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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Kremlin's Opponents Oust 2 Incumbent Governors

The Kremlin's communist and nationalist opponents ousted two incumbent governors in regional elections Sunday, narrowing the already precarious advantage enjoyed by the so-called party of power in the race for control of the Federation Council.

Yevgeny Mikhailov, a State Duma deputy from Vladimir Zhirinovsky's Liberal Democratic Party, crushed incumbent Vladislav Tumanov in the northern Pskov Oblast, winning over 56 percent of the votes cast to his rival's 37 percent, according to preliminary results.

In the Magadan Oblast of far eastern Siberia, State Duma deputy Valentin Tsvetkov edged out the sitting governor, Viktor Mikhailov, by 45 to 42.6 percent of votes cast. Although Tsvetkov won his Duma seat as an independent, and joined the centrist Regions of Russia faction, he was supported by the left opposition in the campaign, Interfax reported.

Of Russia's 89 regions, 52 are slated to hold gubernatorial elections this autumn, and the results could drastically change the balance of power in the Federation Council, which has been criticized for toeing the Kremlin line. Until recently, the majority of Russia's governors were appointed by the president.

Deputy Prime Minister Vladimir Babichev, a leader of the pro-government Our Home Is Russia movement, said Monday the party of power was not "dramatizing" the two losses, but would "make amendments in its election strategy," Interfax reported.

In the 15 conclusive elections held so far, incumbents have prevailed in eight regions, while the opposition, including Sunday's results, has seized power in seven. Four elections held in October failed to produce a conclusive result, and in three of these an opposition candidate led the incumbent by a wide margin.

In Stavropol Krai, communist challenger Alexander Chernogorov whipped governor Pyotr Marchenko by a 10-percent margin, but fell short of the 50-percent share of votes cast needed to win. Chernogorov is the firm favorite in a run-off vote, scheduled for Nov. 17.

Communist challenger Valery Sudarenkov faced a similar obstacle in the Kaluga Oblast, where he beat incumbent Oleg Savchenko by seven points, but not the 50-percent hurdle. A run-off will be held Nov. 9. In Krasnodar Krai, communist candidate Nikolai Kondratenko buried incumbent Nikolai Yegorov, Yeltsin's former chief of staff, by 57 to 25 percent. Voter turnout was insufficient, however, and the election was declared invalid. A new vote will be held within three months.

A spokesman for the Central Election Commission said no date had been set for a new vote in the Aginsky Buryatsky Autonomous Okrug.