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Controversial Head Of Moscow Election Authority Resigns

Valentin Gorbunov

The longtime head of the Moscow Election Commission, Valentin Gorbunov, has resigned due to health reasons, local media reported.

Activists protesting the exclusion of opposition and independent candidates on the ballot of last year’s city council election in the Russian capital had demanded his ouster.

“I leave my post over the state of my [current] health,” Gorbunov said on March 16, as cited by state news agency TASS.

Gorbunov, 66, has headed Moscow’s election authority since 1995.

He oversaw controversial elections to the local legislature in 2009 and 2019, the disputed mayoral elections in 1999 and 2003, and also local council elections in 2011 that were accompanied by protests.

The former Communist Party member has been involved in elections since the late 1970s when he worked with the Central Election Commission of the U.S.S.R. He has worked at the Moscow election authority since 1993 and was reelected to head the Moscow Election Commission five times, the last time in 2016.

Under former Mayor Yury Luzhkov, opposition activists alleged the city council was entirely controlled by the city's power structure.

His resignation was demanded numerous times by activists over the years.

Gorbunov’s tenure was supposed to end in 2021, but he says he is currently hospitalized.

Based on reporting by Vedmosti and TASS