World Bulletin/News Desk
A Communist beat a ruling party candidate in a mayoral election in Russia's third city on Sunday, official results showed, in a setback for the party loyal to President Vladimir Putin that dominates the national political system.
Communist Anatoly Lokot won 43.7 percent of the vote in Novosibirsk, the city election commission said on its website, while ruling United Russia party candidate Vladimir Znatkov, had 39.5 percent.
The defeat in the Siberian city of 1.4 million is a blow to United Russia, which critics accuse of using the levers of power to maintain its grip on administrations and legislatures across Russia in the absence of active popular support.
Although United Russia is a key source of support for Putin, in power since 2000, he has tried to decrease his reliance on it by courting rivals and creating a less formal organisation called the People's Front.
Putin has also blunted what force the Communists have to oppose him by himself appealing to nostalgia for the Soviet era and defiance of the West. The Kremlin's liberal opponents say the Communists are now little more than a cog in Putin's system.
The Communists - the second-largest party in the national parliament, the Duma - have supported Kremlin foreign policy initiatives such as the annexation of Ukraine's Crimea region last month.
Eleven candidates ran in the by-election held in Novosibirsk after the longtime mayor stepped down in January to join the regional government. Znatkov has been serving as acting mayor, while Lokot is a member of the Duma.Last Mod: 07 Nisan 2014, 10:29