Tanks for your support: Putin offers rep. post to factory foreman

Vladimir Putin (L) and Igor Kholmanskikh (RIA Novosti / Yana Lapikova)
A tank factory foreman from Russia’s remote Urals Region has accepted Vladimir Putin’s personal offer to represent the president in the Urals Federal District, overseeing the work of regional administration and law enforcers.

The offer, which was a surprise to the media and most likely to Igor Kholmanskikh himself, was made as Putin talked to the former worker at the president’s residence. Almost immediately after the agencies broke the news about the conversation, Kholmanskikh told the press that he would accept the position.

Though new to administrative structures, Igor Kholmanskikh’s name had already appeared in the media as well as in Russian social networks. He first became famous after offering support to Putin on behalf of all Urals factory workers during the then-prime minister’s Q&A direct line with Russian regions in December 2011.

After the parliamentary elections, as thousands took to the streets in Moscow in protest of alleged violations, Kholmanskikh promised to “come to Moscow with the lads and sort out those who protest against falsified elections.” He kept his promise, with a large delegation from the Uralvagonzavod tank factory taking part in pro-Putin rallies in Moscow.

The tank-maker is also known as the founder and leader of the public movement “In support of the man of labor”, which could possibly be transformed into a Labor Party.

As Putin offered the ex-foreman the administrative position, he stressed that this was an opportunity to influence directly the work of regional authorities and law enforcement bodies.

“I think that for you, a man who has spent his whole life at the plant, who knows the ordinary people’s lives, it will be right to take this post. You will be able to protect the people’s interests,” Putin stressed.

The president added that the future emissary would be able to attract the people who helped him in his public activities both as voluntary aides and as staff members.

The Urals Administrative District, a huge territory between Russia’s European and Asian parts, has a population of over 12 million and is considered to be the nation’s industrial backbone.

Kholmanskikh’s factory Uralvagonzavod is located in the city of Nizhny Tagil, in the south-east of the district.

The post of the presidential plenipotentiary to the Urals Administrative District became vacant less than a week ago after the incumbent, Evgeny Kuvaishev, was appointed governor of the Sverdlovsk Region.

The position was instituted in Russia in 2000 as a means of strengthening presidential power and ensuring the cooperation between federal authorities and regional governors.