Blow for ruling United Russia as party suffers defeat in the country's third city.
No other candidate achieved more than 4% of the vote and 2.01% of ballots were found invalid. Picture: Rossiyskaya Gazeta
Communist candidate Anatoly Lokot won 43.75% of the vote to secure victory as mayor of Novosibirsk, according to preliminary results after all ballots were counted. He defeated acting mayor, Vladimir Znatkov, a member of United Russia, in the election.
No other candidate achieved more than 4% of the vote and 2.01% of ballots were found invalid.
It is the first time a Communist has won election to the top municipal post in Novosibirsk since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, and represents a stunning victory for the official successor to the party that ruled the country for more than seven decades. The vote against United Russia came despite a near record high national approval rating for Vladimir Putin in the aftermath of the return of Crimea from Ukraine.
The result will be seen as a significant blow for the party which holds power nationally and in many key regions and cities. Early elections in Novosibirsk were called after long time mayor Vladimir Gorodetsky, who held the post since 2000, resigned 9 January to became vice-governor of the region.
Subsequently he was appointed acting governor by President Vladimir Putin who fired incumbent Vasily Yurchenko due to 'loss of trust'.
The election campaign saw a legal bid to force Znatkov from the ballot and also tactical moves by a number of non-Communist candidates to withdraw in favour of Lokot, who is also a member of the Russian state duma, or lower house of parliament. Most prominent in withdrawing from the ballet were Ilya Ponomaryov, an opposition politician strongly opposed to Putin, and Ivan Starikov, former Russian deputy economics minister.
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