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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Luzhkov Sweeps Up 79.4% of Vote

ReutersMoscow Mayor Yury Luzhkov voting at a polling station in central Moscow on Sunday.
Yury Luzhkov's resounding re-election as mayor of Moscow, capturing 79.4 percent of the city's electorate according to preliminary results, hardly comes as a surprise.

Political observers attribute his victory more to a lack of an alternative candidate who could unify protest voters than to genuine support for Luzhkov's policies.

In Sunday's poll, Luzhkov, 67, was opposed by billionaire banker Alexander Lebedev, who garnered 9.08 percent of the vote; coffin magnate German Sterligov, with 3.96 percent; and construction firm head Nikolai Lifanov, taking 0.86 percent.

Voter turnout exceeded 55 percent, city elections committee head Valentin Gorbunov said Sunday night.

Luzhkov has been the capital's mayor since 1992, winning re-election in 1996 with 88.5 percent and in 1999 with 69.9 percent of the vote. This term will be his last as he is ineligible to run again.

In striking contrast to the last election, Luzhkov was opposed by candidates unknown to most Muscovites.

In 1999 his opponents included such renowned politicians as former prime minister Sergei Kiriyenko, former head of the presidential property department Pavel Borodin and LDPR Deputy Alexei Mitrofanov.

Of Luzhkov's three opponents this year, only Lebedev ran a proper electoral campaign.

At a Lebedev campaign event last week, retiree Antonina Kiryukhina said she would vote for him rather than Luzhkov because he is young and, as president of the National Reserve Bank, must be a good manager. "We have to give way to the young," she said.

"I was thinking of voting for Lebedev because he is young, but I ended up voting for Luzhkov anyway," said Valentina, 68, who would not give her last name. "At least with Luzhkov you know what to expect."

Her sentiments were echoed by voters across the city who indicated that they voted for Luzhkov because they were afraid of change and did not take the other candidates seriously.

Lifanov, 57, who heads Progress Association, which has extensive contracts with City Hall to build municipal buildings, was generally regarded as Luzhkov's "backup." Electoral law requires that at least two candidates run for the post.

Sterligov, 37, who founded the Alisa stock exchange in the early '90s, promised to expel Azeris and Chechens from Moscow and to ban abortion.

Sterligov's declaration of an annual income of $50 left more attentive voters scratching their heads.

"He looks like a failure as a businessman. Why would anyone vote for him as mayor?" one voter said.

But Mikhail, 26, who did not give his full name, said he voted for Sterligov because he was the only candidate who addressed the issue of illegal immigration.

Staff Writer Lyuba Pronina contributed to this report.

See also Election Special 2003