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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Luzhkov Candidate Wins Regional Race




In a win for Moscow Mayor Yury Luzhkov over the Kremlin, retired General Boris Gromov won a narrow victory for governor of the Moscow region, beating out Communist Gennady Seleznyov, elections officials said Monday.


The result of Sunday's voting showed that Luzhkov retains clout in the region, which surrounds the city but does not include it. Seleznyov, the former speaker of the State Duma, had been endorsed by acting President Vladimir Putin.


Seleznyov cried foul, saying there had been ballot fraud and that the elections were tainted by pressure from the mayor's office. He filed a protest with the Central Elections Commission. "I will congratulate the winner only after they consider my protest," Seleznyov said.


Seleznyov received 46.39 percent of votes, while 48.09 percent went to Gromov, who commanded Soviet forces in Afghanistan and was the last officer to leave Afghan soil. In the first round of voting, held Dec. 19, both failed to win an absolute majority, but knocked out incumbent Anatoly Tyazhlov.


If Gromov's victory is confirmed, it will be a boost to the prestige of Luzhkov, who was himself re-elected as the city's mayor in December with 70 percent of the vote. Luzhkov's Fatherland-All Russia bloc did poorly in parliamentary elections in December, getting only 13 percent of the vote.


Gromov's victory "can be considered a kind of symbolic compensation for Luzhkov's failure in the Duma elections," said Nikolai Petrov, a political analyst with the Carnegie Moscow Center.


"This is very important for Luzhkov, as it will be much easier for the mayor to deal with the oblast," said Petrov. "The election results are grounds for a rather fruitful and effective cooperation between the city and oblast." Luzhkov also picks up an ally in the Federation Council, the upper house, which is made up of regional leaders.


Luzhkov's Fatherland-All Russia also did well in the Moscow region in the parliamentary vote, winning 27 percent to 20 percent for the Communists and only 9 for the pro-Kremlin Unity bloc, which was also endorsed by Putin.


Official results are to be announced by federal elections official at 10 a.m. Tuesday, by which time they will have "checked all documents, in connection with election results ... in terms of complaints, which there will be," Alexander Veshnyakov, head of the Central Elections Commission, said Monday.


Seleznyov named at least two voting precincts in which he questioned the conduct of the vote. But the crux of the Seleznyov's complaints was the role he said Luzhkov played in influencing the election results, especially in the last weekend, when campaigning is not permitted.


Luzhkov emotionally endorsed Gromov at a Christmas celebration broadcast on city-controlled TV Center and criticized Seleznyov, though he did not mention his name. Luzhkov personally "agitated in favor of Gromov and disseminated slander," Seleznyov said.


But Petrov said that "any fraud would likely have been in favor of Seleznyov," given his Kremlin backing.


So far, however, Veshnyakov said he does not see any grounds for a reevaluation of the election results, though he did characterize the elections as "very tense."


In other second-round races for regional governorships, the governor of the Tver region north of Moscow, Vladimir Platov, defeated Communist lawmaker Vladimir Bayunov. Platov polled 46.55 percent against Bayunov's 46.02 percent, Interfax reported.


And in the central Siberian region of Novosibirsk, the mayor of the city of Novosibirsk, Viktor Tolokonsky, beat Ivan Starikov, a deputy economics minister in the Russian government, Interfax reported.