Our new urban heroes.

Meet Alexander Yakob, the city manager for the Russian metropolis of Yekaterinburg. He was unfortunately caught once vowing to residents of the sprawling Ural city that “all streets will be repaired.”

And then there’s this guy, Mayor Yevgenij Porunov, who committed the even graver political sin of giving an actual timeline: “Repair of all potholes will be finished,” he said, “by April 2012.″


By mid-summer, all streets in Yekaterinburg were decidedly not repaired, which isn’t terribly surprising if you follow the politics of potholes in Russia. And so, logically, some enterprising Russian artists tried the only tactic left to them: They painted Yakob and Porunov’s mugs – alongside their incriminating promises – directly onto the potholes in question (hat tip to Colossal for catching this).

The campaign, dubbed "Make the Politicians Work," was orchestrated by the Russian website URA.RU and ad agency Voskhod. It also targeted Governor Yevgenij Kuyvashev ("Reconstruction of roads is our main task"), who looks particularly ridiculous here with a manhole cover in his mouth:


Lo and behold, as soon as the protest art hit the street, and then the blogs, and then Russian television news, the potholes were reportedly promptly fixed this summer. (Although the city initially doubled down on its bad behavior: crews were at first dispatched to paint over the caricatures but did nothing to repair the roads. Thank goodness for hidden cameras!)

The lesson for city residents everywhere saddled with feckless politicos? "Three cans of paint, and 24 hours of intense PR, worked magic," concludes this narrator in this great Voskhod video recounting the caper:

About the Author

Most Popular

  1. Equity

    Brooklyn Is Booming. So Why Is It Shrinking?

    In 2017, New York City’s largest borough lost about 2,000 people, the first net loss since 2010.

  2. Life

    Amazon Go Might Kill More Than Just Supermarkets

    Supermarkets are community anchors. Amazon’s “just walk out” version embodies a disconcerting social transformation.

  3. Maps

    America's Loneliest Roads, Mapped

    An interactive map highlights the least traveled routes in the country—and some of the most scenic.

  4. A young refugee from Kosovo stands in front of a map of Hungary with her teacher.

    Who Maps the World?

    Too often, men. And money. But a team of OpenStreetMap users is working to draw new cartographic lines, making maps that more accurately—and equitably—reflect our space.

  5. Design

    The Seductive Power of a Suburban Utopia

    Serenbe, an intentional community outside Atlanta, promises urban pleasures without the messiness of city life.