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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Ad Honcho Fails in Bid For Duma

Sergei Lisovsky, a controversial advertising executive who helped run President Boris Yeltsin's 1996 campaign, lost his bid for election to Russia's lower house of parliament.

Lisovsky finished third among six candidates in Sunday's election for the seat representing the depressed chemical district of Dzerzhinsk in the Nizhny Novgorod region some 440 kilometers east of Moscow. The seat was left vacant when Mikhail Seslavinsky was appointed head of the Federal Service on Television and Radio last December.

Ardalen Panteleyev, a lawyer who is affiliated with the National Patriotic Union, won with just under 28 percent of the vote. Lisovsky earned 21 percent.

Olga Sukker, a political analyst at the local newspaper Dzerzhinets, said Monday that Lisovsky wooed the voters by providing much-needed school textbooks and medicines, but was unable to overcome the disadvantage of being considered a Muscovite and an outsider. Some voters, she said, were put off by his work in the advertising industry, which many "simple people" view with mistrust.

There also was some suspicion about Lisovsky's motives for seeking office, with some suspecting he was primarily interested in securing parliamentary immunity against possible criminal charges.

Lisovsky, who was hired by Yeltsin during his 1996 re-election campaign to capture the youth vote, was at the center of a scandal on the eve of the second round of voting. He was stopped leaving the main government building carrying $500,000 in cash, which the Communists said was proof of illegal campaign financing. Lisovsky was never charged.

As head of the Premier SV advertising agency, Lisovsky also has been linked in news reports to the death of former ORT television chief Vladislav Listyev, who was gunned down outside his apartment in 1995. At the time, Listyev was planning to restructure advertising operations in an attempt to weed out corruption. The killing remains unsolved.

A call to Lisovsky's campaign office in Dzerzhinsk for comment on the election results was unreturned.

Voter turnout was low Sunday, with only 30 percent of the 250,000 registered voters casting ballots.

"People here are sick of elections," said Rima Moikina, spokeswoman for the Dzerzhinsk Election Committee. "We have become used to looking after ourselves."

A spokeswoman for Panteleyev's campaign said the difference between the winner and Lisovsky was simple: "One man is an experienced, local professional. The other is simply a Muscovite," she said. Dzerzhinsk, the capital of the Soviet Union's chemical industry, used to be a closed city, where wages were higher than the national average and each resident was provided with a gas mask in case of chemical accidents.

In recent times, however, Dzerzhinsk has achieved notoriety for having Russia's highest concentration of chemical dioxins, and a death rate that outnumbers births two to one.