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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Politician Poster Boys: Mayors With the Look




You can tell it's election season in sleepy St. Petersburg. Herbalife and Thermojetics hawkers have been pushed aside in the metros by campaign volunteers handing out literature, and political posters now outnumber the street-side portrait sketchers all along Nevsky Prospect.


A stroll along Nevsky between now and the gubernatorial (as the mayor's office will be called) elections on May 19 will give the casual political observer a fair idea, if not of how far democratic politics has come, then at least of how far democratic political advertising has come. And as Nixon vs. Kennedy so vividly taught us, image may not be everything, but it's pretty damn close.


Herewith, a short "image scorecard" for some of the major candidates' campaign material.


Anatoly Sobchak: Auntie Em! Auntie Em! A twister has lifted my office from Smolny and dropped it next to Peter and Paul Fortress! The poor mayor looks dazed in his huge, full-color posters plastered all over town, as though he's just received a nasty rap on the noggin and can't place where he is. The fact that he's floating somewhere in front of Peter and Paul Fortress probably isn't helping him overcome his amnesia. C.


Alexander Belyakov: "National money will stay in Russia," proclaim his posters, and he looks like a kindly banker, with his natty suit and paternally balding head. He clearly knows that money is what this election is about, although the fact that in his posters the color of his eyes has been enhanced with blue pen shows that the lesson of Nixon vs. Kennedy hasn't been lost on him, either. B-.


Vladimir Yakovlev: This is the guy pictured all over town with his jacket slung oh-so-casually over his shoulder. I picture him holding lots of campaign barbecues, dishing out the beans and weenies for supporters, drinking Pabst Blue Ribbon and speaking Russian with an Arkansas accent. Hey, wait a second... B.


Vladimir Khodyrev: He's a "sailor, teacher, mayor," according to his posters, and with his Brezhnev brows and Fyodorov hair, he's bringing the past and the present together. A Khodyrev governorship means "No bloated bureaucratic staffs, unemployment, crime, dirt in the streets..." The only problem left will be finding out how to unlock those four metro entrance doors that are locked for every one that's open. A-.


Yury Sevenard: Highest ratings for the perfect angle on his congenial head tilt. His black-and-white photo posters convey sincerity in the simple mussing of his hair. Not sure what he stands for, but he looks like he cares about us. A+.


Yury Boldyrev: Widely considered the strongest candidate against Sobchak, Boldyrev's portrait in his campaign literature looks unfortunately like the photos of lost children on the sides of milk cartons. Some points for gritty feel of the grainy black-and-white photo. B-.