President Dmitry Medvedev indicated on Friday that he is actively looking for young people to join the government and hinted that Olympic medal-winning gymnast Svetlana Khorkina might be in line for a governor’s post.
“There are two charming women sitting here. I mean Svetlana Khorkina and [Nashi activist] Marina Zademidkova. You look like you belong here. Maybe I should appoint you as governors?” Medvedev said at a State Council meeting on youth politics, RIA-Novosti reported.
Khorkina was elected as a State Duma deputy for United Russia in 2007, three years after ending a career as a gymnast that included two Olympic gold medals. She is a deputy chairwoman of the Duma’s Youth Affairs Committee.
Controversially, Khorkina has posed for men’s magazines including the Russian version of Playboy, although she didn’t take all her clothes off. She has also dabbled in pop singing and acting.
Khorkina later told the United Russia web site that she wasn’t ready to become a governor. “Of course it’s a very flattering offer, but I understand that I need to study a lot for this,” she said. “I have just begun this journey and am only beginning my work in politics.”
“This is a kind of restriction on young people’s rights because we are one country,” Medvedev said in the transcript of the speech published on the Kremlin’s web site.
The speech also touched on restrictions on selling alcohol and tobacco to young people. Medvedev called for harsher punishments for those who sell to minors. He recalled the anti-alcohol campaign of the Mikhail Gorbachev era, saying here were “idiotic bans and mistakes,” but that the campaign did prompt an “unprecedented” improvement in the death statistics.
Medvedev first called for a “reserve” of young people to be fast-tracked to top government and business posts in July last year. In February, the Kremlin published the top 100, although the oldest person on the list was 50.Khorkina and Zademidkova are not on the list. Many regions have responded by creating their own recruitment pools.
“We did not create the recruitment pool so that we can account for ourselves and say that we have a group of people who when they’re closer to pension age will be appointed to certain posts,” Medvedev said Friday, Interfax reported. “Colleagues, you should appoint them and recommend these people for work in public organizations and business structures.”
“The selection of a reserve of personnel really is happening in the regions. It’s creating big disputes, but it’s the right thing,” Morozov said.
However, Alexei Mukhin, an analyst at the Center for Political Information, was dubious about Khorkina becoming a governor. “I don’t think that Svetlana Khorkina will become a governor in the near future, although who knows?” he said.
Medvedev warned governors in his speech, saying, “I support the suggestion of including work with young people in the list of criteria used to assess the effectiveness of the leadership of the regions.”