There were angry scenes in Nizhny Novgorod yesterday as several hundred supporters of Andrei Klimentyev took to the streets to protest the annulment of the election and Klimentyev’s arrest. Klimentyev, a nightclub owner with two criminal convictions and currently on trial for embezzlement, was elected mayor of Russia’s third biggest city last weekend. His victory caused consternation not only in Nizhny but also in Moscow, where former governor Boris Nemtsov keeps a close watch on his former power base. Klimentyev was accused of buying votes and making unrealistic campaign promises — pledging not only to hike old-age pensions but to open special shops where the elderly would be able to purchase foodstuffs at subsidized prices. Mid-week, the Nizhny electoral authorities annulled the election. They would, they said, organize a fresh election to be held in three months’ time. Klimentyev declared he would run again. Yesterday, he was arrested on charges of violating parole and detained. Klimentyev’s supporters not only took to the streets but tried to beat up the judge presiding over the embezzlement case. (NTV, April 2)
Even those who hold no brief for Klimentyev smell a rat. State Duma member Andrei Makarov voiced the doubts of many when he told NTV’s Svetlana Sorokina last night that he had, as a pro-Yeltsin campaigner in the 1996 presidential election, promised that pensions would be raised if Boris Yeltsin was reelected. Immediately after the election, Yeltsin canceled all his spending promises. Makarov said he and the president were just as guilty as Klimentyev of making false campaign promises. Why therefore, Makarov asked, is only Klimentyev behind bars? (NTV, April 2)
Dagestani By-Election Bucks Ethnic Habit.