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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Communists Barred From Local Elections

Election officials have barred the Communist Party from registering in two regional elections, prompting party leaders on Wednesday to accuse the authorities of political sabotage.

Communist Party candidate lists were excluded from regional parliamentary elections in Dagestan and the Tyumen region Tuesday, the party's deputy leader Ivan Melnikov said.

Melnikov said the party's list was stricken from the ballot in the republic of Dagestan after three candidates from the republic's Rutulsky district withdrew, leaving the party with no one to contest the election there.

According to regional election laws, a party's entire list must be stricken from the ballot if it fails to field a candidate in even one district.

"The local election laws violate federal laws, and I don't doubt that this is intentional," Melnikov said. "I was in Dagestan recently, and the Communist Party enjoys a high level of support there."

Melnikov said the pro-Kremlin United Russia party was "in a difficult situation" because of its failure to deliver results in the republic.

In a statement on its web site, the Communist Party called the move an "act of political terror."

A spokesman for the republic's election committee said the decision to exclude the Communist Party list was not yet finalized, Ekho Moskvy radio reported Wednesday.

Central Elections Commission chief Alexander Veshnyakov told Interfax on Wednesday, however, that the decision had already been made. Another party, the liberal Union of Right Forces, or SPS, had also been excluded on similar grounds, he said.

SPS had its candidate list stricken from the ballot after all three of its candidates from the republic's Khasavyurtovsky district withdrew under duress, SPS deputy head Boris Nadezhdin told reporters Wednesday

Nadezhdin said the party had proof that the candidates in question were forced to resign.

"There was violence, threats and blackmail," Nadezhdin said.

Nadezhdin said the party's No. 1 candidate from the Kizlyarsky district had gone missing.

"His burnt-out car was found in the forest," Nadezhdin said, adding that regional prosecutors had opened a murder investigation.

State Duma Speaker and United Russia head Boris Gryzlov said Wednesday that he was "perplexed" by the decision to exclude the Communists from the election in Dagestan, which is scheduled for March 11.

"Without a doubt, this situation must be dealt with," Gryzlov said, Interfax reported.

Veshnyakov said the Central Elections Commission had recommended to Dagestani election officials that they amend local election laws to prevent such situations, but that the officials refused to listen, Interfax reported.

The Communist Party list has also been stricken from the ballot in the Tyumen regional parliamentary elections for mistakes several candidates made in paperwork concerning their incomes and property, Melnikov said.

The regional election committee was forced to strike the entire list from the ballot after 10 Communist candidates, or more than 50 percent of the party list, made such mistakes, he said.

"One of the candidates was excluded because he wrote that his garage was 4x6 meters," Melnikov said. "They said he had to write that it was '24 square meters.'"

Melnikov said the party had until Feb. 3 to correct the paperwork and submit a new list for the March 11 elections.

"I don't think we'll have any problems making this deadline," he said.

Communists have factions in many regional parliaments as well as in the State Duma.

SPS failed to cross the 5 percent threshold in the 2003 State Duma elections, but has staged a comeback recently at the regional level. In regional parliamentary elections in the Perm region last month, SPS captured 16 percent of the vote, finishing second to United Russia, which won 34 percent.