Washed floors in the administration: a cleaning lady accidentally won the elections in a Russian village
For the past four years, Marina Udgodskaya has been cleaning floors in a local administration building in Povalikhino, in rural Russia. Now, unexpectedly for everyone, she headed this administration, writes Air force.
Now, the 35-year-old cleaning lady has put her rags aside to take over as leader after winning an election earlier this month, which she went to only to get him reappointed.
When no one in the village dared to challenge Nikolai Loktev, a member of the pro-Kremlin United Russia party, he persuaded Udgodskaya to register as his “rival” in order to secure at least two candidates.
This plan backfired when the cleaning lady beat him in the number of votes.
“She was stunned”
“Nikolai Loktev thought that no one would vote for her, and he would remain in office. But there were enough people, and they went out and chose Marina Udgodskaya, ”a member of the local election commission told the BBC from Povalikhino.
"He was amazed and she was stunned!" Said the woman, who did not want to be called.
She says that she personally heard Loktev ask the cleaning lady to speak out against him in the elections.
Udgodskaya was inundated with calls after her surprise victory hit the headlines.
"I did not do anything"
She has since stopped answering phone calls and is trying not to talk about her inauguration, which will take place later this week.
But in one of her first interviews, she looked overwhelmed by her victory, calling herself a “fake” candidate, “not ready” for such a quick promotion.
“I didn't think people would vote for me,” she told the Telegram Podyom news channel. "I didn't do anything at all!"
Despite this, she received almost 62% of the vote. Her boss is only 34%.
None of the candidates actively campaigned before the elections: no billboards, no leaflets, no meetings with voters. It makes no sense for the locals to argue when everyone knows each other.
Povalikhino, dotted with brightly painted one-story wooden houses, is the largest of the 30 villages that fall under the control of the Udgodskaya administration.
It has only 242 inhabitants.
“I have done everything necessary in the work; there are no problems in the village, ”Loktev told the BBC on one of his last days in office, trying to understand his defeat.
“Obviously people wanted change,” concluded the 58-year-old former police officer.
"I think she can handle it"
Some speculate that the result was a protest against Loktev's United Russia party, whose poll results plummeted across the country. In the Kostroma region, where Povalikhino is located, the party won only 32% of the votes in the regional administration.
Elsewhere, the smart voting strategy promoted by opposition politician Alexei Navalny in backing a candidate most likely to defeat United Russia has created new faces in politics.
But Povalikhino insists that this was a personal result: Loktev simply ceased to show interest in his duties.
“If we could vote against everyone, we would do it. But we had the opportunity to vote for Marina, which we did, - Irina explained. - I think she can handle it. The whole village will help. Although, of course, her education needs to be strengthened a little. "
Whether she likes it or not, Udgodskaya is stuck in a new job. If she resigns from this role, the Retirees Party, which supports her, says she will have to pay for all elections in order to re-run.
The party prefers to portray its candidate as a Cinderella figure rather than a random winner.
“She worked as a cleaner in the administration and saw how everything was done, and, of course, deep down she got the idea to take part,” says spokesman Valery Gromov, and he ignores her lack of experience.
“Svetlana Tikhanovskaya was a housewife and didn't know anything either! Now she is at the peak of her popularity, ”he reasons, referring to the leader of the Belarusian opposition.
It is said that until she takes on her new role, Marina Udgodskaya continues her cleaning job while the man she defeated decisively packs up his things and moves out.
“I'm not upset,” insisted Nikolai Loktev. "People voted for her, let her do her job."
Then he added: “I don't think there is anything wrong with being in charge of a place that she used to clean. This means that she knows everything here. "
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