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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

Wednesday, Oct. 22


English teachers can expect to receive a few useful pointers today from Evgeny Kalashnikov, the British Council regional teacher, during the EFL Seminar this afternoon hosted by the British Book Center. The topic of todays seminar is Grammar Practice.


Young Petersburgers will get the chance to jumpstart their careers at Professional Growth, a job fair and forum featuring more than 40 major Russian and international companies vying for potential candidates for future positions. The forum not only is a chance to network but also to learn more about the modern business world and to understand what it takes to get the job you want.



Thursday, Oct. 23


AmChams Public Relations Committee meeting is scheduled to meet this morning at 9 a.m. in their office in the New St. Isaac Office Center.


Sportsmen get their chance to stock up on all kinds of gear at the Hunting and Fishing 2014 exhibition starting today at Lenexpo. Everything from rods and reels to boats, motorcycles and equipment for underwater hunting will be on sale so that any avid outdoorsman can always be prepared.



Friday, Oct. 24


SPIBAs ongoing Breakfast with the Director series continues today, featuring Tomas Hajek, Managing Director of the Northwest Division at Danone Russia. Hajek will be discussing collaborations between businesses from different cultures. The meeting is at 9 a.m. at the Domina Prestige St. Petersburg hotel and all who wish to attend must confirm their participation by Oct. 23.


Get your gong on at Sounds of the Universe, a concert at the city planetarium this evening incorporating six different gongs to create relaxing songs that will transport you upwards into the stratosphere. Tickets are 700 rubles ($17).



Saturday, Oct. 25


AVA Expo, the eighth edition of the event revolving around all things pop culture, returns to Lenexpo this weekend. Geeks, nerds, dweebs and dorks will have their chance to talk science fiction and explore a variety of international pop culture. Tickets for the event can be purchased on their website at avaexpo.ru.



Sunday, Oct. 26


Zenit St. Petersburg returns home for the first time in nearly a month as they host Mordovia Saransk in a Russian Premier League game. Currently at the top of the league thanks to their undefeated start to the season, the northern club hopes to extend the gap between them and second-place CSKA Moscow and win the title for the first time in three years. Tickets are available at the stadium box office or on the clubs website.



Monday, Oct. 27


Today marks the end of the art exhibit Neophobia at the Erarta Museum. Artists Alexey Semichov and Andrei Kuzmin took a neo-modernist approach to represent the array of fears that are ever-present throughout our lives. Tickets are 200 rubles ($4.90).



Tuesday, Oct. 28


The Domina Prestige St. Petersburg hotel plays host to SPIBAs Marketing and Communications Committees round table discussion on Government Relations Practices in Russia this morning. The discussion starts at 9:30 a.m. and participation must be confirmed by Oct. 24.



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