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Run-Off Set For St. Petersburg Gubernatorial Election

St. Petersburg, May 22 (RFE/RL) -- The second round of Saint Petersburg's gubernatorial election will be held on June 2.

Alexander Garusov, head of the city's electoral commission, made the announcement yesterday at a news conference. Incumbent mayor Anatoly Sobchak will face his first deputy mayor Vladimir Yakovlev in the run-off. Sobchak won 29 percent of the vote in Sunday's first round while Yakovlev finished a strong second with 21.6 percent.

Leningrad oblast governor Alexander Belyakov and former Federation Council deputy Alexander Belyayev, both of whom also ran in the first round, announced on Monday that they were joining Yakovlev's coalition. Belyakov gained 9.8 of the vote Sunday and Belyayev 4.5 percent.

Both Sobchak and Yakovlev are trying to gain the support of Boldyrev who gained 17 percent of the vote in a third-place finish. His endorsement could be a factor in deciding the run-off. Boldyrev said that he was "prepared to cooperate with whoever wins."

Polls suggest that Yakovlev may pick up the majority of the electorate who voted for Boldyrev in the first round.

Leonid Kesselman of the Russian Academy of Sciences Institute of Sociology said money proved to be a big factor in Yakovlev's placing second in the first round. His campaign was well financed. This may also be important in the campaign for the second round.

Alexander Yerofiyev, a researcher at Gallup St. Petersburg, said that the run-off will be close. Both candidates are well known.

Yerofiyev also said that each candidate's effectiveness in getting his message out while avoiding major gaffes are the key factors in preparing for the run-off.