[YABLOKO’s] Galina Shirshina has accomplished in eight months what no one in Russia could do before her
Galina Shirshina, aged 34, is head of Petrozavodsk [the capital of the Republic of Karelia, North-West Russia], and for the eight months in office as the City Mayor she has managed to accomplish what male officials could not.
Before taking the post of Mayor Galina Shirshina worked as head of Department of Educational Psychology in the Karelian State Pedagogical Academy and headed a publishing house in Petrozavodsk. She won the election on September 9, 2013, she participated in the campaign as a self-nominated candidate and member of the YABLOKO party. Almost 42 per cent of voters voted for her, and only 28 per cent voted for the incumbent head of the city, Nikolay Levin representing the ruling United Russia party.
Since taking office, the first thing Galina Shirshina did for the reasons of economy was cancelling the inauguration, and a little later a corporate New Year party for [the city] officials. Thus, according to the web-portal Ridus, she saved several million roubles for the deficit-ridden budget of the capital of Karelia. “We have to understand that the inauguration is not a legal act, but simply a tribute to tradition. I do not see any need in gathering several hundred people during their working time so that to celebrate my victory. From my point of view, to spend money and human resources for such activities is inexpedient,” Galina Shirshina said.
In addition, she managed to push through the decision on abolishing “golden parachutes” for city administration officials and members of the Petrozavodsk City Council working on a paid basis. Therefore, ex-mayor Nikolai Levin had to do without 1.2 million roubles he could get.
Also, upon taking office, the Mayor promised to her voters to regularly report on her work publishing her weekly video reports on the official web-page of the head of Petrozavodsk. Yet Shirshina has been keeping her promise. Her video reels are popular with residents getting about 2,000 views. This is not the only solution targeted at increasing the transparency of the city administration. From now on access to the planning meetings of the city administration with participation of the Mayor is now open, anyone can come, ask questions and make proposals. The administration web-site is undergoing upgrading. Also Shirshina spoke in favour of taking Internet votings into account when conducting public hearings, and all meetings of the city authorities be broadcast in the Internet.
One of Shirshina’s greatest achievements was that she managed to reduce the price of a trip in a city trolleybus by over 1.5 times – from 17 to 10 roubles. As a result, trolleybuses transported by 40 per cent more passengers only in the first week after this, while revenues of the municipal carrier rose by 12 per cent. And five additional trolleybuses had to be put in operation. The plans state expansion and modernization of the contact network. It should be noted that under the previous Mayor Nikolai Levin they were going to bankrupt and close the [municipal] trolleybus enterprise, and cut three routes for the past three years.
Certainly, reduction of a passenger fare provoked discontent with private transport companies: they considered such measures be dumping and went on strike. However, the Mayor called a meeting and turned to the Public Prosecutor’s Office, which recognized the strike organized by transport companies’ owners unlawful. Consequently, private transport companies were forced to reduce their fares in shuttle buses from 20 to 15 roubles.
In addition, with the help of volunteers Shirshina cleared the city off from illegal advertisement billboards and resumed work of Public Environmental Council under the Petrozavodsk Mayor’s Office, which plans to conduct an audit of the urban green areas.
Also taking office Shirshina initiated annulment of the decision of the ex-Mayor and the Petrozavodsk City Council on transfer of some urban recreational areas under development. And in spite of the fact that the Petrozavodsk City Council did not support the decision, nevertheless Shirshina gained from this putting deputies under the fire of residents’ criticism. There even emerged a movement for the dissolution of the present Petrozavodsk City Council and appointment of pre-term elections.
The original publication
In 2015 Galina Shirshin won the RBC (RosBusinessConsulting) award in the nomination “The States Person”. The award runs “for openness and transparency in the regional policy, defending self-government principles and courage in decision-making”.