The village named after Sverdlov is the nearest suburb of St. Petersburg. Therefore, it is being actively built up with new residential quarters, and some time ago, the authorities of the Leningrad Region announced the construction of a satellite city of St. Petersburg for 300,000 inhabitants here. But so far only political passions are boiling here. Several dozen people are trying to cancel the elections in three of the four polling stations. If this decision passes, the council of deputies will be dissolved.
Recently, an exit court session was held in the village. Due to the complexity and intricacy of the case, the court decided to go to the village itself in order to carry out the necessary formalities with the plaintiffs. The meeting was held in the assembly hall of the local cultural center. A table for the judge was placed on the stage, the plaintiffs were seated in the hall. One of the main arguments of dissatisfied residents is that some voters were simply not allowed to vote. People remember that last September, during the three-day voting, something incredible happened in the village. On the first days, badges and flyers were handed out to voters, with which they had to take a selfie. Among the authors of the photo, a car was raffled off. On the second day of the elections, a grand celebration was held in the village with a concert by the Hands Up group. But on the third day of the elections, when the majority of the population usually goes to vote, the polling stations took up a dead defense. Voters were received so slowly that queues formed at the porch. To get inside, it was necessary to defend for 3-4 hours. As a result, not everyone who wanted to vote was able to do so. After the election, people organized and filed class action lawsuits. The authorities attributed these oddities to anti-COVID measures, but at the same time, no one was embarrassed by the crowd at the concert.
Witness Konstantin Smirnov told during the trial that he had come to the village of Sverdlov from the Novgorod region, where he was then
- I phoned my son in the afternoon, he took a turn at the site, - the man recalls, - I arrived at five o'clock, and there were still a lot of people in front of us. We got inside only at the seventh hour. There was also a show inside. We were told: sit down, wait, then they let us into the next room, again asked to sit down and wait. And so four times, until they got to the member of the commission, who was looking for us in the address books. It took about 20 minutes for one person to get from the entrance to the ballot. When I left the polling station, there were still a tail of 100 people. And at 8 pm the door was closed, and people did not vote.”
One of the plaintiffs, Andrei Shernin, says that out of habit he came to vote at the school, where the PEC opens every time. The man stood in line, and it turned out that this time the voters from his house should vote in another polling station. No one knew which one, the voter was offered to go around everything and find out on their own.
“They told me: go, look for your house in other PECs”, the man recalls, “I arrived at the club, there were already 50 people there. I walked around the line and wanted to find out if my site was there. But they didn’t let me in, they said, wait in line. Naturally, I did not like it, I began to resent, then the police came up and said that they would detain me now. As a result, after a few hours, I went to the site with my parents, who stood in line".
In the village named after Sverdlov there is a close-knit community of caring residents. People organized themselves into a group of activists a few years ago when they tried to cover abandoned quarries located in the village with garbage. This process was stopped only with the help of an appeal to the head of the TFR, Alexander Bastrykin. But even after that, I had to complain to the Investigative Committee again. As activist Elena Golovanova said, after that scandal, careers were covered not with several meters of earth, but in 2020 the administration spent 80 million on the “reclamation” of these objects. The work was carried out without projects, and in fact they simply removed a meter layer of earth from the quarries and took it to a landfill. Residents asked to check the validity of this purchase.
At the same time, the village authorities were in a fever because of the protracted conflict between the head and the deputies. For two years the village could not accept the budget. The regional center decided to reboot the village authorities, and Andrei Shornikov was sent here as the head of the current mayor. At the same time, they managed to convince a number of deputies to resign, which led to re-elections, which the residents are now trying to challenge.
- I was an observer and saw the whole mess, - says Yelena Golovanova. - Residents were simply not allowed to vote. Two days out of three, only three people worked at the PECs, who received voters and gave out ballots. And on the third day, they put one specialist at a time. Naturally, queues gathered, people saw it, shouted “shame”, as a result, the riot police arrived to guard it all. In addition, there were strange "surveys" that were conducted in tents near the polling stations. I tried to find out what was going on there. You go into the tent, it is immediately closed so that nothing can be seen from the outside. She asked, what do you have here? They say we are conducting a poll, and the person does not have a single piece of paper, just a phone in his hand. They say go vote and come. I sat as an observer, saw people in booths taking pictures of ballots, and then direct fire into the tent”.
As a result of the elections, only loyal deputies were elected to the council, who were supported by the head of Shornikov and the regional authorities. But this did not bring peace to the village. Last year, the deputies managed to adopt a budget in the amount of about 800 million rubles. But in 2022, civil strife broke out again. So the Governor of the Leningrad Region Alexander Drozdenko proposed Shornik's candidacy for the post of head of the neighboring Kirovsky district. And the village of Sverdlov was to be headed by the former co-owner of the Loesk company, deputy Dmitry Simonov. There was even a competition for the post of head, but the deputies from Kirovsk did not accept Shornikov, so he returned to the village of Sverdlov just a couple of months after his resignation. He was appointed first deputy head, and then acting head. This split the Council of Deputies in half. Eight people support Shornikov, seven support Simonov. Groups hold alternative council meetings and bombard the courts with lawsuits against the administration and the council.
According to Elena Golovanova, the authorities of the Sverdlov village, as before, have a lot of questions, although the power in the administration changes every few months.
“The village got a budget this year, there is good money there and there is a chance to solve chronic problems with water, with sewerage, every year we are without water all summer long,” the activist says, “but instead the administration is doing landscaping that no one needs. Even projects for the reconstruction of networks were not ordered. And the head maintains a blog where he tells how much he does for us. Last year, they made a public space, as it was called "the square of hope." A walking area and a playground are located on the main pipeline. The commission came and was shocked that a playground was marked over such an object, and they were not even allowed into the administration to discuss this issue.
What is it about a small village that there is an endless political struggle going on around it? The fact is that large-scale housing construction is being prepared here. The CDS company has announced a residential complex for 300,000 inhabitants here. In the village of Novosaratovka (part of the Sverdlovsk settlement), a satellite city of St. Petersburg should appear. Moreover, the developers promise to take into account the mistakes of such settlements as Kudrovo and Murino. The latter are regularly referred to as an urban ghetto with man-houses and underdeveloped infrastructure. The administration of the village of Sverdlov will play a key role in this ambitious project. The icing on the cake was the recent news that Philip Kirkorov is going to build a shopping and entertainment complex for this satellite city. The artist signed an agreement with the authorities of the Leningrad region at the last St. Petersburg International Economic Forum.
Against the background of such grandiose plans, the political fuss in the village of Sverdlov looks significant. In a small administration, they cannot restore order and establish normal work. At the same time, ironically now, a group of activists, which has always criticized the authorities, can now nullify the split council of deputies, and with it the administration.
“Representatives of the Leningrad region came to a meeting of one of the alternative councils and said that they had no right to interfere in the affairs of the municipality,” says Elena Golovanova, “you need to wait for the court’s decisions, and then think about what to do next. But we also saw the opposite, when we sought order with the garbage dumps, when it came to declaring a state of emergency due to the fact that the waste flooded the kindergarten, Governor Drozdenko himself came to us, who demanded the resignation of the head. So, in that situation it was possible, but now it is not".
The court session, which will decide on the claim to cancel the elections, is scheduled for June 28. But residents are sure that whatever the decision, it will not put an end to the dispute.