On November 20, at the age of 80, Aman Tuleyev, one of the most famous Russian governors who headed the Kemerovo region for more than 20 years, died. Over the course of a 30-year political career, he went from an ardent oppositionist to a loyal supporter of the Kremlin, created a strong system of one-man power in the region and officially received the title of “people's governor,” but in recent years he complained about comrades who turned on him immediately after his resignation.
The current head of Kuzbass, Sergei Tsivilev, announced the death of his predecessor on Monday morning. He recalled that Aman Tuleyev led the region “in difficult times, when miners were sitting on the rails, blocking traffic on the Trans-Siberian Railway” and “managed to lead the region out of the crisis.”
Strictly speaking, for the first time the ex-chief of the Kemerovo railway Tuleev headed Kuzbass back in December 1990, taking the post of chairman of the regional executive committee, which he lost immediately after the August 1991 putsch. At the same time, the politician who supported the State Emergency Committee remained chairman of the regional council and people's deputy of the RSFSR, and in December 1993 he was elected to the Federation Council (its first convocation was formed through direct elections), where he confirmed his reputation as a “people's tribune” and one of the most fierce opponents of President Boris Yeltsin . With whom, by the way, the then little-known Aman Tuleyev personally competed in the first presidential elections in June 1991, taking fourth place with 6.8% of the vote (in the Kemerovo region, candidate Tuleyev was ahead of candidate Yeltsin by 5%).
Aman Tuleyev continued his fight against the Kremlin as chairman of the new legislative assembly of Kuzbass: in the elections in March 1994, the “People's Power” bloc he created won an unconditional victory, and the governor appointed by the president, Mikhail Kislyuk, received a radically opposition parliament.
During this period, Mr. Tuleyev was a strong supporter of the Communist Party of the Russian Federation, entered the top three of its party list in the 1995 State Duma elections, and in 1996 he ran for president as a “reserve candidate” for Gennady Zyuganov, in whose favor he withdrew from the elections shortly before the vote . Well, Kemerovo residents, at his call, chose the communist over the current president in both rounds of voting.
However, after just a month and a half, in August 1996, Aman Tuleyev’s career took an unexpected turn: he accepted the president’s offer and headed the Federal Ministry for CIS Affairs. At that time, Boris Yeltsin was facing heart surgery, and the Kremlin tried in every possible way to demonstrate its readiness to cooperate with various political forces. Within the same concept, on July 1, 1997, the president appointed Mr. Tuleyev as head of the administration of the Kemerovo region, where mass anti-government rallies were already raging, and in October he triumphantly won the gubernatorial elections with 94.5% of the vote.
The following summer, miners blocked the Trans-Siberian Railway in protest against multibillion-dollar wage arrears, and this is where Aman Tuleyev’s high rating came in handy. With his active assistance, a violent dispersal of the protests was avoided, money from the budget went to the region, a decision was made to reduce tariffs for coal transportation, after which the crisis in the Kuzbass coal industry began to decline. But at the same time, Aman Tuleyev’s own departure from the Communist Party of the Russian Federation began. Back in the summer of 1999, he refused the Order of Honor, saying that he could not receive it from the authorities, “which plunged the country into poverty,” and in the 1999 Duma elections he again entered the central part of the party list of communists.
But at the same time, Mr. Tuleyev informally supported the newborn pro-Kremlin Unity bloc, and in his third presidential elections in 2000, he went, essentially, as a “spoiler” of Gennady Zyuganov, again taking fourth place with 2.95% of the votes.
Later, things even came to the point of lawsuits against the leader of the Communist Party of the Russian Federation for the protection of honor and dignity, which the governor sometimes won by carefully recording the awarded amounts in his income statements and donating them to charity.
In 2003, Aman Tuleyev first headed the regional list of United Russia in the next State Duma elections, after which Kuzbass became a reliable “supplier of votes” in favor of the party in power in elections at all levels. The head of the region himself was re-elected twice more in direct elections with the same “Soviet” results (93.5% in 2001 and 96.7% in 2015), and in between was twice confirmed to this post by deputies on the proposal of the president , going down in history as the first governor appointed to the position by all three presidents of the Russian Federation. And the Kemerovo region has become for political scientists synonymous with “managed democracy” and an exemplary example of a system of one-man power, completely tied to the first person, to whom local deputies in 2011 officially awarded the title of “people’s governor.”
The strength of this system was not shaken either by the first sanctions or by the illness of Aman Tuleyev, who underwent two spinal surgeries in 2011 and 2017. But on March 25, 2018, a terrible fire occurred in the Kemerovo shopping and entertainment center “Winter Cherry,” which claimed the lives of 64 people, including 41 children. The governor did not go to the scene of the tragedy, where relatives of the victims gathered daily, explaining that he did not want his motorcade to interfere with the passage of special equipment, and called the participants in the spontaneous rally, who demanded that the authorities tell the truth about the true number of victims, “troublers.”
On April 1, Aman Tuleyev resigned, saying that “it is morally impossible to work with such a heavy burden as governor.” By that time, he had worked at the head of the region for 20 years and 9 months - the second result among governors after Belgorod resident Evgeniy Savchenko.
True, Mr. Tuleyev did not leave politics at that moment: as the leader of the United Russia party list in the 2013 elections, on April 3 he received a vacant mandate as a deputy of the legislative assembly, and a week later he became its speaker, thus “circulating” his political career. But the ex-governor was no longer nominated for the next elections in September 2018. And after another year and a half, he complained to the local online publication NGS42 that after his resignation, many people from his circle turned away from him. “I knew this would happen, of course. But I didn’t think it would be so fast. That this will happen on the second day. Everyone you honored, to whom you gave awards, to whom you kissed,” Mr. Tuleyev lamented.
Farewell to the ex-head of the region will take place on November 22 at the Kuzbass Musical Theatre. Aman Tuleyev will be buried, according to preliminary data, at the Kemerovo city cemetery, next to the grave of his youngest son Andrei, who died in a car accident in May 1998.