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Mayoral Elections Criticized After Arrest

Published: March 2, 2010 (Issue # 1552)



  • Kachanovsky
    Photo: gorodnews.ru

MOSCOW Smolensks mayor was arrested Sunday in an extortion investigation that could fuel calls for the Kremlin to end direct mayoral elections.

Mayors are the most senior local officials still elected to office after the Kremlin abolished gubernatorial elections in 2004, and a number of them have faced criminal charges in recent months amid a drive in certain quarters of the federal government to cancel mayoral elections.

Eduard Kachanovsky, mayor of Smolensk, a city of 325,000 located 360 kilometers west of Moscow, was arrested together with his deputy and his bodyguard on charges of extorting an apartment as a bribe from the head of a construction company in exchange for granting a permit for the apartment building, investigators said.

Kachanovsky faces up to 12 years in prison if convicted of large-scale extortion.

The trio was detained Friday, and a local court sanctioned the arrest of Kachanovsky and his deputy on Sunday, the Smolensk branch of the Investigative Committee said. The bodyguard was released on condition that he not leave the city.

Smolensk regional Governor Sergei Antufyev told reporters Saturday that Kachanovskys detention had seriously damaged his reputation and that of Smolensk and the surrounding region, Interfax reported.

He called for the abolishment of direct mayoral elections in the region. The governor must have the power to weigh in on a mayors candidacy. Popular elections are a risk, Antufyev said.

Antufyev said mayors should be replaced with city managers proposed by governors and confirmed by city legislatures.

Although mayors are directly elected by their constituents, governors can fire them under new powers granted by President Dmitry Medvedev last May. Medvedev said governors needed to be able to reign in rogue mayors, while critics countered that the Kremlin was trying to remove any possibility of unpredictability from politics.

Antufyev did not say whether he would dismiss Kachanovsky, who was elected last March after refusing to heed a United Russia request to withdraw in favor of its preferred candidate. Kachanovsky is also a member of United Russia.

Kachanovskys arrest could be United Russias way of teaching him a lesson, said Dmitry Oreshkin, a political analyst with Merkator, a think tank.

United Russia officials and the Smolensk governors office could not be immediately reached for comment Sunday.

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ALL ABOUT TOWN

Wednesday, Dec. 17


Although the next trade event at Lenexpo convention center isnt until January, the center is playing host to Monet to Cezanne: The French Impressionists, an art show that brings 19th-century art classics to life. Using state-of-the-art technology, the show takes the work of the French masters and adds another dimension to them using light and shadow.



Thursday, Dec. 18


Improve your English and knowledge of British culture during todays FORM lesson at the British Book Center. These free English lessons with a native speaker elaborate not only on grammar particulars but cultural topics as well. Todays event will discuss the BBC Two documentary Victorian Farm Christmas.



Friday, Dec. 19


Test your mastery of parlor games during Game Evening at the British Book Center. Learn how to play a variety of classic, mentally challenging games and use your newly acquired skills to crush weaker opponents. The event beings at 5 p.m.



Saturday, Dec. 20


The citys Babushkina Park on Prospekt Obukhovskoy Oborony will be invaded by dozens of rocking-and-rolling Santa Clauses during todays Santa Claus Parade. Not only will they parade through the park but there will also be competitions amongst the festively-clad participants and a musical master class. There will also be a prize for the best-dressed Santa Claus.


Stock up your record collection during the Vinyl Christmas Sale at the KL10TCH bar on Konyushennaya ploschad today. Spend the afternoon perusing the records for sale while listening the classic, clean sound of records spinning out hits from a variety of musical genres and time periods.



Sunday, Dec. 21


TheZenit St. Petersburg basketball team returns to the northern capital this evening for a matchup with Krasny Oktyabr, a Volgograd-based basketball club. Tickets for the game, which tips off at 6 p.m. this evening, can be purchased on the clubs website or at their arena, Sibur Arena, on Krestovsky island.


Satisfy your sugar cravings during Sweet New Year, an ongoing seasonal festival at the Raduga shopping center. Each weekend of December will welcome hungry visitors to taste hundreds of different kinds of desserts made from a plethora of sweet treats. Workshops are open to visitors and seasonal gifts can also be purchased for those rushing to finish their New Year shopping.



Monday, Dec. 22


Pick out the latest fashions as holiday gifts for loved ones or as early presents for yourself during the Christmas Design Sale at Kraft on Obvodny Kanal, starting on Dec. 20 and continuing through Dec. 27. Designer clothes will be on sale every day of the week or you can buy something more festive to decorate the home while sipping on hot coffee and perusing the various master classes.



Tuesday, Dec. 23


Meet Arctic explorers Fedor Konukhov and Viktor Simonov during SPIBAs and Capital Legal Services event Arctic Expedition this morning in the Mertens House business center at 21 Nevsky Prospekt. The meeting will discuss the explorers ongoing eco-social project and how companies can use the project as a unique marketing opportunity. Email office@spiba.ru by Dec. 22 if you wish to attend.



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