More parties have been banned from regional elections in Russia this year than in 2012, despite the Kremlin’s attempted liberalization of political legislation, a new study said Wednesday. In total, 9.2 percent of the candidate lists submitted by parties for the September 8 elections have been banned, compared with 2.4 percent last year, according to a report by the Civil Initiatives Committee think tank, founded by longtime Kremlin insider-turned-critic Alexei Kudrin, a former finance minister.
The popular mayor of the Volga industrial city of Yaroslavl, Yevgeny Urlashov, has been detained on suspicion of corruption and extortion, just a few months before he was to head an opposition ticket in upcoming regional elections. Mr. Urlashov insisted Wednesday in an interview with the Internet TV station Dozhd that the charges against him are politically motivated. “I had been warned that they would get me out of the picture by any means possible,” he said. The Kremlin’s Investigative Committee said he and two aides are under suspicion of soliciting a $425,000 bribe from a private company in exchange for lucrative contracts to perform municipal services. Urlashov says his accuser is a prominent member of the pro-Kremlin United Russia party. Urlashov left United Russia in 2011, complaining of the party’s high-handed tactics, and joined the Civic Platform party led by liberal billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov. Running as an independent in the April 2012 mayoral polls in Yaroslavl, he overwhelmingly defeated the Kremlin’s chosen candidate, Yakov Yakushev, with almost 70 percent of the vote.
In an election that has been intensely watched as a marker for the future direction of Russian politics, an outsider running for mayor of Yaroslavl appeared to be headed for a landslide win Sunday night over the candidate backed by the ruling United Russia party. A victory would give the opposition here a huge, national lift, just three weeks after the election of Vladimir Putin to the presidency demonstrated the continuing durability of the system he has constructed over the past 12 years. And it presents the authorities — in Yaroslavl, a city of 600,000 about 160 miles northeast of Moscow, and in the Kremlin, as well — an unmistakable reminder that politics in Russia has become considerably more challenging since street protests broke out in September. Late Sunday, Yevgeny Urlashov, 44, who ran against corruption and official arrogance, had 67 to 69 percent of the vote, with at least 60 percent counted. His opponent, Yakov Yakushev, the owner of a paint factory, trailed with about 29 percent — virtually the same percentage he polled in the first round of the elections on March 4. Urlashov got 40 percent in that round; two other candidates split the rest.
Russia: Anti-corruption crusader wins Russian mayoral election in victory for opposition | The Washington Post
An anti-corruption crusader has won a landslide victory in a mayoral election in a major Russian city, dealing a painful blow to the powerful pro-Kremlin party and energizing the beleaguered opposition. Yevgeny Urlashov won 70 percent of Sunday’s vote in Yaroslavl, a city of about 590,000 some 250 kilometers (150 miles) east of Moscow, easily defeating the acting mayor, who was the candidate of president-elect Vladimir Putin’s United Russia party. Urlashov’s victory reflects growing public irritation with official corruption and social inequality. And it gives new hope to Russia’s opposition, which has struggled to maintain momentum after Putin won a third presidential term last month. Opposition leaders have urged their supporters to focus on local elections, and Urlashov’s victory in Sunday’s poll will likely bolster that strategy.