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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

New Mayor Elected In Nizhny

A businessman with a string of criminal convictions has been elected mayor of Nizhny Novgorod, Russia's third largest city, in a surprise victory.

Central Election Committee chairman Alexander Ivanchenko said Monday the election may be declared invalid, however, because of evidence the victor's camp had bribed voters.

Andrei Klimentyev, a close friend of acting First Deputy Prime Minister Boris Nemtsov until their relationship went sour, won 34 percent of the vote in Sunday's mayoral elections, beating acting Mayor Vladimir Gorin by a margin of 3 percent, Itar-Tass reported Monday.

Klimentyev becomes the latest in a long string of politicians with criminal records who have won local elected office in Russia.

"This is a disgrace for the country and, I have to say, for our law enforcement agencies," acting Interior Minister Sergei Stepashin said of the election result in remarks broadcast by NTV television.

Klimentyev was convicted in the 1980s of cardsharping and distributing pornography. He served seven years in jail. Last year, he was convicted of misappropriating a $30 million Finance Ministry loan, but the conviction was overturned by the Supreme Court. A retrial is currently under way in Nizhny Novgorod.

Klimentyev countered with charges that Nemtsov, as governor of Nizhny Novgorod region, had himself diverted the loan and had accepted $800,000 in bribes. Nemtsov denied the charges.