“Subsistence minimum diet.” What new profession Saratov minister can master? 

“Subsistence minimum diet.” What new profession Saratov minister can master?
A military tractor owned by Natalya Sokolova will certainly help her in the future Photo: The CrimeRussia

Natalya Sokolova will now have to check herself how useful and nutritious “makaroshki” (pasta) are. The legitimate spouse will not be able to feed the unemployed Minister of Labor and Employment, as he barely makes ends meet, having accumulated millions in debt. It is also pointless to count on a regular material assistance from the budget after the dismissal. But there is a way out. Sokolova always advocated for women to master difficult and harmful professions. Now she herself can easily sit behind the wheel of a tractor. As a former owner of a powerful military tractor, the ex-official should skillfully handle heavy machinery. What other skills will save Sokolova from the “Subsistence minimum diet”?

Now former Minister of Labor and Employment of the Saratov region, Natalya Sokolova, has become famous throughout the country in just one day. To become a star of the Runet, turned out to be enough for the official to say to the camera that one can eat well at the Subsistence minimum for retirees. The main thing is always to "use our seasonal fruits and vegetables." And everything else will cost a mere penny: "Makaroshki always cost the same. And kefir? It's very cheap!"

According to the Marie-Antoinette of our days, only 3,700 rubles ($56) a month is more than enough to meet the "minimum physiological needs."    

The minister even offered her opponent, deputy Nikolay Bondarenko: “I can make you a menu based on the stores I visit, with discounts, and you will understand that you can live! The menu will turn out to be balanced, but dietary! You will become younger, more beautiful and slimmer! ”And as a decisive argument, the minister added that it’s good to eat nothing at all: “There are 40 days of fasting, and everyone is just becoming healthier!”

Video: "You can subsist on 3,500 rubles a month!"

But when Sokolova was offered to try the "Subsistence minimum diet" herself, she flatly refused. She said that the status of the minister does not allow such experiments. And the next day, the official lost this status. They got rid of too talkative lady of so quickly, as if she suddenly became radioactive. On October 12, the press service of the government of the Saratov region reported that Governor Valery Radaev fired Sokolova. "I consider it unacceptable for the head of the regional ministry to be scornful of topics of vital importance to people. Towards those who forget about responsibility the toughest measures will be taken," Radaev was quoted in a press release.  

Natalya Sokolova

Natalya Sokolova

However, on October 15, it turned out that the Saratov governor was formidable only in words, and not in deeds. As it turned out, Radaev quietly allowed the official to resign on her own initiative. Probably he took into account that, if one looks, Sokolova is not to blame for anything. She simply confirmed the correctness of calculations of the size of the consumer basket, which is set by the government of the region. Or maybe the heart of Radaev was softened by the political beliefs of the official. After all, the pass to the big league of highly paid officials and top managers was issued to Sokolova by the United Russia, and the Saratov governor is in the front row of the ruling party. 

Saratov Governor Valery Radaev

Saratov Governor Valery Radaev


Natalya Sokolova was born in 1966 in the city of Volsk, Saratov Region. In 1990 she graduated from Balashov State Pedagogical Institute with a degree in Pedagogy and Psychology. From 1990 to 2004 she worked as a teacher in the pedagogical college of the city of Volsk, as an assistant deputy of the Saratov Regional Duma, as an executive director of the Regional Social Political Movement Lyubimy Krai (Favorite Land), as head of the Volsk Municipal Assembly Office. Since 2004, she headed the Volsk City Employment Center. In 2012, she was appointed the Minister of Employment, Labor, and Migration in the Saratov Region. She is a participant of the project “Personnel reserve is the professional team of the country”. October 12, 2018 dismissed from the post of minister.

By the way, the journalists of the Vzglyad-Info newspaper calculated that Sokolova became the 35th high-ranking member of the Radaev government, who left her post on her own will. Thus, Minister of Education Marina Yepifanova wrote a statement in April last year, after a criminal case was initiated against her under part 2 of Art. 285 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation (abuse of official power in exercising control over the execution and payment of the state contract for the supply of goods for the needs of subordinate institutions). And according to the deputy of the State Duma of the Russian Federation from the Saratov region Olga Alimova, Sokolova is the last minister who came to the government together with Radaev. “Team collapses. Everybody leaves. The corruption component is high, the region is shaken by the initiation of criminal cases. The officials are sinking into bribes and nepotism,” Alimova sadly summarized.   

