Publication: Monitor Volume: 4 Issue: 67

The Kremlin has hit out at all and sundry following the Nizhny Novgorod mayoral election of a nightclub owner with two previous criminal convictions currently on trial for embezzlement. On March 29, Andrei Klimentyev was elected mayor of Russia’s third-largest city, showcase of Russia’s economic reforms and power-base of former First Deputy Premier Boris Nemtsov. Within days of his election victory, Klimentyev was behind bars — charged with breaking bail — and the election declared invalid. Many observers believe the federal authorities intervened to overturn an election no more flawed than many others simply because the outcome did not suit them.

Yesterday, President Boris Yeltsin issued a public reprimand to the governor of Nizhny Novgorod Oblast, Ivan Sklyarov, accusing him of failing to ensure that the election was carried out legally. He also reprimanded Viktoria Mitina, deputy head of the presidential administration, whose job it is to oversee the Kremlin’s relations with the regions. (ORT, April 6) Speaking in a TV interview over the weekend, Nemtsov said he too had been at fault in not getting personally involved in the election campaign. (RTR, April 5) Nemtsov did recognize both that Klimentyev’s criminal case is sub judice and that the uproar over his election may make a fair trial impossible. Nemtsov noted too that the invalidation of the election has been challenged by Klimentyev’s supporters and is also, therefore, sub judice. In these circumstances, Nemtsov said, politicians ought to take care not to prejudice the outcome of the court hearings.

Klimentyev’s case has been taken up by Vladimir Semago, millionaire Communist parliamentarian, who is leading a team of State Duma deputies to investigate the decision to invalidate the election. Many Russian commentators feel that the decision sets an uncomfortable precedent for invalidating elections that do not happen to suit the powers that be. (Itar-Tass, April 5)

Constitutional Court Rules Yeltsin Must Sign War Booty Law.