Black Politician Elected in Russia

Racism in Russia is deep and often violent, but voters saw an honest politician in Jean Gregoire Sagbo.

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All hail Jean Gregoire Sagbo, who was the first black politican ever elected to office in Russia. The native of Benin, in West Africa, was elected to the 10-member council of Novozavidovo, a city of 10,000 people 65 miles north of Moscow. No need to tell you this is big progress in a country where racism is pervasive and often violent.

Sagbo has lived in the town for 21 years and is widely viewed as an honest man, say news reports. He came to Russia to study economics. By some estimates, there are 40,000 "Afro-Russians" living in the country.

He promises to revive the impoverished, garbage-strewn town where he has lived for 21 years and raised a family. His plans include reducing rampant drug addiction, cleaning up a polluted lake and delivering heating to homes.

"Novozavidovo is dying," Sagbo said in an interview in the ramshackle municipal building. "This is my home, my town. We can't live like this."

"His skin is black but he is Russian inside," said Vyacheslav Arakelov, the mayor. "The way he cares about this place, only a Russian can care."

Sagbo isn't the first black in Russian politics. Another West African, Joaquin Crima of Guinea-Bissau, ran for head of a southern Russian district a year ago but was heavily defeated.

For more see the full AP story on Yahoo.

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