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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Petersburg Prosecutor Queries 5th Question

ST. PETERSBURG - St. Petersburg's chief prosecutor Friday took to court a decision by city officials to include a fifth question on the ballots for Sunday's referendum, calling it illegal.

But Judge Vladimir Poludnyakov dismissed the case, which means that the question will remain on the ballot.

Citing a decree issued March 29 by Russia's highest legislature - the Congress of People's Deputies - which prohibits the inclusion of any supplementary questions in the referendum, Chief Prosecutor Vladimir Yerenenko had said Thursday that city council officials had violated the law.

The fifth non-binding "survey" question was added to the ballot to ask St. Petersburg voters whether they believed the city should have the status of a republic within the Russian Federation, expanding its independence from Moscow.

City Council members hope that if they get a "yes" vote on the question, they will have a mandate to appeal to the Congress to grant the city the state of republic.

Yerenenko had said that two other laws had also been violated.

But Andrei Ponomarenko, senior mass media assistant to the prosecutor, said in a telephone interview that the status question would remain on the ballot for Sunday's referendum on confidence in President Boris Yeltsin.