On May 2, President Vladimir Putin “blessed” Voronezh Governor Alexander Gusev for his re-election.
Technically, Gusev’s second term will be formalized after the September 10 election results. The “blessing” took place not in person, but via video link, despite the quarantine observed by Gusev for three weeks. Moreover, the governor and the president did not openly talk about the second term in public, but Putin ordered Gusev to reduce the level of alcohol intoxication in the region.
Gusev can easily earn the nickname “The Quietest” of future Voronezh residents: He was absolutely invisible as the region’s leader, only occasionally getting into funny stories with public blunders. But he was able to do (perhaps without doing anything special) the main thing – not to completely spoil the legacy of his predecessor – Alexei Gordeev. And, after slightly weakening his political iron fist, to avoid outrageous failures. According to experts, be limited to quiet degradation.
Governor Alexander Gusev for the first time rode “on the baggage” of the influential ex-governor Alexei Gordeev, deputy chairman of the State Duma. The whole conversation between Putin and Gusev lasted no more than half a -hour. This follows from the official Kremlin timeline. The governor spoke with the president between Putin’s meeting with members of the government and the head of state’s conversation with the governor of Altai, Viktor Tomenko. Putin asked Gusev: “How are you?” and he replied, “Stable and manageable.” The President also stressed that everything is stable, and the indicators of the agrarian complex and investments are even increasing. But he urged the governor to tackle the high number of alcohol poisonings in the region compared to the rest of the country.
Alcohol poisoning in the region. Photo from the neural network Gusev said that the whole region supports the SVO and that more than half a million of its inhabitants help the front in one way or another. It’s all four. After talking a bit about the social sphere and helping refugees in the NWO zone, the interlocutors reversed the conversation. At least its official part. A personal audience (albeit via video link) is traditionally seen as a blessing from the president for the governor’s re-election. Gusev received this “blessing” on May 2.
Vladimir Poutine. Photo Gusev was almost literally looking forward to a meeting with Putin. The governor’s Telegram channel was not updated for 24 days, he himself did not appear in public and did not react in any way to what was happening in the region bordering the NWO zone. And there was something to react. Along with utility accidents with faecal fountains that have become routine on city streets, a real eco-protest has begun to ripen in Voronezh. The reason for this is the mayor’s office’s plan to build a road through the Nagornaya Oakwood Nature Reserve, one of the city’s last “green islands”. Residents created a petition against the works and the town hall only added fuel to the fire with openly arrogant comments from the municipal administration. Like, we haven’t even started designing yet, we can save trees, and in general the road is needed (first of all, to increase the cost of housing in the area to which the road leads). But the stupid townspeople do not listen to the mayor, but protest senselessly. Governor (and until 2018 mayor) Alexander Gusev has remained silent in quarantine. And his assistants did not publicly explain the absence of the chief on the spot.
Screenshot of the telegram channel of Alexander Gusev In part, the governor of Voronezh can even be understood. Rumor has it that this was already the second quarantine ahead of an audience with the president. The first, at the end of February, came to nothing – Putin did not receive Gusev. But in the media, the names of his possible successors began to waver. There is cause for concern. However, fortunately for Gusev, there were initially more arguments in favor of extending it than against such a move.
First, the Voronezh region borders the NVO zone and is in many ways a transit region for goods to and from there. Also, several important military facilities are located here – for example, the huge Pogonovo training ground, where the mobilized recently trained. In such a situation, there must be good reasons for changing the regional leader: mass demonstrations, for example. Or very clean failures. Gusev hasn’t authorized anything like this yet. He sat quietly, and all his failures expressed themselves mainly in public blunders.
In 2020, the governor of Voronezh received the nickname of a mathematician for the fact that, addressing Putin, he made an order of magnitude error in calculating the cost of a covid hospital within the limits of the regional center – multiplying 1 million rubles per bed by 250 beds, he got an estimate of 2.5 billion rubles. I got nervous, it happens.
