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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Yeltsin Candidate Loses Governorship in Kaluga

A centrist backed by communists defeated the governor appointed by President Boris Yeltsin in local elections in the central Russian region of Kaluga, according to results released on Sunday.

Governor Oleg Savchenko, appointed by Yeltsin in March, won just 30 percent of the vote in Saturday's second round, down from 39 percent in the first round two weeks ago.

His rival, career Soviet-apparatchik Valery Sudarenkov, 56, took 64 percent of the vote, up sharply from 42 percent in the first round. Itar-Tass described him as a centrist and said he was backed by local communists.

"The main reason for Savchenko's defeat is a difficult social and economic situation in the region, delays in payment of pensions and wages, and rising crime," Itar-Tass said.

The local elections, being held in most of Russia's 89 regions over a six-month period which ends in February, give voters a chance to choose a new regional governor.

But the polls are important on a national level as well because the regional governors become members of the Federation Council upper house of parliament.

Communists and other conservatives already dominate the lower house and they hope for a strong showing in the regional elections to increase their influence in the upper house.

Regional elections held so far this year have failed to give a clear advantage to either the Kremlin or to the communist-led opposition.