharpness, Poltavchenko started reading the governor’s oath. Decided to read the official text from the paper, although he knew these sentences from the previous inauguration ceremony.
Georgiy Poltavchenko, governor of St. Petersburg: “I, Poltavchenko Georgiy Sergeevich, having become the governor of St. Petersburg, swear my allegiance to the people of the Russian Federation and its Constitution, to the Statute of St. Petersburg. I pledge to respect and protect rights and liberties of the citizen, do my outmost for the prospering of the city and the welfare of its citizens”
With the last word of the oath, Poltavchenko was no longer acting governor – but the full-fledged one. As a sign of his power, he received a chest pendant – a decorated chain with St. Petersburg’s crest. After which the two-time governor Poltavchenko received congratulations from the two-time governor Matvienko.
Valentina Matvienko, Council of the Federations speaker: “Being a governor is not a job. It’s a way of life”
With a feeling of Deja-vu, Poltavchenko’s first decision at the office was to put forward Valentina Matvienko as a senator representing St. Petersburg government. Three years ago, the freshman governor Poltavchenko began his term with handing an honorary crest to Matvienko – acknowledging her work for the city. Back then, in august 2011, the governor appointed by the President was presented to the parliament and the city by federal politicians. Now, he does not need and introduction.
Dmitriy Runkov, reporter: “Promises of Poltavchenko, which he voiced from the rostrum of the Mariinskiy Palace as the city’s governor, may, of course, seem like general words. But, in reality, this is the everyday life of the city, which begins right outside of parliament. Literally 10 meters away, a building is being restored. Preserving the historic center is something which always draws attention. In case something goes wrong, it’s the governor who will be held accountable”
Georgiy Poltavchenko got this job at the city’s breaking point. Its during his tenure that the world’s biggest UNESCO cultural heritage site – St. Petersburg – will have Europe’s tallest building – the Lakhta center. And its imminent. Poltavchenko will have to reconcile supporters and opponents of the skyscraper.
Dmitriy Runkov, reporter: “The Tuchkov Bridge – 2.3 kilometers from the Mariinskiy Palace. Here, the “Sportivnaya-2” station is already underway. Record setting 70 billion rubles have been allocated for the subway’s development, soon the bridge will be shut down for reconstruction. Poltavcheko will have to fulfill promises and solve transportation issues in the time when regional budgets are being cut, whilst St. Petersburg’s traffic jams look more like those in the capital”
Andrey Konstantinov, writer and journalist: “Traffic jams. Those need to be fought with”
The difficulty of Poltavchenko’s second gubernatorial spell is in the lack of resource of the previous one. You cant refer to predecessors drawbacks. Only the current administration could be held responsible for problems accumulated over the years
Dmitriy Runkov, reporter: “ Stadium at the Krestovskiy – 6.4 kilometers from the Mariinskiy Palace. The 2018 World Cup will be held during Poltavchenko’s reign, as well as most of preparations for Euro2020. The Arena was launched 7 years ago, before Poltavchenko, but it is during his term that it’s promised to be finished in 2 years. Another postponement will not be appreciated”
The governor will have to find money for mega projects in a very bad time. Inauguration in the times of sanctions, when western investors are being turned away from the country – and with it from St. Petersburg – in a forceful manner.
Dmitriy Runkov, reporter: “The General Consulate of the Czech Republic – 4.4 kilometers from the Mariinskiy Palace. After more than 20 years f brotherly relations, Prague is suspending cooperation after sanctions have been introduced. In those new realities, the governor will not only have to be a city-manager, but a skilled diplomat too – so that the country’s most European city retains its status”
Marina Shishkina, deputy: “The king is made by his men. The coronation which took place would only have sense if the team is good”
With Poltavchenko having been sworn in as the governor, the entire government was made “temporary”. That is the requirement of the law. The revamped team at the Smolnyi might have former minister of the abolished Ministry of Regional Development Igor Slyunayev. But Poltavchenko is keeping the new line-up a secret. He makes short comments on possible changes – “You’ll see”.
Georgiy Poltavchenko, governor of St. Petersburg: “Government is a lively mechanism. It has to change”
The inauguration ceremony – which stems from monarch’s coronation ceremonies – launches a soviet planning measure – the “pyatiletka”, resurrected by the length of the governor’s term. Poltavchenko built his electoral campaign based on perspective beyond this term. But whether or not this strategy is achievable would be dependent on how well would the promises be kept within the next 5 years.