Russian Revolution: Move over Reds and Whites; Make room for the Greens?

April 10, 2009

Dmitry Besanovich credits his upset victory over the Vladimir Putin-backed candidate in the mayoral race in the Russian town of Mozhaisk to his green platform, according to a report in today’s Washington Post:

He attributed his victory to his promise to protect the natural ecology of this rural municipality, which he calls the “lungs of Moscow” because nearly half its territory is covered with forests. He campaigned on pledges to block construction along rivers and a major reservoir, clean up a polluting pig farm and promote agriculture and tourism instead of industry.

Here’s a description of Mohaisk from

A resident advertises his cow for sale in the local newspaper. The only cafe in the village, still decorated in Soviet style, offers a three-course meal for $1.50. Only one out of every 600 people here has a computer.

According to a resident, people in the city live “without too much enjoyment; however, with some cautious hopes.”

Mozhaisk, only 100 km west of Russia’s capital and the oldest city in the Moscow Oblast, has simply been left in the dust, with only its crumbling ancient churches signifying that here once existed a dynamic town.

Before Perestroika, most of Mozhaisk’s residents were employed in agriculture. However, a lack of funds in the last decade has turned the fields fallow. The only source of jobs is in the local printing house and concrete factory, and a juice factory in Borodino. As the factories employ mainly men, unemployment is especially high among women…

The dark side of the ‘village’ feel is the lack of modern infrastructure and services. There is only one hotel in the city, which leaves a lot to be desired, and only one cafe. Despite the seeming hardships, many Muscovites rent houses in Mozhaisk to spend their summer vacations.

If you are traveling by car, beware of bad roads. According to local journalist Alexei Safronov, the city’s new administration, headed by Vlasimir Nasonov, has said improving road conditions is one of his top priorities. Some new asphalt has already been laid…

It apparently has not dawned on the citizens of Mozhaisk that they need economic development. If they don’t want to be mired in rural poverty under their new mayor, they may have to rely on Putin making Besanovich an offer he can’t refuse.

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