For the previous 4 years, Marina Udgodskaya has scrubbed and mopped the workplaces of the native administration constructing in Povalikhino in rural Russia.
Now the 35-year-old cleaner is downing her dusters to maneuver into the boss’s seat, after profitable an election earlier this month that she solely entered to with a purpose to get him reappointed.
When no-one within the village signed-up to problem Nikolai Loktev, who’s from the pro-Kremlin United Russia get together, he persuaded Ms Udgodskaya to register as his “rival” to make sure the minimal requirement of two candidates.
That plan backfired when the cleaner beat him by a landslide.
‘She was flabbergasted’
“Nikolai Loktev thought no-one would vote for her and he would stay in the job. But the people had had enough and they came out and chose Marina Udgodskaya,” a member of the native electoral fee instructed the BBC from .
“He was amazed and she was flabbergasted!” the girl, who did not wish to be recognized, laughed down the telephone line.
She says she had personally heard Mr Loktev asking the cleaner to face in opposition to him.
Ms Udgodskaya was swamped with calls after her shock win made nationwide headlines.
‘I did not do something’
She’s since stopped answering her telephone and is preserving a low profile forward of her inauguration later this week.
But in a single early interview she appeared shocked by her win, describing herself as a “fake” candidate who was “not ready” for such speedy promotion.
“I didn’t think people would actually vote for me,” she instructed Telegram information channel Podyom. “I didn’t do anything at all!”
Even so, she gained nearly 62% of the vote. Her boss managed simply 34%.
Neither candidate campaigned actively forward of the election: no billboards, no flyers, no conferences with voters. Locals argue there is no level, when everybody is aware of everybody else.
Povalikhino, dotted with brightly painted, one-storey picket buildings, is the biggest of 30 villages that fall beneath the umbrella of the administration Ms Udgodskaya will now run.
It has simply 242 inhabitants.
“I’ve done everything necessary in the job; there are no problems in the village,” Mr Loktev instructed the BBC on one in every of his final days in workplace, struggling to grasp his defeat.
“Clearly the people wanted change,” the 58-year-old former policeman concluded.
‘I believe she’ll cope’
Some have recommended the end result was a protest in opposition to Mr Loktev’s United Russia get together, which has been slumping in polls throughout the nation. In Kostroma, the place Povalikhino is positioned, the get together gained simply 32% of the vote for the regional parliament.
Elsewhere, a method of good voting pushed by opposition politician Alexei Navalny – backing the candidate most definitely to defeat United Russia – introduced some new faces into politics.
But in Povalikhino, the village shopkeeper insists this end result was private: Mr Loktev had merely stopped displaying any curiosity in his obligations.
“If we could have voted against all we would have done, but we had the option to vote for Marina, so we did,” Irina defined.
“I think she’ll cope. The whole village will help. Though of course, her education needs a bit of a boost.”
Like it or not, Ms Udgodskaya is caught along with her new job. If she refused the function, the Pensioners’ Party which is backing her says she’d should pay for all the election to be re-run.
It prefers to color its candidate as a Cinderella determine than an unintended winner.
“She was working in the administration as a cleaner and saw how everything was done, and of course in her heart she got the idea of taking part,” spokesman Valery Gromov says – and he shrugs off her lack of expertise.
“Svetlana Tikhanovskaya was a housewife and didn’t know anything either! Now she’s at the peak of her popularity,” he argues, referring to the Belarus opposition chief.
Until she steps into her new function, Marina Udgodskaya is alleged to be persevering with along with her cleansing work as the person she defeated so roundly packs up his belongings and strikes out.
“I’m not upset,” Nikolai Loktev insisted. “People voted for her, so let her do her job.”
Then he added: “I don’t think there’s anything bad about her being in charge of the place she used to clean. It means she knows her way around.”