Former Russian politician Pavel Balakshin, former administrative head and mayor of Arkhangelsk, dead at 87

 April 16, 2024

A once-prominent Russian politician and regional leader, Pavel Balakshin, just passed away this week at the age of 87, according to Russia's TV29.

After the fall of the Soviet Union, Balakshin was the first appointed administrative head of the Arkhangelsk region and was later elected as a deputy to the Russian Federation Council, after which he was elected to serve as mayor of the city of Arkhangelsk.

Though he had been ousted from the Federation Council amid some controversy, he was nonetheless awarded the title of being an "Honorary citizen of the city of Arkhangelsk" more than a decade after his political career concluded.

Soviet worker made transition to political leadership after communism fell

According to Balakshin's biography, he was born in 1936 and began a career as a worker in a variety of fields under the Soviets, including as a sailor in a river shipping company, as a locksmith for a railroad, and as a radar equipment mechanic in the Kiev Military District.

He graduated from a technical school in 1965 and began working for the Arkhangelsk Forestry Institute in the early 1970s, working his way up the ranks through the 70s and 80s to ultimately be named as a Chief Engineer of the USSR, General Director of the Arkhangelsk Pulp and Paper Mill.

Around the time of the demise of the Soviet Union, Balakshin became a committee chairman with the Arkhangelsk Regional Council of People's Deputies in 1990, and in September 1991, he was appointed by decree from then-Russian President Boris Yeltsin as the first administrative head of Arkhangelsk region.

An influential regional leader

Balakshin was then elected in 1993 to serve as a deputy representing the region in the Russian Federation Council, and in 1996 was assigned to serve on several important committees, including ones handling Federation affairs, the Federal Treaty, and regional policies.

However, he shortly thereafter became embroiled in controversy and scandal and was removed from his appointed post as head of the Arkhangelsk administration by the same Russian president who placed him there.

In a February 1996 decree, then-President Yeltsin cited "gross violations in the use of targeted loans allocated for the importation of products to the Far North" as the reason for Balakshin's immediate removal from the powerful regional position he'd held for nearly five years.

That was not the end of his career, however, as just months later, in December 1996, he was elected as mayor of Arkhangelsk, a post he held until he left office in 2000.

Following his mayorship, Balakshin went on to serve for several years as the director of a worker training institute, then as chairman of the regional advisory council, and finally as the public representative of the regional governor and the municipality of Arkhangelsk, of which he was named an "Honored Citizen" in 2011 -- one of several merit awards he earned over the decades under both the Soviet Union and the Russian Federation.

Remembered fondly by a former protege

According to Russia's TV29, the current regional governor of Arkhangelsk, Alexander Tsybulsky, said of Balakshin in a statement, "I was lucky to meet him when I first came to work in Arkhangelsk. Pavel Nikolaevich then gave advice as a wise mentor -- it is necessary to manage the region, advising people, and only with the best intentions [for] the land on which you work. I will always remember this science, which he managed to convey with some sincere, almost fatherly warmth."

The governor noted that "every meeting with Pavel Nikolayevich was important for me -- he could tell a lot about the Arkhangelsk region, interesting, with deep knowledge of history and his view of the present and the future. He knew not hundreds, but probably thousands of people, lived with them [in] different situations and generously shared with all his invaluable experience."

"I will cherish these memories and keep them in my heart. Bright memory of a bright person," Tsybulsky added.

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