Incidentally, she has beaten the man who was elected to this office three times in a row. Last time she was short of as few as 13 votes to achieve her goal. But now the margin was 35 votes, which means quite a convincing win, taking into account an extremely poor turnout. Lilia Kotsiubailo, 46, lives in a small village of Berezoluky, Rozhyshche raion, Volyn oblast. The council controls four villages populated by over 800 people. She has been working as a cleaning lady at the local school for two decades. An accountant by education, Lilia worked by profession for six years only. When the local collective farm ceased to exist, she got employed at school as a Young Pioneers leader. When she came back from maternity leave, she could not be reinstated because the institution of pioneer leaders had been abolished. As there was no vacancies in the village, Lilia went to work as a school cleaning woman. She could not study at, say, a teacher-training college due to family circumstances – small children, chores to do at home… Her husband, a driver by profession, also works at the same school as a stoker. The breakup of the collective farm had also left him unable to work by profession.
People in Berezoluky had always asked her to run for the head’s office. They say Lilia knows how to achieve her goals and establish contacts. She helped gasify the four villages under the council’s jurisdiction, for she had worked at a gasification cooperative for six months.
Why did you run for the office of village head, although you have in fact no education?
“I am eager to improve life in our villages. I think education is, of course, a good thing but it is more important to know how to deal with and understand people. I am sure I will cope with the job. Although there are a lot of problems in our villages, I am tackling them. First of all, it is a bus route to Lutsk. The now available bus is so old that once, when it was carrying people, a wheel fell off! The roads are bad. In the winter, when there are blizzards, we are cut off the world for two-three weeks. People should also be helped to apply for subsidies because the villages have been gasified but gas is too expensive. I should also solve the problem of a kindergarten in Berezoluky. There are a lot of young people in our villages and, thank God, children are born, but we only have a preschool group of 11 kids. It is just one room on the school’s premises. We also have problems with pastures. When the land was being shared out, nobody thought of this. There are attempts to fund clubs in two villages at the district budget’s expense, but they must be on the village council’s balance sheet.”
Is it not better for clubs to be on the raion’s balance sheet?
“This means they will be just closed in the course of time, as there will be no funds to maintain them. Our village council is quite capable of maintaining social and cultural facilities. We have several affluent farmers who pay taxes and employ people. And a village cannot exist without a club and a kindergarten. I promised people nothing but what I can really do. They are supporting me now.”
Incidentally, in addition to the former school cleaning lady, a few unemployed and a 22-year-old university student, an ATO participant, were also elected as village heads in Rozhyshche raion.