A woman is now on the brink of attaining the third highest political seat in Russia.
Valentina Matviyenko, a close ally of Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, has won a seat in the Federation Council, Russia’s upper house of parliament by a landslide. Reportedly, Putin and Russia’s President Dmitry Medvedev are planning to make her the parliamentary speaker, which is the third highest-ranking political position in the country.
The former speaker of the upper house, Sergei Mironov, a leader of the opposition ‘A Just Russia’ party leader, was ousted in May by the ruling ‘United Russia’ party for criticizing Matviyenko.
Matviyenko’s ascension to the currently vacant speaker position remains subject to approval by the Federation Council (which is loyal to the Kremlin, virtually guaranteeing her appointment).
Should she be so elected, she would likely become the highest-ranking female political figure in Russia since Catherine the Great, who reigned as empress of Russia in the 18th Century.
Since 2003, Matviyenko, 62, has been governor of St Petersburg, Russia's second largest city and Putin’s hometown.
However, opponents claim her “victory” was a fraud, with allegations of ballot-stuffing.
This is a 100 percent fraud, not a vote, opposition leader Boris Nemtsov wrote on his blog.