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Watch the episode that features women whose roles are unusual and somehow unexpected in Russia.

Redistribution of roles between men and women in Russia has been stimulated by expanding democratic transformation. While women now represent an important element in administrative structures, the proportion of women in high positions is still low.

Interestingly enough, in January 2012 Ekho Moskvy has published on its website the list of the most powerful women. The list of the 100 most influential women in Russia was compiled jointly by RIA Novosti, Ekho Moskvy radio station, Interfax news agency and Ogonyok weekly. To be precise, on the first stage the Ekho Moskvy listeners submitted some 250 nominations through the radio’s web site; the list was then scrutinized first by the station’s staff and then by a group of 24 experts. Valentina Matviyenko, the speaker of the Federation Council, the upper house of parliament, the next after Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, is on the top. She is the first woman in Russia to be in such a powerful position since Catherine the Great. Pop singer Alla Pugacheva, who has been Russia’s most popular singer for the last three decades, well-known, but not influential is second, followed by President Dmitry Medvedev’s press secretary Natalya Timakova, who in 1999 became Putin’s press secretary and stayed in the Kremlin when Putin moved to the premiership in 2008.

The top 10 also includes First Lady Svetlana Medvedeva, federal ministers Elvira Nabiullina and Tatiana Golikova, politically conscious socialite Ksenia Sobchak, head of the Moscow City Court Olga Yegorova, athlete-turned-lawmaker Alina Kabayeva and rights veteran Lyudmila Alexeyeva.

Recently the new two fresh faces appeared on a political stage. Irina Prokhorova, billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov’s older sister, linguist, a publisher of high-brow literature who also manages her brother’s charitable initiatives, and has no political platform became the sudden celebrity. Before the elections, she acted as her brother’s proxy in a presidential debate with Vladimir Putin’s proxy Nikita Mikhalkov, and became a sensation by default. She simply captivated the Russian liberal public by a few well-placed phrases, and clear argumentation.

Meanwhile, Oksana Dmitrieva, the leader of the St. Petersburg branch of the Fair Russia party, professional economist and active politician, the deputy of the State Duma of the Russian Federation, is undesputably capable to participate in the political process. The socialist herself, less beholden to the Kremlin than the current leader of Just Russia, she may replace him and will present then a serious challenge to the system of power.

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