Tired of the dog-eat-dog politics in their Russian city, the residents of Barnaul say they want a cat to be their next mayor. The Siberian city of 650,000 people, which lies 1,800 miles east of Moscow, is to get a new mayor next week when a commission comprising the city council and the regional governor choose from among six candidates. But none of the six appear to spark much affection among Barnaul's residents. An informal online poll asking residents to express their preferences among the six and a Siamese cat named Barsik showed the feline nabbing more than 90% of the vote.
Barsik has attracted much amused attention in the Russian news media. Still, some local politicians understand there's a more serious message coming from the people of Barnaul, which like many Russian cities has been riddled with alleged corruption. "Through the image of Barsik the cat, our people are sending definite wishes to the future head of Barnaul," regional Gov. Alexander Karlin says. "The conclusion has been made that there's absolutely no trust among voters for any of the candidates," says local Communist Party official Ivan Karpov.