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Valentina Matviyenko

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Updated: 06.10.2003

Governor of St.Petersburg, elected on October 5, 2003

On September 21, 2003, Valentina Matviyenko, then a Presidential Representative in the Northwestern Federal District of the Russian Federation, narrowly failed to win outright in election to replace St.Petersburg governor Vladimir Yakovlev, who stepped down earlier the same year amid charges of mismanagement of the city's 300th anniversary celebrations. Yet, in the second round of elections Ms Matviyenko has defeated her challenger, Anna Markova, by a wide margin.

Ms. Matviyenko, born 1949, became post-Soviet Russia's highest-ranking woman official, as Deputy Prime Minister in the cabinet of Yevgeny Primakov with responsibility for relations between the Government and trade unions, social issues, religious organisations, education, sports, culture and the mass media. Prior to that, Ms. Matviyenko was a diplomat and long-serving government official.

From 1991 to 1995, she served as Russian Ambassador to Malta, and from 1997 to 1998 as Russian Ambassador to Greece.

Ms Matviyenko has lived most of her adult life in St.Petersburg.

She is considered a trusted ally of Mr Putin, who is himself a native of St.Petersburg.

Her appointment as Mr Putin's envoy in the region in March 2003 was seen as a jumping-off point for the St.Petersburg governor election campaign. Billboards around the city showed her side by side with Mr Putin. She has pledged to improve the city's dilapidated appearance and continue Mr Yakovlev's reconstruction programme.

The poll is seen as a test of President Vladimir Putin's hold over the country ahead of his re-election bid next year. The candidate he had endorsed, Valentina Matviyenko, got 48.6% - just short of the 50% needed to avoid a run-off.

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