On October 29, Russian national Mikhail Krasnov was improbably elected to be the next mayor of Tunja, capital of the Colombian department of Boyacá.
Photo: Mikhail Krasnov, the next mayor of Tunja, has always been right at home in front of a classroom whiteboard. (Credit: Mikhail Krasnov campaign)
Born in Saratov, a city southeast of Moscow, the 45-year-old with a doctorate in economic sociology and four master’s degrees arrived in Colombia 15 years ago as part of a student exchange from Germany. After his arrival, he fell in love with the country.
Now, after a surprise election that saw Krasnov defeat Partido Verde candidate John Ernesto Carrero with 31.7% of the votes, he continues to repeat his campaign point that he doesn’t define himself but ideology and instead is focused on developing projects.
“I consider my position as similar to how it is in the economic system in Germany,” Krasnov told Finance Colombia. “Mayors are more management positions and not so much political. In any case, I am a centrist politician.”
Krasnov says that he originally wanted to run as an independent but the realities of logistics and finance forced his hand. Overcoming these challenges, he says, was his main motivation to run with the Fuerza de la Paz Party.
“I chose this party because I had the need to have an endorsement,” he said.
Bringing More Employers and Opportunities to Tunja
In his interview with Finance Colombia, Krasnov noted that, according to a study by the Universidad del Rosario, Tunja is one of the cities with the most economic potential in the entire country. However, he says, this is still merely potential projection — not reality.
The mayor-elect, who speaks six languages (Russian, Spanish, German, English, Serbo-Croatian, and Polish), stressed that the biggest employer in Tunja right now is the state.
That is why he wants to turn Tunja into a city where the biggest companies can invest in infrastructure, especially given how close it is to the metropolis of Bogotá.
He wants companies in the national capital to have a presence in Tunja to provide jobs and keep more of the city’s young people who move to Bogota for work to stay in their hometown.
From Moscow to Tunja, from Student to Mayor
When Krasnov was born, it was still the USSR and, curiously, he shares a birthday — August 6 — with Moscow. After studying in Russia, he lived in Germany and worked and studied at the Humboldt University before arriving to Colombia as an exchange student thanks to a program between Humboldt and the Pedagogical and Technological University of Colombia (UPTC) in Boyacá.
Now, a decade and a half later, the man who came to learn Spanish and ended up teaching mostly language classes at UPTC, will be the next mayor of the city.
Krasnov wants to work together as a team with other local mayors. These cities, he says, contribute to the same goods and services, so there will always be a shared reality.
“There are people sleeping in Duitama and working in Tunja,” he told Finance Colombia.
Unlike many, he is optimistic about the Colombian political system and thinks it will help facilitate this spirit of local collaboration — as long as everyone focuses on the right inputs.
“We have a modern constitution, we have municipalities with modern policies,” he said. “But if we fill these institutions with corruption it will not work. If I have a tractor and instead of pouring gasoline on it I pour guarapo (sugarcane juice), the guarapo will not work.”