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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Starovoitova Allies Snub Anti-Criminal Election List

ST. PETERSBURG -- With days to go before this city's key local elections, democratic politicians unveiled a united front to squeeze out candidates with underworld links, but allies of slain State Duma Deputy Galina Starovoitova snubbed the initiative.

The elections to St. Petersburg's legislative assembly are seen as a bell-wether for forthcoming national elections. But the poll has been characterized by division among liberal parties, violence and dirty tricks.

Local Yabloko leader Mikhail Amosov and Vitaly Sichov, who heads the electoral bloc Soglasiye, announced Monday the formation of a "Civic Anti-Criminal List" comprising 70 candidates across the 50 electoral districts.

Almost as soon as the list was announced, Starovoitova's local allies denounced it. "We are not associated with that list," said Sergei Alexeyev, a leading member of the local branch of Starovoitova's Democratic Russia party.

"The leadership of Soglasiye, particularly Sichov, who had bad relations with Galina Vasilyevna in recent times, is now trying to exploit the tragedy of her death," said Viktor Krivulin, co-chairman of the local party.

Meanwhile, as Sunday's polling day approaches, the dirty tricks that have been the hallmark of the campaign are only intensifying.

Incumbent Leonid Romankov has sent a complaint to the city's election committee alleging that supporters of competing candidates are offering residents money to vote for Romankov in an effort to compromise his name.

In other districts, incidents of flat-out vote buying and intimidation have been reported in which canvassers go door to door asking people to sign a "contract" to vote for specific candidates in exchange for 70 rubles ($4).