To add some humor to this rather dry piece, I quote a comment I saw on one of the pro-Russian blogs: “Looks like Ukraine is getting skinnier, as Russia gets fatter.” Well, that’s one way to put it!
So I have this piece, by reporter Alexei Degtyarev. The portion of Kherson Oblast which has been “occupied” by Russian forces has been, up to now, run pretty much single-handedly by Vladimir Saldo, head of the Military-Civil Administration. The Big Kahuna, in other words. But now things are changing very quickly, Kherson is preparing itself to become a new Oblast of the Russian Federation, and it’s time to get serious. Saldo tweeted the following on his Telegram-channel: “I, as the Head of the Military-Civil Administration, having absorbed the experience of how governmental organs are formed, in the regions of the Russian Federation, have decided to put together a government of the Kherson Oblast, and to select the best cadres that we can find, both from among the residents of the Kherson region, and also from among Russian professionals and managers.”
Readers are all abuzz: Who are these new people? Who gets which juicy post? Dish it out!
And the Oscar for New Kahuna is… Sergei Eliseev! He gets to be the new head of the Oblast government – yay! Who is this guy, you might ask? This is the juicy part, my contacts in the celebrity gossip circle aver that Sergei is a former Deputy Head of the Kaliningrad Oblast! He was plucked from the casting couch and dispatched to the famous “Governor’s School” hidden deep in the Russian heartland. Which should not be confused with the “Governess School”, which is where Jane Eyre learned her trade. Wagging tongues claim that Sergei had to pass several tests, including the talent and swimsuit portions, in order to learn how to be a Russian Governor. Insiders dish that graduates from this school now head the majority of the regions of the Russian Federation. Which is a good thing, if you are believer, as I am, in standardized work and product.
But Eliseev brings more to the table than just his academic chops: Coming from Kaliningrad, he has this valuable experience in managing a Russian enclave surrounded by hostile neighbors. Although, to be fair, the Poles and Lithuanians never tried to plant car bombs in his Mercedes. Which is one of the current hazards of serving in former Ukrainian regions.
Next in the line-up we have Alexei Kovalev, who will assume the post of Deputy Administrator for Agriculture. Alexei brings his valuable experience of freestyle Parliamentary floor-fighting straight from the Ukrainian Rada, where he served as a Deputy from the “Servant of the People” Party. After the liberation of Kherson by Russian forces, Kovalev decided to remain in his native region and help the new government. For which the Ukrainians accused him of being a collaborator and probably placed a target on his back.
At the beginning of June Kovalev met with Sergei Kirienko, who works in the administration of Russian President Putin. After the meeting Kovalev confirmed that the Kherson farmer class, which he represents, received broad assurances from the Russian Federation. Namely, that they will be integrated into Russia’s economic model. No more scrabbling around the dirt, trying to find customers. These private farmers of the Taurida region stand to benefit greatly by expanding their consumer base, they are guaranteed all the privileges enjoyed by Russian private farmers, such as subsidies, guaranteed contracts, etc.
After Kovalev made these announcements, there was a scare on June 22 when Kiev Nazis claimed they had liquidated this “traitor” in a terrorist act. But later had to retract their claim, and it seems that rumors of Kovalev’s death were premature.
Next on the list of new cadres is Vladimir Bespalov, who will assume the post of Deputy of Internal Politics. I don’t know what that means, but it sounds sinister. Bespalov also hales from Kaliningrad, where he occupied a similar post. His duties included policing functions and monitoring protest demonstrations, that sort of thing. So we might imagine that his duties in Kherson will include keeping his eye on the kind of people who want to murder his colleague, Alexei Kovalev.
Last but not least, as King Lear muttered while hoisting up the corpse of his favorite daughter, we have a man named Mikhail Rodikov, who gets the job of Minister of Education and Science. Rodikov is a true Varangian, who arrives in Kherson from the Moscow area. However, he has a lot of experience with ex-Ukrainians as well: For three years he headed the Department of Education in Sebastopol. Which bullet point on his resume is probably the main reason he got his current job: Because he gained valuable experience switching the Sebastopol educational system over from Ukrainian to Russian standards. Which is a huge project in and of itself, when you consider the number of textbooks and curricula involved. And this will be his main focus in Kherson as well: He has very little time between now and the start of the new school season, so we’ll leave him alone, and let him get to work.
Saldo is proud of his new team and expects great things from them: “Today the Kherson Oblast and the Russian Federation are gazing in the same direction, we are taking joint decisions regarding our mutual development. A very close integration is taking place, of the Kherson region into the Russian space, and into the Russian paradigm of government. The formation of the new Kherson government has a key significance for understanding the future of this region. We are not talking about cadre reshuffles, nor of rotations, nor even of the renovation of the team. What is forming here is, in principle, a new organ of government, the first government of an independent, non-Ukrainian Kherson Oblast. This is not a temporary government, nor a war-time government, nor some kind of provisional administration, this is a fully-fledged organ of power. And the fact that this government includes not only Kherson residents, but also Russian managers, speaks clearly about the direction of our future Kherson Oblast. Our direction is — into Russia.”