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City news, 26.05.2006 12:40

Putin elected Honorary Citizen of Petersburg

putin President Vladimir Putin was elected Honorary Citizen of St.Petersburg on Wednesday. The city parliamentarians passed this decision at a meeting of the St.Petersburg Legislative Assembly. This honorary title was also adjudged to Rector of Petersburg University Lyudmila Verbitskaya. They are now the twenty-fourth and twenty-fifth Honorary Citizens of the city respectively.

The Russian president was born and had worked for quite a time in the so-called Northern Capital of Russia, although he now regards himself as a Muscovite. “I was living in Moscow before I decided to run for presidency and I regarded myself as a Muscovite already at that time,” he told a big press conference in January. “As to St.Petersburg, it is my native city, I am missing it, and I always enjoy visiting it,” Putin admitted. “I hope to be able to visit Petersburg in the future, too, ” he added.

Twenty-three Honorary Citizens of St.Petersburg were elected so far, including Academician Dmitry Likhachev, poetess Olga Berggolts, poet Iosif Brodsky, sculptor Mikhail Anikushin, actress Alisa Freindlikh, and Academician Jores Alfyorov. This honorary title is annually adjudged to two distinguished citizens of Petersburg. The ceremony is always held on the eve of the Day of the City (May 27), during which the parliamentarians make their choice by secret ballot at the final session of the Legislative Assembly.

The status of Honorary Citizen is not merely a title. Its holder is vested with the right to freely attend meetings of all the St.Petersburg administrative bodies and to have priority talks with different officials, including the Governor and the Speaker of the Legislative Assembly, and to come out with legislative initiatives.

The honorary citizens are elected on recommendation of the Speaker of the Legislative Assembly, Governor or public representatives, including those, who already hold this title. This year, Putin and Verbitskaya had to compete with such authoritative personalities as cosmonaut Grigory Grechko and writer Alexander Solzhenitsyn.

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