An African-born farmer is trying to enter Russian politics. He is Joaquim Crima and is being called ‘Russia’s Obama’ because of the unusual nature of his political aspirations, for Russia.

Joaquim Crima is 37-years-old and a farmer in southern Russia. He is a native of Guinea Bissau who moved to Russia in 1989 and settled there after earning his degree at the Volgograd State Pedagogical University.

He has entered Russian politics after being inspired by the American President Barack Obama. The reason this is noteworthy is that racial attitudes in Russia have not changed in decades and it’s highly unusual for a Black man to enter politics there.

“I like Obama as a person and as a politician because he proved to the world what everyone thought was impossible. I think I can learn some things from him,” Crima said, sitting on his shady verandah in this town of 11,000, where he lives with his wife Anait, their 10-year-old son and an extended clan of ethnic Armenian relatives.

Crima says he considers Russia a ‘great power’ and came there because of the assistance Russia gave to his West African home country in 1974 when it gained independence. He is an admirer of Prime Minister Vladimir Putin and is married to a Russian woman. He speaks fluent Russian and has become a Russian citizen. He farms 50 acres, growing watermelon and other melons. He and his wife sell the melons in a road side stand. They employ 20 people on their farm.

Crima is promising to battle corruption and encourage the development of the Srednyaya Akhtuba district, which is situated along the Volga River. He is running to be elected head of the district. The current district head, Srednyaya Akhtuba, has been in power 10 years. Crima says the current leader has done nothing for the people of the district of about 55,000 people and 18 villages and towns. There are unpaved streets, goats grazing in the streets, residents without potable water and a no indoor plumbing.

Regardless of his platform, his admiration for Putin, his love of Russia and his overall likability, his membership in the United Russia party, it is highly unlikely Crima will be elected to office in the October 11, 2009 elections. Apparently, it is generally felt that the Kremlin decides who will win elections ahead of time and often allow someone to run for office who doesn’t have a chance of winning in order to give the people the illusion of a choice. However, Vladimir Kritsky, Crima’s campaign manager, has said that the Kremlin has promised Crima a seat on the district council in 2011.

It will be interesting to watch how Russia’s Obama, Joaquim Crima, does in Russian politics. The African-born farmer has certainly managed to get a great deal of publicity for his unlikely run for office there. He does have similarities to his mentor, Obama, in that he has no experience and a naive expectation of what to expect in big time politics. Unlike Obama, he doesn’t have political connections or big money behind his political aspirations. Unlike Obama, he wants to move away from the communism of Russia’s past and improve the ability of the people to provide for themselves.