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Sun, 05.10.1959

Jean Gregorie Sagbo, Russian Politician born

Jean Gregoire Sagbo

*Jean Sagbo was born on this date in 1959. is a Black Russian real estate agent and politician.

Jean Gregoire Sagbo was born in Cotonou in the southern coastal region of the Republic of Dahomey (Benin). He 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, Tver Oblast his then four-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 before 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 counselor, 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 a councilor is unpaid. His position is councilor of Novozavidovo in Konakovsky District, Tver Oblast. Sagbo is the first Russian of African descent, or Afro-Russian, to have been elected to a local council in the Russian Federation.

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."  Sitting in the newly painted playground with her son, Irina Danilenko said it was the only improvement she has seen in the five years she has lived here. "We don't care about his race," said Danilenko, 31. "We consider him one of us."

As he strolled around his neighborhood everyone greeted him and he responded in his fluent, French African accented Russian. Boys waved to Sagbo, who had promised them a soccer field. He has been referred to as "Russia's Obama".

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