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MOSCOW, February 18. /ITAR-TASS/. The Alliance of Greens and Social Democrats said it will nominate State Duma member Ilya Ponomaryov its candidate in the upcoming mayoral election in the Siberian city of Novosibirsk.
"The Novosibirsk branch of the alliance will meet on February 20 to nominate Ponomaryov," a co-chairman of the party, Gennady Gudkov, told Itar-Tass on Tuesday.
Gudkov vowed he would do his utmost find out why the Novosibirsk election commission had annulled the signatures Ponomaryov presented in his support.
In an interview with Itar-Tass on Tuesday, Ponomaryov confirmed his plans to run for mayor as a representative of the Alliance. "Of course, if the party trusts in me, I'll agree to be the nominee of the Alliance of Greens and Social Democrats," he said.
He argues that the election officials' claims concerning the signatures were groundless. " There were suspicions over a mere 38 handwritten signatures; they make a negligible percentage," Ponomaryov said. "Other claims concerned passport data mismatches. But such things do happen once in a while because of election officials' allegations some digits on the sign-up lists are unintelligible; so instead of one digit they see something else. Secondly, the migration service is too slow to update its databases; I experienced that myself when I had my registration address changed."
"We conducted non-commercial collection of signatures, we paid nobody for the service. Signatures were gathered by senior house tenants, who will believe that those people, most of them women retirees, invented passport data?" Ponomaryov said. "Removing a candidate from an election because of 'faulty signatures' has long become a common procedure to get rid of unwanted rivals."
Novosibirsk election officials had annulled more than 25 percent of signatures submitted by Ponomaryov, who is still a self-nominee in the city mayoral election.
On February 11, Ponomaryov submitted 6,387 signatures, the maximum permissible number, the chairwoman of the city election commission, Olga Blago, told Itar-Tass on Tuesday.
Blago said the commission, in Ponomaryov's presence, selected one-fifth of signatures for a mandatory check, sending 1,162 for examination by experts at the regional department of the Federal Migration Service. The signatories' info should have matched that in the voter registry, she said.
"A total of 317 signatures, or 27.3% were found invalid," the election official said.
The commission said it would decide whether to register Ponomaryov as a candidate or not at a session on February 20. "We're giving time to the candidate to prove that we've erred," Blago said.
Earlier, Ponomaryov stated that in case of registration problems, he would run as a candidate from the Alliance of the Greens and the Social Democrats.
On January 9, Novosibirsk mayor Vladimir Gorodetsky stepped down following his appointment as deputy Novosibirsk region governor. His deputy, Vladimir Znatkov is now acting Novosibirsk mayor.
Russia's third largest city Novosibirsk will hold a mayoral election on April 6. There will be one round of voting. The latest reports said 27 candidates have submitted documents for registration.