MOSCOW, April 2 (Itar-Tass) — On Sunday, the city of Yaroslavl in central European Russia had runoff elections of its mayor. The two rivals were self-nominee Yevgeny Urlashov and Yakov Yakushev of the ruling United Russia party. About 1,500 observers monitored the voting. According to preliminary results, Yevgeny Urlashov finished first scoring some 70 percent of the vote.
The Sunday’s runoffs in Yaroslavl drew considerable public attention because the rivalry between the two contenders became too keen after the first round of voting, the Novye Izvestia newspaper writes. Opposition parties claim that the city’s executive authorities did not hesitate to use every possible method, including exerting pressure and buying votes, to have Yakushev win the elections. About 1,300 observers were commissioned to Yaroslavl to monitor the elections.
The newspapers notes that the city’s and the region’s authorities supported Yakushev, as did the candidate who finished third in the first round, Vyacheslav Blatov. In the mean time, the opposition, comprised of regional branches of such parties as Yabloko, A Just Russia, the Communist Party of the Russian Federation (CPRF), and Patriots of Russia, and notorious billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov, who ran for Russian president in the March elections, staked on Urlashov.
The tough competition between the two candidates was in focus of attention not only of the national leaders of all opposition parties but also of a great number of observers, including from Moscow, a city which already has experience in mass monitoring over elections, the Kommersant daily writes.
Sergei Chernyakhovsky, a political scientist, has described the preliminary results of the Yaroslavl runoffs as another serious defeat of the ruling United Russian party, which now badly needs to be reformed. “Urlashov’s victory has exposed serious problems in the party, which has proved to be unfit for political competition,” the newspaper cites the political scientist.
According to Yevgeny Minchenko, the director of the International Institute of Political Expert Studies, these elections have proved that Russian cities are now exposed to a protest wave, and the authorities can no longer ignore it. Another political scientist, Alexander Kynev, said he believed the authorities would not venture to aggravate confrontation over Yevgeny Urlashov. “It is too a symbolic situation. It excludes the use of force methods. It is a political suicide to disturb the somewhat soothed electorate with scandalous measures,” he said.