Northern hopes: St. Petersburg speculates on new governor’s prospects

As Russia’s northern capital receives its new governor, local residents and analysts are engaging in speculation over the changes the new leader could bring to the city’s life.

Georgy Poltavchenko, who was nominated by President Dmitry Medvedev and approved by the Legislative Assembly, took over the position today from the previous head, Valentina Matvienko, who held her position for more than eight years.

Poltavchenko is said to be quite familiar with life in St. Petersburg, as it was there that he started his career in the aviation industry. He also worked shoulder to shoulder with the country’s prime minister, Vladimir Putin, in the city’s KGB headquarters.

Poltavchenko has long been considered an outsider in the St. Petersburg’s political system. His outsider status may have influenced the president’s decision to support him, analysts say, as was the case with newly-appointed Moscow Mayor Sergey Sobyanin. An outsider, Medvedev believes, can more easily shake up the existing power structure.

The new governor has pledged to resolve all the city’s major problems, including poor street-cleaning in the winter, an inconvenient subway system and troublesome traffic, as well as numerous social issues. How exactly the problems will be dealt with has yet to be defined.

“Of course we have expectations,” Yulia Minutina, coordinator of Live City Movement, told RT. “We hope that officials who are violating the law will be fired. And there are many such cases in St. Petersburg. We expect our new governor to form a new team which will work efficiently, like one single organism – [so] there won’t be a situation when no one knows who does what and who is responsible for this or that.”

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