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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Just Russia Candidate Kicked Off Sochi Ballot

A Sochi court eliminated A Just Russia's candidate from the city's mayoral election on Tuesday, effectively turning the race into a face-off between United Russia and opposition politician Boris Nemtsov.

Sochi's Central District Court ordered that candidate Viktor Kurpitko be struck from the ballot for failing to properly fill out his registration paperwork, Nikolai Levichev, head of A Just Russia's faction in the State Duma, told The Moscow Times.

Levichev accused the court of bowing to pressure from regional authorities to eliminate rivals of United Russia's candidate, acting Sochi Mayor Anatoly Pakhomov.

Levichev said Kurpitko's papers had been filled out correctly, noting that they had been accepted by the city's election committee. Kurpitko will appeal, he said.

Repeated calls to the press office of the regional administration went unanswered Tuesday.

The same court also expelled wealthy businessman Alexander Lebedev from the race on Monday for purportedly failing to fill out his registration properly. Lebedev has vowed to appeal.

The two court rulings came in response to complaints by another mayoral candidate, Krasnodar businessman Vladimir Trukhanovsky, whom Levichev called a "technical candidate" whose "only task" was to eliminate competitors from the race.

Also Tuesday, the court rejected a request by the Communist Party's candidate, Yury Dzaganiya, to invalidate the registration of Pakhomov, of United Russia, Interfax reported.

Kurpitko has also asked the court to reject Pakhomov's bid.

The Sochi election, slated for April 26, has turned into the country's most intriguing political battle of the year. Sochi is to host the 2014 Winter Olympics, a project for which the federal government has earmarked billions of dollars, and the next mayor will have a strong say over how the government will spend the money.

Former presidential hopeful Andrei Bogdanov dropped out of the race Monday, leaving eight candidates if Kurpitko and Lebedev successfully challenge the court's decisions to disqualify them.

Nemtsov, a former deputy prime minister and leader of the Solidarity movement, told reporters Monday that the government wants Pakhomov to win the election "at any price."

"The Sochi elections are 100 percent lawlessness and 100 percent fraud," he said.