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Election in Russia Ruled Invalid

July 23, 1999

MOSCOW (AP) _ A vote this spring to elect the leader of a volatile republic in southern Russia was invalid, Russia’s Supreme Court ruled today, overturning a decision by a lower court.

The vote in Karachayevo-Cherkessia region on May 16 was tainted by allegations of voter fraud, and the loser, Stanislav Derev, never conceded defeat.

Vladimir Semyonov, the winner by a landslide, insisted the vote was valid and refused a recount. The conflict between the two candidates, who represent rival ethnic groups, threatened to turn violent when thousands of their supporters poured into the streets.

Despite reviewing more than 1,500 complaints of fraud, Karachayevo-Cherkessia’s Supreme Court ruled the election valid, but Derev still refused to back down.

The standoff led President Boris Yeltsin to appoint an interim leader for Karachayevo-Cherkessia, located near breakaway Chechnya. Meanwhile, Semyonov and Derev agreed to turn to the national Supreme Court to resolve the conflict.

The Supreme Court on Friday overturned the ruling after reviewing the allegations of voter fraud and asked the lower court to conduct a new hearing on the case, Interfax said without providing further detail. The interim leader will remain in place for now.

Karachayevo-Cherkessia is one of the last of Russia’s 89 regions to elect its own leader since regions began the process in 1996. Previously, regional leaders were appointed by the president.

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