Svetlana Borisovna Karalova (Russian: Светлана Борисовна Каралова) (August 8, 1964-) is the current Premier of Alaska, and the first female to hold that position. She was elected in the May 12th, 2010 general election and assumed office on June 6th, 2010, succeeding the outgoing Vladimir Putin. Karalova is the first Moderate to serve as Premier since Aleksey Valenko resigned in 1988, and the first Kodiak native to hold the post.
Early Life and Education
Born Svetlana Borisovna Rozhkova, she was raised in a very political family, as her father, Boris Andreyevich Rozhkov (1934-) was the Commissar in Chief of Kodiak from 1959-1968. She was born in Kodiak during the rebuilding efforts following the devastating Good Friday Earthquake, and was born only four days before Alexander II was assassinated in the city. In 1968, Rozhkov was elected in the general election to serve as the Duma representative from his district as a member of the Moderate Party, which had been formed in 1965. During his Duma tenure, which laste through 1982, Rozhkov was a close ally of Moderate Party leader and later Premier of Alaska Aleksey Valenko. Svetlana travelled between Sitka and Kodiak often during her youth as a result.
She attended Mikhail Lermontov Preparatory Academy in Sitka and later attended the University of Aleksandrgrad, where she achieved a business degree. She later pursued a graduate degree at Stanford University in the United States of America, where she earned an MBA in Business Administration in 1987. Upon returning to Alaska, her father's name and ties to Yukoil Petroleum and Gas earned her a quick hire in 1988, and she moved permanently to Kodiak.
Yukoil and Alaskan Natural Gas Commission
Karalova took the oath of office at 1:30 PM on June 6th, 2010 in front of the Duma, administered by Tsar Nicholas II. Her Cabinet was sworn in at 4:00 the same day. Karalova delivered a fifteen-minute speech to the Duma shortly thereafter, pledging moderate reforms and an appraisal of the country.
On June 10th, Karalova finalized her Cabinet and her choices - including longtime Moderate heavyweight and former rival Ludmila Ousonova for Tax Minister - were approved by Tsar Nicholas II and President of the Duma __.
Domestic Policies of Karalova Regime
Karalova's primary domestic priorities were a new tax plan and reformed labor laws, to be enacted to realign certain economic distortions associated with the Putin era. On June 25th, the broad Center coalition majority approved the 2010 Economic Adjustment Plan, which raised taxes on wealthy individuals and lowered taxes on corporate and business entities while also eliminating provisions passed in 2003 that the Moderates had compared to "closed shop" labor laws. 52 Conservative coalition members voted in favor of this tax plan, a surprisingly high number of defections. The second major domestic initiative under Karalova was the denationalization of the police force, which was soundly opposed by conservatives but lauded by left-wing parties. Fifteen Centerists defected on this vote, on July 10th, 2010. Karalova later shepherded bills adjusting tax deductions for married coiples and child tax credits in early September.
Karalova's government submitted it's first two-year budget, for the fiscal term March 2011-March 2013 in December of 2010. The budget steeply cut spending for the Army while reallocating funds for the Navy and Air Force, while also nearly zeroing-out taxes for companies investing in nuclear or wind energy. The exclusion of solar power from this budget was criticized by leftist legislators. In February 2011, Karalova announced that her government would continue the Putin regime's refusal to legalize same-sex marriage, although Karalova would announce in October of the same year a plan to introduce "domestic partnership benefits" to same-sex couples, similar to plans enacted in the United States and Oceania at the federal level that year.
In November 2011, her government was accused of encouraging Alaskan natural gas companies to raise prices to distributors in order to exact tax revenue, and that the Bank of Alaska was colluding to cut interest rates to help raise energy prices. This, in concurrence with the appointment of Iosif Gruzynkov as Energy Minister, was the first major scandal of the Karalova era. However, Karalova has also continued with predecessor Putin's plan to make Alaska a net-exporter of low-carbon energy in order to maintain its economic supremacy.
Foreign Policy of Karalova Regime
Karalova, like her predecessor Putin, has placed great emphasis on strong relations with the United States. American President Jay Leno resigned three days before she took office, and her first major foreign policy move was to visit him in Massachusetts on her first foreign tour to the United States in July of 2010. She has described President Bruce Springsteen as "an honorable, bold man," although she was caught in an interview in January 2012 saying she hoped that former New York Brian Williams would become the next American President.
Karalova has prioritized a liberalization of relations with China, Japan and Brazil, foreign markets beyond the traditional NATO sphere where she believes Alaskan energy reserves can be valued strongly. Her first state dinner was held on September 1, 2010, when President Mary McAleese of Ireland visited Alaska, the first Irish President to do so since 1998.
Karalova announced in February 2012 that the Alaskan Air Force would add 200 new planes and contracted Boeing in the United States to provide them. In the same speech, called "The Defense for the Decade," she outlined a plan to phase in a more efficient Navy using fuel-efficient vessels, which would expand the Navy's footprint while attuning it to geopolitical realities in the Pacific Ocean. The plan also eventually called for the Alaskan Navy to operate independently of the United States Navy, with which it currently stages joint operations.
Public Image of Svetlana Karalova
Karalova drew substantial interest in Alaska due to her being the first female Premier. As the party symbol of the Moderate Party is a tiger, she is often known as the "Lady Tiger." Unlike many female politicians in Alaska who prefer to wear masculine pant-suits, Karalova often wears simple skirts and typically prefers white tops and black bottoms. Her braided hair is seen as a throwback to Alaskan traditionalism, and many observers regard her as a naturally attractive woman who prefers to dress plain due to the formality of her role. Due to her contentious style and rapid ascent to the head of the Moderate Party on the backs of male colleagues, she is referred to as the "Iron Lady," which is a term used in connotations to many female leaders in various countries over the years.
Karalova entered office in June 6th, 2010 with an approval rating of 52%. Her lowest approval rating was during the budget debates in the early winter of 2011, when it fell to 36%. As of June December 10-11, 2012, the most recent approval rating for Mrs. Karalova was 54%, regarded as a good number in Alaskan political circles where leaders regularly have approval ratings as low as 15-20%. Her approval rating average during the first half of her term has been approximately 46%.
Svetlana Karalova is married to Antonin Karalov, a business manager and financier for new oil rigs in the Bering Sea. They were married on July 13th, 1989 and have two children, Yuri Antoneyevich Karalov (1990-) and Natalya Antoneyevna Karalova (1993-). They reside in Kodiak when they are not in Sitka, and also own a property in the lower Yukon.