Elections: an Olympic Sport

The election for the new mayor of Sochi, the Black Sea spa town known as Russia’s “southern capital” and host to the 2014 Olympic Games, is attracting an increasingly colorful range of candidates, Roland Oliphant writes in Russia Profile.

First into the ring was Boris Nemtsov, co-chair with Garry Kasparov of the Solidarity opposition movement. Nemtsov served as governor of the Nizhny Novgorod Region in 1991-1997, and was a popular deputy prime minister under Boris Yeltsin until being brought low by the 1998 default.

Next up was Vladimir Zhirinovsky’s Flying Circus, the Liberal Democratic Party of Russia (LDPR). In true LDPR style, their chosen candidate is none other than Andrey “Tea Pot” Lugovoi, the man who British prosecutors say slipped Polonium-210 into Alexander Litvinenko’s tea in 2006.

Billionaire anglophile, aspiring media tycoon, and master of the urbane understatement, Alexander Lebedev, has also thrown his hat in the ring. He has dabbled in politics before, attempting to establish a social-democratic party with his friend Mikhail Gorbachev and running against Yuri Luzhkov for Mayor of Moscow in 2003.

Against this line up of big names stands Anatoly Pakhomov, who has been acting mayor since his predecessor stepped down for “health reasons” in October 2008. Rumor has it that he will probably be United Russia’s candidate, which means he will probably win. There are other candidates, including a Communist and the president of the Russian Arm Wrestling Federation.


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