In the afternoon of April 23 it became known that after the dismissal of Svetlana Melnikova, the Vladimir-Suzdal Museum Reserve will be headed by former Senator Sergei Rybakov. The official presentation of the new head will take place in the morning on April 27 in “Vladimir Chambers”. ProVladimir tells about what he is known and what connects the new general director with the Vladimir land.
In 2021, no one voiced speculation that Sergei Rybakov might head the museum. To an outside observer, it seemed that the Ministry of Culture had learned its lesson from the story of Svetlana Melnikova’s replacement by Igor Konyshev in 2016 and was not going to make any drastic personnel changes, at least in the short term. The only “hint” was, perhaps, Melnikova’s rather emotional reaction to a question about the political activity attributed to her by anonymous telegram channels:
“You know, all my personal ambitions are purely of a museum nature. If you’re wondering if I have any political plans, “I wasn’t, and I don’t intend to. I’m telling you unequivocally. I am a very happy person, and when I tell you about the problems of today, it does not mean that I want to get away from these problems. They just exist. Everything that has to do with museum activities, with museum space, restoration and exhibition work, I do it with great pleasure. And I really want to do it as long as I am physically able to do it,” Svetlana answered during a press conference in December 2020.
In November 2018, immediately after Igor Konyshev’s rather sudden departure from his post, Sergey Rybakov, on the contrary, was called almost the main contender for the post of the new museum director.
“Apparently, the candidacy of the new general director of the Vladimir-Suzdal Museum-Reserve in the Ministry of Culture is already being considered, but his name has not yet been called. Informed sources of Zebra TV suggest that it may be the former chief federal inspector of the Vladimir region, and then Senator from the Regional Assembly Sergei Rybakov, who has expired as a member of the Federation Council”, – in particular, reported “Zebra-TV”.
For journalists, this was the second time Rybakov had been offered a high position, but it didn’t work out.
The first time was in 2013, before Svetlana Orlova came to the region. A year before Governor Nikolai Vinogradov resigned, Sergei Rybakov was appointed chief federal inspector for the Vladimir Region, and six months before he was appointed first deputy governor. Closer to Vinogradov’s expected resignation, Rybakov was increasing his media activity.
“While in office, Rybakov tried to “resolve” the conflict on Spassky Hill, the disputes over the completion of the perinatal center, the battle over the cooling body of Torpedo soccer club, the situation at the garbage dumps in Marinka and Terekhovitsy – and what do we have in the remainder? Oil sludge from the landfills was not removed, the players and coaches of FC Torpedo had no clear vision of their future, Spassky Hill remained in private hands, and only on the perinatal center the regional and city authorities were able to agree. However, this weak “output” clearly did not embarrass Rybakov and his entourage, and the inspector continued to inspect everything he could – from forests in the fire season to a missing traffic light on a federal highway,” ProVladimir wrote at the time.
After the appointment of Svetlana Orlova as the acting governor, Sergey Rybakov went into the shadows. And after her election in September 2013, he became a senator from the Legislative Assembly and left the region.
The theory that Rybakov was the one being trained for the governor’s post was voiced by political technologists in an interview with the Meduza newspaper (a media outlet listed by the Ministry of Justice as a “foreign agent”):
“In the Vladimir region, for example, an assistant to [AP head Sergei] Ivanov, Sergei Rybakov, was planned for 2013. We were already planning the campaign, laying out the schemes. But then Valentina Ivanovna [Matvienko] walked in and did everything her own way. Svetlana Orlova was appointed, and all those schemes went nowhere,” says one of the political strategists who worked at the time.
From the official biography of Sergei Rybakov it is known that he was born in 1968 in the village of Velikovo, Gorokhovets district. He entered the Suvorov and then the Higher Military-Political School of Air Defense. Then followed the service in parts of the Moscow Air Defense District, then in the state security bodies.
In 2001, Rybakov went to work in the presidential administration. At that time he defended his thesis at Moscow State University, received a doctorate in philosophy and the title of professor. In 2003 he joined the Ministry of Defense, first as an advisor on public and media relations and later as the head of this department.
After a relatively short period of work in the Vladimir region from 2012 to 2013, he went to the Federation Council, where he was deputy chairman of the Committee on Science, Education and Culture. In this capacity Sergey Rybakov was engaged in the development of small historical settlements and their tourist potential. During his senatorship Rybakov got a significant support for his native Gorokhovets. Gorokhovets was allocated funds for the restoration of monuments, museums, embankment and urban infrastructure in connection with the 850th anniversary celebration in 2018.
In 2017-18 Sergey Rybakov held meetings with representatives of the museum community. Often at the same table with him was the then general director of the VSMZ (Vladimir and Suzdal Museum), Igor Konyshev. For example, during the September 10, 2018 meeting “Features of the Restoration of Cultural Heritage Objects.
Now Sergey Rybakov is the chairman of the organization “Russian Province”. The executive director of this association is Galina Borisovna Gunina, daughter of Boris Gunina, director of the regional drama theater.
Sergey Rybakov was also the general director of the company Center for Restoration and Urban Development LLC. A few days before his appointment as the head of the VSMZ, the general director of the restoration company was changed to Alexander Sergeevich Rybakov (presumably, his son). This fact hints that Sergey Rybakov learned about his appointment to the museum earlier than Svetlana Melnikova learned about her dismissal.