MOSCOW (Reuters) - A Russian court has barred Alexander Lebedev, a former KGB agent and the new owner of London's “Evening Standard” newspaper, from running as mayor of Sochi, the city hosting the 2014 Winter Olympics.
The Sochi vote is seen as a test case of how much freedom the Kremlin will allow in the election of a new mayor who will hold sway over billions of dollars earmarked for the Winter Olympics, one of Prime Minister Vladimir Putin's pet projects.
A court in the Black Sea resort ruled to annul Lebedev's registration because a rival candidate said the tycoon had not submitted the proper financial documents.
Lebedev, who recently bought control of the struggling “Evening Standard,” said officials had moved to oust him from the race because they were afraid he would scupper the chances of the candidate from the ruling United Russia party.
"They are simply afraid," Lebedev told Reuters by telephone.
A spokesman said Lebedev would appeal against the court's decision and that all the proper documents had been submitted.
Nine candidates have been registered for the April 26 vote.
The previous mayor, a member of United Russia who won the last election with a large majority, resigned last year due to poor health.