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Russian city scraps direct mayoral vote in blow to Putin critic

Roizman has been the only top regional official who publicly voiced criticism of Putin and openly supported opposition leader Alexei Navalny
AFP

Moscow (AFP) – Regional lawmakers voted Tuesday to cancel direct elections in Russia’s fourth-largest city, a move condemned by the mayor, a critic of President Vladimir Putin.

Yekaterinburg Mayor Yevgeny Roizman, who was elected in 2013 for five years, has been the only top regional official who publicly voiced criticism of Putin and openly supported opposition leader Alexei Navalny.

The regional legislature in the city of nearly 1.5 million people voted to scrap direct mayoral elections despite protests against the plan by several thousand people Monday evening.

The new mayor will be elected by city lawmakers.

The country’s fourth-largest city, Yekaterinburg had until now been just one of several big Russian cities where residents themselves elected a mayor.

Roizman said the cancellation of direct polls was a “direct offence to residents of Yekaterinburg.”

“The bill was very raw,” he told Echo of Moscow radio station. “But it was doomed to sail through therefore it was so brazen.”

He said he was certain that his candidacy would not be considered for the post again and added that he himself had no plans to run for a new term.

Since first being elected as president in 2000, Putin has stamped his total authority on Russia crushing opposition and muzzling independent media.

Gubernatorial elections were scrapped under the pretext of the fight against terror in 2004, after the Beslan school massacre that claimed the lives of more than 330 people, more than half of them children.

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