In addition, there were problems with information about him personally: then the girl would “emerge” as a co-owner in a company controlled by a group of companies that has a habit of “milking” the budget from reimbursements of taxes. Then Gusev himself will suddenly disappear, and rumors will almost send him to intensive care with the consequences of covid. Then suddenly he confesses that in childhood he did not know how to skate or ride a bicycle, which for a person of his age (59 years old) can speak of serious problems with socialization and complexes. “Isn’t that why the governor doesn’t like publicity so much?” asked the observers.
Ekaterina, the daughter of Governor Gusev, during his reign became a co-owner of a business with the structures of State Duma Deputy Sergei Chizhov. Photo TG-channel “Andrey Iosifovich Makin” Moreover, Gusev managed to prevent a collapse of the economy. Despite the actual failure of the widely publicized creation of the Central Special Economic Zone (this can be attributed to the sanctions and other consequences of the SVO), there was no disaster in the economy and management. Yes, the city of Voronezh turned out to be one of the top three quality of life underdogs among cities of over a million, along with Volgograd and Omsk, which have long been recognized as “losers”. Yes, in the city center they can’t pick up trash from side streets for months. And on the main – Revolutsii Avenue – to “rebuild” one of the main sights (a site near the puppet theater with a monument to White Bim) so that on the opening day the need for new repairs becomes obvious. At the same time, the city itself, under Gusev, for the first time in many years began to show not an influx, but an exodus of the population and is on the verge of leaving the number of millionaires. But the skyscrapers are not collapsing yet, in winter, it seems, no one freezes to death, and public transport somehow works. What else does?
The number of regional centers under Governor Gusev is steadily declining – which is also reflected in the forecast. When Gusev took office in 2018, there was a large margin of safety made by his predecessor Alexei Gordeev. No one doubted the status of the Voronezh region as the capital of the Chernozem region. The agrarian complex grew; for the first time in many years, water appeared in the city around the clock. And even such notable, albeit ambiguously rated, cultural centers as the “Festival Platonov” began to appear. Land registers, according to Gusev, are still in place. Water may soon start flowing again on schedule, but so far they are holding up. The “cultural renaissance”, however one treats it, has degenerated into amateur competitions. But is it up to them in such a difficult time for the country?
The governor of Voronezh drove on a full fuel tank of his predecessor in the second term. And he drove without gas stations – quietly, gray, imperceptibly and without any serious successes.
Governor Alexander Gusev surrounded by officials “What is happening in the region is a classic degradation. The city is becoming a big village, the pace of investment, despite the numbers drawn, is actually down. There are no new strong interested parties for investments in the region, and the old ones are seriously considering how to reduce the investments already announced. The inhabitants themselves vote with their feet. And the Governor looks at all of this with a slightly nervous wink – and doesn’t want to do anything. After all, the authorities are happy with everything and there is no reason for them to step out of their comfort zone. You can even get a hat there,” says one of Gordeev’s former top officials, who closely follows the work of his successor.
On the remaining fuel, you can get an extension of authority and even win elections. There is no doubt about the latter. Even under Gordeev, the region’s political machine was set up to extract the “necessary” vote result from the authorities in any election, regardless of the actual mood of the locals. In simple terms, we are talking about many facts of massive electoral fraud. To do this, the “political administrators” of Voronezh have repeatedly used the same technology – the maximum understatement of participation in Voronezh, which votes more or less freely, with records of participation and support for the authorities in the rural areas fully controlled by local chiefs.
Voronezh Region Governor Alexander Gusev casts his vote in an election taking place in a region with signs of massive fraud. Gusev himself thus won all his elections. Notepad sources say his current support rating is no more than 30% of the vote. But we can already say with certainty that the outgoing governor will have no serious competitors. And no one will try to stop the life-saving “village vote”. This is why the desired 50% + 1 vote for the victory in the first round is already provided to Gusev. Before the official launch of the campaign.
But what to do afterwards? And is there any meaning to such a governorship other than self-interest? It is unlikely that even Gusev himself can answer this question.
Text: Nikolai Troinin
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