Leonid Markelov

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Leonid Markelov
Леонид Маркелов
Leonid Markelov 2010.jpg
Leonid Markelov (2010).
3rd Head (formerly President) of Mari El
Assumed office
14 January 2001
Preceded by Vyacheslav Kislitsyn
Personal details
Born (1963-06-25) June 25, 1963 (age 58)
Nationality Russian
Political party United Russia
Spouse(s) Irina Konstantinova Markelova
Profession Lawyer
Religion Russian Orthodox

Leonid Igorevich Markelov (Russian: Леони́д И́горевич Марке́лов ) (Meadow Mari: Маркелов Леонид Игоревич) (born 1963) is a Russian politician and lawyer, who is serving as the head of the Mari El republic in Russia. He took office on January 14, 2001. Markelov was elected in December 2000 in one of the most contentious elections that occurred in the period between 1991 and 2005 when leaders of Russian administrative divisions were directly elected. In the first round, Markelov came slightly ahead of incumbent Vyacheslav Kislitsyn with Markelov receiving 29% and Kislitsyn receiving 25% in a field of several other candidates. In the runoff two weeks later, Markelov was elected with 59% of the vote. In 1996, Markelov had been defeated by Kislitsyn, receiving 38% of the vote. Markelov was elected to a second 4-year term in 2004, receiving 56% of the vote.[1]


Markelov was born to a Russian Orthodox family living in Moscow, as the only child. His father, Igor Markelov was the chief of the USSR Ministry of Agriculture, and his mother was an economist. His father died when Markelov was nine years old, leaving him solely dependent on his mother throughout most of his childhood.[1] He was educated at the Military University of the Ministry of Defence of the Russian Federation, where he graduated with a degree in law in 1986. He was a member of the Communist Party of the USSR from 1981 to 1991, while at the same time serving in the Soviet army. He was an attorney in 1992, and entered politics in 1999. Markelov is Russian by ethnicity.[2] He is married to Irina Konstantinova Markelova, and together they have a son and a daughter.[1]


Markelov is a controversial figure both in Russia and the Finno-Ugric community. He has been criticized for repressing the indigenous ethnicities of Mari El,[3][4][5] and his disregard for human rights and his administration's inability to deal with the economic decay in Mari El.

Beatings of political dissidents

In early 2005, Markelov drew the ire of the international press when it was alleged that his authorities beat political dissidents and opponents of his governments with iron pipes. Numerous opposition members were beaten badly. No charges were brought to this incident, or for the other crimes of violence.[6]

Vladimir Kozlov

During 2005, the Mari activist and chief editor Vladimir Kozlov was badly beaten by Markelov's enforcers after he published criticism of Leonid Markelov's politics.[4]

Vitaly Tanakov

In early 2006, Markelov drew ire once again in the International press when he charged Vitaly Tanakov for inciting religious, national, social and linguistic hatred after Tanakov published the book The Priest Speaks.[7]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 http://www.peoples.ru/state/politics/leonid_markelov/
  2. Духовный лидер марийского народа Лайд Шемйэр поздравил народы Урало-Поволжья с 90-летием I съезда народов Поволжья — Chuvash.ru — Аналитический сайт о чувашском
  3. Helsingin Sanomat – International Edition – Foreign. Hs.fi. Retrieved on 2011-02-16.
  4. 4.0 4.1 Refworld | World Directory of Minorities and Indigenous Peoples – Russian Federation : Mari. UNHCR. Retrieved on 2011-02-16.
  5. Lobjakas, Ahto. (2005-03-07) Russia: European Commission 'Concerned' Over Treatment Of Finno-Ugric Minorities – Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty © 2011. Rferl.org. Retrieved on 2011-02-16.
  6. [1]
  7. Russia Moves to Ban Religious Rites of Indigenous Finno-Ugric People Mari