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United Russia Backs Acting Mayor in Sochi Vote

United Russia announced Tuesday that its candidate for the Sochi mayoral election will be acting Sochi Mayor Anatoly Pakhomov.

The party said it would submit papers to register Pakhomov's bid with elections officials on Wednesday, state-run Vesti television reported. Pakhomov formerly served as Anapa's mayor.

Candidates have until Thursday to register for the April 26 election, which has become one of the year's most intriguing political events.

The ultranationalist Liberal Democratic Party said Tuesday that it would not nominate State Duma Deputy Andrei Lugovoi, who faces murder charges in Britain in connection with the 2006 poisoning death of Alexander Litvinenko in London, to run for mayor.

Lugovoi had said he was considering running for mayor of the Black Sea resort city, which is to host the 2014 Winter Olympics. But Igor Lebedev, head of the LDPR faction in the Duma, said the party had decided not to nominate Lugovoi because he has no ties to the city.

Lugovoi, "with all due respect, is an outsider for Sochi," Lebedev said, Interfax reported.

The party will instead nominate lawyer Alexei Kolesnikov, a party leader in the Krasnodar region, Lebedev said.

Several high-profile candidates, including opposition politician Boris Nemtsov and prominent businessman Alexander Lebedev, have announced plans to run.

Nemtsov suggested in an interview with Silver Rain radio on Tuesday that Lugovoi's bid was ended on orders from the Kremlin. The Kremlin would not want a man wanted by Britain on murder charges running for mayor of an Olympic city, Nemtsov said.

Unidentified assailants ambushed Nemtsov on Monday, pouring ammonia over him as he made his way to a news conference in Sochi, the candidate and his supporters said.

Sixteen candidates had submitted registration papers to the local elections commission as of Tuesday afternoon.
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