Video: Russia's first black elected official Jean Gregoire Sagbo

Jean Gregoire Sagbo (Russian: Жан Грегуар Сагбо, born 1962) is a Benin-born Russian real estate agent and politician. His position is councilor of Novozavidovo. Sagbo is the first Russian of African descent, or Afro-Russian, to have been elected in the Russian Federation. He has been referred to as “Russia’s Obama”.
Sagbo immigrated to the USSR in 1982 to study economics in Moscow. He married a woman from Novozavidovo, a town of approximately 10,000 people located 100 km north of Moscow, and moved there in 1989. He has two children. During his first year in Novozavidovo, his then-4 year old son Maxim was spat upon. Sagbo confronted the spitter and eventually other onlookers supported Sagbo. Racial attacks have taken place numerous times in Russia, 49 times in Moscow in one year according to an advocacy group. Sagbo speaks in French-African accented Russian.

About 10 years prior to his first election, he organized a volunteer effort for an annual garbage collection day. He also planted flowers and cleaned streets in front of his home without pay.
As a councilor, Sagbo collected donations to turn dilapidated lots between buildings into parks. Sagbo was elected in 2010. He has expressed annoyance at being referred to as “Russia’s Obama” because the two are both merely black. The position of councilor is unpaid.
Sagbo has been quoted as saying “Novozavidovo is dying…this is my home, my town. We can’t live like this.” Vyacheslav Arakelov, the mayor of Novozavidovo said “His skin is black but he is Russian inside…the way he cares about this place, only a Russian can care.”
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