The Republic of Karelia held elections on April 28 for all the branches of its government. Sergei Katanandov, who earlier served as the republic’s head, was elected its chief executive. He won with 53.4 percent of the vote, obviating a second round runoff (Russian agencies, April 30).
Observers noted that Katanandov faced no serious opposition in this election. Indeed, the best hope of his opponents was to prevent him from winning in one round, but they failed to do so. On the final day of campaigning, Katanandov appeared on local television five times. His opponents got no airtime at all. Boris Nemtsov, head of the Union of Right-Wing Forces (SPS), who traveled to Karelia to support one of Katanandov’s opponents, Artur Myaki, compared the republic to North Korea, saying that Katanandov prevented residents from communicating with anyone who did not support him (Kommersant, Regions.ru, NNS.ru, April 29).
The only problem Katanandov faced was low voter turnout: He had hoped for it to be around 60 percent but it barely squeaked past 50 percent (Polit.ru, April 29). Katanandov’s opponents, meanwhile, trailed far behind him. Artur Myaki received 12 percent of the vote; Vasily Popov, general director of the Krug Unified Production Enterprises, won 10 percent; Boris Tyukov, head of the Karelia branch of the Russian People’s Patriotic Union, received 7 percent. The “Against all” entry on the ballot was checked off by 10.72 percent of those who voted. Katanandov was backed by United Russia, the new pro-Putin party recently formed from the merger of various centrist groupings, including Unity and Fatherland-All Russia. United Russia’s leadership declared itself happy with the results of the voting in Karelia (Russian agencies, April 30).
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