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Petersburg Candidate Dealine Expires, Confusion Reigns

St. Petersburg, April 25 (RFE/RL) - At the 1700 (St Petersburg time), April 24, the deadline for submitting the necessary documents for candidacy in St Petersburg's gubernatorial elections passed. And the case of former Federation Council deputy Yuri Boldyrev is still in doubt.

According to the city's electoral law, Boldyrev was barred from participation in the election by a clause requiring candidates to have held a St Petersburg residency permit for the year prior to the poll.

Last week, a St Petersburg court overturned the clause, and declared Boldyrev eligible. Officials at the City Electoral Commission stated Monday that they have not decided whether or not they will register him.

Also Monday, two days before the deadline, Boldyrev submitted the 40,000 signatures required to appear on the ballot. He also submitted documents asserting that he has applied for residence in the city's Kalinin region in lieu of a residency permit.

The Electoral Commission, however, has announced that it will need to review Boldyrev's documents, and will not make a decision before Friday, despite the court's ruling.

Our St Petersburg correspondent quotes a spokesman for Boldyrev as saying, "The actions of the (Electoral Commission) are illegal."

A ruling on the residency provision is also pending in Russia's Constitutional Court.

"Each day the (Electoral Commission) delays its decision," the Boldyrev spokesman said, "is another day of lost votes, lost support, of less campaigning."

Public opinion polls suggest Boldyrev has indeed lost support over the past three months. In a poll published in the local daily Smena February 2, Boldyrev was running second with 15 percent, behind incumbent Mayor Anatoly Sobchak, who was polling at 31 percent.

In a poll conducted by the Russian Academy of Sciences Institute of Sociology, and published in Wednesday's Nevskoye Vremya, Boldyrev was still running second but his support had dropped to nine percent.

Observers had said that Boldyrev was the only potential candidate believed capable of mounting a significant challenge to Sobchak.

The poll also indicated Deputy Mayor Vladimir Yakovlev is in third place with about eight percent support, and Communist candidate Yuri Severnard in fourth with about the same level of support as Yakovlev. Significantly, the poll indicates 22 percent of the city's voters are still undecided.

The Electoral Commission announced that the candidacies of Alexander Belyayev, another former Federation Council deputy, Sevenard, and Yakovlev have been registered. Those of Sobchak, Legislative Assembly deputy and Yabloko candidate Igor Artyemev, former deputy mayor Vyacheslav Shcherbakov and Leningrad Oblast governor Alexander Belyakov are pending the review of signatures.

The election in May 19.