Abramovich Elected To Seat in Chukotka

APBillionaire Roman Abramovich attending a football match in London in 2006.
United Russia almost achieved a clean sweep Sunday, as the pro-Kremlin party won landslide victories in most regional election contests, but the most commanding win of the day went to billionaire Roman Abramovich.

Abramovich, owner of Britain's Chelsea Football Club and the former governor of Chukotka, garnered 97 percent of the vote running as an independent candidate for a seat in the region's parliament, the Central Elections Commission said Monday.

Regional, mayoral and municipal votes were held in 77 of the country's 85 regions.

Abramovich, who retains close ties to the Kremlin, had served as the governor of Chukotka for eight years before President Dmitry Medvedev accepted his resignation in July. Medvedev's predecessor, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, had refused to accept Abramovich's resignation on multiple occasions.

Two of his former deputies, Andrei Gorodilov, with 90 percent of the vote, and Aramais Dallakyan, with 80 percent, were also victorious running as independents in single-mandate districts.

Believed to have pumped millions of dollars into the remote region, Abramovich once lamented that the governor's job was "too expensive."

The Chukotka regional legislature, in which he is expected to be elected speaker, has just 12 members.

United Russia easily outpolled its opponents across the board, with support running from 49.2 percent in Irkutsk to 88.4 percent in Chechnya. The party also won regional legislature elections in the Irkutsk, Kemerovo, Sakhalin and Zabaikalsky regions, along with mayoral votes in the cities of Vologda, Magadan, Stavropol and Khabarovsk.

Nizhny Tagil, a city in the Sverdlovsk region, handed United Russia its only loss for the day, as its candidate, Alexei Chekanov, finished third in a race that was won by independent candidate Valentina Isayeva, who took 37.1 percent of the vote. Chekanov won just 20.2 percent of the vote.

Kemerovo trailed only Chechnya in delivering a landslide for United Russia, with the party winning almost 85 percent of the vote. A Just Russia, which finished second in the region, drew less than 6 percent.

Despite an earthquake Saturday that killed 13 people, Chechnya still managed to register the highest turnout for the day, with 95.1 percent of all eligible voters casting ballots. Ahead of the voting, Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov had said he didn't think that the earthquake would prevent people from voting, saying he expected no less than a 100 percent turnout, "and maybe more," RIA-Novosti reported. Chechnya regularly posts high turnouts. It said turnout for 2007 State Duma elections was 99.5 percent.