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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Cherepkov Removed From Primorye Ballot

VLADIVOSTOK, Far East — A court struck a former Vladivostok mayor from the ballot for governor of the Primorye region in the Far East on Thursday, forcing officials to reprint ballots three days before the runoff.

The court ruled that Viktor Cherepkov violated election rules by failing to pay for television and radio appearances during his campaign and for starting his campaign early.

Cherepkov came in second with 19.75 percent in the first round on May 27. He and businessman Sergei Darkin, who received 24.9 percent, were to face a runoff Sunday.

Instead of Cherepkov, Gennady Apanasenko, a deputy to President Vladimir Putin's representative in the Far East Federal District, will take Cherepkov's place. Apanasenko won 14.16 percent in the first round.

Alexander Plotnikov, one of the Primorye residents who brought the suit, told the court Cherepkov's violations gave him an unfair head start. But the regional elections commission said the violations were not serious enough to strike Cherepkov from the ballot.

Cherepkov did not take part in Thursday's court hearing, but spoke to reporters from a hospital, where he checked in saying he had heart trouble.

"I never give up. We will win no matter what," he said.

Cherepkov is a bitter enemy of former Primorye Governor Yevgeny Nazdratenko, who was forced from office this year amid allegations of mishandling a fuel crisis that left many Far East cities without heat for weeks.