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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Just Russia Caught in a Power Struggle

Itar-TassValery Zolotukhin
A power struggle over who will head regional tickets in State Duma elections is creating a split in A Just Russia, days after the campaign season started.

The pro-Kremlin party has asked actor Valery Zolotukhin to take the top spot on its ticket in the Perm region, party spokesman Alexander Morozov said Monday.

"We've made such an offer to Zolotukhin and are waiting for his answer," Morozov said.

Duma Deputy Viktor Pokhmelkin, a member of A Just Russia and the head of a national motorists association, announced Monday that he would leave the party because he had expected to top the ticket in Perm, where he is from.

Zolotukhin, who played a repentant vampire in the 2006 "Night Watch" blockbuster, could not be reached for comment.

Just Russia's supreme council selected Zolotukhin on Friday, apparently in a bid to counter United Russia, which has decided to top its Perm ticket with Natural Resources Minister Yury Trutnev, a former Perm governor, Kommersant reported Monday.

A Just Russia, created this year as a socially oriented alternative to United Russia, the pro-Kremlin party that dominates the current Duma, is hoping to place second to United Russia in the elections Dec. 2. The electoral campaign kicked off on Wednesday.

More cracks could appear in A Just Russia in the coming weeks. The party's pre-elections conference, scheduled for Sept. 23, will vote against billionaire Duma Deputy Alexander Lebedev leading the party's ticket in Moscow and charismatic Duma Deputy Yevgeny Roizman leading the ticket in the Sverdlovsk region, national media reported last week, without citing its sources.

The decision, the sources said, is being imposed on A Just Russia by the Kremlin, which wants to secure more seats for United Russia in Moscow and the industrial Urals region.

Morozov, the Just Russia spokesman, declined to comment on the reports, saying the party leadership had prohibited him from talking to the media about Lebedev and Roizman.

But Artyom Artyomov, a senior official with the Moscow branch of A Just Russia, said the reports were untrue and that Lebedev remained seeded for the No. 1 spot on the Moscow ticket.

Repeated phone calls to the offices of Lebedev and Roizman went unanswered Monday.

Meanwhile, the leadership of United Russia's branch in the Samara region has annulled the results of local primaries to draft its regional ticket and drawn up a new ticket topped by newly appointed Samara Governor Vladimir Artyakov, Vedomosti reported Monday.

He will be followed on the ticket by incumbent Duma deputies Viktor Kazakov, Vladimir Mokry, Anatoly Belousov and Anatoly Ivanov, the report said, citing a source in United Russia's Samara branch.

At the August primaries, the two top spots went to local party activists Alexander Zhivaikin and Alexei Ushamirsky.