St. Pete Muckraker Wins Leningrad Seat in Duma

St. Petersburg's controversial television journalist Alexander Nevzorov - best known for his nationalist rhetoric and unabashed muckraking - won the State Duma seat for Leningrad region's Vsevolozhsky district with 38 percent of the vote in Sunday's runoff elections.

Nevzorov's victory proved to be the biggest sensation among the various regional elections held Sunday along with the nationwide presidential polls. Repeat Duma elections had to be held in eight electoral districts where disgruntled voters had opted to cast their ballots for "none of the above" in December.

Nevzorov - who was a deputy from 1993 to 1999 - became famous for his hard-hitting show 600 Seconds, which became an instrument for disseminating racist and nationalist ideas. Nevzorov's tenure as media adviser to St. Petersburg Governor Vladimir Yakovlev coincided with an increase in nationalist-leaning programming on city-owned television.

The other potentially sensational St. Petersburg runoff proved less exciting: The winner in the 210th district was Communist Konstantin Sevenard, not businessman Yury Shutov, who is awaiting trial in Kresty prison in connection with his part in several contract hits. Sevenard defeated Yabloko incumbent Anatoly Golov with a piddling 1097 votes, Itar-Tass reported Monday.

In the Far East's Primorye region, which has long been paralyzed by feuding between regional and municipal authorities, the race for a Duma seat yielded results as former Vladivostok Mayor Viktor Cherepkov won in the city's 50th district with 30 percent of the vote. He had been previously been banned from the race by a Vladivostok court that ruled he had failed to provide campaign spending information on time.

Cherepkov, who became mayor in 1991, was deposed by Nazdratenko on corruption charges in 1994. Cherepkov fought back by camping out in his office and refusing to leave. He was reinstated by then-President Boris Yeltsin in 1996 after the courts found him innocent. But in 1998, Yeltsin ruled that he had held his post illegally after his tenure had expired in July of that year.

The predictable highlight of the seven gubernatorial elections held Sunday was the easy victory of incumbent Saratov Governor Dmitry Ayatskov, who beat out two unknowns, winning just over 67 percent of the vote.

The race was marred by cries of foul play when Ayatskov's main challenger, Communist Valery Rashkin, was scratched from the list of candidates - before even registering - on charges of campaigning prior to the time permitted. This left Ayatskov virtually unchallenged.

The other winners included incumbent governors Alexander Surikov of the Altai region; Vladimir Sergeyenkov in the Kirov region; Yury Yevdokimov in the Murmansk region; Nikolai Volkov in the Jewish autonomous republic; Alexander Filipenko in Khanty-Mansiisky autonomous district; and Yury Neyolov in the Yamalo-Nenets autonomous district, Interfax reported.