At the first meeting of the new convocation, the Yekaterinburg City Duma unexpectedly postponed the issue of electing its chairman. A representative of United Russia (UR), which won the majority of seats in parliament, explained this by the need to conduct “some consultations.” The main contender for the post of speaker is the 33-year-old director of the Department of Political Science and Sociology of the Humanitarian Institute of the Ural Federal University (Ural Federal University) Anna Gurariy. The expert attributes the personnel delay to the struggle for leadership positions in the City Duma committees.
The eighth convocation of the City Duma of Yekaterinburg was formed in a new proportion: if previously there were 18 “list members” and single-mandate members in parliament, now there are 10 of the former, and 25 of the latter. United Russia won the list vote (41.9% of the votes) in 23 districts, receiving in the end there were 27 mandates. Three seats went to the LDPR, two to the Communist Party of the Russian Federation, one each to A Just Russia - For Truth, New People and Yabloko.
The first meeting of the new composition of the Duma took place on September 19. At it, deputies had to elect a chairman and his deputies. The first vice-speaker was the experienced deputy Mikhail Matveev, who previously worked for many years in the administration of Yekaterinburg. And deputy Ilya Bondarev, who heads UMMC-Agro (both United Russia members), was elected as a simple deputy chairman.
However, the deputies unexpectedly postponed the issue of choosing a chairman. After the meeting, the head of the United Russia faction, Alexei Vikharev, explained that the candidate “needs to undergo some consultations” in order to receive permission to be nominated. “We are mostly discussing one candidate from among the party members,” he explained. Mr. Vikharev refused to disclose the identity of the candidate, adding that “for now this is classified information.” The United Russia press service was unable to explain what kind of consultations we are talking about.
According to Kommersant's information, the main contender for the post of speaker of the City Duma is Anna Gurariy. In 2020, she took the position of head of the Department of Political Science and Sociology at UrFU, becoming the youngest director in the history of the university (29 years old). Mrs. Gurariy is the wife of the assistant to the presidential plenipotentiary representative in the Ural Federal District, Evgeniy Gurariy. Local media reported that the sponsor of her election campaign was allegedly the Sinara group. Sinara did not comment on this information.
According to a Kommersant source in the government of the Sverdlovsk region, the candidacy of Ms. Gurary was proposed by the head of Yekaterinburg, Alexey Orlov. “She represents a major university, won convincingly in her constituency and has a great future ahead of her. Why not work in such a responsible position,” the interlocutor explained. Regional authorities also considered Mikhail Matveev for the post of speaker, but in the end he got the role of deputy, Kommersant’s source added: “I think this pair will work just perfectly.”
City Duma deputy from Yabloko Konstantin Kiselyov, who previously lost to Anna Gurariy in a single-mandate district, but received a mandate on the party list, believes that the city parliament under her leadership risks “degrading.” “There is a big chance that the Duma will become a miserable body, nothing at all,” explains Yabloko, adding, however, that Ms. Gurary is “not the worst candidate” for this post.
Political scientist Alexander Belousov explains the choice in favor of Anna Gurariy by the fact that she does not depend on previous influence groups and has well-established communication with Alexei Orlov. “Orlov can count on her to owe her career rise to him and to demonstrate loyalty to him in difficult situations,” the expert believes. Mr. Belousov calls the postponement of the issue of electing a speaker to the next meeting a sign of a struggle for control over the committees: “Different groups of influence are now dividing them, they must agree on something.” According to the political scientist, some deputies are ready to vote for the appointment of Anna Gurariy as speaker when receiving leadership in certain committees. “The fact that they decided to postpone means that they did not agree on all positions. It takes time to agree on everything,” summarizes Alexander Belousov.