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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Yabloko Ban Is Upheld

The Yabloko party on Friday failed to overturn a decision that banned it from running in the upcoming St. Petersburg Legislative Assembly election.

Yabloko deputy leader Sergei Ivanenko said he believed the party was being shut out of the March 11 vote as punishment for opposing a plan by state gas giant Gazprom to build a huge skyscraper that would tower over the city's historic center.

Local election officials last month ruled that Yabloko was ineligible to run because of irregularities in its registration documents. The party appealed, but the Central Elections Commission in Moscow upheld the ban.

"This is a politically motivated decision. It is linked to the party's tough stand on the St. Petersburg authorities' actions, like the building of Gazprom City," Ivanenko said.

He said he thought the ban had been inspired by St. Petersburg's powerful governor, Valentina Matviyenko, an ally of President Vladimir Putin's. "This demonstrates not that we have totalitarian rule in Russia but rather a sort of feudal rule that allows the local governor to do this sort of thing," Ivanenko said.

Election officials deny that their decision was politically motivated. They said more than 10 percent of the signatures submitted by Yabloko in support of its application were invalid.

Yabloko has led opposition to Gazprom's plan, backed by Matviyenko, for a 300-meter glass-and-concrete tower block in a city famed for its low-rise baroque architecture, canals and bridges.