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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Magadan Vote Goes Into Runoff

For MT

Magadan Mayor Nikolai Karpenko

MAGADAN, Far East -- Magadan's gubernational election went into a runoff between Magadan Mayor Nikolai Karpenko and former Deputy Governor Nikolai Dudov after either failed to gain enough votes for an outright win in Sunday's vote to replace slain Governor Valentin Tsvetkov.

Preliminary results late Sunday night showed Karpenko in the lead with 38 percent and Dudov in second place with 26 percent, said a spokeswoman for the regional elections commission. In third place with 10.2 percent was Andrei Zinchenko, another former Tsvetkov deputy who is expected to throw his support behind Dudov.

A candidate has to get more than 50 percent of the vote to win.

The second round will be held Feb. 16, the elections commission said.

The Magadan election was called after Tsvetkov was gunned down by unknown hitmen on Novy Arbat in October. President Vladimir Putin called the killing "a crime against the state" and vowed to bring the perpetrators to justice. More than three months later, however, no one has been caught.

Tsvetkov was the most senior government official to have been killed in post-Soviet Russia, even though killings of politicians occur regularly.

For MT

Former Deputy Governor Nikolai Dudov

Many local observers link Tsvetkov's death to his policy of running the region like a Soviet boss, concentrating control over the region's vast resources of gold, silver and fish in his administration's hands and pushing out private business.

It remains unclear whether Karpenko, if he should win, would move to take Tsvetkov's administration's business empire, which includes a vodka monopoly, a beer factory, a major fishing enterprise and the region's only gold refinery, into his own hands or make way for more private businesses.

Insiders say he could tighten the screws on ongoing investigations, opened as part of the murder probe, into the dealings of Tsvetkov's administration, which include the transfer of millions of dollars of budget funds into state-owned enterprises run by advisers to Tsvetkov.

In a brief interview Sunday, Karpenko said that it would be very difficult to complete the investigations and only the courts could decide who was guilty.

But in a region where the balance of power is often reflected in how lucrative fishing quotas are distributed, it appeared the writing was on the wall for the Tsvetkov business empire and his allies. A regional commission decided Thursday to give the majority of the annual pollock quota to privately owned fishing group Seawolf, while a state-owned enterprise run by a former Tsvetkov adviser, who last year won most of the quota, this time received next to nothing.

Dudov and Zinchenko said they would protest that move.

In a sign the mayor appeared to have the Kremlin's backing, Emergency Situations Minister Sergei Shoigu spoke on local television Friday to give his support for Karpenko.

Karpenko ran a strong, down-to-earth campaign based on his track record as mayor. In a slick ad campaign that pronounced him "Nash," or "Our Man," respected regional figures pronounced their support for him.

His opponents claimed he hired the Sverdlovsk public relations firm Imageland, the same agency hired by Russian Aluminum for their favored candidate in the Krasnoyarsk gubernatorial election last year.

But Karpenko's campaign team denied this. They also denied being behind a wave of media reports accusing Tsvetkov's administration of cronyism.

Dudov, however, ran his campaign on a platform of continuing the stability fostered under Tsvetkov's regime. Tsvetkov, despite the investigations into his dealings, remains widely respected in Magadan.