One Head is Good: Dual Power in Yaroslavl After Mayor’s Arrest

July 19, 2013
Oleg Vinogradov (left) and Aleksandr Nechaev (right) Фото: Anna Solovyeva/Ria Novosti

After the arrest of opposition mayor Yevgeny Urlashov, diarchy reigned in Yaroslavl. Two of Urlashov’s deputies both consider themselves acting city boss now. Aleksandr Nechayev cites an official decree issued when the mayor was still free. Oleg Vinogradov believes that he should run the city, since Urlashov appointed him acting mayor after he was put in pre-trial detention. Meanwhile, the mayor of Yaroslavl himself has been left under arrest and has been transferred to Moscow.

On the evening of 12 July, it became known that Oleg Vinogradov, deputy mayor for city self-management development and government liaison, had been appointed acting mayor. Urlashov’s lawyer Mikhail Pisarets showed a decree on the appointment of Vinogradov which the arrested mayor had signed in pre-trial detention. On the next day, 13 July, the newspaper Gorodskiye Novosti [City News] published the decree, after which it became law. According to the publication Yaroslavksiy Region, the document was printed hastily, and the decree was submitted to the newspaper at the last moment. The presses even had to be halted in order to print it.

Aleksandr Nechayev, deputy mayor for social issues and culture, who has been serving as acting mayor since Urlashov’s arrest, announced that he did not know about the appointment of anyone else in his place. “Legally, the existence of such a document is impossible,” he emphasized. On Monday, 13 July, Nechayev, as acting mayor, chaired a meeting in the mayor’s office. Oleg Vinogradov spoke at the beginning of the meeting, announcing that in fact he was the lawful acting mayor, given the existence of Urlashov’s decree printed in the newspaper.

According to Nechayev, the document really was printed, but it did not have any legal force since it had not been registered at the mayor’s office. Moreover, Nechayev noted that the number of the decree coincides with another decree which the office already registered. He didn’t say what that document was, limiting himself to a remark that it concerned “investment activity.” As Nechaev commented, the “investment” document was signed earlier than Urlashov’s decree.

The number on the decree which Urlashov signed in jail was 1577. The date was 12 July 2013. Yet a document with the number 1577 was not among the decrees which had been passed by the mayor’s office during the previous week. On the mayor’s website, there is decree number 1576 of 10 July and then number 1603 from 11 July and 1606 from 12 July. The decree 1576 is titled “On permission for a conditionally authorized form of use of a land parcel on Spartakovsky St. (at bldg. 25), parcel no. 2 in Zavolzhsky District.”

Vinograd told the publication Rodnoy gorod [Native City] that he had personally registered the decree issued by Yevgeny Urlashov. “Aleksandr Nechayev put pressure on the mayor’s office so that the decree signed by acting mayor Yevgeny Urlashov was not registered. Then the office was closed completely. Urlashov’s signature and the mayor’s office seal is on the decree. The office requires only one technical action – the assigning of a number to the document. In order that the sabotage by Nechayev would not become an obstacle for fulfilling the mayor’s decision, I assigned him a number myself, going by the last publications of documents in the municipal paper Gorodskiye Novosti,” he reported.

On 15 July, Nechayev appealed to the city prosecutor’s office to determine whether Urlashov’s decree had legal force. Yaroslavl Prosecutor Aleksey Kukin believed that in order to sign the document, the mayor must come to work, that is, to come to execute his duties. From a jail cell, the prosecutor concluded, the mayor cannot publish documents. Thus, the prosecutor’s office named Aleksandr Nechayev as the lawful acting mayor. In addition, the prosecutor’s office began investigating the circumstances of the publication of Urlashov’s decree. As Kukin stated, the document did not pass through the administration of the pre-trial detention center and it is not clear at all how it got on the outside. He did not rule out that a criminal case would be opened on charges of forgery.

According to Yaroslavl’s charter, “in the event of a temporary inability by the mayor of the city to fulfill his functions, the function of mayor as head of the mayor’s office of the city can be fulfilled by the first deputy mayor in accordance with a municipal legal act of the mayor’s office.” But the problem is that Urlashov didn’t have a first deputy. He removed this position after he was elected to his post.
In May 2013, when Yevgeny Urlashov was still free, the mayor’s office issued a decree which in particular regulated the work of the office in the absence of the mayor. The document noted that the mayor’s duties would transfer to the deputy on issues of social policy and culture, that is, to Aleskandr Nechayev. Nechayev is now citing that document when he says that he in fact is the acting mayor. In the May decree, however, there is a caveat: “If otherwise not stipulated by a municipal legal act of the mayor’s office of the city of Yaroslavl.” That is, in principle, Urlashov may in fact appoint another acting mayor.

According to, Aleksandr Nechayev enjoys the support of the gubernatorial administration with which Yevgeny Urlashov was in conflict. Vinogradov also believed that Nechayev was under pressure from the regional authorities.

Meanwhile, Yevgeny Urlashov himself is being brought by convoy to Moscow, as back in his city power is being divided up. It is not known which investigation isolation facility he will be incarcerated in. According to his lawyers, the mayor will be held in Matrosskaya Tishina [Sailors’ Haven]. The investigation of the criminal case is transferred to the federal level – the mayor is accused of an attempt to receive a bribe in a large amount as a member of an organized group. According to the investigation, he and his accomplices extorted 45 million rubles in a kickback from a local business man, a deputy of the city council from United Russia. Investigators believe Urlashov’s accomplices are Maksim Poykalaynen, former director of the municipal requisition agency; Dmitry Donskov, deputy major; and Ivan Pisarev and Andrei Zakharov, advisors to the mayor, whom the Russian Investigative Committee has ascribed the role of middle-men. The Investigative Committee has stated that in the course of meetings arranged between Urlashov and Poykalaynen, Smelyov and Zakharov confirmed their testimonies which gave evidence of the mayor’s guilt. Meanwhile, lawyers claim that virtually all these face-to-face meetings were disrupted since Poykalaynen and Zakharov (nothing was said about Shmelyov) refused to answer Urlashov’s questions.

Urlashov relates his criminal prosecution with politics, since he beat the United Russia candidate in the mayoral elections who was supported by Governor Sergei Yastrebov. Furthermore, Urlashov took part in the rally “against crooks and thieves” and intended to run in the elections for the regional Duma from Civic Platform (Oleg Vinogradov also wanted to run in the elections from this party). Moreover, Urlashov had a conflict with the city deputies, the majority of whom were United Russia members, and who had assessed his work in the post of mayor as unsatisfactory. The mayor insists that he would not have taken such a risk and demanded a bribe from his political opponent.

At a session of the Yaroslavl Regional Court on 15 July, Yevgeny Urlashov asked to be released from custody so that he could spend his birthday at least under house arrest. But the court decided that the mayor would spend his 46th birthday on 16 July in jail.