First Norilsk mayor was woman

First Norilsk mayor was woman

May 30, 2023

Zoya Tumanishvili alone represented the entire Norilsk government for eight years - from 1944 to 1952.

#ARCTIC. #SIBERIA. THIS IS TAIMYR. Before her, two chairmen of the Norilsk village council – men – in turn stayed in this post for only a few months, and then went to the front.

In those years, the council was in charge of the registry office, the military registry office, the social security cases processing, caring for large families, and the notary. Also, schools, post office, bank, police, people’s court …

Salaries compared to the Norilsk combine were miserable. As Zoya Tumanishvili recalled, she received less than a timekeeper. Because of the small salary, no one wanted to work in Soviet institutions.

Tumanishvili saw an improvement in the situation by granting Norilsk the status of a city. On her vacation and for her own money, Zoya went to Moscow – to get the city status.

Here is how she later recalled:

“I found the Presidium of the Supreme Council reception room. The queue was such that there was practically no hope of getting an appointment. As in the days of Lenin, walkers with knapsacks came from everywhere. But a chance helped! A neighbor in the theater box turned out to be the deputy chairman of the Moscow Council. She became interested in my life in the Arctic, promised to help. The next day I was received by the Presidium of the Supreme Council secretary, he looked through the papers, found that this was enough for a resolution on the city status. The final authority remained – the State Control.

After such a benevolent attitude, I thought that the issue had already been resolved, I was on cloud nine. I somehow did not consider the last visa a serious obstacle …

At the appointed time, I flew to Mehlis. I remember it was a wonderful day, my soul was singing – in such a state of mind I stepped over the office threshold. A short, thin, gloomy man rose from the table towards me. He took a bunch of documents from me and began to read. Then he suddenly jumped up from his seat and began to shout at me: “What are you asking for here? Five people are not enough for her, give her seventeen! You want a city!  It’s out of date, you know! Now, if you wrote that you reorganized your work and instead of the seventeen people available in the state, you intend to get by with five. Then I would shake your hand… You come here, waste state money!..” I got up from my chair, intending to say something, and… lost consciousness.

I woke up in the minister’s rest room, next to his office. I was lying on the couch, a man in a white coat and a secretary were busy around me. I felt ashamed of my weakness and began to collect my thoughts. The secretary brought tea, I drank and completely calmed down.

Then I was again invited to the office, and I explained that I had arrived during my vacation time and not with state money, but with my own money, and if I did not get the go-ahead, then I would get an appointment with Stalin. The Norilsk combine is such a powerful enterprise that only the city council can match it. The village council, with its meager budget, will always be in the background. Such a belittling of Soviet power cannot be tolerated any longer…

I told him everything. Mekhlis seated me on the sofa, sat next to me and began to talk calmly:

“Well, it’s not good to spend your money on business trips. I liked that you are such a great Norilsk patriot, this is very good, but that’s why your judgments can be biased. So, we will do this way. We will create a mixed commission of members of the Presidium of the Supreme Council, the Council of Ministers and the Ministry of Finance. They will come to the place, and if all this is as you say, you will have a city”.

In conclusion, I want to say: I am far from thinking that it was thanks to my trip to Moscow that Norilsk became a city. But some small part of this success, I dare to think, belonged to me”.

In the History Spot’s previous publication, we talked about the fact that in the technical school building on 50 Years of October street, students not only studied, but also lived.

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Text: Svetlana Ferapontova, Photo: Nornickel Polar Division archive

May 30, 2023

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