Anatoly Aleksandrovich Sobchak


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(b. Leningrad, 10 Aug. 1937; d. Svetlogorsk, 20 Feb. 2000)

Russian; mayor of St Petersburg 1991–6 Sobchak graduated from the law faculty of Leningrad State University in 1957. From 1959 to 1962 he worked as a lawyer in the Stavropol region. From 1959 to 1962 he was a secretary of the Communist Youth League (Comsomol). In 1973 he was lecturer and in 1982 a professor of economic law at Leningrad State University. In 1989 he became a member of the Congress of People's Deputies representing Leningrad, and was also a member of its inner body, the Supreme Soviet. He was a member of the Co-ordinating Council of the Interregional Group of Deputies, a pressure group for greater democratization, and headed the official inquiry into the violent repression of the demonstration in Tbilisi in April 1989. In May 1990 he became chairman of Leningrad city soviet—the mayor of Leningrad. Soon afterwards he quarrelled with the Leningrad democrats who had come to power along with him on the radical reform platform. He began to rely on the old Communist economic bosses. In July 1990 he followed Yeltsin in leaving the Communist Party. In June 1991 Sobchak was elected mayor of St Petersburg. In August 1991 he rallied the people of Leningrad against the conservative coup, which was a major factor behind its failure. In December 1991 he became co-chairman of the Movement for Democratic Reform jointly with Popov, the mayor of Moscow. He became head of the Movement's Political Council. Sobchak was regarded as one of the leaders of the democratic movement in Russia. He was believed to have aspirations to become President of Russia in succession to Boris Yeltsin, and, in 1992, he published his version of events in his book For a New Russia. But among St Petersburg's radical reformers he acquired a reputation for incompetence, conservatism, and intellectual arrogance, and he was not re-elected as mayor in 1996. To avoid corruption investigations, he went into political exile in 1997 to France. He returned to Russia to campaign for Putin (who had been his deputy in St Petersburg) in the 2000 presidential election and died of a heart attack while campaigning. He had been expected to play a prominent part in Putin's administration.

Subjects: Politics.

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