. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

St. Pete Court Upholds Plan to Get Rid of Yakovlev Early

ST. PETERSBURG -- Fueling rumors of an early retirement for St. Petersburg Governor Vladimir Yakovlev, a city court ruled Friday that efforts to call a gubernatorial election four months ahead of schedule do not violate city law.

Last month, the city's Legislative Assembly gave preliminary approval to a bill that would move the election from April 2004 to December of this year, combining it with the nationwide State Duma polls. The hearings at the city's Charter Court were held in response to inquiries from a group of local lawmakers worried that the legislation, if passed, might be contested in the future.

The ruling, which cannot be appealed, says that the bill does not contradict the City Charter, court chairman Nikolai Kropachev told reporters.

The decision has fueled speculation that Yakovlev may resign soon after the city's high-profile 300th anniversary celebrations at the end of this month.

As recently as last fall, Yakovlev had hoped the legislature would allow him to run for a third term, but his supporters did not manage to win a majority in the December elections.

After last month's appointment of a new presidential envoy to the district, Yakovlev -- who has had a rocky relationship with President Vladimir Putin -- said that if lawmakers force him to leave office in December he "may be willing to do so even earlier," local media quoted him as saying.