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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Klimentyev Portrait Hung in Nizhny




Jailed embezzler Andrei Klimentyev, who was elected mayor of Nizhny Novgorod in March but served just two days before being arrested and stripped of office, has slipped back into City Hall: His portrait has been hung on the wall.


Klimentyev's likeness - drawn by local artists from a photograph, as the man himself is still serving a six-year prison term - hangs right next to that of Ivan Sklyarov, the former Nizhny Novgorod mayor and now the region's governor.


The portrait was hung at the orders of Mayor Yury Lebedev, whose election Oct. 11 brought to an end an ugly and long-running dispute over the top post of Russia's third-largest city.


"Yury Isakovich [Lebedev] promised his voters" he would hang Klimentyev's portrait in City Hall, said Lyubov Mayorova of the Nizhny Novgorod city administration press service. "People demanded it."


But Klimentyev's wife, Oksana, treated Lebedev's immortalization of her husband with contempt.


"I couldn't care less," she said in telephone interview from Nizhny Novgorod. "That's a nod to public opinion. It won't help [secure] Andrei's release."


Klimentyev, 43, ran for mayor this year even though he still faced charges of embezzling close to $3 million of a $30 million government loan in 1994, and won a surprise victory in the poll.


But the local election committee declared Klimentyev's victory invalid on grounds that the campaign had violated election laws. Klimentyev's supporters protested that the election was actually annulled under pressure from Boris Nemtsov, deputy prime minister at the time, who they said feared Klimentyev could release compromising information about his years as Nizhny Novgorod's governor.


Soon after being stripped of office, Klimentyev was arrested, and his long-running trial ended in a conviction.


Months later, in running for the post vacated by Klimentyev's arrest, Lebedev, 47, portrayed himself as a defender of Klimentyev, and thereby a politician willing to stand up to the federal authorities and assert local rights.