Lone man in a United Russia

In what has to be the bravest damn thing done by a Russian politician in a while, a Russian council member blatantly elected by fraud has denounced his election and resigned. The Washington Post and NTV report that Anton Chumachenko, alarmingly close in age to me, discovered that he had won an election, and rather quickly sent a letter protesting the victory, pretty much shocking the entire country, as well as many abroad, who have come to expect very little from his party, the ruling United Russia

Of course, he is some jerk kid who was running to represent a backwater district of St. Petersburg (think ANC 4a), but it can’t be emphasized enough how exciting this whole event is. He was running against not only other United Russia candidates, but also against a Yabloko candidate and a few indies who were opposed to the gigantic Marine Façade project on Vasilievsky Island. The project, meant to be the equivalent of Moskva-Citi in Moscow, or La Defense in Paris is probably too dense, considering it won’t get transit for years and also includes a gargantuan highway. But that was not his issue; he was just looking to represent his area and took the easy route of joining the safest party. 

So I can’t be shaken from my cynicism completely. This is a guy who formerly was a member of the Young Guard of United Russia, so is either a shrewd opportunist soon to be obliterated or someone who is swiftly being disabused of belief in his political allies. I can’t be sure, but it’s not a bad thing to hope for this. The election in his raion garnered an unusual 35% electoral turnout, a 250% increase from the last election. The world will be hearing more about him for sure.

For a better project on Vasilievsky Island, have a look at Norman Foster’s humane combination of sculptural modernism, regionalism, and preservation at New Holland Island, originally designed by Vallin, the architect of the Little Hermitage.