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Party Expels Vladimir Mayor

Alexander Rybakov, mayor of the city of Vladimir, was purged from the ranks of United Russia for "disciplinary violations" and "discrediting the party," RIA-Novosti reported Wednesday.

The Vladimir region branch of the ruling party also expelled Deputy Mayor Yury Dudaryov, the report said.

The party slammed Rybakov and Dudaryov in a statement for "cronyism and clannishness," as well as abuse related to utilities tariffs and city contracts.

They also registered themselves to run for re-election in the upcoming March vote without consulting the party.

Party boss Sergei Borodin said a case on negligence charges was opened against Rybakov, who is accused of robbing the local budget of 600,000 rubles ($20,000) by handing out an overpriced city redevelopment contract, Kommersant reported Wednesday.

Rybakov, in office since 2002, denied all accusations in a letter to the party, Kommersant said, adding that the purge may be United Russia preparing for the elections.

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