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United Russia Lead Dented in Elections

Published: March 16, 2010 (Issue # 1556)


MOSCOW Russias dominant ruling party United Russia was leading regional elections but suffered a string of surprising setbacks against the backdrop of the economic crisis, results showed Monday.

United Russia whose overall leader is Prime Minister Vladimir Putin won less than half the vote in some polls for regional parliaments and in a stunning reversal lost the election for mayor in the Siberian city of Irkutsk.

The polls Sunday only involved some of Russias regions but were being closely watched by the authorities after unusual displays of discontent in recent weeks rattled the Kremlin.

United Russia won over 48 percent of the vote in elections for the local parliament in the Khabarovsk region, a key economic hub in the Far East on the border with China, results published by the Central Election Commission showed.

In the region of Sverdlovsk, which includes the Urals economic capital of Yekaterinburg, it polled just 40 percent of the vote. However in the sparsely populated Yamalo-Nenets Autonomous Region it won 86 percent.

The most unsettling news for United Russia came in Irkutsk, a city of more than half-a-million people, where its candidate in elections for mayor was thrashed by a candidate supported by the Communist Party.

Communist-supported Viktor Kondrashov won over 62 percent of the vote, while United Russia candidate Sergei Serebrennikov only mustered 27 percent, results showed.

Adding to United Russias Siberian woes, in the mayoral elections for the nearby city of Ust-Ilimsk the candidate of opposition party A Just Russia also trounced the United Russia candidate.

The speaker of Russias lower house of parliament and top United Russia official Boris Gryzlov admitted that these local elections had been tougher than the last set of polls in October due to rises in utility prices.

We need losses at a regional level so that we recognise the causes of these losses and then correct them, he said in comments published on the United Russia web site.

Another top United Russia leader, Vyacheslav Volodin, emphasized that the results showed that Russians were continuing to support the political course of Putin and President Dmitry Medvedev.

In the battles for local parliaments, United Russias closest challenger was the Communist Party, which polled around 20 percent in the key zones. The electorate has listened to us, said its leader Gennady Zyuganov.

Third place went to the nationalist Liberal Democratic Party of veteran firebrand Vladimir Zhirinovsky.

The anti-Kremlin liberal opposition, which has no seats in the national parliament, remained sidelined while turnout in several of the main regions reached little more than 30 percent.

Close attention is being paid to developments in Russias regions after 10,000 people attended a protest in the western exclave of Kaliningrad in January, by far the biggest protest since the economic crisis began.

The organizers had planned to hold a fresh mass protest in Kaliningrad on March 20 but called it off at the weekend, saying that this was the only way to prevent bloody clashes with police.





 


ALL ABOUT TOWN

Friday, Aug. 22


Get ready to pledge allegiance to the flag during National Flag Day, paying tribute to when, 23 years ago today, the iconic hammer-and-sickle was replaced with the tricolor that now flutters in the wind. Petersburgers will be treated to a free concert on Palace Square, a military parade and a culminating air show featuring Russias Russian Knights stunt pilots.



Saturday, Aug. 23


Uppsala Park plays host to Fairy Noon today, a performance of five separate fairy tales ranging from folk classics to more haunting selections. There will be three different renditions of the tales throughout the day and tickets start at 500 rubles ($13.80) for adults and 300 rubles ($8.30) for children.


Classic Finnish cartoon characters the Moomins expect to receive a warm welcome from Russian fans during todays Moomin Festival at the Pearl Plaza Shopping Center at 51 Petergofskoye Shosse. Become a kid again or introduce a new generation to the beloved creation of Finnish writer Tove Jansson.



Sunday, Aug. 24


The tortured genius of Dutch master Vincent van Gogh gets his day in the centers Konnushnaya Ploschad during Make Art Like Van Gogh, a daylong celebration of the artist that will allow amateur artists to try and replicate the work that made the famed painter world-renowned.


Experience a variety of dances highlighting the diversity of the world around as at the final day of the Ethno-Dance International Dance Festival that has been at the St. Petersburg Humanitarian University of Trade Unions this past week. Tonights performance will feature Egyptian dancers accompanied by local orchestras.



Monday, Aug. 25


Today kicks off the Elena Obraztsovoy International Competition for Young Vocalists in the large hall of the Shostakovich Philharmonic. Talented youngsters will showcase their range over the next six days before a winner is chosen on Aug. 30.



Tuesday, Aug. 26


Love movies but hate all those words? Then check out Rodina Cinema Centers Factor of Consensus film forum this evening. Silent movie classics from the beginning of the 20th century will be screened and accompanied by a pianist, who will provide the soundtrack for the ongoing action. The screenings begin at 7 p.m. Check Rodinas website for more details.



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