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Russian Mayoral Election Annulled

April 2, 1998

MOSCOW (AP) _ The election commission in Nizhny Novgorod, a major Volga River city, decided Wednesday to annul the results of a controversial mayoral election won by a businessman convicted of financial wrongdoing.

The ballot has sparked protests from top Russian officials, including President Boris Yeltsin, who said Tuesday that he was ``deeply concerned″ by the victory of entrepreneur Andrei Klimentyev.

Eight members of the Nizhny Novgorod commission, acting on complaints of electoral violations from all five defeated candidates, voted to invalidate the election results Wednesday, Russian news services said.

One voted against the move and two abstained, it said.

The Central Election Commission in Moscow confirmed the decision but had no further details. However, commission chairman Alexander Ivanchenko told the Interfax news agency Tuesday that the businessman had bribed voters and permitted violations in the campaign and its funding.

Klimentyev filed suit Wednesday in the Nizhny Novgorod court, asking it to overturn the electoral commission’s decision, which he called illegal, the ITAR-Tass news agency reported.

``I do not want people to take to the streets to protest the arbitrary practices of the local authorities, although such sentiments exist,″ ITAR-Tass quoted him as saying.

Klimentyev was convicted last year of embezzling about $2.5 million in a shipbuilding scheme. But he was given credit for the time he had served in pretrial detention and was freed immediately after his conviction.

The prosecutor general’s office has appealed the sentence, saying such a conviction carries a minimum five-year term.

Last fall, Klimentyev accused first deputy prime minister Boris Nemtsov of taking $818,200 in bribes while serving as Nizhny Novgorod’s regional governor.

Nemtsov, who ordered a probe that led to the charges against Klimentyev and testified against him at the trial, has sued Klimentyev for libel. He said Wednesday that new ballot would have to be called in Nizhny Novgorod, but did not rule out that Klimentyev might take part.

Presidential spokesman Sergei Yastrzhembsky, meanwhile, said Yeltsin would send his deputy chief of staff to the city to study the ``scandalous elections.″

Update hourly