Early returns fromthe August 6 vote for the head of Sverdlovsk oblast administration suggest that no candidate will receive a clear majority and thata runoff will be required, Itar-Tass reported August 6. Turnoutwas low, but incomplete vote counts suggest that Eduard Rossel,the head of the regional legislative assembly, and a former mayorof Yekaterinburg, leads incumbent governor Aleksei Strakhov,who runs the regional organization of the federal government’selectoral bloc Russia is Our Home. This election is being carefullywatched as a test of the electorate’s preferences in the runupto the Duma elections. Rossel is a former Yeltsin ally who wasdismissed in 1993 for championing the idea of a "Urals Republic,"an association of several regions that would have enjoyed economicautonomy from Moscow. Another strong candidate, Valery Trushnikov, the region’s deputy executive chief , who was endorsed by leadersof the nationalist Congress of Russian Communities and the reformistYabloko, apparently lags behind the two leaders. Retired Lt. GeneralAleksandr Lebed and Duma Foreign Affairs Committee chairman VladimirLukin, leaders in CRC and Yabloko respectively, campaigned forTrushnikov. Yeltsin, who in 1994 did away with gubernatorial elections,has made an exception to his decree for Sverdlovsk, his nativeregion and former political turf..