A fresh election is to be held on September 27 for the mayor of the city of Nizhny Novgorod. Earlier this week, an oblast court upheld the decision of the regional electoral authorities to annul the mayoral election that took place on May 29. The election was annulled following numerous complaints by other candidates concerning violations of electoral procedures. But the real controversy centered round the fact that victor, local nightclub owner Andrei Klimentev, turned out to be a twice-convicted criminal awaiting trial on a charge of embezzlement. Klimentev has since been found guilty and sentenced to a third term in prison. (RTR, June 26)
Klimentev’s victory prompted high-level soul-searching over allegations that Russia’s regional governments were being infiltrated by the criminal underworld. Federal Prosecutor General Yuri Skuratov called for changes in legislation to ensure that criminals would be excluded from the electoral process. (Russian agencies, April 1) Added to the highly publicized arrest in October 1997 of another notorious criminal, Gennady Konyakhin, the elected mayor of the Siberian town of Leninsk-Kuznetsky, Klimentev’s victory prompted Yeltsin to sack Viktoria Mitina as deputy head of the presidential administration, where she had been tasked with ensuring that Kremlin-friendly candidates were elected in the regions. Russian law guarantees the rights both to vote and to be elected to all citizens with the sole exceptions of convicted criminals still serving their sentence and individuals legally found to be mentally impaired. (RTR, March 31)
WILL MOSCOW “BREAK THE CAMEL’S BACK” IN LATVIA.