Russia Elects First Black Politician: Jean Gregoire Sagbo

July 27th, 2010 - 2:15 am ICT by Angela Kaye Mason  

July 26 (THAINDIAN NEWS) Jean Gregoire Sagbo used to get a lot of stares in the Russian town of Novozavidovo, Russia, where most of the townsfolk had never seen a black man. Now the stares are even more often, as he has become the first black politician to ever be elected in Russia, and is what most people are calling the first honest politician.

It all started last month, when Sagbo become the first black man to ever be elected into a Russian office, in a country where racism is rampant, and violence often erupts from the hatred. His election is considered a huge milestone for the town, which has a population of 10,000. The 48 year old native of West Africa in the country of Benin was elected as one of the 10 municipal counselors of Novozavidovo, and is being viewed by the people not as just a black man, but as a man who cares about his town.

He has promised to revive the town, which has become impoverished and filled with trash strewn about on the streets. He has lived in Novozavidovo for 21 years and his family has been raised there. He also plans to cut out the drug use, clean the nearby lake which has become polluted, and supply heat to the homes in the town.

During an interview outside the decaying municipal building in Novozavidovo, Sagbo stated, “Novozavidovo is dying. This is my home, my town. We can’t live like this.”

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

Although he has been compared to Barack Obama, Sagbo does not appreciate the sentiment. “My name is not Obama. It’s sensationalism,” he said. “He is black and I am black, but it’s a totally different situation.” If Sagbo is truly interested in restoring his home as much as it seems, then the comparison seems indeed, a ridiculously flawed one.

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