Former Minister of Education Marina Yepifanova

Former Minister of Education Marina Yepifanova

Anyway, now the unemployed Minister of Labor and Employment will still have to go on a diet of kefir and macaroni. After all, the lawful spouse simply cannot feed his beautiful half. 54-year-old Mikhail Sokolov always supported his wife as best he could. He headed the political movement Lyubimy Krai, he got to the post of executive director for his spouse. Becoming the head of the municipal assembly of Volsk, he entrusted her the leadership of the office of the elected body. A common hobby – namely, hunting and fishing – helped a caring husband to establish good relations with the chief federal inspector for the Saratov region, Rinat Khalikov. And he, in turn, helped to make Natalya Sokolova head of the labor in exchange. In 2010, Mikhail Sokolov organized the first family-owned company – OOO Pride Trading House. Guessing from whom it began to receive state contracts was easy. Of course, from the Volsk Employment Center, where Natalya Sokolova settled. But with moving to Voronezh, Pride had to be close. 

Natalya Sokolova's husband Mikhail Sokolov

Natalya Sokolova's husband Mikhail Sokolov    

OOO Volsky Fish Factory, which the Sokolov couple owned in equal shares, was also liquidated. Now Mikhail Sokolov is one of the two founders of the new enterprise with the same name – OOO Volsky Fish Factory. The project for catching and processing fish looks outwardly solid: the announced investment in its implementation amounts to 22 million rubles ($336,000), and Sokolov is a member of the fisheries council established under the governor of the Saratov region. However, in Volsk they assure that actually the company is not active. “Previously, they were selling fish at least, but now they don’t,” one of the local residents told The CrimeRussia correspondent. His words are confirmed by the financial performance of OOO Volsky Fish Factory. In 2017, the company's revenue amounted to only 80,000 rubles ($1,200), and its net profit was 52,000 rubles ($800). Moreover, Mikhail Sokolov can claim only one-fifth of this money – he owns only 20% of OOO Volsky Fish Factory.  

So, the Sokolovs will not be able to feed themselves by bread alone, nor by fish.    

It is unlikely that the friendly couple will be fed by the second enterprise, which is partly owned by Mikhail Sokolov, with the familiar name OOO Pride. This company regularly receives government contracts: the list of customers includes the State Corporation for the organization of air traffic in Russia, the Volsk regional hospital, the Sevastopol City Psychiatric Hospital, the Volzhanka social rehabilitation center for juveniles, the Volsky Pedagogical College and other public institutions. During its existence, OOO Pride has concluded 150 government contracts worth 5.6 million rubles ($85,500), so this company is quite profitable. But here's a bad luck: Mikhail Sokolov owns only 7% in it. This is clearly not enough to feed his wife left out of work due to a long tongue.  

Mikhail Sokolov has long ceased to be a successful businessman. And in the last couple of years, according to a resident of Volsk, he struggles to make ends meet, trying to make money on legal advice. In addition, the load of debt creates pressure. Sokolov has always been known as a great lover of borrowing money, and then not giving it away. Today, according to the portal gosdolgi.ru, the bailiffs are trying to recover from the Volsk businessman debt on 16 enforcement lists. Debts on loans, unpaid fines and taxes - all together add up to an impressive amount, more than 1.7 million rubles ($26,000). And although one of the local newspapers calls Mikhail Sokolov the main “decision maker” and specialist in building connections between officials and business, and the other one calls him a clever intriguer, now he clearly has a hard time.  

So, the Sokolov family will still test the “Subsistence minimum diet” themselves.  

