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Ruling Permits Russian Deputy to Run for St Petersburg Governor

St. Petersburg, April 22 (RFE/RL) - A St Petersburg city court has overturned a local electoral law requirement that any gubernatorial candidate must have held a St Petersburg residence permit for one year prior to the May election.

The ruling clears the way for former national Federation Council Deputy Yuri Boldyrev to seek the city governorship. Boldyrev had lived in Moscow for the last two years while serving as the city's representative in the upper house of the Russian Parliament. A court ruling earlier had authorized Boldyrev to begin gathering the 45,000 signatures necessary a candidate needs to qualify for the ballot. Legislative Assembly Deputy Alexei Kovalyov said that Boldyrev now can meet residency requirements by registering his parents' St Petersburg address as his local residence. Deadline for submitting signatures to the local electoral commission is 5 p.m. Wednesday.

The position of top city executive has been renamed governor instead of mayor to indicate the wide responsiblities that go with governing Russia's second-largest city.

Communist candidate Yuri Sevenard has become the second official candidate for St Petersburg's gubernatorial elections. He submitted 56,000 signatures last week. Sevenard ran for the post in 1991, but lost to the current mayor, Anatoly Sobchak, who also is a candidate.

Candidates besides Sobchak, Sevenard and Boldyrev expected to register are former Federation Council Deputy Alexander Belyaev, Deputy Mayor Vladimir Yakovlev (who has taken a leave of absence for the election), former Deputy Mayor Vyacheslav Shcherbakov, and Legislative Assembly Deputy Igor Artyemev. Leningrad Oblast Governor Alexander Belyakov also is considered a potential candidate.