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West African Immigrant becomes Russia's first black elected official

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.

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 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. 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.” [READ MORE …]

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