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Scandalous mayor elections in Astrakhan become a federal problem

April 11, 2012, 15:53 UTC+3

The confrontation following results of election of Astrakhan’s mayor has become a problem of the federal scale

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MOSCOW, April 11 (Itar-Tass) —— Oppositionists from Moscow continue arriving in Astrakhan to support former mayor candidate Oleg Shein, who is on a hunger strike protesting against falsified elections. The Astrakhan region’s governor does not rule out a new election. Meanwhile eight more people in Moscow joined Shein’s hunger strike, organized by a coordinator of the Left Front Sergei Udaltsov.

The confrontation following results of election of Astrakhan’s mayor has become a problem of the federal scale, the Kommersant writes. On Wednesday, A Just Russia is going to raise the issue during the visit of Prime Minister Vladimir Putin to the State Duma. Putin himself is not planning to interfere as yet. Meanwhile, opposing politicians from Moscow started arriving in Astrakhan on Tuesday to support Oleg Shein.

The newspaper writes that the winner of the early election of Astrakhan’s mayor on March 4 was a nominee of United Russia, Acting Mayor Mikhail Stolyarov, who scored 60 percent of the vote. A former deputy of the State Duma, leader of Astrakhan’s branch of A Just Russia Oleg Shein was supported by 29.96 percent of the electorate. On March 16, the date of Mister Stolyarov’s inauguration, Oleg Shein and his supporters started the hunger strike protesting against the falsified, results of the election, as they claimed. The opposition demands a new election.

On Tuesday, a delegation of Moscow politicians and observers arrived in Astrakhan. By the time they arrived there, the city had been literally in a siege. Locals say they have never seen so many policemen.

Meanwhile, the Astrakhan region’s prosecution reported on Tuesday it had checked 134 of 202 election stations, the Kommersant daily writes. Only seven violations have been revealed.
After the meeting on Tuesday with the State Duma deputies Ilya Ponomarev and Dmitry Gudkov, the Astrakhan region’s Governor Alexander Zhilkin agreed “the best way out of the situation would be a new election,” the Novye Izvestia writes. He said both sides should approve the decision about a new election, which means there should be consent from newly elected Mikhail Stolyarov. Supporters of Oleg Shein are sure if Stolyarov considers his victory honest, he would agree easily to a new election.

On Tuesday night, about one thousand people gathered in central Astrakhan in order to agree on a major rally, the RBC daily reports. “On Saturday at 17:00 a rally will be organized in the centre of Astrakhan, and prior to it we shall announce general mobilization of those, who support Shein, and a revision of the election results,” Dmitry Gudkov, a party colleague of Shein said.
Deputy Director of the Centre of Political Technologies Alexei Makarkin explained to the Nezavisimaya Gazeta: the federal power hoped the problem with the hunger strike would disperse by itself. “They did not take into account that Shein is a radical politician. Many people know him to be a fighter of the early 90s, who may go further than other oppositionists.” Makarkin said Shein distances himself deliberately from criticizing Vladimir Putin as he realizes it would make a dialogue with the power impossible. “If the situation in the city becomes critical, new election may be organized there,” Makarkin concluded.
The Vedomosti quotes a Kremlin’s official, who says nobody is going to follow the lead of the hunger strikers or even to appoint new election of Astrakhan’s mayor. If A Just Russia really wants to achieve it, let them use a more logical option – to file a lawsuit.

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