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Arts & Culture

West African Immigrant Becomes Russia’s First Black Elected Official

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Jean Gregoire Sagbo

Jean Gregoire Sagbo, the first black person elected to public office in Russia, is in the final months of his five-year term on the Novozavidovsky town council.(Ann M. Simmons / Los Angeles Times)

NOVOZAVIDOVO, Russia — People in this Russian town used to stare at Jean Gregoire Sagbo because they had never seen a black man. Now they say they see in him something equally rare – an honest politician.

Jean Gregoire Sagbo last month became the first black to be elected to office in Russia.

In a country where racism is entrenched and often violent, Sagbo’s election as one of Novozavidovo’s 10 municipal councilors is a milestone. But among the town’s 10,000 people, the 48-year-old from the West African country of is viewed simply as a Russian who cares about his hometown.

He promises to revive the impoverished, garbage-strewn town where he has lived for 21 years and raised a family. Jean Gregoire Sagbo 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.” [READ MORE …]

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1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Jacqueline Dwyer

    August 5, 2010 at 6:14 am

    The energy has changed, and so are many other things including this brother voted in by caucasian Russians to be their first elected political official.

    I am not surprise God is working and I know that he’s real.

    Peace

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