Eurasia Regional Section of the World organization "United Cities and Local Governments"

Interview with Kamil Nugaev, Mayor of Bolgar

Mr.Nugaev, you have been running Spassky Municipal District of the Republic of Tatarstan for more than 20 years. This is enormous experience. In your opinion, have conditions for the efficient work of local governments improved? Have the powers of municipalities been enlarged? And what acute challenges are local governments of Tatarstan/ Russia facing, in your view?

- To be more precise, I have been serving as Head of Spassky District for 24 years and 2 months. Certainly, I compare earlier period with the present time and cannot but mention that during that period primarily material security has significantly improved, that contributes to the more efficient work of local governments.

For instance, earlier, automobiles were provided for a head of a district and its deputy only, nowadays automobiles are in all rural settlements. Wheel tractors are almost in all villages. All specialists have computers. Telephones are set up everywhere. Video links have been established with the leadership of the republic, by which meetings are held. If earlier one had to go to Kazan several times a week, nowadays it is not necessary. Today, both the President and the Cabinet hold meetings by videoconferencing. Expenses are minimal and time is saved.

All of us witness that social and cultural facilities construction and renovation programmes are being successfully implemented in the republic. Medical and obstetric units are being built, cultural centres, schools, kindergartens are being renovated in rural settlements. Obviously, the powers are increasing. The problem, in my opinion, is to ensure that money is allocated at the same time. However, these issues are being solved little by little.

Bolgar has been taking part in the activities of UCLG-Eurasia since 2011. What benefits has the membership in this organization brought to the town and district?

- This, undoubtedly, brings us major benefits. We establish cooperation not only with Russian cities but with cities across the globe: from Europe, Latin America, Asian countries, in particular. We visit them and they pay a visit to us. Firstly, mutual communication enriches each other, we share experience, learn how to organize something. Secondly, this is the advertisement of our historical town. In 2014 our Ancient Bolgar was inscribed on the UNESCO list, and every year the number of tourists visiting the town increases.

You have taken part in the project “Heritage of Eurasia”, and the heritage of Bolgar has been drawn in the capital of the island of Bali, the city of Denpasar. When are you planning to depict the heritage of Denpasar in Bolgar? How do you assess this project in general and would you like to exchange drawings with other world’s cities?

- We regard it as positive. Together with the Mayor of Denpasar we opened the picture “Heritage of Ancient Bolgar”, and then President of Indonesia Joko Widodo had a view of the painting. This is a huge country with a population of 260 million of people.

On June 15 we will organize the traditional festival “Izge Bolgar Zhyeny” [an annual event dedicated to the anniversary of official adoption of Islam in Volga Bulgaria], and I think that during the month following the festival we will place the picture in the central part of the town, namely – on the wall of the children’s library. This, I consider, will contribute to the promotion of Denpasar – the city where 700 000 people live. By the way, Bali is visited by nearly 8 million tourists per year. So that’s a good advertisement for us as well.

Over the past 10 years the number of tourists in Bolgar has increased from 50 to 500 000 people. How have you managed to achieve such a result? Is the infrastructure of the town ready for this amount of tourists?

- First of all, many thanks to the first President of the Republic of Tatarstan Mintimer Shaimiev, current President Rustam Minnikhanov, President of Russia Vladimir Putin for the establishment of the fund “Vozrozhdenie” [Rebirth]. Thanks to this, great construction has started: the museum-reserve, historical monuments have been restored; the White Mosque, Bread Museum and Islamic Academy have been built. Consequently, the infrastructure is improving. Recently, the comfortable Kol Gali Hotel has been erected; Regina Hotel has been reconstructed and enlarged.

The Ministries of Culture of Tatarstan and Russia, the State Committee on Tourism of the Republic of Tatarstan provide great support to us in all endeavors. We are actively working as well. We actively participate in international events, tell about Bolgar from international rostra and present it at various exhibitions. In Bolgar there are plenty of cafes and restaurants, and we can feed 1500 tourists at the same time. Service culture – this is what we can learn.

All this taken together has allowed to increase the number of tourists up to 540 000 people per year. I think that in a year or two this indicator will be already 1 million.

What are further plans for development of Bolgar and Spassky Municipal District of the Republic of Tatarstan?

- The town is expanding, and there is a lack of land for construction of housing. For this purpose lots in Volga rural settlement have been allocated, as for the Islamic Academy. This academy will expand, and over time dwelling houses and sports facilities will be built there.

I must say that we promote the economic development of our district in every way: soon a meat-packing plant, slaughterhouse and agricultural facilities for halal goods production will open. We intend to reinforce efforts to enlarge existing and to start new cattle farms. Besides, we plan to open horse and camel farms as there is a need for them.

In UCLG-Eurasia everyone knows you as a positive and joyful person. It is a pleasure to talk to you. And what kind of person are you at work?

- I am the same at work as well. Certainly, when it is necessary, I am very demanding. Some people wonder how it is possible to combine positivity and integrity, cheerfulness and intransigence to laxity. If you are a head, that says it all.

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