Anatoly Sobchak

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Image:Sobchak official.jpg
Official photography of Anatoly Sobchack as Mayor of Saint Petersburg

Anatoly Alexandrovich Sobchak (Russian: Анато́лий Алекса́ндрович Собча́к, August 10, 1937February 20, 2000) was a Russian politician, a co-author of the Constitution of the Russian Federation, the first democratically-elected mayor of Saint Petersburg, and a mentor of Vladimir Putin.


[edit] Biography

[edit] Soviet law scholar

Anatoly Sobchak was born in Chita on August 10, 1937. His father, Alexander Antonovich, was a railroad engineer and his mother, Nadezhda Andreyevna Litvinova, was an accountant. Anatoly was one of four brothers. In 1939, the family moved to Uzbekistan where Anatoly lived until 1953 before entering Stavropol Law College. In 1954, he was transferred to Leningrad State University. In 1958, he married Nonna Gandzyuk, a student of Hertzen Teacher's College. They had a daughter, Maria Sobchak, who is currently a Petersburg lawyer.

After graduating from Leningrad State University he worked for three years as a lawyer in Stavropol, then returned to Leningrad State University for graduate studies (19621965). After obtaining his Ph.D., he taught law at Leningrad police school and Leningrad institute for technology of cellulose and paper industries (1965-1973). In 1973 - 1990 he taught at Leningrad State University. In 1980 he married Lyudmila Narusova at that time a history student at Leningrad Academy of Soviet Culture later a prominent MP. They had a daughter Ksenia Sobchak, currently a TV presenter and the most notorious figure of Moscow's high society.

Since 1982 after obtaining his D.Sci he was a Professor and Head of Department for Common Law in Socialist Economics. He was very popular among law students especially for his mildly anti-government comments. During his work at Leningrad State University he established close relations with its administrator of international affairs Vladimir Putin, that he kept for the rest of his life.

[edit] Legislator

In 1989 after changing of Russian election laws in Perestroika time he was elected as an independent candidate into the Congress of People's Deputies of Soviet Union. He was one of only a few deputes who had legal background so he contributed enormously into most of the laws created during 1989-1991. He became one of the founders and a co-chairman of Inter-regional Deputies Group, along with Andrei Sakharov and Boris Yeltsin. He also was a chairman of the Parliamentary commission on investigation of events of April 9 1989 in Tbilisi. The commission condemned the military, which had caused so many deaths trying to disperse demonstrators. The commission's report made it more difficult to use military power against demonstrations of civil unrest in the Soviet Union and Russia.

He was a member of President's Consultative Council during Mikhail Gorbachev's time and contributed into legislation the came from presidential administration.

After disbanding of the Soviet Union in 1991 Sobchak was not a member of central Parliament, but was a member of Yeltsin's Presidential Council and the chairman of Constitutional Assembly, that prepared in 1993 the Constitution of the Russian Federation. The constitution is often informally called Sobchak's constitution, although its real authors have been somewhat less known.

[edit] Mayor of Saint Petersburg

In April 1990 Sobchak was elected a deputy at Leningrad City Council, in May he became the chairman of the Council. The Council decided to change the structure of the city governance so to have a Mayor elected by direct elections. The first of such elections in June 1991 were combined with the referendum on the city name. Anatoly Sobchak won the elections and the city voted to return to the historical name Saint Petersburg. The name change was established on one of the last sessions of Congress of People's Deputies of Soviet Union September 12 1991. The change required amendment of Constitution of Soviet Union and so took a lot of efforts from Sobchak to be passed.

Sobchak was Mayor of Saint Petersburg in 1991-1996. During his tenure the city became the place of glamourus cultural and sporting events. Most of the everyday control of the city structure were handled by two Mayor's deputies - Vladimir Yakovlev and Vladimir Putin. The critiques alleged deterioration of city infrastructure, growing corruption and crime.

In 1996 on the mayoral election Sobchak stand against his former first deputy Vladimir Yakovlev and lost by a margin of 1.2%. The major pitch of the Yakovlev's campaign was that Sobchak's patronage of the art (with city money) and involvement into federal politics prevented him from solving the real problems of the city .

[edit] Emigration and Return

In 1997 a criminal investigation started against Sobchack. He was accused of irregularities in privatization of his own apartment, his elder daughter's apartment and his wife's artistic studio. By the standards of the 1990's in Russia the allegations were relatively minor (although still the alleged losses for city finances were in the tens of thousands of dollars). Thus, Sobchak's supporters saw the criminal process as a political repression.

On November 7 1997 Sobchak flew to Paris on a private plane without passport control on the Russian side. The formal reason for his departue was hospital treatment in a Paris hospital for his heart condition, but his critics alleged that Sobchak never checked in at the hospital. In 1997 - 1999 he lived a typical life of a political immigrant in Paris.

In June 1999 his friend Vladimir Putin became much stronger (in a few weeks he became the Prime Minister of Russia) and he was able to make the prosecutors drop the charges against Anatoly Sobchak. On June 12 1999 Sobchak returned to Russia. After his return Sobchak became a very active supporter of Vladimir Putin in his quest for presidency of Russia.

[edit] Death

On February 20, 2000 Sobchak suddenly died in the town of Svetlogorsk of Kaliningrad Oblast during his trip to support Putin's election. The official cause of death was a heart attack, but the results of two medical expertises were contradictory. First experise has shown that he was murdered, so a criminal case was opened. But the case was closed after second expertise. Democratic Union party led by Valeria Novodvorskaya made an official statement that not only Anatoly Sobchack, but also two his young aides had heart attacks simultaneously, which indicated poisoning [1].

He was interred in Tikhvin Cemetery at the Alexander Nevsky Monastery in St. Petersburg, near the grave of Galina Starovoitova [2].

[edit] External links

ru:Собчак, Анатолий Александрович

Anatoly Sobchak

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