Meet The Woman Who Is Now The Third Most Powerful Person In Russia

Valentina Matviyenko

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Valentina Matviyenko has already been called Russia’s Margaret Thatcher.Now, she’s about to take the highest position in the country’s upper legislative house after winning the seat with 95% of the vote, the BBC reports. That would make her the highest ranking female in Russian politics since 18th century Empress Cathrine the Great.

Not to say that she doesn’t fit the mould of today’s Russian politician — she does. Her election is being called “a 100% fraud” by opposition leaders, and she’s a close ally Prime Minister Vladimir Putin.

Matviyenko has been governor of St. Petersburg, the hometown of both Putin and President Dmitry Medvedev, since 2003.

She’s credited with the city’s overall modernization and economic improvement. Families have started moving to the city from all over Russia and tourism has doubled to 5 million a year since she took office. In 2008 Forbes listed her as the 31st most powerful woman in the world.

And she started from the bottom. Originally from Ukraine, and trained as a chemist, Ms. Matviyenko worked her way up the political ranks of the USSR as a local youth leader before she became a diplomat (ambassador to Malta) and then eventually a governor.

There’s another thing that makes Matviyenko stand out — she likes transparency. All of her council are streamed live on the internet. She also started a hot line where people could anonymously report bribes and other forms of corruption.

Let’s see if she takes that with her to Moscow.