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Sole Communist Candidate Wins 'Runoff' In Russian Regional Election

Valentin Konovalov
Valentin Konovalov

Valentin Konovalov, a Communist who ended up being the sole candidate in the runoff for governor in Russia's Khakasia region, has won.

He needed to get 50 percent of votes cast on November 11 to win, and got more than 57 percent, according to preliminary results cited by the Interfax news agency.

Communist Party boss Gennady Zyuganov welcomed the result.

"We put forward a constructive program, and our candidate and the whole team carried themselves with dignity. Valentin Konovalov has won. We will be implementing the program put forward to voters," Zyuganov told Interfax.

The bizarre ballot was the result of a strange series of events that started when incumbent Governor Viktor Zimin came in a not-so-strong second to Konovalov in the initial vote.

Zimin then pulled out of the runoff, citing poor health, and two other candidates bumped up in turn to fill out the ballot also withdrew, sparking speculation that President Vladmir Putin and the ruling United Russia party were nervous of a Communist win in a legitimate-looking election.

Kremlin critics consider the Communist Party a pliant part of Putin's ruling system, and it supports Putin's initiatives with some frequency, but the rivalry on the regional level is very real and any Communist victory is embarrassing for Putin and United Russia, which dominates politics nationwide.

Based on reporting by Interfax and TASS

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