Former bureaucrat will have to show the wonders of cooking, because even the minister’s salary was not enough for her. Sokolova daily received twice as much as the monthly Subsistence minimum – 6.3 thousand rubles ($96), and by the end of last year she declared income in the amount of 2.3 million rubles ($35,000). But even with this money Sokolova could barely make ends meet.  

Otherwise, how to explain that she was constantly seeking material assistance?

According to the law of the Saratov region No. 44-ZSO, the head of the region and his subordinates are entitled to annual financial assistance "in double amount of monetary remuneration". No additional justification for obtaining budgetary funds is required; it is not necessary to prove the difficult financial situation. The amount of remuneration depends on the position held. The governor of the region has the right to receive 134,000 rubles ($2,000). Vice-Governor and First Deputy Chairman of the Government – 127,000 rubles ($1,940). Deputy Chairman of the regional government – 120,000 rubles ($1,830). The ministers are entitled to 100,000 rubles ($1,530) from budget. Sokolova got 200,000 rubles (3,000) regularly, starting from 2013. By the way, same as the defendant of a criminal case Marina Yepifanova, the ex-minister of education of the Saratov region, who also received 200,000 rubles of financial aid each year. 



The lists of "distressed" members of the Saratov government includes more than a dozen names, including the governor Radaev himself. It seems difficult for all high-ranking Saratov officials to maintain the status quo. At least, Natalya Sokolova’s lifestyle as a minister was expensive. The official was forced not only to spend money on the maintenance of a spacious mansion of 170 square meters with a huge garden plot of 338 squares, but also to pay for a city apartment of 46.5 square meters. Maybe Sokolova wanted to move to a more modest housing, but she was obliged to comply with the status.

Considerable amounts went to a decent wardrobe. So, the official spent the amount equal to four costs of living per pair of glasses. Local journalists asked an optics salon in Saratov to estimate how much several pairs of glasses of the former minister from photos on the Internet cost. Experts came to the conclusion that all of them are famous brands such as Gucci, Versace, Chanel, and the cost of one pair with lenses is about 15,000 rubles ($230). 


The status of the minister forced Sokolova to abandon the “satisfaction of the minimum physiological needs” and regularly visit the best places in Saratov. So, four years ago, an official admitted in an interview that she was a frequenter of the Japanese restaurant Yumi. And Madame Minister is forced to eat her favorite “makaroshki” not at home, but in the Italian restaurant Uno Vero. To just quench one's thirst, one also has to open the wallet wide. After all, according to Sokolova’s own words, she “drinks exclusively Coca-Cola, because the world-famous drink promotes weight loss.” Such a diet is much more expensive than the “Subsistence minimum”, so there was no money left for the juicy steak. As reported by Sokolova in the video that made her a star, she “has been living without meat for 20 years.”  

Uno Vero

Uno Vero

Uno Vero    

Alas, after the dismissal Sokolova will have to eat even more modest. At least temporarily. It is possible that thanks to Radaev, who gave Sokolova the opportunity to quit “on her own,” the official will continue her career when the noise subsides. After all, she is still included in the personnel reserve of the state civil service of Russia. And according to the provision on personnel reserve, “among the project laureates, search and selection of candidates for work in state and local government bodies, party and public organizations, social enterprises, mass media and business structures is carried out.” Maybe they will pick up a new profitable place for Sokolova.

And if there is no advantageous position, the former Minister of Labor and Employment will be able to get a tractor driver job at a collective farm. Natalya Sokolova has always supported the so-called liberalization of the list of male professions. The official offered to review the list of specialties for which it is prohibited to employ women due to harmful working conditions. According to Sokolova, modern equipment has become so safe and comfortable that, for example, a fragile woman can control a modern tractor with air conditioning and sound insulation. Now, if the need really presses, the former minister will be able to check this statement herself as well. 



And the Saratov official should have skills of driving heavy cars. As the Storm newsportal reported, citing an anonymous source, several trucks were registered at the beginning of the 2000s on Natalya Sokolova, mostly ordinary GAZelles. 

However, a MAZ-543 was among them – the military use such vehicles to transport rocket launchers and multiple-launch rocket systems. So it’s not the first time for Sokolova to deal with powerful technique. She will break through.




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