Install

Get the latest updates as we post them — right on your browser

. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Vladivostok Finally Has a Duma

As the battle for the governor's seat in the Primorye region heated up Monday, the regional capital, Vladivostok, marked its first day in more than seven years with a quorum for a functioning legislative assembly.

Election officials announced Monday that the previous day's vote for City Duma deputies — the 20th since 1995 — was valid and brought the number of deputies to 21, leaving only one seat in the 22-member body vacant, Interfax and other agencies reported.

Before Sunday's vote, which coincided with the first round of Primorye's gubernatorial election, Vladivostok had been the only city in Russia left without a functioning lawmaking body after the Soviet-era Councils of People's Deputies were disbanded in 1993. Election officials said the Duma would be able to begin work by early June, according to Interfax.

Also Monday, Primorye's regional court began considering a complaint against the prominent local businessman who garnered the most votes Sunday in the first round of gubernatorial elections and is now being accused of using dirty tactics.

A group of private citizens has filed a suit against Sergei Darkin, head of the Roliz fishing company, for trying to bribe voters with T-shirts, media reports said. One of the plaintiffs has been identified as a campaign staffer for Darkin's opponent Gennady Apanasenko, who came in third in Sunday's race and serves as a deputy to the region's presidential envoy, Konstantin Pulikovsky.

The court heard testimony from 14 witnesses Monday, after closing the case to reporters out of security concerns, ORT television reported. But a key witness — who reportedly came to the court building under heavy guard — refused to testify against Darkin, saying she feared for the safety of her family.

Darkin's supporters say the T-shirts were a standard part of their candidate's campaign, like flyers or posters, and can not be construed as a bribe.

The head of Darkin's campaign staff, Sergei Linetsky, told ORT he believed the case would not hold up in court.

Hearings are set to resume Thursday.

If the court finds campaign violations, it could expel Darkin from the runoff, set for June 17, opening the way for Apanasenko to take part in the vote.

The final results issued by Primorye's elections commission, as cited by the Lenta.ru news web site, showed Darkin with about 24 percent of the vote, former Vladivostok Mayor Viktor Cherepkov with about 20 percent and Apanasenko with just over 14 percent.