Luybov Cherepanova (second from left) is top political representative of the north Russian Pechenga municipality. In November she was part of a Murmansk government delegation to the occupied Ukrainian "friendship town" of Primorsk. Photo: Cherepanova on social media VK

From Pechenga to occupied Ukraine. Political leader from North Russian border region is sent on mission to invaded town

Lyubov Cherepanova is member of the Murmansk regional Duma and former leader of the Pechenga municipality. She is one of several leading politicians from the north Russian region that is commissioned to the occupied Ukrainian town of Primorsk.
January 04, 2024


“The life of the Primorsky area is gradually turning peaceful and locals with gratitude accept the support from the North,” Cherepanova said during a visit to the Ukrainian town that Murmansk has taken stewardship for.

The politician that normally lives in Zapolyarny, a north Russian town located near the border to Norway and Finland, was in November last year visiting Primorsk together with a delegation of regional politicians from Murmansk.

“The inhabitants of the new regions must every second feel that they are part of a big country, and Murmansk region has helped, helps and will continue to help compatriots in this hard time,” Cherepanova underlined in a comment.


“From the Azov Sea to the Barents Sea - together we build the future,” reads the poster on the wall in a new sport studio in Primorsk. Photo: Primorsk on VK


In the Russian delegation to Primorsk were also Speaker of the Murmansk Duma Sergei Dubovoy, Budget Committee leader Irina Prosolenko, Deputy Governor Vladimir Yevmenkov and Culture Minister Olga Obukhova.

Like most other Russian regions, Murmansk has been commissioned by Moscow to take stewardship for occupied Ukrainian towns and municipalities. An agreement between Murmansk and Primorsk reportedly outlines more than 40 measures in fields such as the housing sector, education, culture and sports.


Critics that the Barents Observer has talked with, however, argue that the Russian investments in occupied Ukrainian territories are excluded normal audit procedures and consequently can be used for large-scale whitewashing of money.

Politicians from Murmansk have a look at a renovated apartment in Primorsk. In the group is also Andrei Malkhasian, town Mayor of Kola. Photo: Primorsk on VK

Murmansk Governor Andrei Chibis has made several visits to the occupied lands and he has commissioned at least two of his regional assistants to serve as caretakers in Primorsk. Head of the Alakurtti municipality Aleksandr Samaria and Head of Kola Andrei Malkhasian have both held tenure in the occupied town. The latter was on site when the Murmansk delegation visited Primorsk in November.

Lyubov Cherepanova has over the last years made a career boost in regional Murmansk politics. For several years she was town mayor of Zapolyarny before she in 2020 was elected Chair of the local council of Pechenga. Since 2021, she has been a member of the Murmansk regional Duma.

She represents one of the most militarised regions of Murmansk. The municipality of Pechenga houses the 200th Motorised Rifle Brigade and the 61st Naval Infantry Brigade and Cherepanova has repeatedly praised the local soldiers’ fighting in Ukraine.


Lyubov Cherepanova takes part in military ceremony in Kola Peninsula. Photo: Cherepanova on social media VK


Shortly after the start of Russia’s full-scale onslaught on Ukraine, Cherepanova highlighted the importance of “the battle against Nazism.”

“The Armed Forces of Russia are crushing the nationalist formations and liberate peaceful inhabitants,” she underlined in a social media post in April 2022.

“For a world against Nazism,” she stressed.

Since then, several thousand soldiers from the Pechenga brigades have been killed and injured in the war. Cherepanova nevertheless continues to agitate for continued aggression against the neighbouring country.


Lyubov Cherepanova (center) calls on women in the Pechenga region to take part in efforts to make camouflage nets to Russian occupying forces in Ukraine. Photo: Cherepanova on VK


“Ahead of the New Year’s celebration I would like to wish the participants of the special operation good health, luck and of course Victory! Let the patriotic spirit of the North be your solid fighting partner,” she said in a statement in late December 2023.

At the same time, Cherepanov and her companions in the United Russia party has started campaigning for Vladimir Putin’s reelection in the upcoming March presidential elections.

“The path that our country has walked for 23 years shows the righteousness of all the current president’s decisions and initiatives. Today, there is no other person that can decently continue the special operation and lead Russia towards victory,” she said in late December 2023.


Soldiers from the 61st Naval Infantry Brigade in Sputnik during a visit by Cherepanova and other dignitaries in fall 2023. Photo: Cherepanova on VK


The Pechenga region is located along the border to Norway and Finland and local authorities have over the past 30 years been closely engaged in cross-border cooperation with neighbouring Nordic municipalities.

The nearby Norwegian municipality of Sør-Varanger still has a so-called ‘friendship agreement’ with Pechenga. That agreement is however likely to be abandoned by the new local government coalition that won the municipal election in September 2023.



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