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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Ad Man to Run for State Duma Seat




Advertising mogul Sergei Lisovsky, one of the brains behind President Boris Yeltsin's re-election campaign in 1996, is set to run for parliament in the Nizhny Novgorod region in September.


Lisovsky was registered Monday as a candidate for the State Duma, Russia's lower house of parliament, in the Dzerzhinsk district, a spokeswoman at the Nizhny Novgorod regional election commission said. The elections are slated for Sept. 27.


Lisovsky is president of the Premier SV advertising agency, which sells advertising time on the ORT and TV 6 national channels and is one of Russia's largest advertising firms. During the 1996 presidential elections, President Boris Yeltsin named him campaign manager in charge of capturing the youth vote.


He gained notoriety on the eve of the second round of the election when members of the presidential security service stopped him as he was carrying a cardboard box containing $500,000 in cash out of the White House, the government's headquarters. He was briefly arrested in connection with the incident, but was never charged.


There have also been reports in the Russian media linking Lisovsky to the murder of Vladislav Listyev, a television journalist and executive at ORT who was murdered outside his home in 1995. The reports of Lisovksy's involvement have never been substantiated.


A former colleague of Lisovsky's said a career in politics was a natural next step for the advertising executive.


"Lisovsky has always been involved with the mass public," said Bruce Macdonald, marketing director of the Rosinter restaurant company, who spent a year working at Premier SV. "It doesn't come as any surprise that he is running for the Duma."


He added: "Lisovsky knows and is known by many of the influential people in this country. ... My only concern is that he has so many business and personal interests, it will be difficult for him to find the time for government duties."


Andrei Piontkovsky at the Center for Strategic Studies in Moscow said a seat in the Duma would be simply another accessory for the man who has everything else. "He has the mobile phone, he has the bank account. This is the next accoutrement for today's big businessman," he said.


"Lisovsky wants to cover up his previous scandals by showing that people will vote for him," said Sergei Markov, head of the Institute of Political Studies. "He has chosen to stand in the Nizhny Novgorod region, because its electoral behavior favors those with a criminal past. And he has a good chance of winning."


Earlier this year, Andrei Klimentyev, who was twice convicted of petty crimes in the 1980s, was elected mayor of the regional capital, Nizhny Novgorod. The election result was subsequently annulled, but voters were outraged at the decision. Last week, Klimentyev was re-registered as a candidate for the new elections, which will be held on the same day as the Dzerzhinsk race.


Five other candidates have been registered, including leader of the Cedar ecological party Anatoly Panfilov and director of the Moscow Techinform company Oleg Pshenitsyn. The Dzerzhinsk district, some 400 kilometers west of Moscow, has 465,000 registered voters.