Governor Marina Kovtun and deputy Aleksey Tyukavin (left). Photo:

In Murmansk, a new rang of authorities

According to a new order issued recently by the governor, Vice-Governor Alexei Tyukavin has lately taken over most of the governor's key functions. Marina Kovtun, the current Governor of Murmansk region has only housing and financial inspection left under her control.
March 27, 2017


In early February, Governor Marina Kovtun signed another order introducing changes in the distribution of responsibilities between Murmansk region deputy governors.

This is the seventh redistribution during Kovtun’s tenure.

In comparison with the director’s office of 2016, Alexey Tyukavin’s functions have risen in both quality and quantity. Previously, he had seven functions under his control. Currently, he has twenty.

First Deputy Governor of Murmansk, Alexey Tyukavin. Photo: Thomas Nilsen

Since February, all economic policy and activity, purchasing, state property management, transport, roads, energy, natural resources, education, science, the implementing and supervising tariffs, medicine, sport, tourism, physical education, employment, culture, art, Legal support and lawmaking - all have come to be under Tyukavin’s supervision.

In addition, the language of the new document now shows that his job is not only to coordinate these projects but to fully take control over them.

In fact, according his new sphere of influence, Tyukavin has basically become the chairman of the government - a post that disappeared in the days of former governor Yuri Evdokimov from 1996 to 2009.

What does all of this mean?
There are several options that are not mutually exclusive:

1. Kovtun needs a straw man to shoulder the burden of guilt if something happens. Gennady Mikichura, who served as Prime Minister of Adygea within the State Assembly of the Republic of Adygea for 8 months in 2003 after the first serious protest rally is a good example.
2. Kovtun is tired of even pretending that she does anything except going fishing and showing up to swap faces at events and in high offices

3. Tyukavin is squeezing out the very last drops of power he can while simultaneously threatening to leave “Novatek”.

4. Norilsk Nickel values ​​the quality of Kovtun’s work (or is simply assuming she is planning on resigning) in defending corporate interests and attracting federal funding towards the company’s main holdings. (Does anyone else remember the Nickel integrated investment development project settlement worth 33 billion rubles?)

5. There is a conflict with the management of Norilsk Nickel. We can see Kovtun and the vice-president of Norilsk Nickel snorting at each other in this Video link.


What do the other deputies do?
In the background, the responsibilities of the other deputy governors look rather modest by comparison. None of them has any real authority and their actual function has been reduced to “coordination work” and “giving instructions”.

Igor Babenko for example, manages awards, prizes, makes provisions for the governor’s activities, oversees housing rents, the Magistrates’ court and media.

In fact, Babenko is now sort of a butler: he manages the purchase of curtains, hairdryers, hotels and Kovtun‘s flights, the governor’s table and media supplications. But at the same time, he has managed to alienate both Tyukavin and Andranik Musatyan, the owner of the ‘madhouse’ Arktik-TV channel, the only media outlet dangerous to office by having gotten their spouses fired.


Vice Governor Yevgeny Nikora. Photo: Trude Pettersen

Yevgeni Nikora coordinates and advises on energy, garbage, construction, ecology and natural resources, as well as improving the effectiveness of everything he touches.

Roman Duryagin is involved in forecasting and forming regional social and economic development programs, targeting specific programs, overseeing project management methodology, fiscal policy, cross-border cooperation, property evaluations and develops proposals to improve all of the above.

Anatoly Vekshin simply tramples the Duma, saying political parties “must be involved with the promotion and development of a civil society”, including indigenous minorities, e-government and, of course, elections. 

And along these lines, he has gotten rid of all the bunglers connected with building relations with the media, extortions, useless dead weight and “gifts”. This is the local Surkov.

Giorgi Straty manages transport, roads, industry, investments, alcohol, fish and the agro-industrial complex.

Inna Pogrebnyak is responsible for all social, educational, cultural and health services.

The document also points out Kovtun’s specific functions as governor. Quoted literally:
The Governor of the Murmansk region will continue to have responsibility for the coordination and control of the activities of the Committee for State and Financial Control and the State Housing Inspection committee of the Murmansk region.


This story is originally posted on the and re-published as part of Eyes on Barents, a collaborative partnership between news organizations and bloggers in the Barents region


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