Three days earlier, Umar Uzdenov, the candidate backed by the pro-Kremlin United Russia party in the mayoral elections in Karachayevsk, was defeated by independent candidate Soltan Sultanov. In both cases, ethnic loyalties proved stronger than party affiliation.
The Karachais are the largest ethnic group in Karachayevo-Cherkessia, accounting for some 38-39 percent of the population, which numbers approximately 427,000. Russians are the second-largest group (33.6 percent), and Cherkess the third-largest (11.3 percent).
In mid-June, Ebzeyev proposed for the vacant post of senator a Cherkess businessman, Vyacheslav Derev, whose brother Stanislav had for years served as mayor of the capital, Cherkessk, and ran unsuccessfully in the 1999 KChR presidential election. Stanislav Derev died in 2006.
Ebzeyev first proposed Vyacheslav Derev's candidacy on June 16, but the United Russia parliament faction (which comprises 52 of the total 73 deputies) refused to consider it. United Russia then forced an adjournment of the parliament session scheduled for July 2 at which Derev's candidacy was to have been put to a vote, and on July 15 rejected his candidacy by a vote of 30 in favor and 35 against with one abstention.
The fourth attempt, on October 14, failed for lack of a quorum: the 30-odd deputies who registered for the session adopted a statement saying they were "insulted" by Ebzeyev's persistent attempts to engineer Derev's election to the Federation Council. Ebzeyev, who was present at the session, branded that statement "sabotage," "undemocratic," and evidence of a lack of cooperation between the legislative and executive branches.
In the Karachayevsk mayoral election, all six candidates were Karachais. But the electorate opted for Sultanov, a 36-year-old local businessman, rather than Uzdenov. The two men respectively polled 51 percent and 34 percent of the vote.
Uzdenov had been appointed acting Karachayevsk mayor several months ago after a two-year legal battle over the results of the March 2007 mayoral ballot, in which according to official returns incumbent Sapar Laypanov defeated Murat Botashev by just a few hundred votes. Laypanov finally stepped down as acting mayor in March.
Political commentator Mikhail Vinogradov termed Uzdenov's election defeat a major public humiliation for Ebzeyev. What repercussions his inability to promote the interests of the ruling party might have is as yet unclear.