IRKUTSK, Russia -- The United Russia political party that is unofficially led by Prime Minister Vladimir Putin has suffered its second electoral defeat this year in Siberian regional elections, RFE/RL's Russian Service reports.
In mayoral elections held over the weekend in the city of Bratsk in the Irkutsk region, Communist Party of Russia (KPRF) candidate Aleksandr Serov won around 40 percent of the vote.
United Russia's candidate, Sergei Grishin, polled just under 17 percent, acting Bratsk mayor and United Russia member Aleksandr Doskalchuk received 22 percent, and Konstantin Orlov of the opposition party A Just Russia won just over 10 percent of the vote.
In March, Communist Viktor Kondrashov defeated the United Russia candidate to become mayor of the regional capital, Irkutsk.
Mikhail Vinogradov, president of the research foundation Peterburgskaya Politika, told RFE/RL that the outcome of the Bratsk vote is a major blow to Irkutsk Oblast Governor Dmitry Mezentsev. Mezentsev, a member of United Russia, was recently appointed to the post by Russian President Dmitry Medvedev.
"When Mezentsev became governor there were hopes that he was ready to seek a common language with certain groups who felt let down by previous governors," Vinogradov says. "However, Mezentsev's way of working soon changed and he started to actively put forward his own people for key positions."
Vingradov told RFE/RL he thinks local United Russia members "will attempt to put the blame for what has happened in Bratsk onto Governor Mezentsev."